Should You Be Using Bee Venom On Your Skin?



What Is Bee Venom?

Bee venom is produced by honeybees and is a naturally occurring toxin. Bee venom is made up of a variety of compounds such as peptides, enzymes and amines. Bee venom has been used in traditional or non-western medical practices for hundreds of years to help reduce the sensation of pain. 

In terms of skincare and cosmetic uses, bee venom has only recently begun to gain popularity in these types of formulations. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on the concentrations that would feature in your skincare product. However, there is some promising research being conducted into the topical benefits of bee venom to help reduce the appearance of blemishes, wrinkles, alopecia, wound healing and may even potentially have antibacterial or antimicrobial properties. 

Bee Venom

the good: There is promising research into the applications of bee venom in skincare with studies supporting claims that it may help reduce the appearance or severity of blemishes, wrinkles, wounds and alopecia.

the not so good: The research is still ongoing and despite the promising results, they don’t indicate a new therapeutic benefit.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it. Allergies to bee venom products should generally be avoided by those who have an allergy to bees.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Keep and eye out for my research.

What Are The Benefits of Bee Venom?

There are several benefits to bee venom products. While the research into this ingredient in the skincare context is relatively new, the results suggest that bee venom may have applications in helping to treat a number of skin conditions. 

Acne is often characterized by inflammation, blemishes and increased sebum or  production. One of the main treatments for acne currently is antibiotics treatments either applied to the skin or taken orally. The issue with this treatment is that it risks both side effects and the potential for bacterial resistance, thik superbugs. So, many other treatments are being trialled for their effectiveness, bee venom is one of these being trialled. Initial results seem to suggest that bee venom may be beneficial to supporting treatments of acne, specifically acne vulgaris. In one study, 77% of the participants showed a reduction in whiteheads, blackheads and pimples over a 6-week treatment period. Another study, focused specifically on the bacteria responsible for acne, Propionibacterium acnes. This study found that bee venom may reduce the inflammation reaction that is often associated with acne. 

Inflammatory skin conditions: Psoriasis, alopecia, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, eczema and morphea 

This same research was then applied to other inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, morphea, vitiligo, alopecia, and eczema. All of which have been individually studied and the research seems to suggest that bee venom may be helpful in supporting treatment of these conditions. It is important to remember here that this research is relatively new and the results don’t indicate a new therapeutic use. 

Wound healing is a complex process and can be life threatening for those who are slow to heal such as those with diabetes. As such, research into the efficacy of different treatments is often undertaken. While research into wound healing has important applications it also has applications in the skincare world where these newly researched products may help to improve or support healing of open blemishes and other small wounds on the skin. Again it is important to remember that the concentration and type of bee venom used will often have a determining effect on the benefit and this research doesn’t yet indicate a new use. 

Photo aging and wrinkles 
There is also research to suggest that bee venom may be beneficial to reducing the appearance and visibility of photoaging and wrinkles. Bee venom has been suggested to help decrease the level at which different pathways in the body are activated by the sun’s rays, specifically UVB. This may help to reduce the negative effects experienced within the skin when exposed to UV rays. While the mechanisms by which bee venom may help reduce the signs of aging, the studies suggest that bee venom may reduce some of the visible signs of aging. 

Is Bee Venom Safe?

Bee venom has been studied for its safety and efficacy, although it is yet to be fully  evaluated by some of the review panels, such as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety and efficacy of skincare and cosmetic ingredients. Preliminary side effects seem to only include mild stinging or mild irritation in some people. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to bee stings or bee products it is best that you avoid bee venom products. Instead speak with your dermatologist or doctor about other options that may suit your needs. 

Kim H, Park SY, Lee G. Potential Therapeutic Applications of Bee Venom on Skin Disease and Its Mechanisms: A Literature Review. Toxins (Basel). 2019;11(7):374. Published 2019 Jun 27.


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