Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tamanu Oil: Monoi's Expensive Cousin

Tahitian women are well-known for using Monoi Oil to keep their hair and skin radiant. But there's another lesser-known oil that also originates in Tahiti and is lauded for its moisturizing properties. It's called Tamanu Oil.

Tamanu Oil (also called Foraha Oil), comes from the Ati Tree, discovered thousands of years ago in Tahiti. The tree can also be found growing wild in Hawaii, Fiji and Samoa.

It produces white flowers that develop into fruit that is said to taste like apples. Inside the fruit's shell is the tamanu nut that is traditionally dried in the sun for several weeks to increase its oil content.

The ancient Tahitians learned to extract the oil and found that it protected their hair and skin from the Pacific sun and sea. It was also used to combat lice and dandruff and they came to consider it a "sacred gift of nature." The oil's secret is its high content of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which have exceptional moisturizing, regenerative and antiseptic properties.

Today, Tamanu nuts are sun-dried for approximately two months before being cold-pressed. It takes an average of 200 pounds of nuts to create 10 pounds of oil. The oil is then purified to remove certain resins before being bottled. Many companies that import and sell Tahitian Monoi Oil and Noni Juice also carry Tamanu Oil. Because it takes so long to make, the cost is relatively high: around $30 U.S. for 1 oz.

Tamanu Oil is excellent for treating dry and damaged hair and can be applied directly to wet hair after shampooing or as a deep-moisturizing pre-wash.

Be forewarned, however. If you're allergic to nuts of any kind (peanuts, walnuts, etc.) you should not use Tamanu Oil for fear of a possible allergic reaction.