Steps on How to Use the Burmese Thanaka Facial Mask

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

If you are wondering what that unusual make up on my face is, it is called thanaka. I will be teaching you how to use the Burmese thanaka facial mask today.

Thanaka is a yellowish paste that is mostly used by Burmese women as a facial mask because of its beauty promises. It is also believed to work like sunscreen. Some use it to clear their skin from acne. It has a nice soft smell and feels cool on the skin when applied initially.

It is traditionally made from grinding thanaka trees. There are also thanaka creams and bars available but they are not as popular as the tree.

1. Get a piece of the thanaka trunk.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
They always have this in the market and even in the stalls near the temples.

2. Grind it!

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
Put a small amount of water on the wooden grinding board then rub the thanaka tree in a circular motion on its surface. Do this until you notice a paste forming. Continue repeating this movement until you have enough paste for your face. Add water as needed.

3. Apply it on the face.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
The most common application is by covering the entire face with a thin layer of the thanaka paste. Then you will apply a thicker and more visible circular layer on the cheeks. Some women use a brush to evenly apply it on your face.

Some people make intricate and complicated designs with their thanaka like leaves. Too bad I haven't seen one wearing this complicated design.
Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

If you want to experience this truly authentic Burmese experience all you have to do is ask. The women are usually eager to do this to you for free. I even got one free from the nice young girls who served us breakfast at Pyinsa Rupa in Bagan.

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