Manuka honey comes from the Manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium), a small flowering tree that's found in New Zealand and eastern Australia. It's created by bees who pollinate the flowers, which bloom for only about six weeks each spring. But to officially earn the title of "Manuka honey," the honey needs to contain at least 70% Manuka pollen.
Like other honeys, Manuka honey features a cocktail of substances like simple sugars, water, enzymes, and vitamins. What makes it so special, though, is its rich content of methylglyoxal (MGO), a medicinal compound with impressive antimicrobial properties. The amount of MGO—which represents the honey’s potency—is indicated by a unique Manuka factor (UMF), a rating listed on the packaging of Manuka honey. The more MGO present, the higher the rating. (A rating below 10 is on par with regular, normal honey.)
For thousands of years, Manuka honey has been used as both food and medicine—long before "UMF" was even a thing. Traditionally, Manuka honey (and honey, in general) has been used to ease a wide range of ailments, from sore throats to digestive upset. People also use it to boost the immune system, increase energy levels, and improve skin health.
Manuka honey has been especially trendy in the realm of skin care. Besides, normal honey is already a stellar skin ingredient—what more if it's extra-rich in therapeutic plant compounds, too?