People squirmed when Botox was introduced. But soon, the anti-aging effects had people lining up for the botulism facial injections. Now, a new unorthodox facial treatment is causing some buzz. Bee venom face creams have been nicknamed “bee-tox,” but have no fear: The bee venom is diluted to one percent strength and creates only a mild tingling feeling in the skin.
A bee venom facial is a traditional facial that incorporates products like masks and creams that are made with the venom, or apitoxin, produced by honeybees. The apitoxin has an anti-inflammatory effect. Some honeybee enthusiasts even sting each other or themselves with bees for both beauty and wellness reasons, although the efficacy is unconfirmed. Bee venom facials (as opposed to getting the stinger) are meant to offer a gentler, painless introduction to the world of honeybee treatments.
When Frederique Keller was a young girl growing up in France there was no money for expensive face creams or lotions. Her grandmother taught her to make her own beauty products using natural, locally available ingredients. She even stung herself with bees to treat arthritis in her knees.
When Frederique later moved to the United States and married a beekeeper, she found her calling among the hives they harvested on their Long Island properties. Now she creates her own line of bee products and treats clients to venomous facials for both cosmetic and health reasons.
“The funny thing is I used to be terrified of the bees,” she said on a recent morning at her Centerport salon where she practices acupuncture and other Eastern medicine in addition to creating her line of BeePharm Apitherapy products. “I hated their little furry legs. But in Chinese medicine we are taught that fear and opportunity are related.”
That opportunity to utilize all the products of the hive, including raw honey, propolis, pollen and venom came when Frederique connected the principles of apitherapy (the medical use of honey bee products) with alternative medicine. Her creation of bee venom facials was a natural extension of her work in both Chinese medicine and as a beekeeper.
“When I started doing this 13 years ago, I didn’t realize anyone else was doing it. I just figured if the bee venom helps so much with body health issues, it could do the same thing for facial rejuvenation.” Now, even members of the British royal family number among the many who’ve come to be interested in bees as a beauty treatment.
Frederique and her fellow apitherapists regularly share techniques and bee-related wisdom as members of the American Apitherapy Society. But the field is not regulated and the treatments are as varied as the practitioners. Frederique, the only Long Island venomous facialist, also does traditional needle-based facial rejuvenation acupuncture. When she uses her products containing bee venom, she targets qi points in the face. According to Frederique, the natural response of the body to the venom plumps, moisturizes and smoothes fine lines.
“It has an initial inflammatory effect and then a secondary anti-inflammatory effect, which is why I recommend getting a treatment three to five days before any major event. Some redness is normal. But to see a dramatic collagen effect, I recommend seven to ten treatments. And then after that just use as needed.”
Frederique mixes her own bee venom mask, combining the venom she collects from her backyard hives with things like rose oils from Bulgaria. She sells her wares at farmers markets and at the Whole Foods store in Jericho. Customers can wear the venom mask every night for do-it-yourself, at home, bee beauty therapy.
“I don’t want to over-promise, if you have lots of deep wrinkles, they’re not going away. But I also don’t want to say that clients have to come back forever. I want to give them something they can do at home, a product that will work for them,” explained Frederique, whose own glowing skin is testament to the natural approach.
Beware: Anyone with allergies to bee venom should avoid all products that contain bee venom, no matter how diluted.