Facials

Cinnamon + Honey Facial Mask

By Camilla

Nothing crazy new or enlightening here: cinnamon and honey are really good for you, inside and out. But while these two pantry staples have been around for ages (literally), I'm constantly surprised and impressed by the science behind why they're so healthy.

I've been giving myself honey and cinnamon facial masks for quite some time. It started a few years ago when money was tight and I didn't have the funds to buy expensive skin care products for my very broken out skin. Knowing that honey had antibacterial and healing properties and that cinnamon was anti-inflammatory, I mixed the two together and spread the sticky stuff on my face and hoped for the best. I was so surprised with the results. I wrote about my skin problems recently, and while I've tried many things, nothing seems to calm my face down as much as this face mask. Of course I need to get to the bottom of why I have acne in the first place, but when I do get bad, painful pimples, this concoction helps immediately. I can feel the inflammation reduce and I can literally feel the wounds start to heal. What's more is that my skin feels soft and soft and clean after this face mask, as if I don't even need a moisturizer (though I always dab some nigella oil on afterwards). And what's so great about these ingredients is that I always have them, they always work, and I can use them often without worrying about any harmful ingredients. So what's the science here?

Let's start with cinnamon, shall we?

Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree. How cool is that? The reason it's so flavorful and spicy is because it has a very high content of oil, mostly made of cinnamaldehyde (chemical structure to the right because I like science). A study in 2007 demonstrated that cinnamaldehyde and the proanthocyanidins within cinnamon have strong antibacterial properties against several types of bacteria, indicating that these may be able to fight off the bacteria that causes acne. This is pretty great, right? It gets better. Other studies, including this 2008 one, have shown that cinnamon has pretty impressive anti-inflammatory capabilities! Specifically, trans-cinnamaldehyde inhibits the production of nitric oxide which is an important piece of the inflammatory process in our bodies. This would explain why after these facials, I literally feel the inflammation go down and the pain reduce. One last thing — in addition to being antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, cinnamon is also an antioxidant, which can also help with skin issues.

OK, a little more science. Let's talk about honey now. 

Honey is an ancient wonder compound made from the very creatures that help us grow food and keep ourselves fed. First — honey is a humectant. A humectant is a compound that attracts and retains moisture. Yay for our skin! Next, natural enzymatically produced hydrogen peroxide in honey acts as an effective antimicrobial agent. Some honey, like the very powerful Manuka honey, retains its antimicrobial properties even when the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed by heat or catalase. In fact, the antibacterial capacity of honey is so powerful, that it is used to treat wounds that don't respond to conventional treatments, and it has even been effective against MRSA. That blows my mind. So while Manuka honey is the more impressive and effective variety, all raw honey is beneficial. Read more here. Raw honey also contains a lot of antioxidants, which can also help with inflammation and promote wound healing. I truly believe in the power of honey.

So let's see: moisturizing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidizing properties. Sounds like a dream mixture for problem skin, not to mention an affordable one! And indeed, I have found that it works wonders.

To make this quick and easy facial, mix raw or Manuka honey with ground cinnamon and apply gently to a clean face. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, while you oil pull (February health challenge! More on this soon) or watch a few of your favorite youtube videos. Wash your face with warm water. Be gentle because the cinnamon works to exfoliate a little bit. Sometimes after this facial, my face feels flushed for about 5 minutes afterwards but a bit of nigella or coconut oil help to calm that right down.

Use leftover cinnamon-honey mixture on toast with butter for a yummy treat, or stir into a cup of hot water for a healthy, sweet tea. I usually keep any extra mixture in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before using it for more facials.