Island Remedy

Skincare today benefits from healing ingredients found and sourced throughout the world. It was a trip to Fiji that led Kate Somerville, founder of her eponymous skincare line and Skin Health Experts Clinic (Los Angeles), to discover the benefits of a local ingredient that Fijians had long used to hydrate their skin. “When I visited the island of Wakaya in Fiji, I was amazed by the beautiful and healthy skin of all the local women, especially with the extensive amount of sun exposure they had,” says Somerville. “Their skin was even and hydrated, and I learned that their secret was dilo oil. It has amazing restorative properties to replenish moisture to the skin, and it also improves skin firmness, elasticity, and evenness.” Fortunately, spa-goers needn’t travel to Fiji to benefit from this nourishing ingredient, as it’s turning up in a variety of spa products and treatments.

Bountiful Benefits

Dilo oil is extracted from the seeds of the dilo tree, also known as the “tree of a thousand virtues.” Commonly found in the Pacific and tropical regions of Africa, the nourishing oil, sometimes called tamanu oil, is often used to counteract damage caused by the elements. “For generations, native Polynesian Islanders have used healing dilo oil combined with virgin coconut oil as a daily massage therapy for treating damaged skin due to age and environmental exposure,” says Jamie Prem, spa manager at the St. Regis Princeville Resort’s Halele’a Spa (HI). “Its healing properties have been known to repair connective tissue damage, restore skin elasticity, and offer luxurious skin hydration.” With that in mind, it made perfect sense to offer spa-goers the same benefits with the Essence of Aloha Massage ($175, 60 minutes; $260, 90 minutes). Relying on Pure Fiji products, the massage is not only hydrating to the skin but also great for soothing skin sensitivities, including sunburns.

According to Janel Luu, founder and CEO of Le Mieux and PurErb, dilo oil has high levels of antioxidants, linoleic acid, and oleic acid. “The high levels of oleic acid help dilo oil absorb quickly to moisturize dry skin without leaving a greasy residue, and it even helps prevent a buildup of dirt and dead skin cell debris that can cause clogged pores and blemishes,” says Luu. “The linoleic acid helps balance out the sebum levels in the skin and enhances its moisture barrier.” Spa-goers can opt for the PurErb Exotic Facial ($150, 50 minutes) at The Spa at Pacific Palms (City of Industry, CA). It incorporates the Purity Renewing Moisturizer and Purity Renewing Facial Oil, both of which feature the prized oil from Fiji.

“Rare dilo oil from Fiji is cherished for its multiple restorative benefits, including hydrating and nourishing the skin, improving the look of firmness, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles,” says Somerville. In an independent clinical study, the company found that after four weeks, 100 percent of the women participating showed highly significant improvement in skin hydration and skin firmness and elasticity. In terms of skintone, 87 percent showed significant improvement in evenness. Seventy-five percent reported that the appearance of their fine lines and wrinkles was dramatically reduced.

With such findings, it’s no surprise that Somerville opted to feature the ingredient in her line’s Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment. At her clinic, Somerville and her staff use the oil on dehydrated and dry skin. According to her, such skin can prove to be difficult for performing extractions, so steam is used to soften the skin before it is exfoliated. “We finish with just a drop of Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment to ensure pores don’t tighten up and to keep the skin soft for extractions,” says Somerville. She also encourages clients to use it on the body, nails, and hair as well to provide hydration. “Think of it as a multipurpose oil,” she says.

Spa-goers interested in experiencing some of the reputed firming effects can also try the Meridian Facial Contouring Massage ($170, 50 minutes; $235, 80 minutes) at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, San Juan (Puerto Rico). Relying on the Purity Renewing Moisturizer from PurErb, the treatment employs traditional Asian facial massage techniques to clear invisible pathways of energy, enhance circulation, and recontour the face. 

Natural Healer

Dilo oil is especially revered for its wound-healing abilities. According to Anna Theofanous, vice president of sales and international and master trainer for Pure Fiji, dilo oil is exceptionally high in essential fatty acids. “Analysis of dilo oil led to the discovery of a previously unknown fatty acid: calophyllic acid,” she says. “Found only in dilo oil, this essential fatty acid stimulates the healing process by promoting the growth of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound and scar-tissue healing and the growth of healthy new skin. This process of forming new tissue is known as cicatrisation.” It’s one of the many reasons dilo oil is so coveted when it comes to skincare. In fact, Pure Fiji incorporates the oil, which is sourced from a remote island, into all of its products. According to Theofanous, it takes two days by boat just to get there. “This ensures that the trees are growing in a pristine environment and that the oil has a very high content of calopyllic acid,” she says. The oil is then cold-pressed so that it retains its nutrients and structure. This allows for better absorption of the dilo oil, whereas hydrolysed or processed oils tend to sit on top of the skin.

