a little bit of everything and a whole lot of film

19 Mar 2014

Monoi Oils

Imagine this. 

Bluest sky you've ever seen, the sweltering sun, soft pink sand between your toes, the neverending aquamarine waters dancing in front of you and palm trees everywhere. Imagine living there. Absolute bliss, right?

Who has not been enticed by the idea of dropping everything and selling all their belongings and moving to Tahiti? I know I have. Let me bring something from the Islands a little bit closer to you.

Monoi oils are pure, refined coconut oils with Tiare (a type of Gardenia that grows only in French Polynesia and the tropics within the Pacific rim - Philippines included yeay) flowers steeped in them, infusing them with the soft floral scent, slightly powdery and fresh. It has been said that coupled with the coconut oil's antiseptic and moisturizing properties, Tiare flowers also soothe the skin, due to the methyl salicylate in them. By definition, monoi oils are simply, scented oils, but what sets it apart from your ordinary, run of the mill scented oil is the fact that monoi oils have a multitude of uses. Polynesians have long been known to use monoi all their lives - to keep the skin from getting dehydrated (from babies to adults), to soothe sunburn and other skin ailments, to condition their hair and as a perfume. 

I personally use Monoi as: 

1. A hot oil treatment before washing my hair (once or twice a week)
2. A few (ok, more than a few) drops into my bath water for a relaxing, beautifully scented and moisturizing soak
3. As a body oil in lieu of lotion (but please remember to use very sparingly, as it is an oil, and as with all oils a little goes a long way)
4. As a tanning oil (Audrina Patridge of The Hills first introduced me to monoi oil as a tanning oil; she posted a photo on her Instagram, touting monoi as the best tanning oil she has ever tried, but please go easy and tan at your own risk as again, it is an oil and you'll basically be cooking yourself) 

This is me, tanning with Monoi oil, before and after

One of Instagram's darlings, Lydia Simonis, who hails from the lovely Cook Islands, has long been promoting monoi oils and would you look at her skin and hair. Monoi is, surprisingly, quite popular in Europe, especially in France (naturally, since  French Polynesia has been colonized by the French, duh me) and is slowly gaining popularity in the US. What's more surprising though is that it hasn't caught on yet here in Dubai as we do have a strong beach culture. I have looked everywhere and no monoi oils in Dubai at all, not unless you count the Body Shop's Polynesian monoi oil (a blend of coconut and other oils) but none of the real thing. I ordered mine online directly from Tahiti and I may have ordered enough bottles to last me 5 summers at least. Monoi oils come in many variants including Tiare, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang, Coconut and Tipanie. In typical monoi fashion, all bottles come with a Tiare bud inside.

Who wouldn't want this, for a little weekend getaway?



  1. Is it safe to use it before tanning? It does not damage the skin?

    1. Hello! I know my response is 2 years too late but I do hope you see this. Used in conjunction with some form of spf, I have found it to be quite safe but then again I may only speaking for myself as I already have quite "island-ready" skin being from a coastal town in the South of the Philippines.


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