I first learned of honey as a cleanser, a couple years ago, when I read this article on ConfessionsofaBlogVixen detailing the facial routine of model Dominique Stroman (pictured below). What she uses to cleanse her face are honey and brown sugar mixed together as a scrub followed by lemon juice as a toner. Her skin is gorgeous, so what can I say? Apparently honey is working for her (and it has also worked for women ages before our time). If honey can do no wrong as a gentle facial cleanser, perhaps it could do no wrong as a gentle hair cleanser?
After reading a few recipes for a honey “shampoo”, I mixed up my own to try for myself. I poured approximately 1 part organic honey and 2-3 parts water into an applicator bottle and shook the mixture vigorously. Then I used it (on wet hair) as I would my regular diluted shampoo mix.
|[LEFT] The homemade cleanser. [RIGHT] Product gunk – conditioner, dirt – after washing with the cleanser.|
The experience continued: Soft hair, too!
After rinsing and blotting with a towel, my hair was incredibly soft, which was an unintended byproduct of the cleansing. It was easy to separate and detangle as well as very hydrated and smooth to the touch. I was doubly impressed!
In summary: Does it really work?
While I found no concrete research on honey as an effective cleanser, there are studies that support its antibacterial and healing properties[1, 2, 3], especially with regard to manuka honey and medical-grade honey on wound care. Additionally, a review of honey in skin/hair care shares that adding this substance to a shampoo “has been reported to confer abundance to hairs (i.e., the hairs are less likely to hang together), lubricate, and make combing easier”. It is also apparent that the use of honey in dermatology is “undergoing considerable expansion.”
Given my cleansing trial, I’d say that using honey as a “shampoo” is very similar to using a cleansing conditioner. There is a gentle level of cleansing that is ideal for times when you don’t want to strip your hair of all its oils. It also leaves the hair feeling soft and hydrated (which are properties of humectants) making the hair more pliable for subsequent sealing and styling. However, when you do have major product buildup that you want to eliminate, then I’d recommend using an actual shampoo, instead.
Carnwath R, Graham EM, Reynolds K, Pollock PJ. “The antimicrobial activity of honey against common equine wound bacterial isolates.” Vet J. 2014 Jan;199(1):110-4.
 Al-Waili N, Salom K, Al-Ghamdi AA. “Honey for wound healing, ulcers, and burns; data supporting its use in clinical practice.” Scientific World Journal. 2011 Apr 5;11:766-87.
Burlando B, Cornara L. “Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review.” J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13.)
Originally posted on BGLH!