Honey is a good humectant, so it might be a good addition for our products...but I would want to heat and hold it to get rid of any possible spores, and we know that subjecting honey to heat and/or light can break it down, so will it behave as a good humectant while in our products? I honestly don't know and I'm kind of leaning towards the idea that it won't, but let's take a look at how we might add it to our products anyway! (Click here for studies on the anti-microbial properties of honey!)
Having said this, I've used it many times before in products and I didn't notice a decline in the hygroscopic abilities of the product, but I also generally use two different humectants - 2.5% sodium lactate and something else - so I might be noticing the abilities of the other humectant.
My suggestion is to use honey in the heated water phase of our product so we can heat and hold it for the full 20 minutes. We can't use it in an anhydrous product - it's a water soluble ingredient, so you must only use it in products that contain water. (You can't use it as a sweetener for a lip balm, unless you also include an emulsifier.) You could use it in a lotion or a toner, although it will add some stickiness to something in which you'll find it in high amounts.
You have to preserve anything with honey very well. As we know, it's not an effective preservative when we add water to it and it's going to break down when we heat it, so we need to choose our preservative well. (Click here for those studies.) I normally like liquid Germall Plus as a preservative, but I use Germaben II as it is great for things that are hard to preserve, and anything containing honey or other botanical ingredients is generally hard to preserve. You will have to use a broad spectrum preservative or combine two non-broad spectrum preservatives to ensure the product doesn't become contaminated.
Rice Bran Hand Protector! I know this is a hand lotion, but I didn't feel any major stickiness in it even using honey at 4%.
RICE BRAN OIL BASED HAND PROTECTOR CREAM WITH HONEY
HEATED WATER PHASE
2% another humectant (I like sodium lactate)
HEATED OIL PHASE
3% cetearyl alcohol
8% cetearyl ethylhexanoate
10% rice bran oil
10% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
COOL DOWN PHASE
0.5% - 1% preservative (I use liquid Germall Plus)
Follow the normal lotion making instructions for this recipe. This recipe makes about 250 ml if you multiply it by 3 (8 ounce bottle), so if you make the recipe at this amount you'll get about 80 ml (or 1/3 cup).
Feel free to substitute the cetearyl alcohol for another fatty alcohol - cetyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, or cetyl esters - and feel free to substitute the esters for any oils you might have. Fractionated coconut oil would be a great substitute for the cetearyl ethylhexanoate or C12-15 alkyl benzoate, or use another light, dry feeling oil like hazelnut, macadamia nut, or grapeseed oil. (Although you know I'm not a fan of grapeseed oil due to its three month shelf life. If you do use any oil with less than a six month life span, add 0.5% Vitamin E in the cool down phase to retard the rancidity!) I don't suggest using stearic acid for this recipe as it might feel really draggy on your skin.
Try using honey in other lotion recipes you like in the heated water phase. Make sure you give the product a much cuter name than I have here - add some orange hydrosol and call it orange blossom & honey hand protector or add some sweet almond oil and oat protein and make a honey, oats & almond hand lotion - and make up an adorable label with bees or honey or something else on it.
Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!