The hammam at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72
If you are visiting Morocco I recommend you try a hammam either a private one at your riad or the nearest public one. It’s essentially the Middle Eastern version of the steam room and its origins date back to Roman times.
Visiting a hammam is part of Moroccan life and men, women and children visit at least once a week. Every neighbourhood has a hammam which is often situated near the communal bread oven to share the heat source. If you are visiting the public hammam check out the times/days when it is open to women/men in advance and find out if you need to take products with you or if they are available to purchase.
My first hammam experience was at Riad 72 in Marrakech, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. When they suggested I try the hammam I have to admit that I was slightly nervous as I had visions of having my skin rubbed until it was red raw but I had nothing to worry about. Ayesha, the hammam attendant or tellak, at Riad 72 has been giving hammam treatments for over 10 years and she even gives her ten month old baby the treatment to cleanse his skin.
The riad hammam is a large tadelakht covered wet room with a heated floor and a sunken bath at one end. The bath is filled with hot water and the room fills with steam. First you are covered in warm water to open your pores and then in a black soap made from olive oil infused with eucalyptus. The soap cleanses and softens your skin. Your hammam attendant then uses an exfoliating glove called a kessa to remove old skin cells. This isn’t like an out of the jar body scrub this is serious exfoliation. You will see rolls of skin leaving your body but it is painless.
Once all your dead skin has been removed you are rinsed down and clay, called rhassoul, is mixed with water and applied to your entire body and your hair. This is special lava clay from the Atlas Mountains which is said to remove imperfections and tighten your skin. Once the clay has dried on your skin you are rinsed down again so that all traces are removed. I finished off with a relaxing argan oil and verbena full body massage. My skin felt incredibly soft and rejuvenated for days afterwards and there was no redness.
The massage room at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72
Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam At Home
A hammam is a great way to unwind and pamper yourself at the same time. You can create your own Moroccan hammam in your bathroom at home here’s how:
1. Create the right mood by lighting candles or try floating candles in our copper meditation urli for an ambient glow.
2. Fill your bath with hot water or leave your shower running to create a steam filled room.
3. Take a dip in the bath or under the shower and then cover yourself with exfoliating soap. There are a few providers of Moroccan soap and beauty treatments online but I am suggesting the Beldi soap with eucalyptus oil from Essence of Morocco.
4. Once covered with soap start gently exfoliating with the kessa glove. Work from the extremities in using long sweeping movements and applying pressure.
5. Rinse off and apply a thin layer of rhassoul clay, lava clay, which is said to rid the skin of impurities, detoxifying the skin. I’m suggesting the Essence of Morocco Rhassoul Clay Mask because the mask is already mixed for you so it is easier to use. The clay is mined from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. You can also use the mask as a natural shampoo and as a weekly face mask.
6. Leave the mask for 5 – 10 minutes so that it is dry but not too tight and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.
7. Finally to finish off the experience massage in Argan oil. I like Essence of Morocco’s organic Argan Oil with Rose.
Afterwards your skin should feel cleansed, soft and rejuvenated and you should feel pampered and relaxed.
Please note this isn’t a sponsored post. There are a number of online providers of Moroccan hammam products I have suggested the Essence of Morocco products because I have used them before and think the quality is good.