Have you heard of thanakha paste? This is a traditional cosmetic used by most Burmese people in Myanmar. The mask from this paste is not just used for beauty purposes, but it’s used to protect the skin and keep it cool during hot weather.

This article will run you through the history behind this natural tree bark face mask and how it is beneficial to the skin.

The History of the Thanakha Mask

Historically, the mustard yellow thanakha paste has been seen on the faces of Burmese men, women, and children. This has been used as a cream and cosmetic paste for over 2,000 years. It is also applied to the arms other than their faces.

Traditionally, the women grind the bark of the thanakha tree on a flat circular stone with a bit of water. This creates a milky yellow liquid that dries quickly when applied to the skin. This mixture creates a powdery protective ideal not only for faces but also for the arms.

What Is in the Mask?

The thanakha tree is known as the Limonia acidissima, but it is more commonly called various names such as sandalwood, wood-apple, elephant-apple, and curd fruit tree. These trees should be at least 35 years old before being harvested and used for these masks.

The thanakha paste can be used as a face mask, face wash, cleanser, talcum powder alternative, or an ingredient in cosmetic formulas. This is applied in foundation, sunscreens, insect repellents, soaps, deodorants, and skin ointments.

To use the thanakha powder, you need to mix 1-2 teaspoons of the pure thanakha powder with the same amount of water to create a creamy paste. You can apply this paste over cleansed skin. Let it dry after 20 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.

The Effects of Thanakha on the Skin

There are various benefits to the thanakha powder that makes it valuable as a facial mask. Some of these include:

1 - Nourishing the Skin

The thanakha paste is packed with nutrients such as vitamin E that helps protect the skin from pollutants in the air and free radicals. These free radicals damage the cell structure, which causes inflammation and premature aging. Thanakha is also naturally moisturizing, ideal for hydrating and cooling the face after sun exposure.

2 - Helping with Pimples and Acne

Thanakha has aqueous and alcoholic extracts that inhibit inflammation. This helps lessen pimples, acne, and redness.

3 - Natural Whitening

Thanakha has whitening, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory agents from the tree bark. This offers natural and effective skin lightening. You can use the thanakha paste every night before bed over a clean face, neck, arms, etc.

4 - Anti-Aging

Thanakha contains coumarin, which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, phytochemical, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties. This is also why thanakha is commonly used in cosmetics and sun-protective products.

5 - Help Soothe Oily Skin

The thanakha has astringent properties that help improve oily skin. It also has menthol, which can cool and soothe oily or inflamed skin.


The use of thanakha powder dates way in Burmese culture. It is still popular among people today because of its benefits to the skin and health. There are many ways to use this traditional medicinal paste, but the most popular way is as a facial mask. This bark is not only used for natural skin treatments but also for other products such as cosmetics, sunscreen, and insect repellent.

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