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Thanaka Powder & Kusum Oil

The Natural Skin Care

In modern day Myanmar, people still use the traditional cosmetic known as Thanaka, as a daily cosmetic and skin conditioner. Thanaka is made from the branches of the sandalwood tree, (linoria acidissimia) When ground, the bark of the Thanaka tree, it is claimed, acts as an astringent, sunscreen and antiseptic.

 

Thanaka: The Burmese Beauty Secret.

 

In Myanmar, Carla Sommers discovers the beauty secrets of the Burmese and finds that beauty is not only skin deep at times, but that one prized beauty product comes not from the factory,
 but the forest….

Every culture and society had its own notions of beauty. From the pale faces of the Japanese geisha to the tattooed features of the Maoris. To enhance our perception of beauty there are many herbal and man-made preparations that, over the centuries have become de rigeur, from Egyptian kohl eyeliner, to scented hair oils and nowadays, makeup.

In modern day Myanmar, people still use the traditional cosmetic known as Thanaka, as a daily cosmetic and skin conditioner. Thanaka is made from the branches of the sandalwood tree, (linoria acidissimia) When ground, the bark of the Thanaka tree, it is claimed, acts as an astringent, sunscreen and antiseptic. 
It is a common sight on the streets of most towns and cities to see people with swipes of powdery yellow paint on their cheeks, noses or arms. The yellow comes from the juice of the ground bark.  There is nothing so unusual about using bark preparations for beauty purposes in Myanmar - hair is made extra glossy by boiling an extract from the tayaw shrub and even elephants get a body scrub with sticks of the aptly-named Soap tree!

In 1904, a Fren

ch traveler to Rangoon (nowadays called Yangon) described how

“All about (the) small buildings and on the steps of the intensely decorated pavilions…are… sellers of …aromatic barks”.

It is applied in strict routine; first to the ears, then to the throat, the face, and lastly the rest of the body. Women sometimes mix it with cream, then take a coarse toothbrush and stroke lines through it, while young men may dab it on a blemish, here and there, sometimes giving the impression of a yellow Dalmatian!

The pale dusty powder can range from palest primrose to deep ocher. Children and babies seem to be daubed in it, sometimes with circles painted on their cheeks and stripes along their noses! Even in the cinema posters the local movie stars are portrayed wearing their beloved  Thanaka! 

Women may use a leaf template to make an elegant stencil on their cheeks, or some carefully paint a square, however most folk just smear it over their faces or bodies, and at night they appear quite ghostly, especially if their lips are painted with lipstick.

Thanaka is a prized wood, in 1958 The Forest Act (a product of the former British colonial government) added Thanaka trees to its list of protected trees such as teak, stating:

“no person shall collect or remove for trade purposes…Thanaka wood and bark”.

The cosmetic appears in many forms; in its raw - and highly prized - state it will be sold in markets in small 10- 18cm long branches and logs. These are ground vertically, round and round, on a special flat circular whetstone with a few drops of water, producing a milky yellow liquid that is then immediately applied to the skin. While wet it is virtually translucent but in an hour, it dries to a rich yellow crust.

“no person shall collect or remove for trade purposes…Thanaka wood and bark”.

The cosmetic appears in many forms; in its raw - and highly prized - state it will be sold in markets in small 10- 18cm long branches and logs. These are ground vertically, round and round, on a special flat circular whetstone with a few drops of water, producing a milky yellow liquid that is then immediately applied to the skin. While wet it is virtually translucent but in an hour, it dries to a rich yellow crust. 

Dried tablets of Thanaka in varying sizes are also available from street 

 Whichever Thanaka you choose, the liquid works fast at tightening the skin and covering blemishes. In hot, arid climates like that of Pagan, dry European skins may find it too astringent, but as an impromptu herbal sun screen it is invaluable.

Even if you do not buy a stick to take home, the sight and smells of the unique yellow-painted faces of the Burmese people are an unforgettable part of the memories of Myanmar, as are the smiles of this great nation of gentlefolk.

The Hesperethusa crenulata or Limonia acidissima, as the Thanaka tree is formally called, is a common tropical plant species that grows not only in Burma, but also in other parts of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It’s believed that both the bark and the fruit of this tree contain valuable medicinal properties (in China, the fruit is said to cure stomach problems), but only in Burma is the tree bark traditionally ground down into a powder and then mixed into a watery paste to be used for skincare and cosmetic purposes.

How to USE Thanaka Powder as Face Care

Whichever Thanaka you choose, the liquid works fast at tightening the skin and covering blemishes. In hot, arid climates like that of Pagan, dry European skins may find it too astringent, but as an impromptu herbal sun screen it is invaluable.

Even if you do not buy a stick to take home, the sight and smells of the unique yellow-painted faces of the Burmese people are an unforgettable part of the memories of Myanmar, as are the smiles of this great nation of gentlefolk.

The Hesperethusa crenulata or Limonia acidissima, as the Thanaka tree is formally called, is a common tropical plant species that grows not only in Burma, but also in other parts of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It’s believed that both the bark and the fruit of this tree contain valuable medicinal properties (in China, the fruit is said to cure stomach problems), but only in Burma is the tree bark traditionally ground down into a powder and then mixed into a watery paste to be used for skincare and cosmetic purposes.

