Penny's Travels

Postcard from Penny – Putting On A Face In Myanmar

Like women all over the world, cosmetic makeup plays an important part in preparing for my day whether I am heading off to work in the city, traveling internationally or just gardening at home. Let’s face it – none of us want to look one day older than we already are! With the use of a little foundation to even out my tone and especially with the addition of an SP factor, I am also protecting my skin against the hash effects of the sun.

We think we have the cosmetic market cornered in the western world with the use of the latest BB cream, with claims of anti- aging, miracle wrinkle workers but this is nothing compared to Myanmar! From the bustling city streets of Yangon to the small rural villages, you will see the use of Thanaka  (pronounced tha-na-KA) which is a yellowish-white paste made from ground wood,  applied to the face and sometimes to the arms of women and girls.  I have also seen it used by men and boys, but to a lesser extent.

The cream is produced from the wood of several trees which grow in Myanmar and they must be at least 35 years old before they can be harvested. The bark, wood and roots are ground with a small amount of water and then applied to the face.

Thanaka acts as sunblock, is believed to help with treating acne, has anti-fungal properties and also has a sweet perfume.

The cream is applied in large circles on the cheeks, however designs of flowers and leaves can also be added using a small wooden pencil.

I asked one young Burmese girl why she had decided on a leaf design and if it had any special meaning.

“I saw it on the internet and it just looks pretty” she replied.

Yes, I put on my face each morning because I hope it makes me look pretty as well…Same Same But Different!




About Penny Frederiksen

Penny enjoys writing for a variety of blogs and magazines where she hopes to inspire readers to travel and explore the world. She is a regular contributor to publications in Russia, The United Kingdom, and South East Asia. Penny lives in rural Australia and her love affair with travel and photography started at a very young age..the National Geographic Magazines at her local dentist! ” I loved the wonderful stories and photographs – they brought history and culture alive.” Penny’s independent, solo travel started about 10 years ago when she realized all her friends had no interest in photography and getting into the backstreets and villages of Asia. She enjoys traveling to exotic locations each year both on photography tours and by herself, showing other women that with planning and confidence, they too can visit worldly destinations on their own. Some of her most recent destinations include Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, UAE, Turkey, India, Nepal, and Myanmar. “Travel makes me step outside my comfort zone and get a better perspective of the world around me”

2 thoughts on “Postcard from Penny – Putting On A Face In Myanmar”

  1. What an interesting story, Penny. Really enjoyed this!

    • Thanks Margo. It is difficult to apply and you really need to add just the right amount of water to get a good coverage. The perfume is very nice.

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