Royal jelly is having a bit of a skincare moment, which begs the question: are any of us ready for this jelly? If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you know honey is one of our absolute favorite natural ingredients. Like honey, royal jelly is a bee byproduct that’s become a popular skincare ingredient. Does it live up to the hype? Here’s what we learned.
Simply put, royal jelly is a bee byproduct — it’s similar to honey, but unique in its own way. Royal jelly is made by worker bees to feed larvae. It seeps out from special glands in their heads and into the mouths of baby bees. Baby worker bees are fed a combination diet that includes pollen and honey,¹ but queen bees exclusively eat this mysterious nectar throughout their life — that’s what makes this jelly royal.²
Like other bee byproducts, royal jelly has a long history of use in both traditional and modern medicine. As a dietary supplement, it’s been shown to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, among other things.³ Given its natural appeal, it’s no surprise that royal jelly is a trending ingredient in cosmetics.
If your goal is to slather your skin in royal jelly, be aware that there’s no medical research to suggest it has major skin benefits — though the experts are still looking into it. That said, it can have water-binding properties⁴ that may make it a great addition to moisturizing products. And using a good moisturizer can help bring out your inner glow!
Allergy alert! You may want to avoid royal jelly in your skincare products if you’re allergy-prone⁵ or have a known allergy to bees. Float like a butterfly and play it safe.
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Royal jelly skincare products are popular in eco-conscious markets — your local beekeeper might even sling these at your nearby farmer’s market (and on websites like Etsy). Unfortunately, many royal jelly products contain high concentrations of potentially pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil and cocoa butter. You may want to avoid those products if you’re acne-prone, and we’d caution against buying any product that doesn’t list their full ingredient list on the package or online.
That said, there are some high-quality skincare products that heavily feature royal jelly without comedogenic ingredients. Here are some favorites:
For a skincare routine that helps with acne and signs of aging, sign up for a free trial of Curology. You’ll be paired with an in-house medical provider (trained in dermatology and licensed to practice in your state). They’ll prescribe you a custom cream with a mix of up to 3 active ingredients for skin concerns like breakouts, hyperpigmentation, and skin texture. Your free trial includes any Curology product you want for no extra cost — you’ll just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling. So what have you got to lose? Treat yourself to a free month of skincare made for you.
We did our homework do you don’t have to.
Gwen Pearson. Royal Jelly Isn’t What Makes q Queen Bee a Queen Bee. Wired. (2015, September 2).
Carol DerSarkissian. Royal Jelly Health Benefits. RxList. (2019, February 6).
“Royal jelly is widely used as a dietary nutritional complex to help combat various chronic health conditions. Furthermore, it is one of the profitable remedies for human beings in both traditional and modern medicine. Many pharmacological activities such as antibacterial, antitumor, antiallergy, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects have also been attributed to it.” From Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. Visweswara Rao Pasupuleti, et. al. Journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. (2017, July 26).
Paula’s Choice. Royal Jelly. (2020).
R. Leung, et. al. Royal jelly consumption and hypersensitivity in the community. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Allergy. (March 1997).