From argan oil to black soap, and every fragrant formula in between.

For centuries, Moroccan women have been turning to natural, home grown ingredients in order to achieve their radiant complexions and glossy strands.

Cultural cleansing

The hammam is a traditional bathing and cleansing ritual that is said to increase circulation, release toxins, and purify the skin. For most Moroccans, the hammam is more than a day at the spa; it’s a vital part of their lifestyle. Though the exact experience may vary from place to place, the hammam is usually divided into three steps.

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First, you’ll sweat it out in an extra-hot steam room to open your pores, then the attendant will lather you in an olive oil–based black soap and scrub you from head-to-toe with a traditional kessa glove. Finally, you will be immersed in cold water for a refreshing finish.

morocco beauty

To experience a traditional Moroccan hammam here in Dubai, we recommend visiting the Oriental Hammam at the One&Only Royal Mirage. Their Royal Hammam treatment consists of a deep clean with the traditional Moroccan black soap and a full body exfoliation, followed by a nourishing ghassoul wrap and honey face mask.

Your therapist will then apply an amber and musk body gel and hair shampoo to finish the cleansing ceremony.

Liquid gold

Argan oil has fast become a staple in many skin and hair products thanks to its unparalleled ability to nourish, hydrate, and moisturize. The oil is extracted from the kernels of argan trees, which are native to the southwest deserts of Morocco.

morocco beauty

In the region, a movement of women’s co-operatives has developed to gather and process the nuts, which allows local indigenous Berber women to work part-time to earn additional income for their families and community. The women first crack the shells with sharp stones, then they place the kernels between two slabs of rock, grinding them into a brown paste. Without applying heat, the paste is then cold-pressed in order to retain maximum nutrients and potency.

Our favourite is The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil, which is brimming with vitamins, essential fatty acids, phenols and carotenes to hydrate skin and add shine to hair.

Fragrant formulas

The Valley of Roses sits at the base of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where for centuries, women have used pure rose water to tone, balance and refresh their skin.

Each Spring, during the rose harvest, the Berber women of the village of Kelaat M’Gouna rise before dawn to hand pick the roses, preserving their fragrance from the harmful effects of the sun. The petals are then carefully steam distilled, which results in added health and beauty benefits.

Whether spritzed for a hydrating boost or mid-day pick-me-up, you can’t beat Kahina Giving Beauty’s Moroccan Rose Water, which is a handbag must-have.

Multi-tasking minerals

Ghassoul (pronounced rassoul) is a mineral only found in the beds beneath the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. It has been used for centuries in the ancient world as a prized beauty ingredient because it’s 100 per cent organic, hypoallergenic, and jam-packed with magnesium, silica, calcium, and potassium, making it an ideal detoxifying cleanser, facial mask, and total body conditioner.

morocco beauty

We love Poppy Austin’s 100% Organic Rhassoul Clay Hair and Facial Mask, which reduces dryness and impurities, as well as improving skin elasticity and unblocking pores, including those stubborn blackheads.

Simply mix the clay with water (or rose water) then apply to your skin or hair and leave for 5-10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Solid scents

In Morocco, solid perfume is unlike anything you would have seen before. Found at almost every souk in the country, they come in small, coloured blocks that give off a light fragrance when rubbed on the skin. Unlike traditional perfumes, these wax and oil based scents are alcohol free which is great for those with sensitive skin.

morocco beauty

But the best thing about solid perfume is that it lasts for years and it’s travel friendly. For a luxurious take we recommend Diptyque’s Eau Rose Solid Perfume which should be applied on your pulse points, where your body gives off the most heat: on your wrists and inside your elbows, at the base of your neck, behind your ears and your décolleté.

Thorough exfoliation

Traditionally used in conjunction with Moroccan black soap, the kessa glove is an exfoliating mitt that helps eliminate toxins, unclog pores and remove dead skin cells. Made using high-quality viscose crepe fabric, the Kessa Exfoliating Mitt from Zakia’s Morocco will ensure your skin is left completely smooth and soft.

To help avoid irritation, it’s best to use long strokes in a single direction — not circles — to tackle areas that need exfoliating. Over time, this energizing self-massage can also help banish cellulite.

Ancient recipes

Also known as beldi soap or savon noir, Moroccan black soap is the cornerstone of the traditional Moroccan hammam. The soap is a mixture of black olive purée, and natural oils. Used for its medicinal and dermatological benefits since the nineteenth century, Moroccan black soap remains one of the most important beauty products in the region.

Our top pick is The Ritual of Hammam Black Soap, which comfortably massages over the skin, eliminating daily dirt. The paste-like formula is enriched with a refreshing dose of eucalyptus and pure olive oil, which hydrate and soften the skin, whilst leaving the body prepped for exfoliation.

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Words: Gracie Stewart
Images: Supplied, Trunk Archive