One of the first questions I had upon arriving in Yangon, (Pronounced Yan-goon) was what in the world was the yellow paint I was seeing on all the faces of the children and most of the women (not so much on the men)?

My understanding is that this is a cultural practice found almost exclusively in Myanmar and it is a root from sandalwood and is commonly called “Thanaka”, which is ground up, mixed with water and then applied to the face. Locals believe that that Thanaka root application has numerous health benefits including: tightening of the skin, anti-septic and natural sunblock. I also noticed that many of the children have interesting patterns of Thanaka drawn on their faces, I am assuming their mothers do this as a fun way to start their child’s day.

This is what the root looks like when it is sold:I am serious when I say nearly every native woman and child had this on their faces. I found it fascinating.

Any google search on Thanaka will pull up a host of websites, but here are a couple good links:

Thanaka On Wiki
Thanaka Skin Care