The Duchess of Cornwall and the £55 bee-sting facelift
UPDATED: 16:05 GMT, 28 July 2010 (

At 63, it’s not surprising that the Duchess of Cornwall has a few wrinkles. Years of smoking and plenty of time in the sun have helped add more than a few lines.

But even seasoned observers have noticed that many of those lines seem to be getting ironed out.

Yesterday the mystery of the disappearing wrinkles was solved when it emerged that Camilla is having ‘organic face lifts’.

Changing faces: The Duchess of Cornwall has been using a bee venom-based beauty treatment to counter the ageing process
Quite what that involves remains unclear but the skin expert she is seeing has a trademark treatment using bee venom as an alternative to Botox.

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The Duchess has joined a string of A-list celebrities who have non-surgical procedures costing up to £165 from beautician Deborah Mitchell.

Anti-ageing: Deborah Mitchell’s organic Bee Venom Mask, which is said to ‘iron out wrinkles’
Other high-profile customers said to benefit from treatments such as lymph drainage, massage and ‘acupressure’ have included Dannii Minogue, Gwyneth Paltrow and Michelle Pfeiffer.

An intensive anti-aging moisturising cream that contains venom extracted from honey bees is one of Mrs Mitchell’s most popular products among her clients.

Her £55 Bee Venom Mask is said to work by gently ‘stinging’ the skin, leaving a tingling sensation and stimulating the body into producing chemicals which reduce wrinkles by relaxing and strengthening the muscles.
Manuka honey, shea butter and rose and lavender oils are also designed to smooth the fine lines that come with age. Used twice a day for 20 minutes, the bee venom treatment can knock up to ten years off the appearance of middle-aged women, Mrs Mitchell, 44, said.

Honey bee venom is used cosmetically to ‘fool’ the skin into thinking it has been lightly stung with the toxin melittin, according to beautician Deborah Mitchell

This causes the body to direct blood towards the area and stimulates the production of the naturally-occurring chemicals collagen and elastin

Collagen strengthens body tissue while elastin is the protein that helps the skin to remain taut and bounce back into shape after being pressed or pinched. The venom also has the effect of relaxing the muscles, it is claimed

A toxin extracted from the venom, Apamin, has also been credited with alleviating conditions such as muscular dystrophy, depression and dementia

Apamin speeds up brain activity by allowing potassium to flow out of the nerves more quickly, a study by the University of Bristol and the University of Liege in Belgium found earlier this month

Mrs Mitchell, who runs the Heaven salon in Shropshire but also works at the Hale Clinic in London, said: ‘The bee venom completely changed Dannii Minogue and my other clients love it so much that we have got waiting lists.
‘It keeps skin firm and youthful and is not at all painful – there is just a slight tingle as the blood supply and nutrients flow into the skin tissues.’

The mask, which is sold online and in specialist salons and boutiques, is made using venom from bees in organic hives in New Zealand.

A pane of glass is placed alongside the hive and a weak electrical current is run through it, which encourages the insects to sting the surface. Because the bee’s lance remains in its body, it does not die.

Tiny quantities of the venom are then collected and sent to the UK. It is so valuable that it costs £27,000 for one ounce, Mrs Mitchell said.

She dilutes the venom to make up one per cent of the mask, so that it leaves the skin tingling but not painful. Mrs Mitchell also claims to be a healer and offers ‘psychic insights’ to customers during their treatments.

A spokesman for the Duchess said: ‘Deborah does carry out beauty treatments for Her Royal Highness. We cannot go into which treatments.’

Read more:

I’ve had the “Camilla face-lift”!
As beauty therapist Deborah Mitchell admits to treating the Duchess of Cornwall’s face with bee venom, Rosie Millard puts the organic face-lift to the test.

by Rosie Millard7:00AM BST 30 Jul 2010

Deborah Mitchell is one of the country’s most respected beauty therapists, but today she is one harrassed woman. “There are 100 messages on my phone!” she shouts as she arrives at her West End clinic. “Everyone in England wants me. Germany wants me. Dubai wants 1,000 pots. Immediately.”

Rosie Millard before her bee venom treatment
Last week she inadvertendly let slip that she has been treating the Duchess of Cornwall’s face with bee venom, no less. Now the whole world wants a go.

Forget about bee-stung lips. Bee-stung cheeks what everyone wants these days, and the potion does seem to have worked wonders on the once-lined face of the cigarette-smoking, sun-loving Camilla. Recent photos show her skin looking almost dewy, thanks to the bee venom mix in Mitchell’s “non-surgical face-lift”. Like any other middle-aged woman with crow’s feet, I’m dying for a try.

I’m booked in for the whole £165 treatment, which includes “lymph drainage, massage and acupressure” as well, of course, as slatherings of bee stings.

So what does it entail? “Letting your energy flow out”, says Mitchell when I turn up at her London clinic. “I can tell you are exhausted. Let me sense your electric field,” she says, putting her hand over my head. I’m busy imagining this happening to HRH Duchess of Cornwall (possibly during those moments when Charles is chatting to his plants), when Deborah grips my shoulders in a vice-like hold. She then proceeds to pummel my face in a not unappealing manner and eventually slaps on the bee venom, which sells online at £55 a pot, and is mixed with honey, rose, lavender, shea butter and “a secret ingredient”.

It supposedly gives a slight tingling feeling when you put it on. “Do you feel it stinging?” whispers the photographer. “No,” I whisper back. The idea is that your skin reacts slightly to the venom, which stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which both vital in plumping up your skin and ironing out those pesky wrinkles. Mitchell, 45, came up with the strange idea when she was looking for an alternative to Botox. “I wanted to get the same effect but without that Spock-type face.”

Rosie Millard BEFORE her bee venom treatment and AFTER her “organic face-lift”


If you can’t afford a pot of bee venom (which is safely extracted from bees in New Zealand), Mitchell says you can get a similar effect by putting stinging nettles in warm water, mixing them with yogurt and honey, and applying the resultant goo in a face mask.

This is typical of the concoctions she came up with as an ambitious student learning beauty therapy at college in Telford. She now has more than 150 products under her own label, Heaven, and celebrity clients including Dannii Minogue, Katie Price and Victoria Beckham. All of whom, it seems, love the way of the bee.

“They were discovering that the more they did Botox, the more their faces did not match their body language,” she says. “And viewers found them difficult to trust.” I can imagine. It’s hard to believe someone who waves their hands around but not their eyebrows. All that changed however once they started on bee venom. “They found that viewers liked them more,” says Mitchell.

No wonder she’s got a waiting list, I think, as I look in the mirror after my “non-surgical face lift”. My face certainly has a rosy glow. Not sure about the wrinkle demolition, but Camilla is up on me with three years of treatment under her belt.

“I like finding ways of making people look younger,” says Mitchell, a former Miss Shropshire (1986) and runner-up Miss Great Britain (1987), who claims to use “electrical energy within people to lift their muscles up”. She’s no fan of cold cream (“far too heavy for your skin”) or Boots’ Protect and Perfect, which caused stampedes when it was announced it had been scientifically proven to reduce wrinkles. “It’s like putting your head in a plastic bag,” she says, in a manner which one imagines would appeal to a no-nonsense type like Camilla.

Indeed, the sensation caused by this revelation about the Duchess of Cornwall shows how Camilla has become something of a style leader. From the moment she wore that flowing Robinson Valentine coat on her wedding day, the world seems to have not so much fallen in love with a fairytale princess, as engaged realistically with a likeable public figure. And if she leads us to a wrinkle free existence, she’ll have a fan base of truly global proportions – and Deborah Mitchell a cosmetics company of about the same size.