The national cosmetic in Myanmar is Thanakha and I have to admit that was new for me but…
It wa used for 2.000 years ago to protect the skin from the sun and refresh it everyday. It seems that the first mention of thanakha in literature was found in the texts of the monk and poet Shin Maharatthasara in the 15th century.
But, what really is Thanakha?
The original burmese cosmetic is 100% organic. It is a cream made from bark, wood or roots of the thanakha tree, Murraya paniculata or orange jasmine tree, that grows in the central area of Myanmar. It has to be at least 35 years old to have all the right properties to made into Thanakha.
These pieces of bark, wood or roots have to be mixed with water and milled with the kyauk pyin, which is a round stone, until it becomes a yelowish paste. This paste dries easily when it is apply on the skin and it seems that it has many properties like:
- Control oily skin and its disadvantages (antibacterial and anti fungal).
- Increases the production of collagen and elastin.
- Anti aging.
- Relieve sunburn, itching and redness.
- Refreshing the skin.
- Sun protection.
- Helps to reduce stains causes by the sun or age, scars… also helps to reduce dark areas like knees, elbows and another marks or stains.
Thanakha is composed of two fundamental active ingredients: coumarin and marmesin, both mixed naturally give these properties to Thanakha.
It is important to add that it has a very pleasant and light natural fragrance that reminds me of jasmine flowers and stays for hours on your skin.
How do they apply Thanakha?
Burmese apply Thanakha on their cheeks, forehead, nose and arms.
The traditional way is doing original designs from the simplest action like putting it on and that’s it, to the most complicated like beautiful leaves going through spiral, circles, dots… The design says a lot about who is wearing it. I tried to create a beautiful leaf on my skin as I saw they did but the result was terrifying… so I only could wash my face…
The two most popular Thanakha are from Sagaing Region, Shwebo thanakha, and from Magway Region, Shinmadaung thanakha.
Another application of Thanakha
An old Ayurveda recipe mixes Thanakha and Kusuma oil to get a glue for permanent hair removal. Over time it seems that the hair is weakened from the root until its complete disappearance.
Thanakha is a very special cosmetic and one of the oldest in the world. Nowadays, it is still a must everyday for Burmese people because of its many and incredible properties. It is also an identity for Burmese.
I don’t use it frequently but, from time to time, I like it as a face mask and on some parts of my body. The result is very pleasant, the skin renew smooth and clean and the smell reminds me (I don’t know why) my childhood.
However, I do not recommend it if you have a sensitive skin.
Really, I think it is a gem to discover for the big pharmaceuticals. I only have found one company that has formulated a beauty product with this active ingredient: the Singaporean Company Bio Essence with its product line Tanaka White. I will try it next time!
Here you have the video.