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A Maui Wellness & Beauty Blog

Hawaiian beauty ingredients, secrets, and rituals are deeply intertwined with the islands’ lush, natural environment and rich cultural heritage.

When Polynesians first settled in Hawaii, they brought with them a wealth of botanical knowledge and a variety of plants that became staples in their daily lives and beauty practices. These plants were chosen for their nutrition, practical uses, and healing properties, forming the foundation of traditional Hawaiian skincare.

If you are curious about which Hawaiian Canoe Plants the Polynesian settlers brought to the islands, check out the blog post.

Let’s delve into the specifics of these plants for beauty, their historical uses, and how they continue to inspire modern beauty routines.

Kukui Nut Oil: The Hawaiian Hydrator

What is Kukui Nut Oil?

Kukui nut oil is derived from the seeds of the kukui tree, also known as the candlenut tree, which is native to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients Secret Kukui Nut Oil

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Ancient Hawaiians used kukui nut oil as a moisturizer to protect their skin from the harsh sun and saltwater. It was also used in traditional healing practices to soothe and heal wounds and burns.


  • Deeply hydrates and nourishes the skin
  • Heals and repairs damaged skin
  • Reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks
  • Provides a protective barrier against environmental stressors

Scientific Backing:

Kukui nut oil is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins A, C, and E, which are known for their skin-nourishing and antioxidant properties.

Product Examples:

  • Kukui nut oil body lotions and creams
  • Kukui oil-infused hair treatments
  • Moisturizing lip balms

DIY Kukui Beauty Product:

Try this recipe for a moisturizing and softening Kukui Lip Balm.

Ko (Sugarcane): The Natural Exfoliator

What is Ko?

Ko, or sugarcane, is a tall perennial grass native to tropical regions, and it has been a crucial crop in Hawaiian agriculture.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Sugarcane

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Hawaiians traditionally used sugarcane to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, taking advantage of its natural glycolic acid content.


  • Exfoliates dead skin cells for a brighter complexion
  • Hydrates and moisturizes the skin
  • Helps to smooth and soften the skin
  • Promotes cell regeneration

Scientific Backing:

Sugarcane contains glycolic acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) known for its ability to gently exfoliate the skin and promote cell turnover.

Product Examples:

  • Sugar scrubs and exfoliants
  • Glycolic acid serums and peels
  • DIY sugarcane exfoliating masks

DIY Sugarcane Beauty Product:

Soften your lips with this delectable DIY Sugarcane Lip Scrub Recipe.

Ki (Ti Leaf): The Healing Herb

What is Ti?

Ti leaf, or ki, is a tropical plant with broad, green leaves commonly found in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Ti Leaf

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Ti leaves have been used in Hawaiian culture for their protective and healing properties. They were often used in traditional medicine to treat various skin conditions and to promote general well-being.


  • Soothes and calms irritated skin
  • Promotes healing and reduces inflammation
  • Hydrates and nourishes the skin
  • Acts as a natural detoxifier

Scientific Backing:

While traditional use is well-documented, modern research supports the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of ti leaves.

Product Examples:

  • Ti leaf-infused balms and salves
  • Soothing lotions and creams
  • Herbal compresses

DIY Ti Leaf Beauty Product:

Try this DIY Ti Leaf Herbal Hair Rinse Recipe for clarifying and cleansing your scalp and hair.

Maiʻa (Banana): The Vitamin-Rich Fruit

What is Maiʻa?

Maiʻa, or banana, is a tropical fruit rich in vitamins and minerals, commonly grown in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Banana

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Hawaiians have long used bananas, including the leaves and peels, for their moisturizing and skin-softening properties.


  • Hydrates and moisturizes the skin
  • Improves skin texture and elasticity
  • Rich in vitamins A, B, and E
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Scientific Backing:

Bananas are known for their high content of vitamins and minerals, which help to nourish and rejuvenate the skin. Vitamin E, in particular, is known for its anti-aging properties.

Product Examples:

  • Hydrating face masks
  • DIY banana peel treatments for improved skin texture
  • Banana hair conditioner and masques

ʻAwa (Kava): The Calming Elixir

What is ʻAwa?

