Burmese Cosmetics - Thanaka Rss feed Twitter button Facebook button

Over the years, quite a few people have asked me about the yellowish-white powder that local Thais and Burmese women put on their faces. This leads me to write this post about Thanaka.

Thanaka is a powder derived from the wood, bark and roots of the Limonia acidissima tree, which is also called wood-apple, elephant-apple, monkey fruit and curd fruit tree.

They are grown in central and northern Burma, today known as Myanmar. Actually, the tree is also native to a number of South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Java in Indonesia.

Thanaka has a gentle scent, somewhat similar to sandalwood.

Benefits Of Thanaka

A Burmese vendor selling thanaka cosmetics in Thailand.

From ancient times, thanaka has played an important role in Burmese beauty care. Burmese women have used thanaka as a natural facial cosmetic. Here are the main uses:

- Blocking the sun's UV

- Cooling and moisturizing the skin

- Smoothening and softening the skin

- Keeping the skin youthful

- Removing freckles and unwanted marks on the face

- Healing acne

- Acting as an antifungal agent

In addition, thanaka powder can also help remove dead skin, relieve itchiness and repel insects.

Natural Thanaka Paste

Most Burmese women still use natural thanaka paste. It's made by grinding the wood and bark, on a circular stone slab called "kyauk pyin", with some water to get a yellowish-white paste. Then the creamy paste is applied directly on the face, usually on the cheeks, the bridge of the nose and forehead.

A Burmese vendor demonstrates how to grind thanaka with a stone slab.

Thanaka Cosmetics

Cosmetic companies produce various products with thanaka, ranging from 100% thanaka powder, to bars, lotions, creams, soaps and talc.

Thanaka cosmetics sold at a border market in Thailand.

Where To Buy Thanaka

Thanaka products are readily available both in shops and online.

They are plentiful at border markets between Thailand and Burma, such as Singkhon Border in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Other border markets can be found in Thai provinces such as: Kanchanaburi, Tak, Chiang Rai, Mae Hongson and Ranong.

You can also buy thanaka cosmetics at local markets in most provinces that border Burma. However, you have more choices and can get a better deal at the border markets.

Suggested Reading:   Amazing Coconut Palms   Traditional Thai Crafts

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