Tahitian for “scented oil,” monoi – pronounced “mah-noy” – is a fragrant elixir made from coconut oil and tiare flowers (also known as Tahitian gardenias). While only recently building buzz in beauty circles, this hot ingredient has been a South Pacific beauty staple for centuries. Eminence Organics recognized the nourishing benefits of monoi, formulating part of its Age Corrective Collection with this unique oil. Read on to uncover three health and beauty benefits of monoi, the history of tahitian monoi, as well as our skin care tips for adding this unique ingredient to your skin care routine.
Monoi oil is an ancient preparation made by steeping tiare flower buds or petals in coconut oil. This fragrant oil has roots in islands throughout the South Pacific, including Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands. Here’s how the Institut du Monoi describes the production process: “Coconuts of the Cocos nucifera variety must be grown on coral soil and harvested at a mature stage. Tiare flowers (Gardenia Taitensis), handpicked as buds, must be used within 24 hours of harvesting. According to local tradition, the maceration must last a minimum of 10 days and requires at least ten Tiare flowers per liter of refined oil.” The process of making monoi oil has been passed down by generations of South Pacific healers. This oil is held to rigorous standards of production, designed to protect the cultural heritage of monoi blossoms.
The tiare plant thrives in a warm, tropical climate with partial to full sun and frequent watering. The beautiful buds bloom from March to November and are typically harvested at dusk. Each year, 110 million tiare flowers are harvested in French Polynesia alone. Similarly, coconut palms flourish in warm climates with an abundance of both sunlight and rainfall. These hardy plants also thrive in the sandy soils found along coastlines, meaning the islands of the South Pacific are ideal for their growth.
While its origins aren’t entirely clear, monoi has been used by Pacific Islanders for over 2000 years, giving it significant cultural meaning throughout the region. Traditionally, this lightweight, amber-colored oil liquid has been used in religious ceremonies to purify sacred objects, as a medicinal remedy to alleviate common ailments and as a multi-purpose beauty ingredient to soften skin and hair.
Monoi’s key ingredients play a vital role in various Polynesian cultures. For example, the tiare flower has been used in Polynesian herbalism for thousands of years. Tiare flowers are also seen throughout the region’s mythology. According to Tahitian legend, the tiare flower was said to be created by Atea, the Oceanic God of Creation, and Tane, the God of Beauty. Additionally, these beautiful blossoms are considered to be a symbol of the region’s people and cultures.
Like the monoi blossom, coconut plays a significant role in South Pacific Cultures. Various groups have relied on coconut as a source of food, oil, wood and fiber. Coconut has also been a part of the region’s lore, notably in the legend of Sina and the eel, which explains the origin of the first coconut tree. Versions of this legend are told through Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and by the Māori in New Zealand.
What makes this ingredient so unique? Here are three primary health and beauty benefits of monoi oil for your skin, hair and health:
1. Deeply Hydrates Your Skin & Hair
Monoi is a soothing and protective oil that deeply hydrates skin without stripping it of its natural oils. The people of the South Pacific have long used monoi oil as a full-body moisturizer to protect their skin against harsh environmental stressors like the intense tropical sun and drying salt water of their environment.
In more recent years, monoi’s hydrating and protective qualities have been a sought-after commodity in the beauty and skin care industry. Dr. Whitney Bowe tells Huffington Post Style: “Monoi oil contains coconut oil, which has been shown to have tremendous moisturizing benefits for the skin and hair. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil, like lauric acid, may repair hair damage and increase shine.”
2. Delays Signs Of Aging
There’s a reason that South Pacific cultures have passed on their monoi beauty secrets from generation to generation. Nurturing your skin with the potent elixir can minimize the visible signs of aging. As monoi’s base is coconut oil, this incredible superfood is packed with antioxidants like Vitamin E and ferulic acid, which have powerful age-defying properties. In fact, Vitamin E and ferulic acid help to neutralize the effects of free radical damage. Many environmental stressors like UV rays, heat and sunlight all expose skin to free radicals, which cause fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Soothes And Repairs Dry Skin
One of the major benefits of monoi oil is the soothing effect it has on reactive and chronically dry skin. This multi-purpose Tahitian oil has been traditionally used in Polynesian medicine to soothe dry, flaky skin linked to sensitivity and specific conditions. According to Healthline.com, “Monoi oil can also act as an anti-inflammatory that can reduce symptoms from known skin conditions, including eczema and contact dermatitis.” The tiare flowers used in monoi contain high levels of methyl salicylate and lauric acid, ingredients known for soothing and restorative properties.
At Eminence Organics, we use monoi to deeply hydrate skin, improve the look of firmness and delay the visible signs of aging. Here are a few skin care products that incorporate this luxurious ingredient:
Have you tried skin care products with monoi? If not, experience these ultra hydrating monoi-infused products and different treatments at an Eminence Organics Spa Partner near you. We’d love to hear from you! Ask us your questions about monoi in the comments below and join the conversation on social media.
This article was originally written in June 2015.