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Juara Beauty Bottles up the Healing Power of Jamu

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Juara Beauty Bottles up the Healing Power of Jamu

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Fresh off of a 24-hour flight to Bali, I found myself elbows deep in a bowl of turmeric.

Mortar in one hand and pestle in the other, I ground the herb into a sunshine-colored paste before combining it with palm sugar, tamarind fruit, and lime juice. Minutes later, the mixture would be strained to become Djamoe Kunir, a traditional Indonesian jamu—or wellness tonic—that’s used as a cure-all for ailments including dull skin, PMS cramps, and hormonal fluctuations.

“Make sure you think positively as you mix,” I was instructed. “The energy you put into the jamu is what makes it different than whatever blended green juice you’d pick up at a juice bar—it’s what makes it work.”


Experts In This Article

  • Metta Murdaya, Metta Murdaya is the author of Jamu Lifestyle: Indonesian Herbal Wellness Tradition and the founder of JUARA, an award-winning skincare & wellness line inspired by the Indonesian jamu tradition. Born in Indonesia, Murdaya grew up in San Francisco, going back…

Though this type of manifesting may be having a moment on present-day TikTok, it’s been at the heart of Indonesian wellness culture for generations. Derived from two ancient Javanese words—djampi, which roughly translates to ‘well wishes,’ and oesodo, which means ‘health’—jamu encompasses the Indonesian approach to well-being through intentionality. The term is used interchangeably to describe both this overarching tradition as well as the healing tonics and topicals used within it.

“The same ingredients that address things like jet lag and headaches and coughs can also exfoliate your skin,” says Metta Murdaya, author of Jamu Lifestyle and my host in Indonesia.

Over the course of the week I spent in the island nation, I got to witness the magic of jamu firsthand. The first few days (and sleepless nights) of the trip, I sipped on tamarind juice for my jet lag. When one of my fellow travelers got a nasty sunburn, rubbing boreh on the area calmed the redness in a matter of minutes. And when someone else came down with “Bali belly,” she was instructed to drink a homemade ginger tonic until she felt better.

The recipes for these herbal concoctions are simple—a few grains of rice here, a half gram of ginger, and a handful of betel leaves there—but the ingredients are only part of the equation. “There are two pieces of the puzzle: One is the ingredients, the other is the intentionality behind what you’re making,” says Murdaya. “What makes the medicine effective isn’t just picking the coconut or turmeric and chopping it up—it’s that you’re doing something with it. And that sense of intentionality and purpose is what fuels part of the recipe that makes something work. It’s feeding the humanness of it instead of just addressing the physical body.”

This, she explains, is what gives jamu its healing powers. “The whole point with jamu is that it incorporates energy by having positive intentions and well-wishes—you’re connecting to the concept that intention matters,” says Murdaya. “And if you think about it, that happens elsewhere, too. If someone is serving something to you with positive intentions, like if your mom makes you chicken soup when you’re sick, it will taste or feel better because it feels more meaningful.”

Simply put? “The ingredients heal at the spiritual level, the intentionality heals at the mental, emotional, and spiritual level,” says Murdaya.

In addition to quite literally writing the book on jamu, Murdaya has found a way to bottle up its powers with her skin-care line, Juara Beauty. Not only do the products use traditional Indonesian ingredients—like coffee (for exfoliation and antioxidant protection), candlenut (for calming inflammation), and tamarind (for evening skin tone)—but the brand also places the same type of intentionality that’s central to jamu culture at the heart of its formulations.

“The intention is our North Star, and that has never left me,” says Murdaya. “The purpose of the products we’re creating is to make a person feel better about themselves, both physically and mentally.”

In the same way that I transferred my positive thoughts into my DIY jamu, Murdaya takes care to infuse purpose into each and every one of Juara’s formulas. “Yes, the ingredients are great, but it’s really about the person who’s using them—how does the product make them feel at the end of the day?” she says. “So throughout the formulation process, we tweak on that level and we keep testing, and that’s where the intentionality carries through. We test at different touch points—how the product feels when you take it out of the jar, during that first ‘Ah’ moment when you put it on your skin, as you’re applying it, after it sinks in, and hours later—there’s a reason we pay so much attention to textures and fragrances because we want to make sure it feels good.”

