Bees + Betterment: Beelove Skincare Uses Local Honey to Bring Jobs to the Formerly Incarcerated

It’s been said time and time again, but the criminal justice system in America is broken. 

A system that punishes instead of reforms is inherently unethical, not to mention unsustainable, but that’s not even the half of it. Black people and other marginalized groups are targeted more frequently than whites and their sentences are harsher. People are jailed for decades for petty and nonviolent crimes (my dear friend Margaret was left impoverished after appealing her son’s drug charge. He didn’t win and will be in jail for at least another decade in the state of Virginia. Where’s the rationale in a 25 year sentence for selling drugs?). Though America comprises 4.4% of the global population, we have 22% of the world’s prisoners. And when people finally get out, they have a much harder time getting and maintaining gainful employment. Pairing civil activism and meaningful reform with targeted social outreach programs is the way forward.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out beelove (they sent me a few products free of charge). beelove makes organic, sustainable honey-based skincare products with a social mission to employ and train formerly incarcerated people in the Chicago area. First, honey from beelove’s personal city hives is harvested, then it’s combined with naturally-derived ingredients like shea butter, evening primrose oil, coconut oil, and their signature beelove scent. I have always had an affinity with bees because my nickname as a child was Leah Bee, so I’m glad to be able to support a company that respects bees and aids in their longterm preservation through sustainable enterprise, while also providing access to meaningful employment to people who are so often othered and excluded from regular work.

There’s no better time to receive a couple tubs of honey and floral scented lotions and balms than late fall. 

It’s time for me to pay attention to how I treat my skin before the alternating dry heat of the indoors and the nipping cold of the outdoors work their destruction. Maybe this is TMI, but my second winter here caught me so off guard that the skin on my hands and feet was basically shot through most of the spring and summer. Since then, I’ve made sure to apply thick lotion every night before bed. Just a little bit of care goes a long way.

My Review

beelove sent me their Body Cream, Ultimate Body Balm, and Honey & Brown Sugar Scrub to try.

I’ve tried a fair amount of lotions, scrubs, and creams and I normally don’t find a huge difference in quality, but I’m actually quite impressed with beelove’s body cream. It’s thick, but absorbs well into skin, so it’s something I can apply in the middle of the day without risking an oil slick on my hands that makes it impossible to go about my tasks. I’ve also used it liberally on my feet over the past few weeks and I awake to soft, happy feet.

For the past year, I’ve been using Thistle Farms (another U.S.-based social enterprise) Body Cream with great results, but I would say beelove is right on par with them in terms of quality, so I’ll happily alternate between the two this winter. The scent is also pleasant.

I don’t use body balms very frequently, but I am trying to get in the habit of applying this to my dry elbows and cuticles. Like the body cream, the balm is high quality and does what it’s supposed to do.

The scrub is a classic product in terms of consistency, ingredients, and scent. I’m enjoying incorporating it into my monthly home pedicure.

The Verdict:

High quality, good consistency, made domestically, for a cause – beelove ticks all the boxes. Simple as that.


Shop beelove here. 

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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