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Thanaka – the Natural Skincare Secret of Ancient Myanmar

For many years, visitors to Myanmar (formerly Burma) had been wondering how the women of this country kept their skin glowing and soft. The secret was a 2,000-year-old natural skincare tradition derived from the Thanaka tree. As a perennial, this tree is indigenous to Southeast Asia and enjoys widespread growth throughout Myanmar. When its stem is ground into a powdery form and mixed with water, it forms a yellowish paste that offers the user many benefits such as a skin beautifier and sun blocker.

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The Historical Roots of Thanaka

Legend has it that the use of Thanaka paste for its skin-nourishing properties was made popular by the queen of Beikthano. Her skin was the envy of many women and its soft, glowing appearance was attributed to using the paste made from mixing equal parts of ground Thanaka and water. However, the history of this amazing skincare product dates back to the founding of Myanmar (formerly Burma) during the 2nd century BC as the Pyu city-states.
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Is Thanaka Bark the Key to Burmese Beauty?

For many individuals that have visited Myanmar, one of the more distinct memories they have is the golden-painted cheeks of many Burmese women and children (along with some of the men). Whether they’re Buddhist or Muslim, young or old, most Myanmar females apply Thanaka paste to their faces on a daily basis. So the question arises. What is Thanaka paste and why do so many women paint it on their faces?

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Is Thanaka Myanmar’s Primary Sun Protection Factor

Myanmar is a part of the Southeast Asian region where the sun can be extremely bright and the humidity extremely high. Since ancient times, the locals have used a traditional formula to counteract the sun’s harsh UV rays and protect the skin. Men, women, and children have been applying Thanaka paste to their faces and other exposed areas of the body for centuries. The thick paste is made by mixing ground tree bark with water and applying it to the skin in order to prevent the damaging effects of the sun. It is commonly applied to the cheeks, forehead, and nose (areas that are prone to sunburn).

 

Mixing and applying Thanaka Paste


Visitors to Myanmar are encouraged to try Thanaka Paste because of its ability to brighten and soften the skin. The paste is made by mixing equal parts of Thanaka bark (that has been ground into a powder) and water. Once it becomes a creamy paste, it is applied to the face (see above). Most users enjoy it for its fragrant smell as well as its other benefits. It will eventually (usually in about 5 or 6 minutes) become a dry, thick mask that can last up to 6 hours per application. You can easily rinse it off when done.

Thanaka has a yellowish-gray color and looks similar to face paint. It is commonly applied in leafy designs or geometric and playful shapes. Myanmar locals love Thanaka for is skin-nourishing qualities which help to soften and soothe skin that has become dull or irritated. Furthermore, if you apply the paste or a traditional sunscreen when going outdoors, it can ease the irritation resulting from sunburn. Primarily a sunny country with tropical weather, skin irritations are common and that is why traditional methods of cooling and caring for the skin are still used.

Additionally, individuals who are prone to hyperpigmentation with medium to dark skin tones can use Thanaka to provide a brightening effect that fades dark spots and creates a complexion the is even and radiant. For many Southeast Asian locals who have olive toned skin, discoloration is often a major concern. However, those who use Thanaka paste to counteract skin discolorations are usually pleased with the results.

 

Shifting Beauty Trends


Unfortunately, traditional Thanaka paste use in Myanmar is being threatened by shifts in existing beauty trends. Many young Burmese women today are applying retail cosmetics and make-up as well as store-bought sunscreen. However, you can still see many locals in the smaller Myanmar villages with their faces painted with the Thanaka paste. For more information regarding this product and its amazing benefits, visit the Healing Bark website by clicking here or call us at (800) 770-9988 today.
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