Going into a Malaysian spa that practices traditional spa treatments, one will immediately notice the wonderful fragrance of herbs like serai (lemongrass), limau purut (kaffir lime), sireh (betel leaves) and pandanus as opposed to sweet smelling rose or lavender fragrance of the west.
The history of Malaysian beauty treatments can be traced back to nearly a thousand years and richly influenced by local Malays, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Javanese and countless other races that have come and resided in Malaya then.
For example, the beloved "minyak urut" can be traced to the Arabs who used to boil oil with camel fat to give the oil a natural heating property. The camel fat have since been replaced by herbs with natural warming properties such as ginger, black pepper, onion, garlic but the concept remains essentially the same.
Secrets from Generations
Traditional Malay beauty treatments are generally family secrets that are handed down from generation to generation and rarely shared for commercial gain. However, with younger generations showing less interest in the traditional beauty treatments, older generations are more willing to share less the art dies with the lack of practitioners.