No Honey, Mo’ Problems. That’s the catchy phrase embroidered into the cute black baseball caps Carly Stein, founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals gifted us. I met up with Carly at a cafe in Soho last month so I could learn more about her line of honey-powered health products. Before meeting her I wondered, ‘Why did a 27-year-old care so much about bees?’ Enough to leave her lucrative career at Goldman Sachs in fact. Her story began with a study-abroad trip in college, too much wine, not enough sleep, and feeling unordinary under the weather (we’ve all been there), when an Italian pharmacist recommended she start taking propolis- a gluey substance produced by bees. FYI they make more than just honey! She healed within days and the love affair began.
As she explained her story and I took a mental note of all the beautiful bee products in my life, I realized I was falling in love with the bees too. But as you’ve maybe heard- bee populations aren’t doing so wonderfully and they need your support! Pesticides and colony collapse are threatening our bee populations, and therefore threatening our crop supply. Carly fills us in on what’s going on, teaches us how important it is to buy raw honey and other bee byproducts from trusted sources, and why bees make such amazing beauty food.
Here’s a snapshot of our conversation with Carly, and a few of our must have bee beauty products here at The Moment:
Kendall: Honey seems to be a hero product of the moment- why do you think it’s having this resurgence?
Carly: I can’t emphasize this enough, honey is this incredible substance with so many different uses. With its antibacterial properties, it’s great for fighting off blemishes and promoting a clearer complexion. It also acts as a natural humectant, so it actually attracts and retains moisture, which is why I regularly use BKN B.Powered as a face mask. It can really help hydrate skin cells and plump things up for a more youthful glow.
But honey is also the ultimate ingestible beauty product. It’s so rich in nutrients and enzymes that it actually promotes overall balance from within. And when we are balanced on the inside, that manifests as clear skin and a rosy glow on the outside. And let’s be real, I can’t think of any beauty product that tastes more delicious than raw honey.
I also think that people now more than ever are trying to support bees and the honey industry. Bees need our help, so supporting honey sourced from responsible beekeepers who go the extra mile to ensure their bees are safe and healthy is a great way to do that.
Kendall: What tips do you have on purchasing responsibly sourced honey?
Carly: Well, first of all, you want to make sure your honey is raw. The process of heating the honey breaks down its precious nutrients and enzymes, so any honey producer who really cares about their end product is going to leave it raw.
Of course, the ideal thing to do is to get in touch with your honey producer, whether it’s in person or via phone or email, to find out a little more about their sourcing practices. For example, it’s important to keep hives within a safe distance from anywhere pesticides are sprayed. Bees generally travel up to 4 miles away from their hive to forage and feast on flowers, so pesticide residue on flowers anywhere in the vicinity is not great. And it’s important that the beekeeper doesn’t over-harvest their bee products. The bees need enough to support the colony through the winter.
You just generally want to make sure the bees are safe, unstressed, and happy. At Beekeeper’s Naturals, we try to make that easy for people by highlighting our sustainability efforts and sourcing practices directly on our website.
Kendall: What applications does honey have in beauty?
Carly: I use honey for everything. From optimizing my sleep to cleansing my skin, honey is such an amazing superfood. It has antioxidants, amino acids, antibacterial compounds, enzymes… the benefits go on. In ancient times, people used honey for so many things—to help heal wounds, improve digestion, restore sleep, moisturize the skin, clarify blemishes, and provide major health support. There’s a reason why we’ve continued using and consuming it for thousands of years.
Beyond honey’s restorative abilities, I think it’s really important to watch your sugar intake, especially with all the hidden sugars of our modern diets. I try not to overdo it with sugars, natural or not, but I stay far away from refined sugars and always use a drizzle of raw honey as a replacement for cane sugar, coconut sugar, or whatever more processed sweetener the recipe is calling for. Honey is delicious and sweet, but it’s also a really nourishing alternative that works with the body, not against it.
Kendall: What can we learn about our own health from bees and why should more people care about saving them?
Carly: I think that bees are kind of a barometer for the health of any given environment. If the bees are dying off or colonies are collapsing (as is happening in lots of places now), you have problems. Perhaps the wildflowers are getting coated with windswept pesticide residue and becoming a little toxic. Perhaps the bees have run out of safe habitat and can’t find food or fresh water due to drought or overdevelopment. Perhaps the drastic shifts in temperature and weather patterns that we’re starting to see with climate change are causing bees to get overrun by growing populations of parasitic mites.
The thing is, if bees are having problems, we’re having problems, too. Bees are responsible for pollinating ⅓ of our global food supply. If they die off, we will likely lose over 30 percent of our crops, including almonds, avocados, blueberries, strawberries, and even coffee. Sure, we still might have some of these crops without bees, but they’d become much more expensive and rare—and I don’t think anyone wants to start spending $20 on their small almond milk latte, right?
Laurel's Honey Berry Enzyme Facial Mask
Nothing is as good for the skin as honey. It’s a beautiful cleanser, holds anti-bacterial properties that are great for acne, and is full of skin-plumping goodness. In a pinch, honey from your kitchen cabinet works wonders, but when craving something a bit more elegant, we reach for this face mask from Laurel. The ingredients are very simple (there are only 5!) so the high-quality honey really gets to shine. Other ingredients include strawberries and blueberries which add Vitamin C and antioxidants to brighten and exfoliate the skin.
