My obsession with honeybees probably stems from my love of gardening. In order to grow food, you need bees to pollinate just about everything. In fact, I'd love to keep a hive of my own, and I've even taken a few bee keeping workshops. My yard is pretty small, and Penny (the dog) thinks that the bugs hovering around our garden are play things, so I'm holding off on the bees for now. That doesn't stop me from loving them though, so when Marin Bee skincare company reached out and asked if I'd be interested in trying out a few of their products, I jumped at the chance!
A Word About the Ethics of Beekeeping
Most vegans (I'm not) avoid all honey and beeswax altogether, and many argue that beekeeping practices are actually harmful to honeybees. I have found the exact opposite to be true. Honey farmers are on the front lines in the fight against bee viruses, parasites, and colony collapse disorder. They care more about the health and wellbeing of bees than anyone else. Bee keepers do not extract honey that bees need to eat, only the extra. In fact, if farmers didn't extract honey and instead allowed the bees to fill the hive entirely, it would jeopardize the health of the hive, and force the bees to leave and seek out a new, possibly dangerous, place to live. Harvesting honey encourages the bees to reproduce, and to stick around, pollinating the nearby flora that depend on them.
Still others argue that honey bees compete with, and are threatening native bee and pollinator populations. In fact, scientists argue just the opposite. Declining populations of native pollinators are actually caused by a loss of native plant species in an area. In those instances, the presence of honeybees is needed to pollinate the plants that do grow in the area.
Many would claim that the act of consuming bee-made products is an exploitative act. However, I believe that honeybees and humans can have a symbiotic, mutually-beneficial relationship, rather than one of exploitation. Still, if you're vegan and choose not to use products that contain honey and beeswax because you simply don't want to use any ingredients that come from animals, I can certainly respect that. These products are not for you. They are otherwise cruelty-free (not tested on animals) and formulated with clean ingredients.
Marin Bee works with a local, family-owned distributer that sources raw, sustainably-harvested wildflower honey from small apiaries around Northern California.
Owner Debra Tomaszewski, along with her husband Bill, founded The Planet Bee Foundation. Their aim is to "foster the next generation of environmental stewards. Planet Bee offers free and low-cost backyard beekeeping workshops and hands-on bee education lessons to schools, community gardens, environmental centers, businesses and communities."
The first thing I noticed about the Detox Masque was the smell. I'll admit that, because it's formulated without perfumes, it's not great. Instead, this masque has a slight smell of sulfur, which is one of the ingredients. Sulfur shows up in skincare products because it helps to relieve acne, eczema, dermatitis, and a number of other skin ailments. The Detox Masque also contains kaolin clay, which is great at absorbing oils and toxins. Because it's winter and I often find clay masks to be a bit drying on my combination skin, I layered a few drops of facial oil on my face before slathering this on, just to keep from drying out. Honey is actually an amazing moisturizer, so I think I actually could have skipped that step. The Detox Masque is also formulated with pumpkin, which contains loads of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs,) great for removing dead skin cells, as well as vitamins A, C, and E, and even zinc, which helps fight acne.
I left the masque on for about 15 minutes. During that time I could definitely feel it drying out my oily areas. It wasn't painful or even tingly, I could just definitely feel it on my face. Afterward, my skin felt smooth and unclogged. I had been dealing with some monthly hormonal skin issues at the time, and this visibly cleared that away and eliminated some of the rough texture I'd been battling. If you're looking to pamper yourself with a colorful, fragrant, luxe masque product, this might not be exactly what you're looking for. If, however, you're looking for an effective masque that will really work to detox your skin and unclog pores, look no further.
The Honey Polish is another product that should be valued for its efficacy rather than luxury. The main ingredients are honey, salt, and olive oil, and the product is formulated without any heavy perfumes.
I first tried to use the polish, which is quite thick and a little sticky, in the shower. I rubbed some on my elbows and heels, but found that the water washed it away too quickly for it to be very effective. I would not recommend using this product in the shower. Instead, I soaked my feet in a tub of ankle-deep hot water for a few minutes, then toweled them off and slathered on the polish. This is what worked best for me. I scrubbed my feet and ankles, and then let the polish sit for a few minutes while I relaxed and read a book. This definitely made my feet feel softer. I think the best way to use this on other dry patches would be to think of it like a pre-shower body treatment. Slather it onto your dry patches, scrub, and let sit for a few minutes before you rinse it off in the shower.
The Honey Butter is my dream hand cream. It's certainly the best smelling of the three products I tried. It smells like citrus and honey, which of course I adore. The cream has a thick consistency which is perfect for dry winter weather. I felt as though the product was being absorbed into my skin without immediately disappearing entirely, which I like. I've been using it mostly on my hands but it would work well for any dry areas on the body that need that extra moisture boost. I do wish that this was formulated without the alcohol, but overall I really enjoy using it and would recommend it to anyone who suffers from dry skin. I have been keeping it in my purse to have handy when my hands feel dry from the winter weather.
Even the packaging for the Marin Bee products is beautiful. Each box and tube features an illustration of a wildflower native to Northern California. My only complaint is that they're plastic. As someone who is trying to shift to a more zero-waste lifestyle, I prefer to avoid plastic packaging, even if it is recyclable. If these products were packaged in glass containers, and maybe lightly scented with some essential oils, it would bring the user experience to a completely different level for me.
Today is my birthday, and to celebrate, Marin Bee Company have generously offered to send one of my readers a present! One winner will receive all three of the products I tested. To sweeten the deal, I'm also going to send this honey bee art print, in blue. To enter, head over to my Instagram page (@BuffaloRach)! Entries close January 20, 2017 at 12 p.m. EST.