I Have Acne-Prone Skin, and This One Ingredient Always Soothes My Flare-Ups

Updated 09/19/19

In general, I pretty much make it my mission to drown myself in face masks. I love them, and if there were only one category of skincare product I could ever use again, I'd choose my widespread collection of gel, cream, and powder face masks over cleansers, serums, and lotions any day. Of course, I'm always trying new elixirs, spreading their promising contents over my acne-prone face with hopeful abandon, but I've also amassed a certain collection of formulas I've found to do more for my easily irritated skin—and sneaky breakouts—than any other. So I did some sleuthing to find out if my favorites shared a certain X factor as far as their ingredient makeup, and lo and behold, my inner Nancy Drew made an enticing discovery. All of my favorite face masks have one all-star ingredient as a common thread: honey.

Since honey is a natural bacteria-killer and humectant (aka moisture-locker), this finding isn't all that earth-shattering. After all, whenever I rinse off one of my favorite honey-infused face masks, I notice my skin is far more even, brighter, and less red and angry due to my inevitable cycle of blemishes. I'm also convinced the stuff has actually sped up their healing time.

Mango

Over the years, we've heard through the celebrity grapevine that simply applying the stuff straight can work as an easy DIY remedy for glow-deprived skin, but when I consulted celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau on the matter, she said she usually steers people away from using their saccharine kitchen stash directly atop the complexion. First of all, Rouleau told me that acne is "far too complicated and needy," thus using honey alone as a treatment option probably won't do much, if anything, to turn an acneic condition around. Additionally, and as she discusses more at length in this helpful post, the majority of foods (like honey) we like to boost our diets with aren't in an absorbable form. "Physiologically, they are nowhere near as effective at absorbing into the skin where it's needed, and they are not in a stable form that can hold up as manufactured products can," she explains. That said, she doesn't deny honey's hydration benefits (which is surprisingly essential when it comes to caring for acne-prone skin) and says she doesn't have an issue with it being used topically, as the skin can always benefit from a touch more moisture. 

The writing on the wall: Honey-infused skincare products that also feature other strategic skin-loving ingredients (and are created in more absorbable forms) are probably the better options for reaping real and credible results (something I've personally found to be true). So I've pulled together my entire stash of honey-enriched face masks (a best-of collection, if you will) to get you started. Keep scrolling for 12 of the best honey face masks I've found to make a difference in treating and soothing my breakouts

ExfoliKate(R) Intensive Exfoliating Treatment 5 oz
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment $175
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This might be one of the first honey-infused skincare products I ever used—way back in high school when my mom kept a tube stashed in her bathroom and I would (obviously) sneak in just so I could pinch some for myself.

I actually didn't largely struggle with red, angry breakouts when I was a teen, but I did always have a perpetual sprinkling of whiteheads. This iconic exfoliator/mask hybrid from Kate Somerville was one of the only products that helped me manage the situation. Plus, it smells miraculous and isn't too harsh or irritating on the skin—even sensitive types like me. 

Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask $150
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When my skin is in its direst of states (read: dehydrated, clogged, broken out, and sensitive), I reach for this highly nourishing pick from Fresh. It's heavy-duty yet miracle-working thanks to an epic formula consisting of an impressive ratio of 40% honey. Then, soothing echinacea comes in to seal the deal with an extra dose of antioxidant recovery. 

Eminence Organic Skin Care Eight Greens Phyto Masque $54
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This nourishing mask contains paprika and the brand's trademark BioComplex alongside antibacterial honey, chaste berry, and extracts from hops, yucca, and flaxseed oil. It's an exceptional option if you're breakout-prone like I am. Warning: It gets warm thanks to the circulation-boosting paprika, and your skin will be red, hot, and tingly for an hour or so after usage. In other words, I'd recommend solely delegating this one to your before-bed stash.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask With Echinacea GreenEnvy $56
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As a collective Team B favorite (that's Byrdie, not Blair Waldorf), this magical potion is sweetly suited for all skin types 

Goldfaden MD Botanical-Rich Refining Treatment Skin-Balancing Mask $75
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Goldfaden MD isn't the most well-known when it comes to its line of skin-saving skin elixirs, but in my adoring eyes, that's a travesty. This mask packs a major punch where instantaneously visible (and long-lasting) results are concerned. Not surprisingly, honey is one of the face mask's most important ingredients. 

