Quick Fix for Messy DIY Honey Masks

One of the most popular DIY solutions found on the Internet is the simple honey mask. The instructions are simple- apply raw honey to your face, wait as long as you can stand in (10 min to an hour) and then rinse off. Honey's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a gentle mask for skin types suffering irritation, acne, and redness.

However, like a lot of DIY techniques, I find the simple honey mask to be a bit lacking. The fact that it only contains one ingredient means that there's nothing in it to regulate the skinfeel or comfort. I find that invariably it begins to run and drip off my face within 3 minutes of application. It doesn't lend itself to being comfortably worn for extended periods of time, and since this is a mask that is best worn for as long as possible, I have often not been able to reap the true benefits of a honey mask because of my discomfort.

I recently discovered that there's a very simple solution for making my honey masks stick. All you need is your regular raw honey, and any hydrating facial toner.


  • Raw honey: It's important to not get sugar water or corn syrup in a honey container, but you do not need medical grade or organic Manuka honey. Raw, pure honey works no matter how expensive it is, so just acquire from a reputable seller which labels its products accurately and whose price suits your budget.
  • Hydrating toner: In Japanese and Korean skincare, the hydrating toner is an essential 1st step to prep the skin and increase its moisture retention. If you are unfamiliar with what this product does or what classifies as a hydrating toner, see some of the examples later in this post.
  • Mixing vessel: I use disposable Dixie cups, but you can use your palm, a saucer, or small tupperware
  • Mixing utensil: I prefer to use a coffee stirrer, chopstick, or disposable spatula for this step. I find that mixing with your hands or fingers alone doesn't tend to combine the mask as thoroughly.


Mix roughly 3 parts honey to 1 part toner in your palm or a small dish. The combination will closely resemble honey alone, but once you apply to your face, you'll find that it actually has a much better sticking ability and doesn't drip off your face.

The first time I tried this, I was skeptical and sat in a hot room to put it through the gauntlet, but I kept  a towel on my chest to catch the usual stray drippings. No drips for 20 min. I got up to do some chores, moved around quite a bit, and still no drips. I wore the mask for a total of 40 min and was amazed that none of it had migrated to my lower jaw or neck. It had stayed exactly where I put it.

This works well with any hydrating toner with some amount of viscosity and humectant agents like glycerin. I would not recommend you try this with a very thin, watery FTE type product, because those aren't going to lend any additional sticking power.  From pure personal experimentation, I know this trick works with:

  • Hada Labo Lotions
  • Klairs Supple Preparation Toner
  • Naruko toners
  • Earth's Recipe Energy Boosting Toner
  • Kikumasamune High Moist Toner
  • Cezanne High Moist Skin Conditioner
  • Skinfood toners
  • Innisfree toners
But you can experiment with any other toner which emphasizes hydration- not cleansing, astringent, or pH-adjusting toners.

You may optionally "boost" your honey mask by mixing in a few drops of a favorite essence or ampoule. Something cheap like the CosRX Snail 96 Essence is a good bet because you won't feel too guilty rinsing it away after 30 min. You can also mix a few drops of oil into this mixture, but don't get carried away. Large quantities of oil mixed with the water-based honey will separate and slide off once warmed on the skin's surface.

This is a preservative free, unstable mixture. Ideally you would create a single-size serving and dispose of what's leftover. Do not attempt to store this in your bathroom or even in the fridge, as it will likely spoil and go rancid. The first few times you mix some up, you may create too much waste, but you'll quickly learn the quantities necessary for a single serving.


Honey masks can be rinsed away with water alone. They should be used after any cleansing steps and before you start your leave-on skincare routine. They leave no residue on the skin and do not need to be followed with a cleanser. You can use actives (exfoliants) on your bare skin once you rinse, since the honey mask isn't irritating like a clay mask or sensitizing at all. Make sure to layer up with your hydrating toner, essence, and cream steps.

If you are looking for an exceedingly luxurious, multi-masking routine, you can precede the honey mask with a clay mask to draw out excess oil and calm acne. You may also follow the honey mask with a hydrating sheet mask. I'm fond of the honey mask on its own as it can be tweaked to suit your morning routine (wear for only 10 min) or to fit into a more luxurious, long spa-like treatment. It doesn't interact with other sensitizing skin treatments, unlike clay masks, so there's no reason to skip it, provided you have time.

If you are looking for a new mask to mix into your regular clay and sheet masking weekly routine, a modified raw honey mask is a great option. It's easy to wear, easy to rinse, and cheap. If you're like me and you somehow acquired far too many hydrating toners, this is a nice way to use them up.

Why This Works

Honey is "sticky" on its own and you wouldn't assume it needs help to adhere to the face. However, when honey heats up, it has a bad tendency to become extremely runny- good for cooking and mixing, bad for wearing. I find that the humectant agents in toners, which are usually sticky when used in pure form, but feel silky in a final formula, are what help the honey stick fast to the skin's surface. This isn't about diluting the honey, as you only need very little toner. Because toner is formulated to sink into the skin well, I think that it has properties that make it an ideal mixing agent for something that slides off and beads on the surface of your skin.

While it's tempting to try a ton of storebought masks, the category can often get out of hand in a stash. It's nice to use items you already have lying around the house in an effective way. If you already use the hydrating toner you mix into honey, you won't likely have any adverse skin reactions. I generally don't think that the properties contained in the hydrating toners you use are going to show much distinct benefit in a wash-off honey mask. The anti-inflammatory extracts or strong humectants are likely to be so diluted in the base of honey that you won't want to count on those for targeting particular skin issues. Best to apply a layer of a toner and leave it on if you are particularly wanting to enjoy the full benefits of its contents.

Honey is such a great skincare ingredient, and many popular expensive products use the extract or the honey itself as an ingredient. This is a great way to take advantage of its properties without spending too much money. And if you're like me and have a sensitivity to propolis, which is often combined with honey extract in Korean and Japanese formulas, this is a good method too.


  1. I have the Innisfree Green Tea Skin. I also have the Benton Snail High Content Skin. Are either of these considered hydrating toners?

    1. Both of those are considered hydrating toners, yes! In Korea, it's common to call those items "Skin" or "Toner," and in Japan it's common to see them named "Lotion." They all refer to the watery, hydrating products like the 2 you have.

  2. I don't have any hydrating toners but I can easily get a hold of plain old glycerin. Any idea as to whether or not that is a good idea? I'm not sure if I'd still have to use the same ratios as honey to toner but wondering if I should add water as well.


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