Tabàky—A Beauty Treatment From Wood
▪ In the arid southwest portion of Madagascar, women comb the beach in search of shells to sell to tourists. The women’s faces are covered with a white paste called tabàky. This fascinating multipurpose face mask not only protects the skin from the harsh rays of the sun but also serves as a cosmetic.
Tabàky is made from the sapwood of the masonjoany and fihamy (also called aviavy) trees. The procedure is simple: A woman rubs a small piece of sapwood against a flat stone, slowly adding a few drops of water at a time to form a paste. She may then dab a small wooden or plastic stick with a rounded end or a fine point into the paste and draw a design on her face.
Some women apply tabàky to the entire face, leaving just a small space around the eyes. Others prefer to apply it only to the forehead, cheeks, or chin. Tabàky can be used to hide blemishes or control oily skin, or it can be used as a cosmetic. Sometimes other ingredients are used, so the possibilities for creating combinations of shapes, colors, and textures are endless.
Who would think that a beauty product could come from wood? In Madagascar, far from the fashion centers of Paris and New York, tabàky is an unusual, yet practical, beauty treatment.