Living Healthy Naturally

Uses for Monoi Oil

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Tahitian beach

If you’ve ever smelled Tahitian Monoi Oil, you’ve smelled a tropical heaven.  In an instant, you are transported to an exotic tropical island with white sand beaches and blue-green ocean.  But what is Monoi Oil?  What are the uses of Monoi Oil?  What are the benefits of Monoi Oil?

HISTORY OF MONOI OIL

Monoi (Moh-noy) comes from the Reo-Maohi language and means “scented oil” and “sacred oil”.  It is said that the origins of monoi oil may be traced back to the Maori, the peoples from Southeast Asia who migrated to what is now known as French Polynesia.  Although the Polynesian peoples of New Zealand were living on the islands since 500BC, we don’t know exactly when the oil was first made.

Although not the first European to find the islands, British navigator, James Cook, wrote of the natives of French Polynesia using the oil for medicinal and religious use as well as for cosmetic purposes in the 16th century.

From birth to death the oil featured prominently in the lives of the Maohi people.  The bodies of newborns, as well as Maohi sailors, were covered in the oil to keep them from dehydrating in the hot summers and from getting chilled when the weather cooled.  At death, bodies were embalmed and then perfumed with the oil which was also used in ancient Polynesian religious rites. During ceremonial rites in the temples, Maohi priests anointed sacred objects with the oil and offered the monoi oil to their deities for purification.  Interestingly, even today many divers rub their bodies with Monoi oil prior to diving to protect them from the cold salt water.

Commercial production of monoi oil began in 1942 at the Parfumerie Tiki, in Papeete, Tahiti, when the official Appellation d’Origine was issued by the French government declaring the only true monoi oil was that prepared meticulously in French Polynesia from the tiare flower and refined Tahitian coconut oil.  The coconut oil is as special as the flower since coconuts grown in the coral-rich soil yield a less greasy oil that readily soaks into the skin.

MONOI TIARE TAHITITiare Tahiti

Not only was the oil important in the daily lives of the Polynesian,  the Tiare flower (Gardenia tahitensis) figured deeply in their lives.  The flower was prepared in various manners to treat common maladies such as a headache, sunburn and the common cold. The delicate star-shaped, white flowers were placed in water bowls in the huts or “fares” to allow the fragrance to penetrate the entire home. It is Tahiti’s national flower and grows freely and blooms year round. Visitors and guests were greeted with necklaces of the beautiful flower.

The tiare flowers that are used in Monoi de Tahiti (monoi oil) are hand-picked while they are still unopened and immediately taken to the official manufacturing plants where the pistils are removed and the remaining flower is soaked in highly refined Tahitian coconut oil for a minimum of 15 days.  This process is called “enfleurage” (flower soaking).  The decree of Appellation d’Origine, requires each manufacturer to soak a minimum of 15 tiare flower per liter of refined coconut oil.

Benefits of Monoi Oil

Long used as a beauty treatment by the native peoples, the secret of monoi oil was first shared in Europe during WWII and later to large cities in the US.  Monoï oil has a long list of benefits including:

Monoi oil for skin and hair

  • moisturizing the skin (dry skin, acne, psoriasis)
  • Monoi Oil benefits hair (excellent treatment for dandruff, hair loss, split ends and frizzy hair)
  • slowing signs of aging (skin discoloration, wrinkles
  • balancing cholesterol levels,
  • soothing inflammation,
  • preventing oxidative stress,
  • minimizing allergic reactions,
  • protecting against sun damage,
  • strengthening the immune system and
  • promoting good sleep habits
  • alleviating scarring and discomfort from pregnancy stretch marks.

 

WHAT ABOUT TAKING MONOI OIL INTERNALLY?

While all parts of the tiare plant have been used historically to treat a sore throat, headache and constipation the early Polynesians, it is NOT advisable to take Monoi oil internally since it naturally contains methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen).   It should remain a topical oil for the skin and hair.

WHO SHOULD AVOID USE?

For individuals who commonly have sensitive skin, this oil may cause inflammation or irritation although some say it is nonirritating.  If you have sensitive skin, prior to use, apply a small amount of this oil to a patch of skin on the inner aspect of the forearm and watch for any negative reactions for 3-4 hours before adding it to a larger area of your skin or scalp.

