There are two things we know about the Polynesian islands: 1) almost everyone dreams of vacationing there, and 2) the locals have fantastic skin.
Polynesia, a geographic area of the South Pacific, includes the Hawaiian islands, Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti. Although each island group has their own unique characteristics, there are many similarities in their cultures, traditions, and lifestyles.
Pacific Islanders have always used what their land offered – fresh produce grown on the island, natural oils, and even the ocean itself. This is why, even with constant exposure to sun and salt water, Polynesians found ways to age beautifully. Although most people don’t live in a tropical paradise, we can incorporate many of their secrets into our own beauty routines for a healthier, younger-looking appearance. It’s the rich combination of naturally occuring antioxidants and moisturizers that gives islanders their beautiful skin, even after 50.
1. Monoi, Kukui Nut, and Coconut Oils
Pick one or use all three – these three oils are a Polynesian beauty staple. Monoi oil, which is a blend of coconut oil infused with Tahitian gardenias, is especially popular in Tahiti but used throughout the South Pacific. It is a great moisturizer for the skin and hair, but also doubles as an intoxicating perfume.
Kukui nut oil is also a powerful moisturizer, because the kukui nut itself contains essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A, E, and F. For thousands of years, Polynesians have been using it to soothe dry skin, heal wounds, and promote “healthy skin metabolism.” It helps the skin to repair and rejuvenate itself.
While coconut oil has become very popular today, especially in the health and beauty communities, ancient Polynesians were reaping the benefits of this product long before it was trendy. It is often used as a moisturizer for skin and hair, but also improves the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and cellulite. It can even eliminate acne, fungus, and yeast because of its anti-bacterial properties. A diet containing coconut oil can also improve overall health. Ingesting the oil (add it to smoothies or use it in place of butter or olive oil in cooking) actually has been shown to improve thyroid function, increase metabolism, decrease abdominal fat, lower cholesterol, and “fight off yeast, fungus, and candida“. For both anti-aging and general health, it’s a great go-to product.
2. Noni Juice
The noni fruit, which is native to tropical locations including the South Pacific and the Caribbean, has been used by islanders to promote health from the inside out. Today, it is typically mixed with other fruit juices (like grape) to make a sort of cocktail, as the noni fruit itself is an acquired taste that most Americans would not like. Although there is not enough scientific evidence to declare noni juice to be a cancer medication, there have been cases in which it seems to shrink tumors, fight cancer cells, and boost the immune system. What are its benefits for aging? Noni juice is packed with antioxidants. Those who drink it tend to have younger-looking skin in spite of exposure to free radicals on a daily basis.
By now, it’s commonly known that exfoliation is an important part of any beauty routine. But how many of us are diligent enough to do it every day? We also tend to focus only on exfoliating our faces. Polynesians have used everything from volcanic salt, to sugar cane, to sand as an exfoliant, and they don’t only exfoliate above the neck. A full-body exfoliation not only improves the look and feel of skin by sloughing away dead skin cells and promoting new cell growth, it also boosts circulation and slows the aging process on telltale areas like hands and decolletage. Try exfoliating once or twice each week in the shower. Be sure to moisturize immediately after when the skin is still damp.
Seaweed has been used around the world as a beauty and anti-aging ingredient, but it is especially popular in the South Pacific. Since it can be harvested with minimal effort – often it just washes up on the rocks, dries out from the sun, and is ready to be collected – it’s easy for islanders to add it to their daily diets. There are many types of seaweed, from brown kelp to the nori that is used in sushi. They are all rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When the body is ingesting these nutrients on a daily basis, the skin also takes on a healthy, youthful glow and it is able to fight off the signs of aging and repair itself. You can add seaweed to your diet with sushi, salads, or crumbling sheets of nori over your food in place of salt. You can also look for beauty products that use seaweed as a main ingredient.
5. Kona Coffee
One of the world’s favorite types of coffee, Kona coffee beans are grown in the very rich volcanic soil of Hawaii. Because of this, it has a unique blend of nutrients and antioxidants which neutralizes free radicals and improves the texture of skin. All coffee contains beneficial antioxidants, but Kona coffee tends to be more mild so it doesn’t upset the stomach or cause a jittery caffeine buzz.
Also known as “Hawaiian ginger”, Awapuhi is a fragrant flower that has become popular in many of today’s shampoos and conditioners. It has very intense moisturizing properties, but is also known to lighten dark spots – something that many women over 50 start to notice on their face. Using a face product containing Awapuhi can help to maintain a clear complexion and even skin tone, creating a more glowy look.
7. Dragon Fruit
Although dragon fruit is easy to find in the islands, it’s not as widely available to people elsewhere. It has been a tasty part of the Polynesian diet, but now its extract is being used in several anti-aging products. The dragon fruit contains a high level of nutrients and antioxidants including calcium, iron, and B vitamins, and it is very effective when it comes to firming the skin. If you can’t snack on a piece of the fruit, try it in a skin firming cream instead.
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