5 Ethically Sourced Honey Products For The Conscious Beauty Enthusiast
Remember how we were taught about the food chain in school? One of the most important roles here is played by bees, who are vital for cross-pollination — which protects local biodiversities and, consequently, at least 30 to 35 per cent of the crops produced in the world. In India alone, approximately 50 million hectares of crops are dependent on bee colonies, according to the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). 150 million colonies are needed to meet this requirement. With no bees, agricultural yields will dwindle and the economy will take a major hit. And since we are the second-largest producer of horticultural crops and fruits in the world (as per the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare), the repercussions will be felt far and wide.
Conscious efforts are also being made, by the government, non-profits and entrepreneurs alike, to encourage modern beekeeping techniques and increase the production of organic honey in India. This method of natural beekeeping creates a sustainable supply system that benefits the producer, by taking into account the health of the bees as well as the consumers’, since it prevents problems that come with the chemical contamination of hive products — such as skin irritations and gastrointestinal disorders. The Uttarakhand-based Devbhumi Natural Products Producer Company, for example, produces the first-certified organic honey in India, along with natural dyes and silk products, and was founded by the NGO Appropriate Technology India, which works with the mountain communities in the state.
Devbhumi nurtures the indigenous bee species of the region, Apis cerana indica (the Indian hive bee). Between these local bees, Apis mellifera (the European honeybee) and Apis dorsata (giant honeybees of South and South East Asia), the first two are favoured in the mountains because of their high capacity to survive in the harsh winters, while the latter is a more common choice in the plains. In addition to making sure that the honey is pesticide-free, bee farmers have to consider native bee populations, which could actually find themselves under threat of extinction if a foreign pollinator is introduced into the region. Amrish Khurana, the chief general manager, says, “There is tremendous scope for commercial organic beekeeping in India, and the popularity of organic honey in both domestic and international markets is growing at a rapid pace. Our vision is to introduce products for which there is strong demand in urban markets, along with environment-friendly cultivation and production processes that protect the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas.”
The land and soil around the bee farm is tested and certified as organic by a certification agency, and the producer has to ensure that the bees collect nectar only from the flora grown on this soil. “The final product is also tested in independent labs to make sure the honey is free of all antibiotics, pesticides and chemicals. Another important factor in setting up a bee farm is the placement of the hives — a dry area slightly above the ground and away from harsh winds and direct sunlight is preferable. In fact, the bees are usually kept in a very controlled environment to preserve the medicinal qualities of the honey produced.Since it’s expensive to get organic certification, the costing needs to be spread over a large number of beekeepers, who are periodically monitored and trained, providing transparency and traceability which in turn builds consumer trust.” As a producer company, Devbhumi also empowers all the workers — who are mostly women — by making them shareholders entitled to equitable returns.
Our grandmothers and the generations before them have always known about the merits of naturally cultivated honey, but it’s only in more recent years that, in the beauty and wellness industry, terms like ‘clean’ and ‘all-natural’ have become buzzwords; the appetite for organic products is on the rise, and honey is one of the most popular ingredients thanks to its powerful antioxidants and anti-bacterial and moisturising properties.
Honey Facial Massage Gel
A blend of almonds and honey makes this skincare gel nourishing and rejuvenating. The vitamin E from the almonds enhances the skin’s moisture-retaining properties, restores collagen elasticity and disarms free radicals. “This is a light-textured, oil-free gel, and it is quite effective in moisturising oily skin because honey itself is a natural humectant. It is to be used daily, by massaging gently onto a cleansed face until absorbed.” -Megha Sabhlok, Brand Director and Co-founder.
Pure Honey and Nut Butter Body Lotion
Made with honey, jojoba oil, almond butter and vitamin E, this body lotion promises to give you luxuriously supple and soft skin. “Ayurvedic texts talk about honey’s healing prowess, describing it as one of the most important medicinal ingredients. It retains and balances moisture while providing antioxidants. So it is suitable for all skin types and age groups. Our range of honey-based products is an all-day range — you can use it after a shower or as and when you need to moisturise your skin. It is fragrant and non-greasy and keeps the skin hydrated all day.” -Deepshikha Deshmukh, Founder.
Nityam Face Washing Grains
A gentle cleanser from the label’s Botanica range, this face wash comprises clay, grains and active botanicals along with almond and oatmeal (known for their softening properties), raw honey and jojoba oil (known for their moisturising benefits and vitamin content respectively). “Almost every family across the Subcontinent has a home-grown recipe for cleansing the face and body. Paro’s Botanica is based on traditional wisdom and the absolute purity of materials. I wanted to create one perfect product as a daily ritual cleanser that was safe for all skin types, and which incorporated the beneficial properties of various botanicals that nature has gifted us. If mixed with rose water and used daily as a face scrub, it leaves the skin glowing, clear and soft.” -Anita Lal, Co-founder.
Amrit Ras Snan
A unique, refreshing, all-natural bathing soap bar that makes you glow, the product is suitable for all skin types. “This bathing bar blends sattvic ingredients with a panchamrit concoction of milk, honey, sugar, curd and clarified butter along with coconut, lemon, grapes, holy basil and banana extract. The blend softens, nourishes and cleanses while preserving the skin’s moisture.” -Rajni Ohri, Founder.
Chichiri Indian Borage Honey
The brand’s exclusive offering is a rare form of honey that is grown in a borage apiary in Himachal Pradesh. It is used to treat insomnia and relieve respiratory abnormalities, aches and stomach cramps. The brand recommends that customers consume it directly — as it is a source-to-bottle product — instead of mixing it with tea. “We don’t market our honey-based products as beauty formulations; rather they are holistic wellness products. I have always been fascinated with this kind of honey (chichiri). Due to the climatic conditions in the upper regions of the mountains, the honey is mostly crystallised and looks like ghee. There are no additives, preservatives or flavours. Whatever flavour one can detect is a result of the cross-pollination process in the apiaries.” -Jessica Jayne, Founder.