Thanaka - A Traditional Myanmar Skin Remedy

Before moving to Myanmar I did some research to find out some of the unique cultural things they offer here. Thanaka was something that came up over and over again and I knew I wanted to try it out.

Thanaka is a paste made from teak wood and is worn primarily by kids and women but men are known to wear it too. It is applied mainly to the face but can be applied to the arms and legs as well. Thanaka is used as a sunscreen and can also be applied onto burns, rashes and other skin ailments.

The paste can be made in a traditional Myanmar way or it can be purchased. Gathering supplies to make your own paste is rather easy as a lot of shopping booths sell the teak wood and the cement block that you need. Something I found very interesting is that every teak wood tree is owned by the government.

To make the traditional paste they take a piece of teak wood a little bit of water and grind it on a round cement block. They keep grinding the teak wood until a nice paste is formed. They then apply it right away. 

I like that thanaka is purely used by Myanmar people and that it is a natural and healthy way to help protect and heal the skin.

Zama and Pam have some friends here who always open their homes for visitors to have a thanaka outing. If you come visit we will take you to their house. The lady who makes and applies the thanaka is Honey and she is such a kind and gracious lady. I’m so glad she opened up her home to us and let us take part in their culture.

Have you ever heard of thanka before?
Would you be willing to try something like this?


  1. i've never heard of this before, thanks for telling us about it, including the details of how it's made--it's intriguing to learn these sorts of things!

  2. That looks awesome, I would totally try it! So is it supposed to soothe/heal a variety of ailments? How did it feel when you did it?

  3. You are welcome! I thought it was a really neat thing here and it was definitely something I thought others would like to know about.

  4. It is supposed to heal a bunch of ailments. They say it is good for burns, breakouts, dry skin and more. It felt really good when I did it. Once it dries it feels a bit cracked but we also had it over our whole face so I'm guessing that amplified the feeling. By cracked I mean you could feel the thanaka drying and cracking not my skin.

    It's easy to buy in a container here so maybe I could bring some back for people who wanted to try it.

  5. I haven't heard of thanaka, but I have heard of teak wood! In Nicaragua they grow a lot of teak. We actually drove by a huge plantation of it on our way to the village. They harvest it for a lot of things... I wonder if they make something similar to thanaka with it!

  6. That's really cool sounding! That'd be awesome if you could bring some back! :)