 

Thanaka Facial Mask

Mix 1-2 teaspoons Pure Thanaka Powder with the same amount of water until it forms a creamy paste. Apply the cream evenly over your cleansed face. The mask will dry after 5 to 

10 minutes depending on its layer thickness. The mask can easily be washed off with lukewarm water after 20 minutes. We recommend an application once or twice a week. As a result your skin will be smoother, softer and have an evenly tone.


Face Powder

After your face has been toned or moisturized use a big powder brush to gently puff thePure Thanaka Powder over your face in circular motions (this way your facial hair will not stand up). Make sure to tap the powder brush on the edge of the jar before applying to get rid of excess face powder. This face powder will not just make your skin look more beautiful but will also protect it against harmful environmental influences due to the Thanakas skin protecting properties.

 

Facial Cleansing

Mix 1-2 teaspoons Pure Thanaka Powder with 3 teaspoons of water until it forms a liquid paste. Apply the Cleansing-Paste evenly over your face and gently scrub/massage to cleanse your skin. Wash the Cleansing off your face with lukewarm water. The Cleansing frees your skin from light calluses, excess sebum and dirt particles.

According to a 2010 study performed by researchers at the University of London’s School of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and published in the Journal of Ethno pharmacology, the high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the Thanaka bark, together with UV absorption properties, make for an ideal daily face pack. The study showed the powdered bark is rich in free radical fighting agents, has an extremely low toxicity and contains properties that inhibit tryosinase, the enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis and skin discoloration, which means it also possesses significant skin-whitening properties.

The gentle, non-toxic nature of the Thanaka bark is safe to use everyday, the research concluded, and as such, “it could be a good candidate source for cosmetic ingredients.”
And that’s exactly the way things are headed.

“Basically Thanaka contains a number of substances that act similar to tannins, which work as an anti-itching product, tighten your skin and work against wrinkles,” Honegger says. “In addition to protecting against free radicals and UV radiation, Thanaka has properties that protect the skin against acne, so if you use it as a face mask, it controls your facial oil and its anti-bacterial properties can remove blackheads and so on.”

Thanaka powder is so versatile that it is compatible with other skincare products, Honegger says. “So if you have a face mask that you use regularly, you can mix Thanaka powder into it, get the benefit of your regular face pack and a lot more.”

Today, more countries across the globe—Thailand, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh and some European nations, to name a few—are discovering the virtues of Thanaka, and some cosmetic companies are starting to incorporate the powder into their products.

Unwanted Hair
 
Too often unwanted hair is seen as a taboo and therefore gets concealed by society.
Moreover many physicians see unwanted hair only as a cosmetic problem despite the fact that increased growth of unwanted hair can be a significant psychological burden. To remove unwanted hair permanently several different methods are available such as hair removal creams/powders or laser treatments. However most of these creams contain aggressive chemical ingredients such as calcium hydroxide that might remove your hair permanently but also contain a certain risk of burning or eroding your skin. The same goes for Laser treatments that also have the risk of negative side effects on your skin. As I my skin is very sensitive to heat (laser treatments literally burn out the roots of your hair follicles) I did not want to take these risks and decided to try an old ayurvedic home remedy to remove my unwanted hair permanently.

About the Ingredients

kusuma oil


Thanaka
Powder is a soft bark powder out of the Burmese Thanaka tree. Its cosmetic use goes back several thousand years to the famous Queen of Peikthano who used to grind a log of Thanaka on a circular stone called kyauk pyin and mix it with water to create a paste. Afterwards she applied the paste to her face using it as a facial mask making her glowing and soft. Despite modern cosmetic products you will still find many Burmese women wearing their Thanaka with pride. Over the years Thanaka find its way to ayurvedic practitioners that started to use the Thanaka for the pastes used in their treatments.

Kusuma oil is pressed out of the seeds of the precious Kusuma flower using a specific pressing method to extract the precious oil out of the small seeds. As you can see on the picture above the seeds have a grayish white color. Like Thanaka it is used in ayurvedic treatments since several thousand years (the beginning of Ayurvedic dates back over 5000 years).

Preparation

Mix pure Thanaka powder (find out more about Thanaka on this article on with the same amount of Kusuma oil until it forms a brown/beige colored, oily cream. So for 100ml of Kusuma oil you will need about 40-50g of Thanaka Powder (quality Thanaka Powder is usually grinned in very thin particles and has a rather big volume). 

Tip: Add some Turmeric powder to the paste of Thanaka and Kusuma to brighten your skin complexion. If you use Turmeric make sure to wear a towel or clothes where you don't mind stains.

How to use

Step 1: Remove all your unwanted hair the way you prefer and wash the area thoroughly.
Step 2: Apply the cream of Kusuma oil and Thanaka powder on the shaved area and massage it gently against the direction of the hair growth for 5-10 minutes.
Step 3: Leave the cream on for some time, preferably overnight (your cells are especially active during your sleep).
Repeat this procedure for the next 3-4 months (not only after removing your hair). Once your hair is not growing back you can stop the treatment and enjoy your hair free skin...
Thanaka paste can be used 4-5 times per week for 3 and a half month.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any query or any comments at sindhiyabd@gmail.com                 www.sindhiya.com