Moroccan women are adept at using nature’s bounty to beautify and care for every bit of the body. Use of such ingredients in their beauty regime brings them a feeling of well-being and of an undisputed natural glow.
The secrets of getting the best from specific plants in a beauty regime is an art that is whispered from mother to daughter, down through the generations, ensuring Moroccans continued beauty and health.
Moroccans of both sexes participate in joyful bathing rituals prior to celebrations dotting their lives. The dotting of my own life started with a text on my BlackBerry: “Find yourself at Les Bains de Marrakech at 3:15 and make sure you are free for the next three and a half hours!”
Near the mosque in a ryad-style hammam I have been washed, exfoliated and drained by candlelight, submerged with rose petals in dripping bath waters aromatized with rose, orange flower and amber essential oils. Enchanted by the sensuality of the music and jet-lagged, I completely lost the the notion of time. But before leaving I made sure to be revealed every little secret so I could go and find everything in the Souq to bring back home. Here is how it goes:
Many simple objects are involved in the hammam ritual. In the first room where heat levels are barely higher than outside the hammam, I was lathered with black soap made from black olives. (I then brought some to my mother and sister who did not quite understand what that was). The thick, dark yet soft paste is appreciated for its calming and softening properties.
Afterwards a Kessa , a coarse glove was used to exfoliate my skin to perfection. The important to remember to rinse and rinse again. Once all the impurities have been purged, white or green colored Ghassoul — a kind of clay — comes into play. Ghassoul comes in a powder form or in small bars. It needs to be blended with orange flower water or rose water to turn it into a sweetly smelling and malleable paste. White Ghassoul was applied gently to my face, the green version with Henna on my body and hair.
Habiba, tells me “Ghassoul makes your skin super silky and soft, Henna however is the perfect plant Moroccan ladies use as they generally have very long, glossy and thick hair. It regulates sebum production and smooths down scales and split ends so that the hair appears glossy. It also adds volume to fine hair.
The next step is to slip on some wooden clogs and enter the third and final room which is heated to 50 degrees C. My time here I must tell you was a little brief as it was the first time. I they quickly sprinted into a cold shower to cool down. Finally the best yet was to come: A massage with either Argan Oil or ” Green Oil” only found in Morocco.
I was now ready for the looks, after all Adriana was giving a dinner reception in my honor so I really wanted to make an effort in having that enchanting and mysterious oriental look. I ringed my eyes with Kohl eyeliner with an applicator called a mirwed . Then I used a swak, a dried strip of tee bark that can be obtained from attarines (herbalists) which helps to whiten teeth, protect the gums and maintain sweet smelling breath. I next applied acker to my lips: 100% natural, this lip treatment is sold in a little earthenware pot. Apply with damp fingers for guaranteed impact. See the picture below and tell me what you think.
This excursion into the world of well-being and beauty is also a discovery of one of the most beautiful countries like Morocco. Taking time out to pamper yourself in this ‘ancestral spa’ way is like sipping from the fountain of youth.
Today listen to: Hanina Jasmon Mix
The Arttarines or Herbalists:
Herboriste La Baraka: Medical plants, spices,essential oils, Natural creams and cosmetics, Argan oil, natural pigments- 118 face fontaine moissine Marrakech- tel +212-44 427471-e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Herboristerie Bendriss: Ghassoul, Kohl, Mirwed, Swak, Henna- 21-22 Kissariat El Jadida Hay Salam Mellah Marrakech -tel + 212 79 846038
Photo Credits: Moroccan Women: