Originally published for Allure here.
Kate Middleton isn’t the only royal creating a buzz with her beauty habits. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, reportedly slathers on a $90 bee venom-based face mask to combat the aging process. This “organic face lift” claims to smooth out wrinkles by tricking the skin to produce more collagen and elastin. Recently, the British beauty brand which makes the mask, Heaven by Deborah Mitchell, scored a $164 million, ten-year distribution dealin China. But is it actually a viable alternative to Botox? We ask dermatologist Jeannette Graf if the main ingredient in this $90 mask is really the bee’s knees.
Dr. Graf says melittin, the active compound in bee venom, does have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and can boost the immune system. Since the venom is anaphylactic, it temporarily relaxes the facial muscles, breaking down cell membranes and improving circulation—all of which can theoretically contribute to a tighter complexion.
But are the results comparable to Botox? “Everybody wants to be the next Botox,” says Dr. Graf, “but there haven’t been enough clinical trials to judge the effect of the venom.” With repeated use, it could cause you to develop a severe allergy—or even damage essential cell membranes (bee venom is also used to destroy malignant tumors—yikes!) We’re not entirely sold on spreading any insect by-products on our face, but we will say that Camilla looks pretty fabulous at 64. Dr. Graf agrees: “Whatever she’s doing, I say you keep it up, girl.”
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