Week 3: Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica)

This blog is part of the Farm to Face collection, which launches on November 1st. Each week we show you exactly how we made one of the ingredients that go inside of your beauty products. If you want to follow along the process, subscribe to updates here.


Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica)

This week I bring to you my absolute favorite oil from the Farm to Face collection: honeysuckle (or lonicera japonica).

honeysuckle (lonicera japonica)Lonicera Japonica / Japanese Honeysuckle Flowers

This type of honeysuckle is also known as Japanese Honeysuckle. There’s actually two kinds – one indigenous to North America and the Japanese variant, an invasive species I didn’t know this until I started researching Honeysuckle, because growing up, all I knew was the yellow+white flower variety. Despite the fact that it is an invasive species, Japanese honeysuckle still packs a beauty punch.


Why We Chose It: Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica)

I love honeysuckle. I always have. As a kid, we’d pinch off the end of the bud and pull the the strands of the flower through the new hole we’d made, hoping for a drop or two of sweet juice to come out.

Honeysuckle flower extract is a powerful source of anti-oxidant flavanoids and saponins, making it a good anti-ager. Even better news? It’s generally agreed upon by everyone in the beauty community as a great anti-ager. (source). It’s, in fact, pretty simple and straight forward when it comes to the anti-aging punch that it packs. It’s an anti-oxidant, so it helps reduce free radicals and the aging skin damage that comes with free radicals.

Honeysuckle extract also contains a form of salicylic acid (p-hydroxy benzoic acid of the salicylic class), which you might know from acne treatments. Salicylic acid–also known as a BHA–is a chemical exfoliator that helps prevent pores from getting clogged by correcting the abnormal shedding of cells. It has aspirin-like properties (because aspirin is made from salicylic acid), giving it anti-inflammatory properties. It can improve skin thickness, barrier functions and collagen production — that’s all good news for you.

Japanese honeysuckle has gained popularity in the past few years as a natural preservative, because it mimics a paraben (note: it is not a paraben or a “natural” paraben). And if in fact you are worried about parabens at all, it might be time to second-guess that worry (source). While there are potential estrogen-increasing effects with honeysuckle, it’s generally not something to be worried about because of the very low levels and lack of general evidence.

Any other concerns about the safety of japanese honeysuckle as a cosmetic ingredient come from the use of nanotechnology or chemical-splitting involved with the production of a popular company’s japanese honeysuckle extract (full discussion here). Fortunately, we are not using another company’s extract and have followed a very simple folk method of oil infusion.

Megan Cox harvesting honeysuckle flowers

Where We Got It: Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica)

In Southern Indiana, Japanese Honeysuckle seems to grow everywhere. The side of the road, every piece of woods you go through, every person’s yard.

And while I’d like to pick it everywhere, to be totally safe, the honeysuckle had to come from an area that had been pesticide-free for 3+ years. The area must have proper foliage / flowers / etc. around to prevent erosion.

While you can see the flowers and surrounding area, You can only guarantee that if you know the owners of the property and ask them about the property’s history. I picked the honeysuckle from my grandparent’s house, where one plant has taken over a bush. Another rest on the outskirts of the yard, next to the woods.

a big bowl of japanese honeysuckle flowers

The honeysuckle was the first flower I harvested for the collection, and my absolute favorite. It smells so sweet and gently fragrant. The smell gets on your hands, but you don’t mind. The flowers are delicate and beautiful–and I just harvested the flowers, not any other part of the plant, so I ended up with a giant bowl of flowers to make oil from. It was a very auspicious beginning to the collection.


How We Made It: Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica) Oil

After I gathered the flowers, I washed them, and (yes, you guessed it!) following the Folk Method again, infused the flowers with organic jojoba oil.

After 8 weeks, we strained the oil manually, then labeled it and stored it in a cool dark place. It was the first oil finished, so it would have to wait.

extracting honeysuckle oil

The thing I loved most about the honeysuckle oil was that it still smelled like honeysuckle. This was my first oil and I wasn’t sure if everything would come out smelling like it should.

Jojoba oil is a clear, golden oil that smells slightly nutty, but it’s not overpowering. Once it was infused with honeysuckle for 8 weeks, it was a light orangish-yellow, semi-opaque liquid that smelled very strongly of sweet, sweet honeysuckle. It made me realize.. I had done something right! And actually, I think this is way, way better than what you can buy on Amazon. It was validation for me, and a big push to keep going.


Side Note: Why are you Always Using Jojoba Oil?!

You’ll probably notice by now that most of the collection was made with jojoba oil. This just has to do with the fact that jojoba oil is the best vegan mimic of your skin’s natural sebum, and can help balance and penetrate. Any ingredient that you want penetrated into the skin should be combined with an oil that can do the job (and not every oil can, if for nothing else than stearic hindrance).

This also makes jojoba oil a great carrier for anything and everything; you can literally add jojoba oil to any formulation and don’t need to worry about it being comedogenic. It won’t break you out.

So whether you’re formulating an acne wash (like CLARITY), an anti-aging product (like REWIND) or an anti-inflammatory product (like CALM), jojoba is a great choice. It’s light, moisturizing–and emollient but also an occlusive agent–penetrating, balancing, and rich in essential fatty acids.

Make your own! Start with one of these oils:

How We Used It: Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica) Oil

You can find japanese honeysuckle oil as a big part ofboth REWIND and CALM.

Thankfully, honeysuckle’s sweet smell carries very strongly through both formulations, so you can expect a sweet fragrant – and very natural – surprise inside each bottle.

farm to face full collection amalie beauty

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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