Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Tropical islanders discovered long ago the benefits of oils and extracts from coconuts, tamanu, and papaya for their skin and hair. Imagine yourself digging your toes in the sand and feeling the warm breezes as some of the favorite beauty secrets of the islands are revealed. Here are a few ways to benefit from island beauty treasures:
Coconut Oil’s Beauty Benefits
Coconut oil has been used by all cultures where coconut palms grow to cleanse and moisturize even the driest skin and hair. Packed with fatty acids, antioxidant-rich vitamin E, and minerals, coconut oil can be used on your face, body, and hair without clogging pores or leaving a greasy residue. When applied to the skin, fast-absorbing coconut oil heals and prevents dry, chapped areas, especially cuticles, the heels of your feet, and elbows. It has antiaging properties that help decrease fine lines and wrinkles, and is ideal for removing makeup. Used on hair, coconut oil provides shine, treats and prevents dandruff, and leaves a pleasant, subtle scent.
Tamanu: Healthy Skin Oil
This beauty secret from the South Pacific is slowly making its way into our cosmetics. Commonly used in folk medicine, tamanu oil treats everything from cuts, scrapes, and burns to insect bites, abrasions, acne, scars, psoriasis, sunburn, blisters, eczema, and even body odor. Polynesian women depend on it for clear, blemish-free skin, and use it on babies to prevent diaper rash.
The tamanu tree is indigenous to Southeast Asia, but profuse in Polynesia. The fruit, about the size of an apricot, has a thin flesh and a large nut. When the kernel dries, it turns a deep, chocolate brown, and produces a thick, rich, dark green oil that absorbs completely and leaves no residue when applied to skin.
The popular tropical fruit, papaya, has long been known to aid digestion. Those same enzymes in the tender-fleshed fruit are responsible for its being added to beauty products that exfoliate, soften, and nourish skin. The papaya’s vivid orange color reveals the presence of carotenoids and other potent antioxidants that slow down the effects of aging. The papaya tree is native to the tropics of Central America and South America, but is now cultivated throughout the tropical world for its health and beauty benefits.
1. Hair Repair
Revive dry, damaged hair with Pacifica Coconut Power Strong & Long Healing Shampoo. This mild foaming shampoo is infused with calming coconut, rice protein, super fruits (moringa, açai, passionfruit), and Tahitian gardenia (monoi) to restore moisture and remove pollutants. Ideal for color-treated hair.
2. Good Night
Revitalize and moisturize your skin with Alaffia Hydrating Coconut Night Cream with Shea, Myrrh & Reishi. Soothing coconut, nourishing reishi, relaxing myrrh, protective shea, and moisturizing and healing kpagnan (pronounced “pa-nya,” from the Togo-native African butter tree) support your skin’s natural rejuvenation process.
3. Bombs Away
Immerse yourself in a refreshing bath with Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Bath Bombs. As the effervescent balls melt, cleansing and softening your skin, tropical scents of sweet, juicy papaya and subtle coconut perfume your skin.
4. Oil’s Well
Get head-to-toe hydration with NOW Solutions Pure Fractionated Liquid Coconut Oil. This light, versatile oil goes on smooth to leave skin feeling silky and helps soften and add shine to dry, damaged hair. Colorless and odorless, it can be used as a carrier oil for essential oils, as a massage oil, or as a base for DIY skin and hair products.
5. Green Power
Calm and soothe your skin with Aura Cacia Nourishing Tamanu Skin Care Oil. Emerald-green tamanu oil contains powerful antioxidants and essential fatty acids that nourish skin. This organic oil is sustainably sourced from the nuts of Vietnamese tamanu trees.