What is Thanaka?

In Myanmar, Burmese girls and women have been using the finely ground bark of the Thanaka tree for many centuries to make a beautifying and skin-protecting cream simply called Thanaka. The gold-coloured Thanaka is offered in all markets in Myanmar and is used by young and old.

Thanaka resists Western Cosmetic

With Myanmar opening to the West, it did not take much time until international cosmetic brands expanded to Myanmar and displaced many of the local brands. Nevertheless, Thanaka remained as a local skincare product and is still very popular among Burmese women. Not only the Thanaka remained but has also been exported and introduced to the world through natural cosmetic brands.

Skin benefits of Thanaka

The natural ingredients of the Thanaka help the skin to naturally protect itself from harmful UV rays and reduce the loss of moisture. Furthermore a study by the University of London and Bangkok has found out that the high concentration of antioxidants and the barks anti-inflammatory properties rejuvenate the facial skin.

The Botanical Plant Thanaka

Limonia Acidissima L and Hesperethusa crenulata Roem. (Sapindales: Rutaceae), syn. Naringi crenulata, commonly called Thanaka, is a tropical plant species which is cultivated in the central part of Myanmar. Since more than 2000 years Thanaka served as a traditional skin care product to the people of Myanmar.

Effect and Application

Thanaka has strong anti-inflammatory, significant antioxidation, mild tyrosinase inhibition and antibacterial activities. In addition, Thanaka contains the active ingredient marmesin which serves as a natural UV-A protection. Traditionally, Thanaka is applied as a face mask by grinding the bark, wood, or roots of the Thanaka tree with a small amount of water on a circular stone slab called kyauk pyin to form a liquid paste.

Usage in the Beauty Industry

Thanaka is used for all sorts of skin care and make up products such as:

  • facial masks
  • thanaka creams
  • skin foundations
  • soaps
  • body lotions and
  • perfumes

Scientific References

  • Kanlayavattanakul, M. & Lourith, N. (2012). Thanaka loose powder and liquid foundation
    preparations. Household and Personal Care Today, 2/2012, 30-32.
  • Wangthong, S.,Palaga, T.,Rengpipat, S.,Wanichwecharungruang, SP.,Chanchaisak, P.
    & Heinrich, M. (2010). Biological activities and safety of Thanaka (Hesperethusa
    crenulata) stem bark. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 132 (2010), 466“472.
  • Se-Hwan, J., Sang-Cheol, L. & Seong-Ki Kim (2004). UV Absorbent, Marmesin, from the Bark
    of Thanakha, Hesperethusa crenulata L. Journal of Plant Biology, 47(2), 163-165.

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6 responses to What is Thanaka?

Im currently doing an IB extended essay/ research paper on the antioxidant properties of three different Thanaka tree barks, Shin Mataung, Shwe Bo, and Nat Thaphyu. Do you have access to any research papers on this?

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