If you’ve ever had the fortune to spend time in the majestic nation of Myanmar you may have noticed a creamy-white paste flanking the broad smile on both sides of the friendly faces you met. Mainly seen applied to the faces of girls and women (but to a lesser extent males too), thanaka is a cosmetic paste made from the bark of the thanaka plant (Limonia acidissima).
The paste is produced by grinding the bark, wood or thanaka root (traditionally only sourced from trees that are at least 7 years old) on a stone slab called a kyauk pyin. Mixed with a small amount of water, the ground paste is applied to the skin in attractive designs – sometimes in the shape of a leaves or other decorative images.
The usage is not limited to the face, and because of its cooling properties it’s often applied over the body and limbs to counter the heat and humidity and protect the wearer from sunburn while tightening the skin.
Having been used by the women of Myanmar for over 2,000 years, thanaka is also believed to have cosmetic benefits; battling acne and making skin feel softer and smoother are just two of the believed attributes and cosmetic companies have been using thanaka as an ingredient in products since it was approved for export in 2006.
If you’re visiting Myanmar in the near future and would like to buy some of this amazing natural cosmetic, or even just try wearing it, be sure to let our local Travel Specialists know while you’re planning your tailor-made trip with us!