Malay Beauty Treatments
Muka berseri purnama mengambang
kulitnya licin pauh dilayang
rambut ikal mayang seludang
buyung petani leher jinjang
badan lampai tinggi
betis bunting padi
(The typical description of perfect Malay beauty)
In a land that embraces cultural diversity and flourishes in the strength of each ethnic composition comes a new concept of spa culture. Malaysian Spa is a concept that is based on age old beauty traditions of various cultures that have come, conquered and changed the face of the present Malaysia. These tried and tested beauty treatments have over the years been adapted to incorporate the flora and fauna of the surrounding rainforest.
A Unique Experience
Being one of the oldest rainforest in the world with over 8,000 herbal species of medicinal values, it is only normal that herbs with healing properties play an important role in Malaysian spa treatments.
Going into a Malaysian spa that practices traditional spa treatments, one will immediately notice the wonderful fragrance of herbs like serai (lemongrass), limau purut (kaffir lime), sireh (betel leaves) and pandanus as opposed to sweet smelling rose or lavender fragrance of the west.
The history of Malaysian beauty treatments can be traced back to nearly a thousand years and richly influenced by local Malays, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Javanese and countless other races that have come and resided in Malaya then.
For example, the beloved "minyak urut" can be traced to the Arabs who used to boil oil with camel fat to give the oil a natural heating property. The camel fat have since been replaced by herbs with natural warming properties such as ginger, black pepper, onion, garlic but the concept remains essentially the same.
Secrets from Generations
Traditional Malay beauty treatments are generally family secrets that are handed down from generation to generation and rarely shared for commercial gain. However, with younger generations showing less interest in the traditional beauty treatments, older generations are more willing to share less the art dies with the lack of practitioners.
So, what was once practiced behind closed doors by midwives, healers and wedding planners or more commonly known as "mak andam" are now revived and shared to keep the art of Malay beauty treatments from dying.
Strictly Malaysian beauty treatments adapted from Malay, Peranakan, Borneo, orang asli cultures to name a few, are already appearing in Spa menus nationwide.
The authenticity of these Malay beauty treatments are still being studied and recorded but the one that is most identifiable is the Malay art of beauty treatments.
In this page we will proceed to explore the many unique Malay treatments that have been introduced in Malaysian Spas in the last decade.
Traditional Malay Beauty Practices
Traditional Malay beauty practice gives equal importance to internal and external beauty treatments. Internal beauty treatments are practiced by taking various jamu/herbal drinks to maintain general health or for more specific benefits.
External beauty treatment involves detoxification process by way of Malay traditional massage and various other treatments from head to toe. Some of the best and most unique Malay treatments are described in this page:
Malay Traditional Massage
Therapeutic Massage from Head to Toe
Traditionally done on the floor, the traditional Malay massage is a therapeutic massage from head to toe. The massage combines stretching, stepping, long kneading strokes and pressure applied to various part of the body.
For the massage, unique Malay massage oils are used which are prepared by boiling palm oil with various herbs and spices with warming and detoxifying properties.
Iron Cast Compress
Bertungku with heated river stone (Iron cast compress) and various fresh leaves (for example: betel leaves, turmeric leaves, melastoma (daun senduduk), Wild pepper leaves (Daun kaduk), and even banana leaves).
During confinement, the midwives or bidan may warm the new mother's abdomen by applying a smooth, heated stone (Iron cast compress). This is reputed to "cleanse the womb" to prevent illness, speed the shrinking of the uterus and therefore return a pre-pregnancy figure.
Special Single Bench
Tangas using herbs with astringent properties (requires a special single bench and earthen pot to boil the herbs) is traditionally used by young women at the end of their period to help reduce excessive white discharge, fungal infections and unpleasant odor.
Used as part and parcel of postnatal treatment, the tangas is also believed to firm up vaginal muscles and reduce inflammations.
A traditional herbal bath with herbs rich in essential oils are commonly practiced at the end of a massage treatment to bring forth a sense of calm and further relaxes the client.
Herbs normally used in the herbal bath are lemongrass, citronella, guava leaves, kaffir lime leave and fruit. The herbs are freshly boiled and mixed with bath water. Flowers are also added to enhance the therapeutic experience.
Natural Shine to Your Hair
Cream bath with a combination of natural based cream, hibiscus gel and virgin coconut oil applied on the scalp to promote healthy scalp and strengthen hair.
This traditional treatment is commonly practiced as a weekly deep conditioning treatment to bring a natural shine to the hair.
In preparation of the special day, Malay brides normally spend one day a week for 4 weeks leading up to the wedding getting pampered from top to toe.
Some of the treatments they enjoy are cream bath, traditional facial, milk bath, floral bath and herbal body scrub.
Post Natal Treatments
Beauty Treatments for New Mothers
In Malay tradition, new mothers follow a strict 6 weeks confinement period using herbs, spices and oils to enable them to heal and adjust to the latest addition to the family.
Postnatal treatments help new mothers strengthen and fortify their bodies, soothe and calms their inner spirit and most importantly help them recover in the shortest time possible.
Mandi Bunga (flower bath)
Enhance Your Inner Glow
A traditional Malay bath starts with pouring water to the feet and moves up slowly to the knees, thighs, abdomen, chest and lastly the head.
This bath originated from Malay royal houses and used to ward off bad luck. For a Malay woman, mandi bunga is used to enhance their inner glow and natural beauty. It is a tradition and a habit that has been observed for many generations and by the various different cultures of Malaysia.
Mandi bunga is typically performed using either 3, 5 or 7 types of flowers. The most commonly used flowers are jasmine, orange chempaka, white chempaka, ylang-ylang and dew magnolia. Kaffir lime or citrus hystrix is also thrown in for purifying effect.
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