Girl Undiscovered Stumbled Across Paradise Face Mask $45
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Dreamy in both packaging and yummy ingredients, this under-the-radar mask from Girl Undiscovered keeps even the most mischievous skin in check thanks to the roster of 100% wild ingredients, including Burmese thanaka, Balinese virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, and wild New Zealand kanuka honey. 

May Lindstrom The Honey Mud $90
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Features editor (and my roomie) Amanda Montell praised May Lindstrom's gold mine of a mask a few months ago, and I couldn't agree more with her words. She explained that while the product isn't new, she hadn't tried it until discovering it in the back of her skincare collection "like a friggin buried treasure" and used it as a mask one day when her skin was looking dull and clogged.

"The pudding-like consistency almost seemed edible, but I resisted the urge to down it all with a spoon, and I'm glad I did because my rough, icky-looking complexion felt so smooth and refreshed afterward." Word—I've only ever experienced these exact results as well from The Honey Mud and credit it with settling down my most stubborn blemishes. 

Manuka Doctor ApiNourish Overnight Lavender Mask $35
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This honey-infused skincare brand is praised by skin-blessed Kourtney Kardashian (she's actually a global ambassador). Do you really need to know more? The entire line is fab, but as of right now, I have my eyes set on this new lavender-infused launch which works its wonders while you sleep at night. 

Ranavat Botanics Eternal Reign Detoxifying Masque $65
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I appreciate the ritual of this powder-to-paste mask from Ranavat Botanics, which boasts high-quality manuka honey as its starring ingredient. Simply mix roughly two teaspoons of the powder with a half teaspoon of water (or tonic—the brand makes glorious ones, and I'm especially addicted to the Jasmine) until a thick paste develops. Then, apply it to a freshly cleansed face, watch a show or bake cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, and then rinse!

Marin Bee Detox Mask $48
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FYI: Every one of the products within the Marin Bee family is wonderful, but after a lot of testing and mind-changing, I've decided the Detox Masque (in addition to its Honey Polish) is officially my number one. This detox-targeted potion is formulated with de-clogging kaolin clay, antioxidant-rich green tea leaf extract, soothing aloe leaf juice powder, oat kernel flour, and decadent lavender oil. It helps reduce redness and pigmentation while also minimizing the appearance of stretched-out pores. 

Tata Harper Clarifying Mask $68
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If you know me at all, you'll know that I'm wildly obsessed with all things Tata Harper, especially its Clarifying Cleanser, which is why it's so bizarre I only just tried its cult-loved Clarifying Mask. (Psst: Kiernan Shipka is also a fan!) Not only is it one of the most exciting masks aesthetically (what's better than turning bright green?), but it's also an expert source for clearing an impromptu breakout or unruly skin behavior. In addition to honey, the formula also boasts other glow-givers like a soothing super-seed blend, AHA-filled superfruits, and quartz sand microcrystals. It's my magic potion of choice this season.

Dr. Roebuck's Tama Healing Mask $28
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As far as natural skincare ingredients go, I love turmeric almost as much as I love honey. So this calming mask from Dr. Roebuck's is pretty much my dream elixir, bottled. However, beware: The trademark gilded hue of the turmeric might stain if it comes in contact with clothing or headbands. This honey face mask is a great option for treating a summer-damaged complexion with some much-needed TLC, and it features sustainably sourced ingredients that grant the most beautiful (and crystal-clear) wintertime glow. 

Speaking of, a celebrity esthetician dissected my entire skincare routine last week—here's what happened next

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