Beauty Around The World: Myanmar

This chapter of the Beauty Around The World Series takes you to Myanmar!
It's written by Vivien Noir @100_black_shirts. And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com.

On the left side of Thailand lies the mysterious "golden country", the land of the thousand Pagodas: Myanmar. What was once called Burma lies between Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh, and it's population is just as diverse. A real mosaic of Burmese tribes, immigrants, and minorities populates green hills and wide plains, live along beaches, between thousand-year-old temple ruins and in vibrant cities. The people, the culture, the food: Myanmar is a unique, wonderful mixture and its diversity is tangible in every aspect of life
In the three weeks during which I travelled through this country I met almost only young people. And they all had enviously delicate, fine-pored skin, almost nobody seemed to have acne or struggled with other skin problems.

My own pale skin was for the Burmese something special, so that many requested me (rather shyly) for a photo with them, and very often I heard delighted calls of "beautiful, beautiful!" in the temples and pagodas. In Myanmar, as in many Asian countries, is light-coloured skin seen as desirable, which is why lightening creams are much sought-after (and expensive). It is difficult to get skin-care products and especially decorative cosmetics, they are mostly available in bigger cities and for much higher prices that in Europe. And it's mainly imported items -- Yves Rocher, Essence and Catrice, Maybelline and L'Oreal were next to Etude House and The Face Shop the most recognised brands.

But the Burmese don't need ready-made cosmetics -- they make them by themselves every day! In every home stands a flat grinding stone, the Kyauk Pyin, with which the traditional Thanaka (also spelled Thanakha) is made. For this the bark of the Thanaka tree (there are several spices of this tree) is ground with some water on the Kyauk Pyin, till a light beige paste is formed. The Thanaka paste is then applied in circles or rectangles especially on the cheeks but sometimes also on the forehead or the entire face. Sometimes one some cheeks pretty leaf-shaped Thanakas could be seen, where a toothpick was used to draw the stem and the leaf veining.

The kid is has Thanaka on his cheeks!He and his parents are wearing the traditional longhyi ("lontschi"), which most of the Burmese wear.

Thanaka is mainly used by women and girls, but also by men. I tried it myself, it feels pleasantly cool and smooth on the skin. Apart from the cooling effect Thanaka  has anti-inflammatory and gently lightening properties, which pleases everyone that aren't very fond of the pigmented patches on their face. On top of that Thanaka offers a light UV protection, which has also been proven in a scientific study.

In the meanwhile Thanaka is available powdered or even as a ready-made paste, but especially in rural areas still produced manually. The Burmese Miss Universe 2013, Moe Set Wine, sells a Thanaka sheet mask under the brand Moezy (however they are produced in Korea). I have bought one of these sheet masks and am excited about trying it out!

Check out the other posts in this series: Greece, Middle East, Pakistan, Germany, Australia.Would you like to write one about the country you live in? Write me at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. If your country has been "done" you can still do a new post about it!

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