With their silky black hair, almond eyes, petite features and natural refinement, Thai women are famous the world over for their beauty and elegance. And perhaps this explains why so many tourists now flock to the kingdom, not just for adventure, rest and relaxation, but also to learn some of Thailand’s beauty secrets for themselves and enjoy a treatment or two in the spas, salons and beauty centres that can be found up and down the country.
After all, the beauty of Thai women isn’t simply a matter of lucky genetics. It comes down to centuries of wisdom and knowledge of local herbs, plants and fruits, which, if prepared in the right way, can help fight aging, improve the complexion of the skin and even boost all-round health. The secrets of Thai beauty are found in the markets, forests and fields, and Thais have always relied upon the kingdom’s natural abundance of fruits and herbs to mix up amazing treatments. Over the years they’ve also learned from their neighbours too, taking Ayurvedic treatments from India and healing arts from China all blended to make something uniquely Thai. This is why the kingdom is globally regarded as a health and beauty destination.
Since tourism first took off in Thailand, nearly all visitors have experienced the famous traditional Thai massage. But now Thailand’s huge range of spa and beauty treatments, scrubs and facials, some found nowhere else, make the kingdom a health and beauty destination in itself. Whether you are just enjoying a couple of hours away from the family, or are here with girlfriends seeking rejuvenation, some detox and a makeover, Thailand is the perfect retreat.
So if you’re here to enjoy the benefits of Thailand’s beauty wisdom, a visit to a spa should be your first stop. Nearly all big hotels and resorts have salons and spas, and some are worth seeing just for the imaginative architecture, stunning rooms and atmosphere, with Thai motifs and traditional salons, or ultra-modern retreats with LED lighting and ambient music piped through the floors.
Of course, it is the skill and experience of the therapist that counts, and as the Thai people know the benefits of a pampering session, even the smallest town will have some sort of health and beauty shop offering scrubs, massages and makeovers. But if it’s the real secrets of Thai beauty you’re seeking, you need to take a closer look at the ingredients of the wraps, facials, scrubs, rubs and creams for some of these special ingredients.
Coconut Milk: Coconuts grow all over Thailand and the flesh and milk is used in cooking some of the most famous Thai curries and desserts. But coconut is also an all-over beauty treatment, acts as a moisturiser, shines nails and minimises stretch marks. When coconut is used as a shampoo, it brings that Siamese sheen and glossiness to hair. It is commonly used in scrubs, facials and in full body massage treatments.
Thai Salt: For centuries, the plains south of Bangkok have produced high quality sea salt, and these mineral-rich salts are vital to the Thai beauty regime. Most commonly salt is mixed with other ingredients and used in scrubs and facials helping to smooth away rough skin. Salt also plays its part in treating dandruff, teeth whitening (for that famous Thai smile) and to improve the look of finger nails by removing stains. When used in a bath, it can also ease muscle aches and soothe skin irritation.
Turmeric: Turmeric has long been known to have major health benefits, and in Thailand is used in cooking and medicine. But thanks to its antiseptic and curative properties, it is also a vital element in many of Thailand’s most effective skin and beauty treatments. A turmeric compress or scrub can moisturise the skin while helping treat rashes and skin irritations as well as insect bites.
Tamarind: Tamarind is used in many Thai foods, but its health giving qualities make it an important part of any beauty regime. It contains vitamins B and C as well as potassium and magnesium, which can help give your skin a healthy glow. In Thailand, tamarind is often used in facials and body scrubs and is said to help fight fine lines and wrinkles.
Mango: Lovely fresh mango is ubiquitous in Thailand, so you’d expect that it plays a big part in the spa industry. Mango can reduce dark patches on the skin and fight acne and pimples. Used in hair treatments, mango can act as a natural conditioner and treat dandruff.
Papaya: This exotic fruit has some amazing qualities when it comes to health and beauty. It is most often used to make a simple face mask with a little fresh lemon added. It acts as an anti-oxidant and can ward off wrinkles.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is the quintessentially Thai ingredient and its smell evokes everything from a fine Thai meal to a bustling market. It plays a huge role in Thai beauty too and boasts anti-bacterial and antiseptic qualifies. It is used as a skin lightener and toner, and its distinctive smell makes it a good ingredient in home-made deodorants. Remember though that lemongrass is astringent; make sure you only use a small amount if you are putting together your own beauty treatments.
These are just a few of the many ingredients that can be incorporated in your Thai beauty regime. There are many others; such as, guava, seaweed, bananas etc. that can help you look and feel great. So next time you’re seeking a new spa treatment, check the menu for these ingredients and you know you’ll get a treatment that has been tried and tested for centuries.
Eat your way to beauty
Of course, the occasional spa visit, while fun and beneficial, is just a small part of any beauty regime. Your diet plays a major part in how you look. Eat well and you will always look vibrant and healthy. It is Thai food and the Thai approach to eating that has perhaps had the greatest influence on the beauty of the people here. So it’s a good idea to pick up some diet tips while you visit the kingdom.
Thai women eat a lot of fruit and vegetables as snacks or part of main meals. Also, fish is more often eaten than red meat, which, it is felt, can clog up the body’s pores and passageways. Healthy spices are used in all dishes be it large amounts of garlic, turmeric and fresh chili, which helps you sweat, improving circulation and cleansing the pores.
In addition, Thai people who feel hungry between meals are more likely to reach for a piece of fruit; such as, mango or papaya rather than a chocolate bar or potato crisps. These are habits well worth picking up if you want to enjoy a healthier Thai lifestyle. If you’d like to learn about some of the amazing and healthful dishes and how to choose the best ingredients, there are cooking classes offered all over Thailand, lasting from a morning to several weeks – perfect if you’re looking to eat your way to beauty.
Everyday stress and worry eventually starts to show on your face in the form of wrinkles and frown lines and sometimes even acne and hair loss. One theory as to why Thai women seem to age more slowly is because Buddhist traditions and regular mediation enable them to stay a centre of calm, whatever stresses and frustrations life might throw at them.
Research says stress causes blood vessels to constrict so that blood, essential minerals and vitamins can’t get to the skin’s surface so easily. Also, when you’re stressed, the body diverts some blood flow away from your skin to give your muscles more energy. Meditation helps you to relax, so your body releases chemicals to counter stress. What’s more, the breathing techniques used in meditation help to spread oxygen throughout the body and eliminate toxins.
There are many meditation courses on offer in Thailand, and you don’t have to be seeking spiritual enlightenment to enjoy the health advantages. Most hotels and health centres in Thailand offer courses to give grounding in meditation basics, or you can go on a retreat to experience the huge benefits, spiritual and health based, if you want to enjoy a deeper understanding of Thainess.
Everyone can benefit from the wisdom of generations of women. So if you are heading to Thailand, make sure you make time for a little indulgence. You’ll not only look and feel better, but a little spa time or a makeover gives you the chance to relax, enjoy some gossip and make new friends, and experience an ancient aspect of Thai culture.
In August 2016, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is running a new campaign aimed at women travellers. Women’s Journey will focus on all aspects of travel and health, and many spas, hospitals and clinics are taking part offering a range of special services at good prices. To learn more, please visit http://womensjourney.tourismthailand.org/
To ensure women travellers get to most out of the Campaign, TAT has also released a mobile application that enables them to navigate the offers and promotions and to plan their schedule accordingly. The products, services and events are listed under five categories: Beautiful Look, Beautiful Shape, Beautiful Mind, Beautiful Retreat, and Beautiful Experience. The app, called Women’s Journey Thailand, can be downloaded from Play Store and iStore.