USE IN COSMETICSMonoi de Tahiti

This swoon-worthy concoction of native coconut oil and tiare flowers is commonly found in products for the hair.  When clinical tests were conducted on the Repair products for hair (by Carol’s Daughter cosmetics) they found that after only a onetime use of the shampoo and hair mask, hair breakage was reduced by 96 percent. In another test of hair, benefits called a “stretch-pull test” (which simulates normal wear and tear) non-monoï-treated hair snapped after 10,000 pulls, while monoï-treated strands lasted through 130,000 pulls!

In a small study conducted by the Institut du Monoï, a nonprofit founded by the Tahitian government to promote Monoi oil, women’s skin showed a 27 percent increase in elasticity over 28 days of use.

WRAP UP

When we look at products that allow us to live healthy, natural lives what could be better than a paradise-evoking, scented all natural product that has amazing benefits for the hair and scalp as well as the skin?  Monoi oil is a luxury oil found in a number of amazing products such naturally water-resistant, the monoï in Ojon Color Sustain Gloss Finishing Hair Spray coats strands with a frizz-fighting barrier; Parfumerie Tiki’s Monoï Tiki Tahiti has been made by the same family in Papeete since 1942 and includes a tiare flower in every bottle; Carol’s Daughter Monoï Repairing Conditioner leaves hair more resistant to breakage; The Body Shop Spa of the World Polynesian Monoi Radiance Oil, for Body and Hair; and BelleCote Wrinkle Erasing Serum.

 

 


18 thoughts on “Uses for Monoi Oil

  1. Hi this is a great review and you have excellent visuals to really bring your writing to life. I love to learn about natural healthy products as we live in a society that has forgotten that we have such a wealth of health benefits to be taken so naturally. You also are careful to point out that people with sensitive skin should avoid this oil which shows your very honest in your review. Thanks Kenny 

    1. Thank you Kenny.  I’m glad you learned something from my article.  This is a really unusual oil because of its intense almost-but-not-quite gardenia scent and the way it is immediately soaked into the skin (much, much faster than regular coconut oil).  My only goal is to open up the natural world to expose people to what’s available – the earth is full of treasures – we need to use them wisely and carefully.

      All the best to you!

  2. Monoi oil is used as beauty treatment ( skin, hair) and anti aging product. Biologists say that we are what we eat, but in this review monoi oil can’t be used internally .what would be the consequences if it is taken as consumable drink?

    I like the benefits of this oil especially when it comes to avoid aging, i will try it.

    thanks

    1. The tiare flower contains methyl salicylate (which is wintergreen) and considered “poisonous” by toxicologists.  Internal consumption would most likely cause severe GI distress (it was used to treat constipation) and consumption of a lot of it would cause the symptoms of wintergreen poisoning – vomiting, CNS effects and possible death.  I’m not sure how much of the chemical is in each tiare flower, but I would advise against trying it orally at all costs.

      As a cosmetic, it is a luxury oil.  The heavenly scented oil can be combined in creams, lotions, and used straight on the skin.  Once you smell Tahitian Monoi Oil, you’ll never forget it!   YMMMMMMM!

  3. I found this to be a very interesting article.  I use lots of oil in my skin care and soap making business but have never tried Monoi Oil.  It sounds like a great oil, maybe something I need to look into.  Do you have any information on how will it would work in a soap recipe?

    1. Actually you know I had planned to make some soap next week using Monoi oil just to see.  It’s of course more expensive than the other oils we use, but for a lark (and for the holidays) I thought it might be a good time to try.  Since Monoi de Tahiti is not an oil that comes  directly from a plant, but is rather a coconut infused oil, I would recommend you check with your supplier to obtain an iodine value or a SAP value if they can give you one.  I do know that you can purchase soaps (with added fragrances) from Tahiti, so it’s definitely possible.  If you give it a go, let me know.  If you follow me on Facebook and I make some, I’ll be sure to post my results!

      Happy soaping!

  4. I like your details of the Monoi oil including the history traced back to the Maori and the usefulness like slowing signs of aging, balancing cholesterol levels and soothing inflammation. Wouldn’t you ingest it to get the cholesterol and inflammation benefits?

    The handpicked special tiare flowers are very pretty and I bet they smell great. I wonder when technology will allow you to show your visitors how the flowers smell? lol

    So, if I understand your article correctly the Monoi oil is really coconut oil soaked with the special tiare flowers?

    Do the islanders cook with Monoi oil?

