The Bees Brilliance Manuka Honey Face Mask is a Lockdown retail therapy gem. I found this luxe mask on TK Maxx of all places. Don’t write off the mode of procurement just yet, and allow me to explain.

Skincare containing bees products always agrees with my fussy skin. I used to use a L’Occitane honey face cream religiously until one day they pulled the carpet out from under me and discontinued it without warning! (How rude).

The Review

What drew me to this mask was the purity of the ingredients and the fact that the very first ingredient was New Zealand Manuka honey 85+!! In fact, there is a whopping 40% of Manuka honey in this mask. The rest of the ingredients are fantastic, including shea butter, sea meadowfoam oil, and bee pollen oil (full ingredient list below). No artificial fragrance either, though you may be forgiven for thinking fragrance was added as it smells so damn good! (My husband can’t stop smelling my face after I’ve been using this one!)

Does this not look divine?

The Bees Brilliance Manuka Honey face mask is truly wonderfully nourishing, not a surprise given the quality of the ingredients used.  Afterwards, my face feels super soft and smooth (like the baby’s bottom cliché).  I also find it helps calm down any inflammation that may be lingering. 

I was so impressed with this that I promptly went and bought four (!) back-ups. 

The Science

Skip ahead if you are not interested in the scientific aspects of manuka honey. Honey is known for its medicinal and antimicrobial purposes. Manuka honey is like honey on steroids. New Zealand Manuka honey is produced by Apis mellifera bees feeding on Leptospermum scoparium plants (1). The ingredient that makes manuka honey different from regular honey is the the particularly high content of methylglyoxal (MGO), and this correlates with the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), i.e. the number on the side, which gives an indication as to the antibacterial potency of the honey (1). Not only that, but honey has been shown to aid wound healing (2), and to have antioxidant and anticancer properties (1). The UMF has also been shown to correlate with the antioxidant power of the honey in question (3). The exact mechanisms by which honey exhibits its seemingly magical healing properties is still incompletely understood, but it is likely to involve the interplay with all the constituents of honey, not just MGO (1).

The Acne Test

My finicky “delicate flower” skin is one of the reasons why I decided to start to blog (see About Me). Back in 2015 I experimented a lot with my skincare. I was living in London and going through a tough period in my career. Selfridges Beauty Hall was one of my happy places, so I often meandered there to wander the Beauty Hall. Inevitably, more often than not, I picked up a new product or two. I also experimented with making face cream out of plant oils and butters. The Suqqu Foundation (the OG) was my go-to (a post for another day), and it contained mineral oil.

My acne was spectacularly out of control that year, the worst since adolescence. I blamed it on the home-made face cream components of argan oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, cocoa butter. I swore off oils but that didn’t really solve the acne. Fast forward 5 years, I have a much better understanding of my skin. In 2016, I stopped using skincare and makeup products with artificial fragrance and my skin cleared up pretty much overnight. Hindsight also lends some objectivity.

The acne started when I introduced two new high-end and expensive serums into my skincare (DiorSnow and La Prairie). Both were heavily fragranced. I should have known with the Dior, as I am allergic to their foundation, but I was curious about their DiorSnow line. With La Prairie… well I had a friend in uni with amazing skin who swore by La Prairie, which is probably better than any advert. Given that these products were “supposed to work”, at the time, I didn’t want to give up on them. Also I just had no idea that the synthetic fragrance was kicking off inflammatory acne big time, as by definition, my skin does not classify as “sensitive”, since I do not get any burning/tingling/redness etc.

The acne really amped up after I started using the Suuqu foundation, and I didn’t want to admit it!! Because the foundation was just that good. Looking back it was the mineral oil (and I know this because whenever I’ve tried products with mineral oil in the past, it’s always given me horrible acne). Now that I’ve experimented more with plant oils, I know the argan and jojoba oils were ok, cocoa butter was a no-no, and shea butter…the verdict was out. I’d been too scared to try it before now. But manuka honey was calling my name.

The Acne Verdict

Happily, I can report that this is the first product with shea butter that I’ve been using all over my face that has not broken me out. Looks like shea butter may be ok. More experimentation required.

Where to find it

If you want to try the Bees Brilliance Manuka Honey face mask, it is currently still available at TK Maxx for a bargain £7.99. To put this in perspective, a 375g jar of Manuka honey 85+ is currently retailing at Holland & Barrett for £52.99. Once the stocks are gone from TK Maxx, you can find this at Holland & Barrett for £27.99. Or you can purchase from the source directly at Bees Brilliance, where they offer international shipping to select countries. Please note, this is not a paid advertisement, and these are not affiliate links. I’ve only supplied them for your ease in case you were interested in checking out this fabulous mask.

Wishing you a wonderful day x

  1. Johnston M, McBride M, Dahiya D, Owusu-Apenten R, Nigam PS. Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. AIMS Microbiol. 2018 Nov 27;4(4):655-664. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2018.4.655. PMID: 31294240; PMCID: PMC6613335.
  2. Tonks AJ, Dudley E, Porter NG, Parton J, Brazier J, Smith EL, Tonks A. A 5.8-kDa component of manuka honey stimulates immune cells via TLR4. J Leukoc Biol. 2007 Nov;82(5):1147-55. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1106683. Epub 2007 Aug 3. PMID: 17675558.
  3. Bolanos de la Torre AA, Henderson T, Nigam PS, Owusu-Apenten RK. A universally calibrated microplate ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay for foods and applications to Manuka honey. Food Chem. 2015 May 1;174:119-23. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.11.009. Epub 2014 Nov 7. PMID: 25529660.

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