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iVillage: Global Beauty: Skincare Traditions from Around the World

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Polynesia: Tamanu Oil as a Wound Healer

The island nations of Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and Vanuatu revere the oil of the tamanu nut, found in the region’s ati trees, for its ability to promote the formation of new skin tissue and heal wounds, scars and burns (the oil was even used in the 1920s to treat leprosy and wounds.) Scientists aren’t sure how the oil works, but research is underway to unlock its unique chemical qualities.

Cultural practice: Tamanu kernels require several weeks of drying to release their oil, which is thick and fast-absorbing. The end product is applied topically to Polynesians and Melanesians of all ages, including infants, and relied upon by Tahiti’s tough-as-nails athletes, who compete in the country’s traditional outrigger races and Ironman-style contests.

(CREDIT: Getty Images)
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