Forget kids in candy stores—nothing, in my experience, can rival the joy and awe of grown women preparing to purchase armfuls of beautifully packaged coconut oil. Giggling with glee, Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price and I are perusing the shelves of a small gift shop attached to the Parfumerie Tiki factory in Papeete, Tahiti. We’re grabbing everything we see, sticking our noses in bottle after bottle, grinning like drunks. This isn’t, however, just any coconut oil or suntan-lotion-scented imposter that’s sending us into such raptures—this is real monoï: a swoon-inducingly fragrant concoction made by steeping tiare flowers, a variety of gardenia indigenous to French Polynesia, in locally sourced coconut oil.
Price and I both have special attachments to the stuff: I visited Tahiti for the first time in 2005, physically and emotionally scarred by a double whammy of major surgery and a bad breakup, and found, in the paradisiacal island and the oil, a balm for both. Price had been fascinated by the purported beautifying properties of monoï for many years before introducing the ingredient in Carol’s Daughter’s recently launched Monoï Repairing Collection (featuring a shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask). When you stumble across a multitasking moisturizer said to deliver shiny, frizz-free hair and soft, glowy skin—and, in a single drop, an olfactive vacation—it’s hard not to become obsessed.
Fantastic Voyage: Tahitian-sunset-pink Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Rock Candy lipstick moisturizes with monoï; naturally water-resistant, the monoï in Ojon Color Sustain Gloss Finishing Hair Spray coats strands with a frizz-fighting barrier; Parfumerie Tiki’s Monoï Tiki Tahiti has been made by the same family in Papeete since 1942 and includes a tiare flower in every bottle; Carol’s Daughter Monoï Repairing Conditioner leaves hair more resistant to breakage; The Body Shop Spa Wisdom Polynesia Monoï Body Balm offers the benefits of monoï oil in a whipped body butter; Nars Body Glow has added bronzer for extra golden skin.