heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
edited October 2014 in Formulating
To all: do you use any honey in your creations? If so, what kind - raw honey or honey extract and how much?
I build a shampoo and add 1 - 2% raw honey.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    What function do you expect the honey to perform in the shampoo?  It seems like it would just get rinsed away during use.
  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    O.k., we all know the cosmetic qualities of honey. It is not enough, therefore, the short time which is in contact with the hair to transfer some of its beneficial properties? But all the ingredients will rinsed away except maybe the conditioning agents. So actually, all act for a short time on our hair. I haven't try it, but i think it will be not the same a shampoo with only surfactants and a shampoo with added ingredients like extracts, humectants, emollients etc.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The cosmetic qualities of honey are not obvious as I can't think of any beyond it being a humectant.  And there are better humectants than honey.  In truth, I've never found any humectants to have much effect in a shampoo.

    I've done the experiment where I've made shampoos with and without humectants and couldn't find any difference in the way it affected the feel of hair.  So, at least based on my experience, it wouldn't matter whether you used raw honey, honey extract or no honey at all.
  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    Thank you Perry for your comment. At PubMed you can find some works on honey for topical application:
    Also at the 3d edition of "Dermatology" by Jean L. Bolognia, MD, Joseph L. Jorizzo, MD, and Julie V. Schaffer MD you can find this reference at page 2205:
    Randomized, controlled trials have shown that honey enhances healing
    of first-degree and superficial second-degree burns. The evidence is
    inconclusive with regard to acute wounds, postoperative wounds and
    pressure ulcers, and it is not effective for venous ulcers. One study
    suggested that honey may be more effective than topical acyclovir in
    the treatment of recurrent labial and genital herpes simplex7.
    Honey contains sugars, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes
    (e.g. catalase), which are thought to encourage debridement, promote
    granulation and epithelialization, and reduce edema. Antibacterial
    properties are related to peroxide activity and osmolarity. For example,
    manuka honey has antibacterial activity equivalent to that of phenolic
    acid. Contact dermatitis has rarely been reported.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Hello @heraklit - thanks for your comments and links.  Wound healing is not really a cosmetic effect but I was unaware that it's use as such had been investigated. 

    I can only speak to the use of honey in shampoo formulas, and in the work that I was involved with (we investigated honey as an ingredient) we couldn't demonstrate any effect at a variety of levels.
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    I have used Honeyquat 50 which is a quaternary conditioning derivative of honey.

  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student

    Hair is dead keratin - that's all. Nothing that has effect on skin, even if proven, will have any effect on hair. I know it's hard to hear, but marketing hype to the contrary, none of the wonderful-sounding additives or extracts in a shampoo make any difference at all to the performance. The chances of being able to deposit enough of any ingredient in a regular, non-treatment shampoo to make a difference to the scalp are minimal, at best. 

    The reputed advantages of any ingredient other than ones already proven to have effect on hair surface properties should be taken with a huge grain of salt
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    @Bobzchemist Pretty insightful and pointblank. 
  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    Bobzchemist and Perry  the truth is always hard to hear but we MUST follow it.

    I must agree with the truth and the reality of the facts. Of course it's not clear and proven that additives can do something in a rinse-off hair product - it looks very difficult. Do you believe the same about our body? For example, have a body wash with special additives advantages over simpler products?
    And may i ask you something? Did you ever put additives in your creations just for the look and prestige of the products?
    As you know better than me (i'm not a chemist, i'm geologist with only 5 years experience on cosmetics and i fell in love with this work and try to study the basics in cosmetic science), cosmetics marketing it's not only about the performance of the products but also a kind of a philosophy / a way of living and thinking etc. which i think it's not a bad thing because cosmetics are not drugs which don't need any "salt" to sell well. And if we want to be honest to our customers and don't sell to them products with "salt", our competitors will do it and we will loose the game. So lastly i think i will add a little honey to my shampoo...
    Thank you for your time and comments.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @herakilt - Technically, cosmetics are not supposed to have any permanent effect on skin or hair beyond changing the appearance.  So things like wound healing or wrinkle removing or collagen stimulating or claims like that are either...exaggerations or the product is a mislabled drug.  In the vast majority of cases it is an exaggeration.

    When you see a body wash with things like Aloe or Honey or proteins or vitamins or some other extract it is highly unlikely those additives matter from a functional standpoint.  It is doubtful you could tell any difference on a blinded basis between a formula that contains those ingredients and a similar product that doesn't contain the ingredients.  

    However, it is true that consumers like those type of ingredients to be included in their products.  Consumer like to have vitamins in their hair products even though the science demonstrates that they don't do anything.

    It is a routine thing for formulators to put ingredients in their products that aren't expected to have any functional benefit.  We call them "claims ingredients".  You might find this article interesting.  https://chemistscorner.com/7-types-of-cosmetic-story-ingredients/

    I don't really have a problem with this type of marketing for cosmetics.  To me people do not use cosmetics just for the function they provide.  Cosmetics are aspirational and they affect the way people feel.  It is up to we formulators to enhance the product however we can to make it more appealing to consumers.  If this means that we add ingredients to help support a product story, then that is what we do.

    So, go ahead and add honey to your shampoo.  If it is more appealing to your consumer that you use raw honey or honey from some special insect out of the Brazilian rainforest, then by all means add it.  Just don't fall for your own marketing stories.  There is zero evidence that adding honey to your formula will have any functional benefit.
  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    Thank you Perry, and congrats for your soberness and all your work in the web.
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