The history of Monoi: the skin and hair care product

Monoi oil originated in the islands of French Polynesia. It is a vegetable and ancestral beauty product that has been used for 2,000 years. It is obtained from a mixture of coconut oil and Tiare flowers. It is an oil known worldwide for its undeniable and multiple cosmetic virtues. It can be used not only to moisturize and massage the body, but also to repair dry and damaged hair. If you still don’t know anything about this famous scented oil, here is its history.

Who discovered Monoi?

The use of Monoi tanning and moisturizing oil by the Tahitians dates back to ancient times. According to history, Dumont d’Urville was the first foreigner to discover the flowers of Tiaré and bring them back to Europe in 1824. He was a great French explorer and at the same time a naval officer. During a voyage with a scientific purpose, he sailed through the waters of the Pacific (to Tahiti and Tuamotu to be exact) and was soon captivated by the exotic scent of the Tiaré flowers. With the mission of bringing plants back to the country, he brought back just over 3,000 plant species, including the emblematic Tiaré flower. Nevertheless, he never mentioned any monoi.

On the other hand, Captain James Cook mentioned Monoi in 1769 in one of his accounts, “The journals of Captain Cook on his voyages of discovery”. James Cool was a geographer, scientist, ethnographer and navigator. In his famous diary, he described Polynesian customs and mentioned on July 13, 1769: “the oil with which they coated their heads, Monoi as they called her, made with coconut oil in which sweet herbs or flowers are infused… ». Also, he mentioned the rancid scent given off by Tahitian hair.

WHAT about the story of Monoi in Tahiti?

In the past, Monoi was only intended for the nobles of the island, called the “Arii”. Initially, the Polynesians used it to embalm the dead. It was only years later that they discovered the benefits of this product on the body, but also on the medicinal level. Indeed, it turned out that Monoi was used to purify oneself of all possible impurities during a ceremony. It was also able to drive away evil spirits. In any case, its uses have continued to evolve over the years. But that being said, its manufacturing technique has remained the same as today.
Monoi oil had many uses, and was used to massage the bodies of newborns. According to tradition, it was used to stimulate the baby’s growth and at the same time prepare their skin for aggressions (sun, salt, wind, etc.). It is a product that is part of Tahitian culture and has a sacred connotation for the Polynesian population. In this sense, through massage, a fusional relationship is created between mother and baby that will last a lifetime.
In view of all the benefits of Monoi, this oil has gained worldwide renown. It is now produced on a large scale to meet everyone’s needs. However, because the Tiaré flower grows only on Polynesian soil, local artisans remain its main manufacturers. Subsequently, 90% of the production of monoi oils is sold around the world, bringing in millions of euros per year to its manufacturers.