ʻAwa, or kava, is a plant native to the Pacific Islands, known for its calming and sedative properties.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Kava

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

ʻAwa has been used traditionally in Hawaiian ceremonies and medicine to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It was also used to soothe skin conditions and irritations.


  • Calms and soothes the skin
  • Reduces stress-related skin issues
  • Promotes a balanced complexion
  • Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory

Scientific Backing:

Kava contains compounds called kavalactones, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and calming effects on the skin.

Product Examples:

  • Kava-infused calming lotions
  • Soothing facial creams
  • Anti-inflammatory skincare products

Awapuhi: The Hawaiian Ginger

What is Awapuhi?

Awapuhi, or Hawaiian ginger, is a plant native to Hawaii, known for its fragrant flowers and beneficial properties for hair and skin.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Awapuhi
Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Ginger

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Hawaiians used awapuhi juice to condition and cleanse their hair and skin. It was a common ingredient in traditional beauty rituals for its moisturizing and soothing effects.


  • Moisturizes and conditions the hair and skin
  • Adds shine and softness to hair
  • Soothes and calms irritated skin
  • Provides a natural, refreshing scent

Scientific Backing:

This Hawaiian beauty ingredient is rich in natural moisturizers and has been shown to improve hair and skin health, providing hydration and soothing properties.

Product Examples:

  • Awapuhi shampoos and conditioners
  • Moisturizing body washes
  • Skin-soothing gels and lotions

Nui (Coconut): The Versatile Oil

What is Nui?

Nui, or coconut, is a tropical fruit that provides coconut oil, milk, and water, all of which are widely used in beauty and skincare.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets Nui Coconut

Historical Use of this Hawaiian Beauty Ingredient:

Coconut oil has been used by Hawaiians for its moisturizing and protective properties. It was used to keep skin and hair healthy and was a staple in traditional beauty practices.


  • Deeply moisturizes and nourishes the skin
  • Protects the skin barrier
  • Reduces inflammation and soothes irritated skin
  • Promotes healthy, shiny hair

Scientific Backing:

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties. Its moisturizing benefits are well-supported by modern research.

Product Examples:

  • Coconut oil-based lotions and creams
  • Hydrating hair masks and conditioners
  • DIY coconut oil treatments for skin and hair

Noni: The Polynesian Superfruit

What is Noni?

Noni, also known as Indian mulberry, is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia and Australasia, widely cultivated in Hawaii. You can buy the juice or powder of Noni. Be aware, noni is also called cheese fruit because of its pungent smell and flavor.

Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets  Noni

Historical Use of this Beauty Ingredient:

Noni is used traditional medicine to treat various ailments and to promote overall health. Its juice and leaves were often applied to the skin for their healing properties.


  • Rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • Anti-inflammatory properties reduce skin redness and irritation
  • Promotes collagen production for youthful skin
  • Helps to detoxify and cleanse the skin

Scientific Backing:

Studies have shown that noni contains powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, which helps protect the skin from oxidative stress and aging. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also well-documented.

Product Examples:

  • Noni-based toners and serums for anti-aging
  • Noni-infused creams for hydration and detoxification
  • DIY noni face masks for rejuvenation

Hawaiian Beauty Secrets & Ingredients Revealed

Incorporating Hawaiian beauty secrets and ingredients into your skincare routine can bring the natural goodness and healing properties of these tropical wonders to your daily regimen. From the soothing noni to the hydrating kukui nut oil, these ingredients offer a range of benefits that can help you achieve healthy, radiant skin.

Embrace the natural beauty secrets of Hawaii and experience the transformative effects of these incredible Hawaiian beauty ingredients.

For more beauty tips and natural Hawaiian skincare secrets and ingredients, stay tuned to our blog and let the essence of Hawaii inspire your beauty journey!

Continue Your Skincare Journey With More Hawaiian Beauty Ingredients & Secrets

Check out these popular Hawaii beauty & wellness blog posts:

Maui’s Best Farm Tours

Hawaii Fruit Guide

Maui Farm Tours: Punakea Palms 

If you love Hawaii and you enjoy wellness vacation tips, beauty secrets, and DIY recipes, then sign up for my newsletter where I explore different beauty rituals from Hawaii and around the world. 

Leiohu Cosmetics owner Emma

Hawaiian Beauty Secrets & Ingredients


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