They call it "nature's Botox" and it's reportedly part of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's beauty regime.
I'm told bee venom has swarmed the beauty world with its promise of turning back skin aging.
But it's not really a new rage. Even though the stories spread about Middleton having a bee venom mask treatment prior to her 2011 wedding to Prince William helped draw publicity, it's a beauty treatment that's been practiced since the royalty of Ancient Egypt.
So how does this work? I'm told when applied to the skin, bee venom encourages the body to react as if it has been lightly stung, and increases blood flow and cell renewal to the area of application,giving the effect of "plumping out" the wrinkles and "rejuvenating" the skin. (Why at age 29, Middleton would require any erasing of lines at her age, I'm not quite sure.)
I became curious about the use of bee venom for beauty after getting an email this month from New Zealand actress Anna Wilding, founder of Kalon Skincare and Anna's Pocket Bee Venom Beauty Mask.
"We make a premium grade product, from our own hives in New Zealand, while many brands get their bee venom from factory hives which are often polluted or just use honey and call the residual bee venom," Wilding explained.
"We use pure bee venom. And thank you for mentioning no bees are harmed. There really are no bees harmed. In fact, more bees are harmed collecting honey, and that is also rarely. I think it might actually help conserve the bee population which has been so hit by virus in the USA and elsewhere, as these hives are in the wild AND kept very clean and well maintained. I've learned a lot about bees in this process. We are also the only brand using eco packaging and we have no artificial fragrance and loads of good proven natural moisturizers.
As for how the venom is "harvested," it's a delicate process, which is another reason this key ingredient is so prized.
"In brief, the bees are stimulated to sting glass plates, without losing their stingers," Wilding explained.
"The bees then go about their daily business, of honey making, while the bee venom is then scraped off the glass plates and collected and processed naturally."
A 50 ml jar sells for $120 at kalonskincare.com.