I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Organic Spa Magazine to discuss the Hammam ritual in Morocco for their May/June issue. Read the full transcript here.
- Briefly describe what the hammam tradition is like in Morocco, in a social context? (Community, ritual, etc)
There are really two different types of Hammam experiences in Morocco, private or public. A private hammam is a luxurious, detoxifying spa ritual. The public hammam, which is what most Moroccans choose for social and financial reasons, offers the hammam’s health and purification benefits in a communal setting. Individuals gather, typically weekly, at the hammam to cleanse. Women are often accompanied by friends or family members as this can be an opportunity to gather and socialize away from men. You will often see many generations of women bathing together at the public hammam.
- What are the main steps and ingredient components in a Moroccan hammam? Are most of those ingredients local?
After stripping down, an attendant called a “Kess” will guide you to a shower for rinsing off. Then, in a hot steam room, the “Kess” applies a Moroccan Black Soap, or Savon Noir to the body. The Moroccan Black Soap is a blend of pure saponified olive oil, which women will pick up in the market on their way to the hammam, along with any other necessities like shampoo. At the market, these can be scented according to preference, but the most typical fragrance is Eucalyptus. We sell a version called Moroccan Beldi Soap at Kahina Giving Beauty scented with a choice of Eucalyptus, Neroli or Rose essential oils. The soap is allowed to sit on the skin for approximately 20 minutes as the pores open in the steam. Then, the “Kess” will vigorously scrub skin with the exfoliating “Kessa Mitt”. Skin literally rolls off! Following the scrubbing, buckets of water are dumped over the head and body to rinse. The “Kess” will wash hair with shampoo provided. Finally, the “Kess will massage you with Argan Oil to moisturize skin.
- What are the skin care benefits of the hammam?
The benefits of the hammam include cleansing and detoxification, improved circulation, exfoliation and moisturization.
- What are the benefits (skin or mental) of some of those local ingredients, like orange blossom, eucalyptus, argan, etc?
Essential oils of orange blossom, eucalyptus and rose are very calming to skin and to the nervous system. Olive Oil and Argan Oil are incredibly nourishing and skin softening. These ingredients, even if you are replicating the ritual at home, can transport you to another place and help you destress.
- How often should you do a hammam?
The complete hammam ritual with the extreme heat and vigorous scrubbing, should be done once a week, but the Moroccan Beldi Soap and Argan Oil can be incorporated into your daily cleansing and moisturizing routine without the complete hammam experience.