Is Royal Jelly Worth the Hype? Here's What You Need to Know

A bee with royal jelly in a wax comb.
  • Royal jelly is a creamy substance that is produced by bees and used to feed their larvae and queen bees.
  • As a skincare ingredient, royal jelly contains a number of vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients that may help keep the skin healthy, strong, and protected.
  • Royal jelly’s skin benefits may include fighting inflammation, improving elasticity, and brightening dark spots.
  • Royal jelly is non-irritating and can be used by most people without causing adverse reactions. However, it's recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding — as well as people with allergies — avoid using royal jelly.

Royal jelly is one of the skincare industry’s newest must-have ingredients.

Early research suggests that royal jelly may have a number of great benefits for the skin.

Not only is royal jelly designed to provide intense hydration and promote optimal skin health, but it may also be effective in improving the appearance of acne scars and other skin conditions.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the many benefits of royal jelly and how it may be able to help improve the look and feel of your skin.

What is Royal Jelly?

Royal jelly is a creamy, white substance that bees discharge from their throat glands. They use it to feed the larvae that develop into queen bees.

In skincare products, this jelly is used because it’s rich in proteins — also called major royal jelly proteins — as well as vitamins, fatty acids, and other nutrients that can help keep the skin healthy and protected.

We’ll take a closer look at the other benefits of royal jelly a bit later.

Other forms of royal jelly

Royal jelly isn’t only used as a skincare ingredient. It can also be made into and taken as a supplement.

For example, some research suggests that royal jelly supplements may help the skin appear more supple and youthful.

These supplements may also be helpful in balancing hormones and reducing the risk of certain cancers.

Before taking royal jelly supplements, it’s recommended that you speak with your doctor or dermatologist first to discuss the health benefits and potential side effects. They can help you determine if the product is an appropriate option for you.

Fresh royal jelly is also a popular variety of this substance. It’s primarily used as a facial mask to hydrate the skin and promote wound healing.

What Are the Benefits of Royal Jelly for the Skin?

There are many benefits of royal jelly that make it a good skincare ingredient.

Not only is it packed with vitamins and nutrients, but it also has a number of properties that can help it to improve the overall appearance of the skin. Let’s take a closer look at what those are.

It has antibacterial properties

Royal jelly may have have an antibacterial effect on wounds and other inflammatory skin conditions like acne.

TThis means that it may be able to prevent harmful bacteria from growing on the skin and infecting blemishes or lesions.

Royal jelly's antibacterial properties are also intended to help the skin maintain its microbiome. This is the layer that contains millions of good bacteria that keep the complexion healthy.

It can do this by removing harmful organisms from the microbiome or by inhibiting their growth.

A young woman with dark hair pulled back is admiring her skin in the mirror.

It may improve skin texture and elasticity

When the skin becomes damaged by scarring and other lesions, like cysts or nodules, its fibers can break down and start to sag.

This damage may also make the skin more vulnerable to external stressors like UV radiation and pollution. These stressors can harm the complexion even further.

Some research suggests that royal jelly can promote firmer and smoother skin by boosting collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein that maintains the skin’s structure.

The jelly contains an acid called 10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA) — also called queen bee acid — that helps it to do this.

Not only can a steady production of collagen ensure that the skin is protected from harmful organisms, but it may help reduce common signs of skin aging as well.

Can You Use Royal Jelly for Acne Scars?

The 10-HDA acid found in royal jelly is a known collagen stimulant and may also increase the production of new skin cells — two key processes for healing scars.

When the body produces new skin cells, it can push dead ones and other impurities — like damaged tissue — from its surface.

This helps the skin to generate newer, healthier tissue that can replace damaged skin and reduce the risk of scars.

Similarly, collagen is important for keeping the skin firm and supple. When the body produces enough collagen, it can repair broken-down tissue that causes acne scars.

Over time, these two processes can help heal and fade scarring and promote skin renewal.

It's intended to help fight inflammation

Research also suggests that royal jelly has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe common skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.

Royal jelly can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the cells that prompt an immune response and cause flare-ups.

When the growth and production of these cells are inhibited, they can’t send a signal to the body and inflammation doesn’t occur.

Its anti-inflammatory properties may also give royal jelly the ability to reduce pain and swelling that often occur during a flare.

The jelly may offer protection from UV damage

When we are outside in the sun, the skin is exposed to UV radiation that generates free radicals. These are unstable atoms that can cause collagen fibers to break down over time, leading to damaged and sagging skin.

Some research suggests that royal jelly protects and treats damaged fibers and cells to help them repair themselves. This may improve the skin’s suppleness and make it appear firmer.

The jelly may also be able to neutralize free radicals, meaning that these atoms won’t be able to damage collagen fibers anymore. This may give the skin a more youthful appearance.

It might help brighten dark spots

As mentioned before, royal jelly contains an acid called 10-HDA that can stimulate collagen production in the body.

This same acid also inhibits the growth of melanin cells responsible for the pigment in skin.

When these cells are damaged due to too much sun exposure, they often start overproducing pigment. This can cause dark spots called hyperpigmentation.

However, royal jelly may help prevent hyperpigmentation cells from becoming darker and may even fade existing spots over time.

A woman with some pigmentation on her cheeks looks into a mirror. The woman's reflection is the main image in the photo.

Who Should Use Royal Jelly?

Royal jelly is available in a variety of topical and oral formulations.

It’s also a generally non-irritating skincare ingredient that isn’t known to cause adverse reactions.

However, these can occur if you have certain medical conditions like allergies and asthma. We’ll discuss these in more detail.

Royal jelly is also designed with a high lipid content which means it’s a good moisturizing option for people who have dry skin or eczema.

It may also be used alongside potent ingredients like retinoids because of its moisturizing and soothing properties.

Are There Any Risks Involved with Using Royal Jelly?

Although it’s normally non-irritating, royal jelly may still cause some adverse side effects.

To avoid these, it’s always recommended you speak to your doctor before you start using royal jelly. They will be able to make personalized recommendations to suit your skin’s specific needs.

It may cause an allergic reaction

Royal jelly is an animal by-product that may contain traces of bee pollen.

People with pollen or bee allergies don’t use royal jelly because of the risk of allergic reactions.

These reactions can range from mild to severe, with the most acute cases potentially being fatal.

If you use royal jelly and experience any sort of reaction to it — like itchy red bumps, swollen lymph nodes, or a feeling of tightness in your chest — stop using the product immediately.

A woman is holding medication (a white tablet) in her left hand and a glass of water in her right hand. The woman's face is not in the frame of the photo.

The product may interact with some medications

Royal jelly may interact with blood pressure medication and blood thinners like Coumadin or Jantoven.

Some studies suggest that when royal jelly is used as a supplement, some of its proteins relax muscle cells and cause blood pressure to lower.

When taking royal jelly alongside other medication meant to lower blood pressure, there’s an increased risk of blood pressure levels falling too low.

Using royal jelly supplements with blood thinners can also increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

Royal jelly’s effect on a fetuses and newborn babies is unclear

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid royal jelly products or speak to their doctor before using them, as the effect on fetuses and newborn babies is unclear.

Where Can I Learn More About Royal Jelly?

Want to find out if royal jelly is right for you? Board-certified doctors and nurse practitioners are ready to help. And you can stay right where you are! Go ahead and schedule a video appointment at LifeMD.

Dr. Banita Sehgal

Dr. Sehgal received her medical degree from Western University in Los Angeles and trained as Chief Resident at White Memorial Medical Center, also in Los Angeles. She’s been practicing medicine for 20+ years and has a specific interest in women’s health.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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