Guests at The Spa at Gateway Canyons (CO) can take advantage of the oil’s healing benefits with the Dilo Rescue Wrap ($95, 25 minutes), which incorporates Pure Fiji’s Dilo Rescue Gel, Dilo Rescue Body Spray, and Dilo Rescue Body Butter. It relieves dry, sunburned, and irritated skin. While ideal in nourishing body wraps and after-sun treatments, the ingredient also helps soothe skin after waxing. Theofanous also recommends using it after exfoliating peels to calm skin and in between IPL treatments to shorten recovery time.

Perfect Pairings

As spa-goers continue to discover the nourishing benefits of pure dilo oil, they’ll also find it paired with various other oils. According to Luu, it blends well with abyssinian, geranium, moringa, patchouli, and sandalwood oils. Together, these pairings create deeply moisturizing treatments with pleasing aromas that put spa-goers at ease. Luu points out that dilo oil’s aromatherapeutic benefits provide yet another boon to those spas who choose to carry it. “We’ve heard that the lush, luxurious, natural aroma makes people feel grounded and confident,” she says. It also helps set the stage for island-inspired indulgence. Says Luu, “Close your eyes, inhale, and you can imagine totally relaxing on a tropical island beach with aromas from bouquets of exotic flowers wafting on the breeze.”


Dilo Deal

Check out these dilo (also known as tamanu) oil products with essential fatty acids and rich nutrients that help regenerate skin cells and smooth fine lines.—Darby Radcliff

1. Au Natural Organics Pure Argan & Tamanu Oil: Fade scars, brown spots, and stretch marks with this argan and tamanu oil blend while relieving dry skin and renewing cells. www.aunaturalorganics.com

2. Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil: Create an antioxidant shield against free-radical damage and restore the skin’s natural barrier with this formula filled with phytoactives from camellia and tamanu oils. www.dermalogica.com

3. Gio Naturals Tamanu Oil: Soothe acne, burns, eczema, and dry skin with this 100 percent pure cold-pressed tamanu oil boasting antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. www.gionaturals.com

4. Happy Skincare Dilo Oil: Featuring natural anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and healing properties, this formula contains high-quality Fijian dilo oil. www.happyskincare.com.au

5. Kate Somerville Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment: Help maintain firm, supple, and smooth skin with this replenishing formula containing antioxidant rice bran and rosemary leaf extracts, dilo oil from Fiji, and omegas 3, 6, and 9. www.katesomerville.com

6. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Face Oil: Repair the skin’s barrier and smooth the appearance of fine, dry lines with this complex featuring evening primrose and argan, raspberry seed, and tamanu oils. www.origins.com

7. PurErb Skincare Purity Renewing Moisturizer: Calm skin irritation, boost moisture levels, and improve elasticity with this formula containing Chinese ginseng, frankincense, lavender, Polynesian dilo oil, and sandalwood. www.purerbskincare.com

8. Pure Fiji Anti-Aging Booster Dilo Oil: Promote skin cell regeneration, minimize acne scars, and reduce inflammation with this repairing formula containing calophyllic acids and dilo oil. www.purefiji.com

9. Shea Terra Organics Madagascar Tamanu Cold-Pressed Oil: Treat acne, wrinkles, dry skin, rashes, and eczema with this cold-pressed tamanu oil, which helps boost the retention of moisture and even skintone. www.sheaterraorganics.com

10. Sundãri Neem and Tamanu Corrective Moisturizer: Provide intense moisture with this neem oil-based cream filled with healing tamanu extract. www.sundari.com

11. Tata Harper Redefining Body Balm: Reduce the appearance of scar tissue while fortifying the skin’s barrier with this moisturizing treatment filled with açaí oil, red algae, shea butter, and tamanu oil. www.tataharperskincare.com

12. Wakaya Perfect Dilo Cream: Soothe irritated and inflamed skin and reduce acne with this formula containing antioxidants, dilo oil, and vitamins. www.mywakaya.com

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