It is two years since Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, revealed (at least according to the British tabloids) an anti-aging beauty regimen including bee-autifying bee venom. Since then Royal Nectar’s Bee Venom Face Mask has become a weekly must-use for me and the buzz about bee venom beauty products, instead of fizzling out, has gathered more and more, um, buzz with every launch of new bee venom masks, cleansers, serums and eye creams. But amidst all the hype, there is misinformation.
So is bee venom really that buzz-worthy?
Yes, bee venom is a credible and effective anti-aging ingredient. This is because it is packed with antioxidants. Bee venom is known as apitoxin and acts as a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. One researcher claimed that apitoxin "deserves no less attention of the medical profession than antibiotics of fungal and bacterial origin."
There is compelling evidence that bee venom's potency is more than skin deep. There is research linking bee venom as an aid for all types of illness, from HIV to Lyme Disease, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and more (source).
How does bee venom work?
Honey bee venom contains at least 18 active substances. These include the peptides melittin and apamin. Melittin is an anti-inflammatory that is being used to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, and can combat cancers (source). Another component of bee venom is hyaluronidase. According to 3DChem, hyaluronidase from bee stings causes hyaluronic acid in the body to become acetylglucosamine, important to tissue functions such as hydration, lubrication, transport, cell migration, cell function and differentiation.
Bee Venom: Truth vs myth
- Bee venom in cosmetics does not sting
- Nor does it control facial muscles (leave that to neurotransmitter peptides such as Argireline)
- Bee venom in cosmetics creates a mild sting or simulates a sting, which “jump-starts” production of elastin and collagen
- Bee venom works to control the facial muscles for a lifting, “Botox-like” effect
What can you expect from bee venom beauty products?
I have tried most of them and can safely say that I haven’t experienced an instant tightening effect from any of them. However, I do experience a wonderful refreshing of the complexion, and over time a plumping and smoothing of the skin. In the Royal Nectar formulations, we can attribute this not just to bee venom and manuka honey, but also to avocado, apricot, rosehip and evening primrose oils.
MY FIVE BEST BEE VENOM PRODUCTS: Royal Nectar still tops; Nature's Beauty is best new for 2013
Royal Nectar Rejuvenating Serum ($45) is the most recent product launch by Nelson Honey, the family-owned, New Zealand based, bee business that makes Royal Nectar Original Face Mask with Bee Venom ($68) and supplies the bee venom for the Heaven Bee Venom Mask (see my review here). Royal Nectar Rejuvenating Serum is a light serum that, at least for me, doubles as a moisturizer. Those with drier skins may want to layer over Royal Nectar Moisturizing Face Lift with Bee Venom ($55). Another new product from Royal Nelson is the Cream Cleanser ($29), which is an absolute pleasure to use.
There have been tons of bee venom products launched this past year and most of them are unimpressive. An exception is Nature’s Beauty Bee Venom Eye Serum ($49.95), which is an excellent product in the under-$50 price bracket. And I have just started testing Avitalin’s Bee Venom BioLift Complex, which sources its bee venom from Europe rather than New Zealand. Expect a review in about four weeks.