Pacific Coast Pretty: Bee-stung beauty on Vancouver Island

Culture Fashion

An emerging skincare trend has been causing quite a buzz in the beauty industry as of late. Bee venom, which contains the toxin melittin, has been enjoying renewed fame ever since Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, were said to be enjoying the anti-aging benefits of bee sting facials around the time of Kate and Prince William’s royal nuptials in 2011. The Duchess of Cornwall has purportedly been an avid fan of bee venom skincare for some time, and other celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and TV-primetime physician, Dr. Oz, have also been recently linked to this trend.

Now, if you’re thinking that you’d rather write 10 term papers than let any kind of venom near your face, hear me out. Bee venom applied to the surface of the skin is definitely not going to poison you (unless, of course, you’re allergic to it, in which case you shouldn’t use it at all), but instead is reported to lift, tighten and firm the skin when applied topically. It is often referred to as “nature’s Botox” and though it is most popular in anti-aging regimens, it is also supposed to produce a healthy glow, reduce skin inflammation and prevent signs of aging, which means that those of us without mature skin can reap bee benefits too, no matter our skin-type.

Knowing that honey is a globally popular food and skincare item, I wanted to examine Canadian involvement in this growing trend and sure enough, it turns out that bee venom is a buzzword here on Vancouver Island as well. Bee U Organics Ltd., a local company from Parksville, B.C., was founded by entrepreneurs Alex Fras and Kelly Forrest in 2006. They recently created a product called Bee U Organics Bee Venom Face Mask that’s been turning heads in the beauty industry. Celebs like supermodel Christy Brinkley and former cast member of the Real Housewives of New York City, Jill Zarin, have jars of this formula, and so does Laura Pucker, winner of America’s Perfect Woman Pageant.

Though theirs is not the only bee venom product on the market, it’s a strong competitor to other products, boasting all natural, organic and high-quality ingredients which help it stand apart. “We went to over four different labs,” said Fras. “We spent [thousands of] dollars before we got to a lab that was able to work with us to come up with the final product.” These products are produced solely in Canada and are made with Canadian-sourced ingredients whenever possible. Their face mask is indeed sold overseas, but there’s definitely a local feel to the brand. They strive to be environmentally friendly—and, more importantly—kind to their bees.

If you were worried about the treatment and welfare of these poisonous little dynamos—don’t be. Their tiny stingers remain intact, meaning they aren’t harmed or killed in the venom extraction process. Using glass panels, a harmless electric current stimulates the bees, causing them to want to sting. When there is nothing to sting, they produce a small amount of liquid, which then evaporates on the glass panels, leaving a residue behind. It is then refined to be a key component in products like the Bee Venom Face Mask. “We harvest the venom ourselves. We’re part of a group of specialists with bee venom [and] the best venom we collect we use in our products,” said Fras.

It’s the melittin in the venom that promotes collagen and elastin production in the skin. These two proteins are what keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay, although their crinkle-fighting powers do not come at a cheap price. Bee venom is considered a luxury product, so be ready for the elevated industry costs that come with relatively rare, high-end skincare ingredients. The well formulated (with 100 per cent pure, powdered venom) Bee U Organics Bee Venom Mask is sold at 50g for $89 (USD) on their website ( if you’d like to get your glow on locally, purely and naturally. It carries a geranium, neroli and orange scent, and is absolutely paraben-free. Forget Botox and artificial fillers—this venom is the bee’s knees!