Maldivian women and the “magic powder”

Mirror mirroron the wall…who is the fairest of them all? Maldivian women love to stay beautiful. They always use the available resources to preserve their beauty.

“It is a beauty among women to have the hair very long, thick, and black; they dress and bathe it often… they let it float in the wind until it be perfectly dry, then they apply oils, very odoriferous, in such wise that their heads are always soaked and oily.” This is what the great writer Pyrad said about Maldivian women. Apart from the virgin coconut oil they use for cosmetics, an imported cosmetic product was prevalent in the community for years. Ladies and gentlemen- the Hoi Tong powder.

How many of us remember seeing this on your grandmother’s dresser? This paper box of pressed powder will no doubt bring back memories for many Maldivian ladies; it was, after all, a staple of our grannies. I tried to search the manufacturer. And was lucky to find that this product, still in existence. This powder is still available in the market.

It was first used copiously in the past by the Chinese ladies. It served as a substance of friction to aid the removal of pesky hair strands or protected the skin from the threading action.  It contains calcium carbonate which is a naturally-occurring soft abrasive. As it isn’t as harsh as chemical abrasives, it is sometimes used to combat the tarnish of silver museum exhibits.

Before you baulk at the silver-cleaning ability of this powder, you ought to know that calcium carbonate can be found in many beauty products. According to experts, it can act as a buffering, pacifying and bulking agent. Additionally, t is used as an absorbent in cosmetics.

Besides calcium carbonate, the powder also contains magnesium silicate, talc, methyl paraben, propyl paraben, aqua demin and fragrance. Some call this rice powder because of its whiteness but there’s nothing in the list of ingredients to indicate that it is derived from rice.

This powder is not harmful. It has been used for generations. Actually it’s just a white slab of calcium carbonate. And they say it makes your skin white. This was a very important item for the Maldivian women. But in this day and age the market is flooded with branded products to soothe the needs of Maldivian women.

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