    Thank you for an interesting and informative article on Monoi oil.

    1. You know, Alexander, I had the same question about the lowering of cholesterol…but if you remember, they do use it internally…just bear and grin the GI side effects I suppose. I would not. The inflammatory action is a topical one that is due to a chemical in the tiare flowers.   Yes, Monoi oil refers to 15 Tiare flowers/liter of Tahitian coconut oil (which is different because they grow in coral soil) which yields truly a wonderfully scented oil for the skin.  No, the islanders don’t cook with the Monoi oil, but do use the coconut oil for cooking.  Glad you enjoyed reading!

  5. Hi Sharon!

    What a beautiful photo, it quite literally transports one to a Tahitian Island.

    I have never heard of the Monoi Oil product and knew nothing of its history. This was a fascinating read, and I’m anxious to try one of the products recommended for hair and skin as I am very sensitive to the chemical additives used today in so many commercial products.

    I’m so happy to have discovered your site, and I look forward to learning more about natural alternatives available to replace many of the chemical laden products we are overwhelmed with.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Kyle Ann

    1. Thank you Kyle Ann.  After being a pharmacist for over 50 years, I have discovered “NATURAL”! When I was in school we studied natural plant derivatives and I was actually a lab assistant extracting oils for research projects waaay back!  So it’s amazing to me that all of what I learned then is now coming back into use and it’s exciting for me to revisit all the products I knew so much about back then as medicinals.  I’m so excited to have you as part of my blog family – come back soon and visit!  There’s so much in nature we can benefit from!

      All the best!   Sharon

  6. Just the way it made sounds so exotic. I have never heard of Tahitian Monoi Oil before. But I’m glad I read about it now, because it sounds like it’s something that I will have used for. I love anything to do with coconut oil and knowing that the petals of a flower are soaked in coconut oil to make that oil makes sounds so special.I’ve always been interested in many different oils, will add this to my collection of oils. There are so many brands of oil out there that it just makes my head spin on which one to get. Reading reviews like this makes it that much easier.

    1. Thanks so much!  Tahitian Monoi is very special and the scent is just divine!  I reserve it for when I need that little extra comfort care!  It really does make you feel like you’re in the islands!  Hope you are able to get some soon to enjoy!

      All the best!  Sharon

  7. Hi Sharon, I live in New Zealand and had no idea of the origins of this or the procedures used. I do love the smell of the tahitian tiare flower and have bath bombs that i absolutely love to soak in. It leaves a beautiful aroma. I enjoyed reading you post and have learned so much from it. thankyou.

    1. How lovely that you have tiare bath bombs – they must be very special.  I love the scent of the oil!  So glad that you enjoyed the article.

      All the best!  Sharon

  8. Great post!  The historical information and usage of monoi oil is very interesting and informative.  It seems that it is a something I should look into as hair and skin treatment as I get into my senior years.

    If I were to start using it regularly in shampoo and skin enhancement, how much would I expect it to cost on a monthly basis?

    Thanks and best regards,

    Joe

    1. Hey Joe!  To answer your question, I would have to know how much you paid for your oil.  There are a couple of links on the page, but a 4 ounce bottle of the Tahitian oil would be about USD $11.  I guess it would depend on if you put all over or just on your face and hair.  That should probably last a couple of months for hair and face.

      Hope you enjoy using it!

  9. Monoi oil is really interesting. I’m in the Philippines and we have a lot of coconut oils and tiare flowers. Tiare has a different name here. i wish to learn how to do this monoi oil. Is any type of coconut oil is fine? There’s this virgin coconut oil and cooking oil, which of the two? I will be waiting for your reply. Thanks.

    1. Hi Eli!

      True Monoi oil uses the Tahitian grown coconut oil because the trees absorb the coral minerals that they grow in which yields a coconut oil that is more rapidly aborbed.  However, that being said, if you want to make your own with your natural flowers and oil,  use the 76 degree Coconut oil (not the cooking oil) and put 15 flowers/liter of coconut oil in a glass or plastic container for a minimum of 15 days.  You will need to remove the pistils from the unopened flowers before adding to the coconut oil.  I would place the oil somewhere that it is in the liquid state (or melted) – probably somewhere outside not in the sunlight.  In a couple of weeks you should have a lovely sweetly scented oil to use!

      All the best!  Let me know how it turns out!  Sharon

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