May Lindstrom's The Honey Mud
This mud mask is the ultimate luxury. All it takes is a pea-sized dollop of this puddingy mask and your skin is transformed. The price tag is hefty, but if you can manage, there’s no one we wouldn’t recommend this mask to. Raw honey marries with antioxidant-rich macadamia nut oil and white halloysite clay to detoxify without stripping the skin.
Farmaesthetics' Midnight Honey Bath and Beauty Oil
Take your bath to the next level with a few pumps of this into the water. You’ll come out of the bath super hydrated and nourished. You can also apply it right on the skin for extra moisture. We picked this oil up because it was Follain approved so we had a good feeling it would be amazing!
The Organic Pharmacy's Cleopatra's Body Scrub
Nothing beats the feeling of a good body scrub. It just brings you back to life and really gets the blood moving. This one from The Organic Pharmacy harnesses the power of silky honey, but mixes it with other skin-loving ingredients like olive oil and Vitamin E so it doesn’t feel too sticky.
Countertop's Golden Honey
Countertop is all just about making everything you eat a functional food, meaning food that works for your health (while being really delicious at the same time). It’s no surprise that they make a gorgeous golden honey to add to morning mugs, sauces, and everything in between. This one is super nutrient dense because it’s blended with super spices turmeric, nutmeg, cardamon, and more to make everything you use it in flavorful and nutritious in equal measure. We love using it for golden lattes!
Beekeeper's Naturals B.Chill Hemp Honey
“B.Chill is a blend of our signature raw honey with high potency hemp oil, it is practically a zen elixir. I take our travel sticks with me all the time and pop one open whenever I feel zapped or stressed out, or if I am having trouble sleeping. It’s non-psychedelic, of course, but it does help me make a subtle shift into a more easeful, relaxed place. (My newest obsession is taking a spoonful of B.Chill as a pre-mat ritual and then blissing out during a vigorous yoga flow! It’s amazing!)
We decided to carefully emulsify the honey and hemp in B.Chill with MCT oil, which is easy to digest, ensures a consistent dose of chill is distributed throughout each and every spoonful, and improves the bioavailability of the fat-soluble compounds in the hemp oil—making it more potent than other alternatives.
Coming from a scientific perspective, both hemp oil and raw honey are hardcore relaxation pros. Raw honey has been used for millennia to optimize sleep. Even a small spoonful helps that ‘sleepy’ amino acid tryptophan enter the brain, which gets converted into calming serotonin or sleep-inducing melatonin, depending on the time of day.
On the other hand, it might be an understatement to say that hemp oil’s relaxation credentials are pretty famous. The natural compounds in hemp oil work with the body’s innate endocannabinoid system to encourage balance, meaning it can help bring you back to center when you’re feeling stressed, frazzled, and way out of sorts. So when you pair raw honey and hemp oil, all those calm-inducing qualities get to work together and you’re just naturally going to feel more chill.” – Carly
Wow ok this honey is a game changer. All the yumminess of honey plus the incredible power of hemp. For those who have trouble sleeping or unwinding after work, this is a must. For those weary, it doesn’t have any THC psychoactive in it or anything like that so you’re not getting high; It’s technically not even CBD (which can contain low amounts of THC), because hemp oil comes from a different part of the plant than CBD. For those looking for the day-to-day benefits, this will do the trick!
Beekeeper's Naturals Propolis Spray
“Unlike honey, which is the food source bees make from flower nectar, propolis is a substance that functions as the immune system of the hive. Bees make it by collecting plant and tree resins and line the walls of their hive with it in order to fight off germs and foreign invaders (especially in the cells of baby bees, so as to keep their environment safe and clean). And what’s really cool is that bees even keep a propolis ‘doormat’ by the hive entrance to make sure nobody tracks in any nasties!
I was first introduced to propolis when I was living abroad in Europe for a semester at school. I got sore throats a lot back then and I was desperate, so I went into an Italian pharmacy and blurted out my symptoms in broken Italian. The pharmacist gave me propolis—I had no idea what it was. I used it religiously and within a week the inflammation had completely gone down.
Propolis is really this natural wonder. There have been loads of studies on propolis digging in to its powerful immune supportive properties. It also contains a crazy amount of antioxidants and beneficial compounds that can help the body fight off germs. That’s why I always give minor scrapes or minor burns a few sprays to add an extra layer of protection—it’s kind of like my on-the-go first aid essential. As a throat spray, I like to take a few sprays daily for regular immune support, but when I’m feeling really stressed, fatigued, or under the weather, the bottle doesn’t really leave my side—especially when I’m traveling a lot. It’s my most important travel companion to fend off those post-flight bugs—even more important than my headphones!” – Carly
We talk a lot about honey but what about propolis? Lesser known but a health food star in its own rights. As Carly explained, propolis is like the bee’s medicine. It lines every bee hive and contains potential pathogens. This spray works for humans in a similar way. A few spritzes a day is all it takes to fight off free radicals and get bullet-proof immunity. We especially recommend this for those of you that are frequently around kids and in germy cities.
Special thanks to Carly!
Photo by Sally Griffiths