Myanmar ancient beauty secret – Thanaka powder
Thanaka is a wonderful facial base powder that is purely made from 100% organic and natural Asian tree wood and bark which is the Limonia acidissima tree. This tree is the only species in the monotypic genus Limonia that are found in Myanmar/Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Java and Pakistan. It has a variety of names such as wood-apple, monkey fruit, elephant-apple, and curd fruit and different names in the languages of its native area.
The wood and bark has been used extensively by Burmese women as a natural cosmetic, sunscreen, anti-ageing, and insect repellant since the ancient times. Thanaka is a unique feature of Myanmar. It is a cosmetic paste that is a yellowish-white color. It’s made from ground bark and contains 2 active ingredients, coumarin and marmesin. Coumarin is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, phytochemical, and an anti-ageing and anti-oxidant agent. This ingredient has the ability to remove all kinds of fungi and bacteria present in the human skin while strongly producing two major proteins, collagen and elastin. These proteins revert premature ageing that keeps skin young looking, supple, and elastic. The marmesin ingredient act as a shield of skin from harmful UV-B rays, which is the cause of the increase production of melanin in our skin that results in skin freckles, discoloration, and even skin cancer. It also naturally protects the skin from harmful UV-A rays that diminishes both skin moisture and proteins which causes premature ageing, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Thanaka cream is made from the wood of several trees that grow widely from central to north Myanmar. The cream is made by grinding the wood, bark, or roots of a Thanaka tree then a small amount of water is added on a kyauk pyin, a circular stone slab that has a canal around the top edge for the water to pass into. Thanaka trees are perennial and it must be at least 35 years old to be considered mature enough to crop good-quality cuttings. In the natural state of Thanaka, it sold as small logs in bunches or individually and nowadays it is already available in powder form.
For more than 2000 years, Burmese women have been using Thanaka cream and powder as their daily beauty regimen. They use Thanaka powder ass their all-in-one beauty cosmetic for all practical purposes. It has a fragrant scent similar to sandalwood with slight flowery scent, which is why it also serves as their perfume. Thanaka is applied to the face and the arms mostly of women and sometimes of men. The cream is applied to the face in attractive designs such as a circular patch on each cheek, leaf or flower shaped, stripes patterned by fingers which is known as thanaka be gya, or highlighting the bridge of the nose. The cream may be applied from head to toe. Application of Thanaka makes the skin clear, smooth, and cool and it also controls oiliness and tighten up pores due to its natural anti-oxidant and moisturizing properties. It is also an effective whitener that helps eliminate dark spots on the skin and lighten the dark parts of the body, including the elbows, armpits, ankles, and thighs.s
Thanaka is not only used as a beauty cosmetic but also used as a protection from sunburn as it gives a cooling sensation. It also helps remove acne and used as an anti-fungal agent. The use of this product has also spread to its neighboring countries like Thailand.