[By Lynette Geh and Joanna Chi]
Forget about bee-stung lips. Bee-stung cheeks is all the rage these days.
It may not sound terribly appealing, but the poison is being hailed as a miracle anti-ageing treatment; scientists in Korea have discovered it can boost collagen- which gives skin its youthful elasticity and make it less susceptible to sun damage.
But before you start poking around at the hornet’s nest in your backyard, here are a few less dangerous ways to harness its youth reviving effects.
Bee Venom facials
Face masks and facials containing bee venom have been a favorite with celebs for years, and lists Dannii Minogue, Katie Price (a.k.a Jordan), Victoria Beckham and most recently Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge as fans of the way of the bee.
Last year, it was revealed that another royal, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall had a bee venom facial treatment at a famous London salon. The potion does seem to have worked wonders on the once heavily-lined face of the cigarette-smoking, sun-loving Camilla. Recent photos show her skin looking dewy-smooth and less wrinkly.
We sent our UK correspondent Joanna Chi to world renowned beauty therapist Deborah Mitchell’s London clinic for the £165 treatment, which includes “lymph drainage, massage and acupressure” as well, of course, as slatherings of bee stings. Here is how it all went down.
CHI: So Deborah, what is this all about?
MITCHELL: Letting your energy flow I can tell you are exhausted. Let me sense your electric field she says while putting her hand over my head.
CHI: (During this time, I’m busy imagining this happening to HRH Duchess of Cornwall, possibly while Charles is chatting to the plants in the room).
Next, Deborah grips my shoulders in a vice-like hold. She then proceeds to pummel my face in a not unappealing manner and eventually slaps on the bee venom which is mixed with honey, rose, lavender, shea butter and “a secret ingredient”.
It gives a slight tingling feeling when you put it on. The idea is that your skin reacts slightly to the venom, which in turn stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, both vital in plumping up your skin and ironing out those pesky wrinkles
If you can’t afford a face-full of bee venom at the clinic, Mitchell says you can get a similar effect by putting stinging nettles in warm water, mixing them with yogurt and honey, and applying the resultant goo in a face mask.
This is typical of the concoctions she came up with as an ambitious student learning beauty therapy at college in Telford. The ex- Miss Great Britain now has more than 150 products under her own label, Heaven.
Bee Venom Skincare
Until very recently, customers wanting to enjoy the rejuvenating effects of bee venom had to undergo specialized treatments in exclusive salons and clinics. Now the first skincare range containing it has hit the high street after over 10 years of research.
This new range has been devised by Korean scientist Dr Sang Mi Han for the New Zealand beauty company Manuka Doctor and can be purchased at Holland & Barrett shops across the UK. Five products are currently available starting at £16.99 ($33 SGD) for the facial moisturiser and foaming cleanser, £18.99 ($37) for skin treatment serum, £24.99 ($48) for repairing skin cream, and £49.99 ($98) for a rejuvenating face mask.
The products are said to have a ‘gentle tingling’ effect on the skin. They apparently fool the body into thinking it has been stung, which causes it to direct blood towards the affected area and stimulates the production of the naturally-occurring chemicals collagen and elastin which keep the skin taut.
Dr Han, a researcher at South Korea’s National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has published research suggesting it may also boost the number of cells called keratinocytes which act as a barrier against environmental factors such as bacteria, water loss and sun damage. Keratinocyte are cells in the top layer of the skin which are needed to keep us looking youthful but as we age skin cell numbers decrease leading to a reduction in skin elasticity and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Purified Bee Venom has been proven to increase keratinocyte numbers, in turn improving skin elasticity.
And there is no fear as none of the bees are harmed in any of the as the venom is collected using a special device which keeps the bees unharmed. A Holland and Barrett spokesman explained: ‘Venom is extracted from the bees using a safe process that ensures the bee’s lifespan, wellbeing and performance are not affected.
‘A special glass surface (known as the collector) is placed alongside the gate of the hive and a weak electrical current is run through it, which encourages the bees to gently sting the class. ‘Because the bees are stinging a surface they cannot penetrate their abdomens remain intact – so they don’t die and remain unharmed. ‘The bee venom is then dried, harvested and purified to remove any unwanted impurities such a soil, dust or pollen.’
Bee venom has also been used in medical applications since ancient times. It contains a protein called Apamin which relaxes the muscles and is used in an arthritis treatment called apitherapy, and to relieve the symptoms of muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.