Royal Jelly Might Become Your Next Skincare BFF You Never Thought Of

Moist, plump, and soft skin is the ultimate goal of any skincare devotee, and royal jelly might be the perfect ally you never thought you’d need in your beauty routine that can help you achieve just that. It’s called royal because only the queen bees are privileged to consume it, and today, it might become one of your favorite skincare BFFs. So let’s dive into the benefits of royal jelly for skin and how to use it to unlock great results.

What is royal jelly?

Royal jelly (also called queen milk) is a milky yellowish secretion made by honeybee workers that carries a vital role in the bee realm: to feed the queen and larvae. All bee larvae are exclusively fed royal jelly for their first three days of life, after which only those who became queens will continue to consume it throughout their lifetime. Royalactin, a protein found in royal jelly, is known as the queenmaker since it’s the main factor that converts a larva into a queen bee. Royal jelly is also thought to be responsible for the queen bees’ increased lifespan and fertility, and researchers see it as a promoter of healthy aging and longevity.[1]

Regarding its composition, royal jelly is mostly composed of water (67%) and contains proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, phenolic compounds (ferulic acid, quercetin), and trace amounts of minerals (calcium, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium).[2] FYI, the proteins extracted from royal jelly are often used in skincare to prepare a specific type of bioactive peptide with anti-aging activities.[3]

What does royal jelly do?

Dermatologically speaking, royal jelly functions as a moisturizing, anti-aging, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent. When applied to the skin, it can keep the complexion supple and hydrated and gives it a smoother texture and a more radiant appearance. Studies also suggest that royal jelly can protect the skin against UV-induced photoaging and minimize fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the skin’s antioxidant defense and stimulating collagen production.

All things considered, here’s how royal jelly can benefit your skin:

Increases hydration

In a 2022 study, the topical application of royal jelly significantly increased the water content in the skin after four weeks. Responsible for this are the fatty acids and amino acids in royal jelly, which act as water-binding molecules to pull water from the atmosphere into the skin.[4]

Slows down skin aging 

Studies found that royal jelly can slow down skin aging by protecting cells against UV damage and stimulating collagen growth, a protein necessary to keep the complexion firm and elastic.[5] Furthermore, royal jelly can suppresses specific enzymes that break down collagen and provide estrogenic effects that may further prevent a decrease in skin proteins and reduce wrinkle depth and pore size.[6]

Fades skin discolorations

Royal jelly is also hypothesized to diminish hyperpigmentation and other forms of skin discoloration. It turns out hydroxy-2-decenoic acid, an active compound in royal jelly, can interfer with melanin synthesis (skin-darkening pigment) and inhibit the activity of proteins involved in skin pigmentation, thereby brightening and evening out tone.[7]

Expresses antioxidant effects

The phenolic compounds in royal jelly, including ferulic acid and quercetin, are well-established to have antioxidant effects. Also, royal jelly was found to increase glutathione levels, which is a natural antioxidant made by the body to counteract UV-induced damage and scavenge free radicals.[8]

Supports wound healing

Royal jelly has been used for centuries in folk medicine as a wound healer. According to studies, it can considerably shorten the healing time of both infected and uninfected wounds thanks to its collagen-stimulating, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also supports the regeneration of damaged skin tissues. This can be really effective if you’re dealing with acne scarring or sunburn.[9]

Soothes inflammation, irritation, and redness

Royal jelly can also be beneficial in calming skin inflammation, irritation, and anything in between, including swelling, itching, and redness. This is because royal jelly acts as an emollient (thanks to the fatty acids), so it instantly softens and soothes. Plus, it’s moisturizing, has anti-inflammatory effects, and boosts collagen, so besides alleviating, it also treats and accelerates skin repair.

Fights acne

As an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, royal jelly can theoretically help treat various forms of acne. It may also regulate sebum production to reduce the chances of clogged pores and breakouts, but this is something that wasn’t clinically proven.

Oral vs. topical royal jelly

As far as skincare is concerned, both oral and topical use of royal jelly proved beneficial in improving various skin conditions. Supplements with royal jelly have been particularly studied for anti-aging and were found to promote collagen, accelerate healing, deliver antioxidant protection, and firm the skin. On the other hand, the topical application of royal jelly is also known to increase hydration, soften skin, and brighten dark spots.

How safe is it?

Unfortunately, royal jelly is not free of side effects. When used in high concentrations, it can cause rashes, tingling, and itching, but that’s really unlikely to happen because most skincare products have it in moderate concentrations that shouldn’t cause problems. People with allergies to bee stings and pregnant or breastfeeding women should especially avoid products containing royal jelly. If your skin is sensitive, you should also proceed with caution and perform a patch test (preferably on the elbow) to see how your skin responds to royal jelly.

