Break It Down: Bee Venom

Beauty buzzwords are thrown around all the time; it can be hard to keep up and know what's worth exploring further. We're here to break down the industry's latest obsession by tackling the science, talking to skincare and makeup pros, and getting real about what works and what doesn’t.

Bee venom: Isn't that the stuff in a bee-sting? Should we be putting that on our skin? What effect does it have? Let's break it down...

Honey bee venom, or apitoxin, is – without sounding too obvious – what bees sting you with. So those who are allergic to bee-stings, stay away, this isn’t for you. According to our trusty friend Wikipedia, when you get stung by a bee, it injects around 0.1mg of venom, which is made up of histamine, the element that causes the allergic reaction, and dopamine, which raises your heart rate.

But how does this relate to skincare? Well, apitoxin causes skin inflammation through blood rising to the surface. This sends your skin into repair mode, generating collagen – which we all know is the key element of a plump, smooth and fresh visage. Thus stung skin goes into healing mode, which results in a glowing complexion. So far so good, but how do you go about extracting the venom, and does it hurt the bee?

Richard Walker, founder of expert serums company skinChemists filled us in: “The process works by attracting bees to a glass pane which has a small electrical current running through it. The bees are encouraged to sting the glass, leaving behind small traces of bee venom but not losing their stinger.” A word of warning – make sure you’re using products, like skinChemists, that source their bee venom ethically and sustainably.
Well, according to Walker, from age 20 we start to “produce 1% less collagen every year, resulting in a loss of skin tone and elasticity”, making this collagen-producing ingredient just what we need. Dr. Sunil Chopra, Clinical Director of the London Dermatology Centre, told us that the main effect of our insect pal’s bite is “anti-ageing, particularly in the prevention of photo-ageing and the repair of damaged skin cells.”

Women are moving away from invasive beauty treatments like plastic surgery and towards more natural products with the same impact. As Walker says: “Bee venom has been one such ingredient that has found itself in mainstream skincare, with the likes of model Jourdan Dunn all claiming it as their beauty secret.”
According to Dr. Chopra, yes. “There is convincing laboratory data to support bee venom’s effectiveness,” he told Refinery29. “When choosing a bee venom skincare product, I would recommend looking for a brand which uses purified bee venom, as this process removes any unwanted particles such as dust and pollen, helping to ensure a more efficacious product.”

There you have it, our new fave skincare ingredient! Big thanks to our 'lil buzzing friends for the plumper skin. Click through to see the bee venom products we’re hyping right now.
You heard Richard Walker, he knows his stuff when it comes to bee venom. This duo moisturiser is infused with manuka honey (mmm) and aims to refresh, hydrate and give your face a youthful plumping effect.

skinChemists Bee Venom Duo Moisturiser, £39.99, available at skinChemists
Don't pass over products with 'firm' in the name – they aren't just for older beauty junkies. This body moisturiser is a real treat, boosting skin elasticity and giving you super-soft pins as a result.

Manuka Doctor ApiNourish Firm Body Moisturiser, £29.99, available at Manuka Doctor
This luxe face cream combines manuka honey and bee venom (a popular combination) to hydrate, prevent fine lines, and nourish.

Skin Doctors Beelift, £31.19, available at Skin Doctors
A little goes a long way with this one, which contains almond, jojoba, apricot and waterlily. Rodial recommends applying to skin before splashing with warm water to create a foamy, milky cleansing effect for soft-as-anything skin.

Rodial Bee Venom Cleansing Balm, £50, available at Rodial

More Break It Down:
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