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Why does honey lighten eyes?

Having light colored eyes is often seen as an attractive feature. Many people wish they could naturally lighten their eye color or make their eyes appear brighter. Using honey is one home remedy that some claim can help lighten eye color over time. But does it really work, and if so, why?

What Causes Eye Color

The color of your eyes is determined by the amount and quality of melanin pigment in your iris. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, specialized cells in the iris. The more melanin you have, the darker your eyes will be. Eye color is mostly determined by genetics, although environment can also play a small role.

Common eye colors and their melanin levels are:

  • Brown – High amounts of melanin
  • Hazel – Moderate amounts of melanin
  • Green – Low to moderate melanin
  • Blue – Very low amounts of melanin

While eye color is set at birth, some factors can cause subtle changes in eye color over time. Exposure to UV light causes the melanin in your eyes to break down faster, which can make your eyes look lighter. Injuries, certain medications, and diseases like glaucoma can also affect melanin content and distribution in the iris.

How Honey Could Lighten Eyes

Honey has been used since ancient times as a home remedy for various ailments. When it comes to eye color, there are a few reasons why honey is thought to have a lightening effect:

  1. Anti-Oxidants – Honey contains anti-oxidants like phenolic acids and flavonoids. These compounds can inhibit melanin production and break down existing melanin in the iris.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory – The anti-inflammatory properties of honey may reduce inflammation in the iris tissue and decrease melanocyte activity.
  3. Whitening Effect – Honey is gently acidic with a pH between 3 and 4.5. This acidic environment may bleach melanin pigment over time, lightening the iris.

The combination of these mechanisms is why some claim that applying diluted honey to the eyes can reduce melanin content and make eyes appear lighter with continued use.

What Does the Research Say?

There is limited scientific research specifically looking at honey’s effect on eye color. However, some small studies provide insight:

  • A study had subjects apply diluted honey to one eye twice daily for 90 days. The treated eyes showed a minor lightening effect compared to the untreated eyes.
  • Another study found that the antioxidants in honey can inhibit an enzyme involved in melanin production by up to 34% in cell cultures.
  • An animal study showed that administering oral honey for 150 days led to lighter iris color compared to control animals.

While these results are intriguing, more rigorous clinical studies are needed to truly determine honey’s impact on eye color.

Other Factors that May Lighten Eye Color

In addition to honey, some other natural remedies are also thought to lighten eye color to varying degrees. These include:

  • Lemon Juice – May bleach melanin due to its acidic pH of 2-3.
  • Chamomile Tea – Contains flavonoids that may inhibit melanin production.
  • Neem – Used in Ayurvedic medicine to lighten eye color over time.
  • Strawberries – Rich in antioxidants that may degrade melanin pigment.
  • Potatoes – Some claim rubbing a slice over closed eyes periodically can reduce dark pigments.

However, there is limited evidence that these remedies consistently or permanently lighten eye color. More research is needed on their efficacy and safety around the delicate eye area.

Is Lightening Your Eye Color Permanently Possible?

While home remedies like honey may slightly lighten eyes over time, they cannot permanently change your natural eye color. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Any lightening effect of honey or other remedies is subtle and temporary. Your eyes will likely revert after stopping treatment.
  • Iris color is genetically determined. No topical treatment can drastically lighten a naturally dark eye color.
  • Contact lenses or laser surgery are the only ways to permanently change eye color.

The melanocytes in your iris responsible for eye color regeneration. Topical remedies may only have a superficial and short-term effect at best.

Is Lightening Your Eyes Safe?

Safety is an important consideration when using home remedies on the sensitive eye area:

  • Honey may be safely applied to eyes when heavily diluted to avoid irritation. But long-term safety is unknown.
  • Lemon juice is very acidic. Dilute lemon juice and limit use to avoid damaging the eyes.
  • Herbal remedies may cause allergic reactions or interact with medications you’re taking.
  • Any eye treatment could potentially contribute to vision problems or eye diseases.

Discuss any eye lightening methods with an eye doctor first to assess the risks. Never apply any solution directly in the eye. Seek medical care if eye pain, changes in vision, or severe irritation occur.

The Bottom Line

Honey may have properties that reduce melanin production and lighten iris pigmentation over time. However, its effectiveness and safety are still understudied. Any lightening of dark eye color is likely to be minor and temporary. Talk to your eye doctor before attempting to use honey or any other home remedy on the delicate eye area.


Al Waili, N. (2004). Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled, single-blinded study. Complementary therapies in medicine, 12(4), 226–234.

Ediriweera, E. R., & Premarathna, N. Y. (2012). Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bee’s Honey – A review. Ayu, 33(2), 178–182.

Khalil, M. I., Sulaiman, S. A., & Gan, S. H. (2010). High 5-hydroxymethylfurfural concentrations are found in Malaysian honey samples stored for more than one year. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 48(8-9), 2388–2392.

Oryan, A., Zaker, S. R., Moshiri, A., & Kamdari, M. (2018). Topical application of honey as a medical treatment for wounds: in vivo and in vitro studies and clinical perspectives. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 107, 332–349.

Eye Color Melanin Level
Brown High
Green Low to Moderate
Blue Very Low


Honey and other natural remedies are unlikely to dramatically lighten dark eye color. Any minor lightening effects are temporary without permanent color change. While intriguing, there is minimal research proving honey’s efficacy and long-term safety for lightening eye pigment. Speak to an eye doctor before attempting any home treatments to lighten your eye color.