How to use royal jelly for skin 

You’ll find royal jelly mostly in serums and creams, and how you use it depends on the product at hand, so read the instructions and follow them accordingly. Overall, royal jelly products are safe and gentle enough to be applied twice daily. Since they’re unlikely to interfere with other ingredients, you can easily incorporate them into your skincare routine and use them along with your favorite retinol or glycolic acid product. 

Also, when purchasing a product with royal jelly, be aware of the other ingredients in the formula. Most royal jelly products are made with occlusives and pore-clogging ingredients that can aggravate breakouts and leave you with a greasy feeling.

Now comes the not-so-good thing about royal jelly in skincare: the ingredient loses potency quickly when exposed to heat and light. For this reason, you should only use products that come in amber bottles or airless containers to preserve the compounds of royal jelly in their full potency. Also, store the products in a cool, dark place.

Can you apply pure royal jelly on the face?

Yes, you can apply pure royal jelly on the face as a leave-on mask. Simply mix three teaspoons of raw honey and two teaspoons of fresh royal jelly and apply the mixture on cleansed skin. Leave it for 30 minutes and rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat once or twice weekly.

FAQ


  1. Can I use royal jelly on my face?

    You can safely apply royal jelly to your face. Use a thin layer and spread it evenly across the entire face. Depending on the product, you may need to rinse off after 10-15 minutes with lukewarm water or a cleanser.

  2. Is royal jelly good for acne scars?

    Because it stimulates collagen, a protein required for tissue repair, royal jelly can help speed up the healing time of acne scars.

  3. Does royal jelly tighten skin?

    While royal jelly can't literally tighten the skin, it can make it appear firmer and smoother by providing hydration and increasing collagen growth.

  4. Does royal jelly help wrinkles?

    Royal jelly is a good wrinkle-fighter because it boosts collagen in the skin. Also, due to its antioxidant effects, it defends the skin against photoaging by mitigating free radical damage.

  5. Does royal jelly clog pores?

    Royal jelly has a low comedogenic rate, so it's unlikely to clog the pores when topically applied. People with oily and acne-prone skin can breathe easily because they can safely use products with royal jelly as long as the formula does not contain comedogenic ingredients.

Footnotes

Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.

References
  1. Kunugi H, Mohammed Ali A. Royal Jelly and Its Components Promote Healthy Aging and Longevity: From Animal Models to Humans. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 20, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31547049/
  2. Kurek-Górecka A, Górecki M, Rzepecka-Stojko A, Balwierz R, Stojko J. Bee Products in Dermatology and Skin Care. Molecules. 2020 Jan 28, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036894/
  3. Li S, Tao L, Yu X, Zheng H, Wu J, Hu F. Royal Jelly Proteins and Their Derived Peptides: Preparation, Properties, and Biological Activities. J Agric Food Chem. 2021 Dec 8, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34807598/
  4. Maeda, Y, Fujikura, C, Asama, T, et al. Effect of facial application of essence containing royal jelly extract on stratum corneum moisture content: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022; 00: 1- 8. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15168
  5. Park HM, Hwang E, Lee KG, Han SM, Cho Y, Kim SY. Royal jelly protects against ultraviolet B-induced photoaging in human skin fibroblasts via enhancing collagen production. J Med Food. 2011.
  6. Mishima S, Suzuki KM, Isohama Y, Kuratsu N, Araki Y, Inoue M, Miyata T. Royal jelly has estrogenic effects in vitro and in vivo. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 3.
  7. Peng, CC., Sun, HT., Lin, IP. et al. The functional property of royal jelly 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid as a melanogenesis inhibitor. BMC Complement Altern Med 17, 392 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1888-8
  8. Rizki AMF, Usman AN, Raya I, Aliyah, Dirpan A, Arsyad A, Fendi F, Sumidarti A. Effect of royal jelly to deal with stress oxidative in preconception women: A literature review. Gac Sanit. 2021.
  9. Lin, Y., Zhang, M., Wang, L. et al. The in vitro and in vivo wound-healing effects of royal jelly derived from Apis mellifera L. during blossom seasons of Castanea mollissima Bl. and Brassica napus L. in South China exhibited distinct patterns. BMC Complement Med Ther 20, 357 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-03138-5
Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder and editor-in-chief of Women's Concepts. She has over 5 years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and dermatological research and was an acne sufferer for over a decade. Ana is now an IAO and CPD-accredited skincare consultant keen to teach others about the importance of a consistent routine. She covers a wide range of topics in skincare—from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences from the National School of Political and Administrative Studies. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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