Now feels like the appropriate time to admit that I was initially skeptical about how all of this “power of positive thinking” stuff could possibly make a difference in my beauty routine—after all, the journalist in me has learned to rely on active ingredients for healthy skin, not manifestations.  But in trying out Juara’s products, I couldn’t help but notice just how well the formulas lent themselves to being used thoughtfully; they weren’t just designed with intention, but they required you to apply them with intention, too.

Instead of simply sloughing off my dead skin cells with the Invigorating Coffee Scrub ($44), I took the time to luxuriate in the process of massaging it into my skin while letting its intense scent awaken my senses and mind. The foaming lather of the Rice Facial Cleanser ($29) made me feel like I was treating myself to a high-end facial every time I used it, and slathering the Candlenut Glow Oil ($65) all over my body became a daily self-care practice I found myself looking forward to.

Somehow, the process of using the products forced me to think positively about my body, my skin, and myself—which, Murdaya says, is exactly the point. And though I can’t say for sure whether it was the ingredients or the intentionality I was applying them with that transformed my complexion into the glowiest version of itself, generations of Indonesian healers can promise that it’s both.

Shop Juara Beauty

Juara Beauty, Rice Facial Cleanser — $29.00

Key ingredients: rice bran, apple extract, plum fruit extract

Generations of Indonesian women have used rice water to soften their skin, and Murdaya translated this tradition into the formulation of Juara’s hero facial cleanser. It detoxifies pores with a gentle, foaming lather while reducing redness and fortifying the skin barrier with the help of omega fatty acids.

 

  • Gentle
  • Cleanses, soothes, and brightens
  • Sustainably-grown, cruelty-free ingredients

Juara Beauty, Radiance Enzyme Scrub & Enzyme Mask — $44.00

Key ingredients: bamboo, jojoba, botanical enzymes

In combining the physical exfoliating powers of finely milled bamboo and microscopic jojoba beads with the chemical exfoliating powers of apple, ginger, and clove enzymes, this scrub softens and resurfaces the skin in one fell swoop. Additionally, a botanical blend that’s rich in vitamin C delivers brightening and discoloration-evening effects.

  • Cleanses, brightens, and exfoliates
  • Gentle and suitable for all skin types
  • Shrinks pores
  • Sustainably-grown, cruelty-free ingredients

Juara Beauty, Radiance Vitality Oil — $86.00

Key ingredients: stabilized vitamin C, Five Flavor Berry, botanical oils

Arguably my favorite Juara Beauty product, this ‘radiance vitality’ oil delivers on the promise of its name. A cocktail of nourishing oils that includes candlenut, academia, avocado, coconut, and squalane hydrates and nourishes the skin while turmeric introduces calming effects. Upon application, it feels nothing short of luxurious and melts seamlessly into the skin to leave a lightweight dewy finish that looks glowy, never greasy.

  • Brightens and moisturizes
  • Lightweight and non-greasy
  • Soothes redness and inflammation
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Sustainably-grown, cruelty-free ingredients

Juara Beauty, Invigorating Coffee Scrub — $44.00

Key ingredients: coffee, rice proteins

Inhaling the scent of this scrub has the same invigorating effects as the first sip of your morning cup of coffee—and the benefits only get better when you apply it to your skin. Coffee helps to stimulate blood flow (especially when you’re massaging it from head to toe), and delivers antioxidant protection that fends off free-radical damage.

  • Smells amazing
  • Brightens and exfoliates
  • Stimulates blood flow and circulation
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Sustainably-grown, cruelty-free ingredients
  • Pricey
  • Exfoliation might be too much for those who prefer a gentle scrub

Juara Beauty, Candlenut Glow Body Oil — $65.00

Key ingredients: candlenut, moringa, botanical oils

Candlenut is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and is a staple in both Indonesian cuisine and beauty treatments. This oil harnesses the benefits of the local ingredient to deliver nourishment and strength to the skin and hair—and the warm, subtle coconut scent makes it feel like your entire body is being wrapped in a hug any time you apply.

  • Ultra-hydrating and nourishing
  • Smells amazing
  • Soothes redness and inflammation
  • Firms skin
  • Sustainably-grown, cruelty-free ingredients
  • Pricey
  • Texture is a little greasy

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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