Achiote: the Lipstick Tree

The achiote tree produces inedible fruit that looks a bit like a pomegranate cut in half: it is an open pod filled with red seeds that look as if they are bursting with flavor. But since they can’t be ingested, they are instead used for making dyes.

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The Incas used achiote as face paint to ask the gods within the mountains for protection, and the tree is still used to today among the Quechua people.

IMG_5015 To apply achiote: Open the fruit and mix the pulp with water in a small bowl to create the paint. The wet paint will become an orange-red extract as you mix, but turns orange when it dries. It’s used as body paint as well as paint for fabric.

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The plant can be found in the Amazon basin. In this photo, we are painting one another as a symbol of unity within the tribe of Quechua.

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I had the tribe members apply it as a lipstick as well for a natural flush. I have a feeling this was one of the first original lipsticks of ancient times.

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Extra cool fact: For ritual and religious purposes, the Aztecs added achiote (also known as annatto) to turn chocolate into a blood-red liquid for a “blood” offering to the Gods. I got to experiment with Achiote on my trek to Machu Picchu and in the Amazon Rain Forest in Ecuador.

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Philippines Coconut Beauty Story

They call it the secret to Filipino natural beauty. In the Philippines, coconut milk and oil are nature’s best traditional ingredients for personal care.

“Buco”, local name of coconut in the Philippines is derived from 16th century Portuguese and Spanish cocos.

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Filipino women chew grated coconut meat on a daily basis. The fresh coconut milk that seeps out from the pulp can also be used as skin scrub and hair conditioner. This is the secret of the young-looking, wrinkle-free skin and the thick,silky hair of Filipinos. The coconut granules are also extracted and scrubbed all over the body and feet as a cleanser.

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It is said that a young Filipino woman in the country side is only ready for marriage when she can make coconut oil successfully. It is prepared in clay pots and slowly cooked over charcoal heat, stirring the mixture until it turns clear as oil. Once cooled, the oil is stored in bottles and then sometimes mixed with herbs. Philippine virgin coconut oil keeps the skin moisturized and protects it against the constant exposure to the tropical sun.

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Coconut oil has been called “ the healthiest oil in the world”.

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Coconut Benefits:

  • Removes dead cells while nourishing the skin
  • Beautifies and protects the skin from UV rays.
  • Moisturizes the body
  • Removes dark spots
  • Softens the skin
  • Strengthens protein cellular structure
  • Loaded with calcium,iron,vitamin c, and electrolytes

It promotes healthy skin, nails and hair. It has been proven that it provides relief from kidney disease, and heart disease as well.

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Nautilus is a product line that adds coconuts benefits to all things beauty including scrubs, face masks and soaps that are all handmade in the Philippines.

These are some of the beauty discoveries I recently found in Boracay: a white, sandy island in the Philippines.

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Written by Artists Moxie Stephanie Flor Edited by Karen Mowls

Henna in Indian Culture

Henna is used to cleanse the blood and body decoration. Henna is derived from a henna plant. You can grind the plant to create a paste and then mix with water.  In India stores sell pre-made henna where all you do is cut off the tip.

It’s best to apply in circular designs to signify never-ending patterns. It’s a custom used in any festivals and celebrations especially in wedding ceremonies.

The idea is that it lifts the spirit by rejuvenating women and making them happy.

Henna fun fact: The night before an Indian wedding the name of the future husband is hidden among the henna design to be discovered later that night.  Both men and women are adorned with designs on their hands and feet.

In Yemen the henna bridal tradition was intense, as it took 3-5 days to complete.

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Henna has been traced to 400CE.  It was also listed in the famous medical text of Ebers Papyrus that dated to 16th c BCE Egypt.

The earliest text mentioning henna for marriage and fertility celebrations comes from the Ugaritic legend of Baal and Anath which has references of women making themselves with henna in preparation to meet their husbands, and Anath adorning herself with henna to celebrate a victory over the enemies of Baal.

Henna is said to bring blessings and and applied for good luck as well as joy and beauty.

Muslims are also said to use henna for both female and males. Following the prophet Muhammad, who used to dye his beard with henna.  It’s considered to bring fortune and good.

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Steps to do Mehndi ( the art of using henna as body décor)

  1. clean the skin, no oils
  2. start the henna with a design in mind or a beginning point to lead the balance of the look
  3. let it dry ( the longer you leave it to dry the brighter in color it’ll stain

Henna lasts for a few days and to get the bets results mix lemon juice onto the designs. After your done.

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