Thanaka: The Ancient Tradition Behind Burmese Beauty
There are many beauty and skincare secrets scattered around the world. Some traditions have long been forgotten. While others are still relevant to this day.
One tradition that still remains popular in Myanmar is the use of Thanaka. Here, we’ll dive deeper into this Burmese tradition to unlock the secrets it holds.
What Is Thanaka?
Thanaka or Limonia acidissima is a type of sandalwood tree in Myanmar. This tree is also known as the elephant apple or wood-apple tree. The Thanaka tree must be at least 35 years old to get enough bark to turn into a paste.
In Burmese literature, Thanaka was first mentioned in the 14th century. However, the use of Thanaka paste may go as far back as two thousand years, as stone slabs with instructions for making the Thanaka paste were discovered in excavation sites.
For many years, the image of Burmese women would often be associated with painted faces made from Thanaka paste. The use of Thanaka paste on the face was even mentioned in George Orwell’s “Burmese Days.”
How Is Thanaka Paste Made?
To make the Thanaka paste, you would first need a kyauk pyin, a stone slab the size of a small pizza. Next, you should have a Thanaka tree log with the bark still on it and some water. Wet the stone slab using the water and rub the bark against the kyauk pyin to create the paste. Don’t stop until you have enough paste to apply to the face.
If you’re going to use a homemade paste, it’s best to make it fresh before application. The process only takes a few minutes, and it will look a bit colorless and watery at first. However, when it dries on the skin, it will become a gorgeous golden hue.
What Are the Benefits of Using Thanaka Paste?
Thanaka can be an excellent natural sunscreen due to its high natural SPF. Aside from protecting the skin from the harsh sunlight, it can also help soothe sunburns.
Thanaka paste also has a lot of active ingredients and healing properties that can contribute to healthy skin. Aside from being a natural sunscreen, it is also an antioxidant and moisturizer. Thanaka paste is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal.
It can protect the skin from pollution, and it also contains vitamin E. Since Thanaka contains a melatonin synthesizing enzyme called Tyrosinase, it can also help brighten the skin and improve one’s complexion.
What’s the Importance of Thanaka Paste in Burmese Culture?
Thanaka has been a part of Burmese culture for centuries, and it is still being used today by Burmese women of all ages. It doesn’t matter what your social status or ethnic background is because Thanaka paste is relevant wherever you may be in Myanmar. Aside from reaping the skin benefits Thanaka offers, Burmese women also prefer this traditional cosmetic as golden-marked cheeks are stylish and are the signature look of Burmese beauty.
Thanaka is a traditional cosmetic that connects modern-day Burmese women with their ancestors. The paste takes only a few minutes to make, and it can provide tons of benefits to the skin. Aside from that, the golden hue of the Thanaka paste is what makes Burmese beauty so iconic and unique.
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