New Zealand researchers have shown that a kanuka honey formulation can help with the scourge of teenage life – acne.

A large clinical trial of Honevo®, developed by New Zealand pharmaceutical company HoneyLab, has found that study participants using the honey treatment had a reduction in acne severity, fewer acne lesions and even an improvement in their quality of life.

The study results were published this month in the prestigious online medical publication, the British Medical Journal Open1. This follows the publication last year, also in the British Medical Journal Open, of the very successful study results of Honevo® for the treatment of facial redness2.

Assessments by study investigators found that twice as many of the participants had an improvement in their acne after using Honevo® compared with those who did not use the product. Participants reported improvements in their acne after two weeks’ treatment with Honevo®, with further improvements over the following 6-10 weeks. There were 135 participants in the 12-week study; all participants washed with an antibacterial soap twice a day and half of the participants then applied Honevo® twice daily as a mask and then washed it off.

HoneyLab Science Director Dr Shaun Holt says that acne was a very common skin problem and he was not surprised by the results from the clinical trial. “Around 90% of teenagers, and many older people, get acne lesions. Acne is caused by bacteria and we know that New Zealand kanuka honey is antibacterial. Honey also reduces inflammation and heals wounds . . . every acne spot is a small wound.”

Dr Holt says the study showed that using Honevo® was better than using antibacterial soap alone, and that he believes Honevo® to be a very valuable product for acne sufferers. “I’ve been concerned about other acne treatments for a long time. Prescription medications can have severe side effects, and some non-prescription bleach-like products damage the skin to such an extent that those companies then sell additional products to try to heal that damage. Honevo®, on the other hand, is natural and good for the skin, and it’s now proved to be a very good product to help acne.”

HoneyLab focusses on robust research to prove that the company’s products work. “Some companies pay celebrities millions of dollars to advertise their products, rather than actually doing the research to show that they work. At HoneyLab we believe science comes before advertising hype, and our honey products must stand up to scientific scrutiny,” says Dr Holt.

HoneyLab is a New Zealand pharmaceutical company with several platforms of clinical research, including dermatology, pain and nutrition. The company plans to license products to pharmaceutical companies once effectiveness and safety have been proven. HoneyLab is already in discussions with several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies that are seeking natural options for treating acne and other conditions.

People with acne can purchase Honevo® at The company ships globally.

1 S Holt, R Beasley, M Weatherall et al. A single-blind randomised controlled trial of a topical kanuka honey formulation for the treatment of acne.
2. Fingleton J et al. A single-¬blind randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of facial redness. British Medical Journal Open 2015; 5: e007651., 14 June 2015