Updated: Sep 4, 2021
When it comes to discovering ingredients on certain products, we all are used to hearing the old cliché that ‘if you can't pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn't be consuming it.’ Well that's not fair if it's in a different language - for example, Mαστίχα. Going off this, you would have skipped the opportunity to experience the power of one of the most powerful natural ingredients in the world - Mαστίχα (translates to Mastic or Mastiha). Have you ever heard of this? We’re guessing not, but we’re here to tell you more about it why its the foundation of all FēLē products that will change your skincare routine for life!
Mastic: The ‘Tears of Chios’ - Found only in Greece!
Before we unravel why you should know about Mastic, let's give you some background on it! Mastic is a miracle aromatic resin secreted from the Mastic Trees (a.k.a. the evergreen shrub Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia). This specific tree can be found in various parts of the world, but in only one place in the world do the trees actually produce the mastic resin itself - the Aegean island of Chios, Greece. Given the distinct aromatic smell of Mastic (one described as a mix between pine & eucalyptus), it's to no surprise that the island of Chios is known as the fragrant (Μυροβόλος) island in Greece. To add more to the mystique of these trees, they only grow on the southern part of the island in the mastihohoria (the mastic villages). This is why Mastic is so magical. It has also been used for thousands of years and was once worth its weight in gold. Similarly, it was also recognized as the first chewing gum!
As for its nickname, ‘The Tears of Chios’, this is directly related to how the mastic is cultivated and harvested. To make a long story short, to release the Mastic from the Mastic trees to allow for harvesting, the trees undergo the yearly scarring process (a.k.a Kentos), where small shallow incisions are made on the bark of the tree to create escapes for the Mastic resin. Through this process, the Mastic (which is initially a sap) will begin to ooze out and form tear-like shapes before ultimately dripping off the tree onto the ground and solidifying.
The beauty of the entire harvesting process is unlike anything else in the world and we dive deeper into this here if you’re interested!
Mastic: Health Benefits & Healing Properties Mastic is known primarily in Greece for its amazing natural properties, but has yet to be recognized at scale by the rest of the world. FēLē is here to pioneer Mastic skincare, but the use cases for Mastic extend far past this. For example, practitioners of alternative medicine have proclaimed Mastic as a natural remedy for indigestion, acid reflux, peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory problems, gum disease, and various bacterial/fungal infections. Mastic is even more versatile and has also made its way into new food and cocktail recipes. It truly has no end.
Regarding skincare, Mastic can notably reduce the appearance of pores, control the excretion of sebum, boost collagen production, soften lines and wrinkles, and improve skin clarity and radiance among many other things. What we’re really trying to say is that there is nothing like Mastic in the world and incorporating this in your skincare routine will leave your skin looking like never before.
Mastic also has anti-septic, -microbial, -bacterial, -oxidant, and -inflammatory properties with no toxic side effects. It truly is like the 8th wonder of the world!
Mastic is also a P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) product which means the European Union uniquely recognizes that the resin and all its qualities and characteristics are due to the particular geographical environment where it’s found. Pretty cool!
Only Chios? How is this possible? Can this be true?
Yes, it is! The fact that the island of Chios is the only place in the world that can produce the Mastic resin is certainly no lie. But there are stories and scientific explanations as to why this is the case:
During 250 CE, St. Isidore, a Christian sailor, was martyred during the reign of emperor Decius who was the most well-known prosecutor of Christianity. First St. Isidore was put into a furnace to burn, but this attempt was unsuccessful. As a result, he was tied and dragged by horses through the terrain of southern Chios and ultimately beheaded to prevent any sort of resurrection. Through this, the Mastic trees were believed to have ‘cried’ tears of Mastic because of his suffering and the ability for these trees to continue to produce Mastic forever remained.
The scientific explanation is a little less interesting, but here you go. Agronomists (experts in soil and crop production) believe the trees produce Mastic because of the combination of volcanic soil found on the southern part of Chios island, the dry micro-climate, and discipline around eugenics through the generations that continued the breeding of the best Mastic trees. Eugenics is the study of increasing desired characteristics through controlled reproduction. As an aside, check out one of the most beautiful beaches in Chios called Mavra Volia - this beach is known as ‘black pebble beach’ after the pebbles were forever turned black from an eruption of a nearby volcano.
With this, you can run with whichever explanation you’d like - just make sure you say it proudly as someone from Chios would!
Enjoy Mastic - With FēLē!
While there is much more to the beauty of Mastic, we hope this gives you some inspiration to dive further into its mystique. Perhaps you can even find yourself on the island of Chios one day wandering through the Mastic villages. Whatever the case may be, Mastic will continue to grow (no pun intended) and find its way into the hands of many over the course of time. FēLē is here to be the plug in Mastic skincare and we hope you join us on the ride.
Want to visit Chios? Here is how to get there:
Chios is a 35-minute flight or ~8-hour ferry ride from Athens, Greece.
Visitors can take a bus from Chios Town to the Mastihohoria (Mastic Villages) or rent a car. Just don’t forget an international passport!
There is also a new Mastic Museum you can visit - see here.
Mastic Museum, Chios, Greece