Beauty Travel

The Best Skincare for a DIY Moroccan Hammam

DIY Moroccan Hammam

This post is part of a travel series highlighting some of my favorite cities. For more, check out these other posts on the natural beauty scene in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Winter is here and for most of us, that means one thing: dry, itchy skin. No matter how much I slather on rich moisturizers and body lotions, I inevitably find my skin uncomfortably dry thanks to cold winter air and a heater on full blast. In a fit of inspiration (or perhaps, desperation), I rounded up a few products I first discovered in Morocco to see if I could recreate the hammam experience that is a hallmark of the Moroccan beauty regimen. It didn’t quite capture the full magic of a hammam, but let me tell you, it was close. I was left with soft, supple skin that was hydrated enough to beat the winter blues.

Beldi soap that I found during a trip to Morocco
A heaping pot of beldi soap I found during a trip to Morocco!

The secret to the hammam experience is exfoliation. After steaming and softening the skin with traditional beldi soap, an experienced hammam masseuse would scrub off dry skin with a kessa mitt until you were as pink and soft as a newborn baby. Word to the wise: they are thorough and leave no, ahem, parts untouched. Luckily, the at-home experience is much less revealing.

If you want to recreate the hammam experience at home for way less than the price of a plane ticket to Marrakesh, you only need two products:

Beldi Soap
54 Thrones Beldi Soap for a Moroccan Hammam experience
54 Thrones Beldi Soap

Beldi soap is quite a unique product. The texture is one part hair gel and one part saltwater taffy. Because of the thick, viscous nature of the soap, you pinch or scoop some out of the jar and massage a generous amount onto damp skin. You then leave it for up to 15 minutes to work its magic softening your skin in preparation for the exfoliation. I like to do double duty and throw on a hair mask while I’m waiting.

Exfoliating Mitt

Once your skin is softened from the beldi soap, you work the exfoliating mitt known as a ‘kessa’ over your body in circular motions to gradually buff off the  soap (and any dead skin). In a traditional Moroccan hammam, the masseuse may be quite firm. However, the joy of an at-home treatment is that you can use exactly the kind of pressure you want. Really focus on those often neglected areas, like the feet, backs of the arms, and anywhere else that could use some extra love.

The Kahina Kessa Mitt for a DIY Moroccan hammam experience
The Kahina Kessa Mitt, perfect for a DIY Moroccan hammam experience

Now that your skin is freshly exfoliated, you’ll want to follow up with a rich body oil or body butter. Pro tip: instead of fully drying yourself off after your shower, gently pat off but leave the skin damp when you apply your body moisturizer and give it an extra minute to dry. This allows the product to lock in the extra moisture on your skin, ensuring your skin will stay hydrated far longer throughout the day.

This practice is a traditional part of Moroccan culture. Therefore, consider shopping from brands that acknowledge the cultural heritage of this practice and support local artisans and producers (I’ve included links to my favorites!)

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