Can’t Get Away to Marrakech? Turn Your Bathroom Into a Hammam
All in the name of softer-than-soft skin.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 6:45 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
You’re most likely not reading this while sprawled out on a heated marble slab as dappled sunlight peeks through an Arabic latticework ceiling in a Moroccan bathhouse. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mimic the beauty and relaxation of a hammam ritual from the comforts of your own bathroom. Why a hammam? Not only are the baths a place to deeply cleanse, but for centuries, Moroccans have attended the weekly ritual to socialize as they get a calming exfoliation treatment. Mimicking the true spirit of the experience is near impossible, but practically any shower can be altered into a hammam-like situation for an epically effective scrub-down. Here are six steps that’ll transport you into the ancient bathhouse of your dreams—no flight required.
If you were in Morocco right now, a hammam therapist or “natir” would be polishing away every single inch of your body. But you can be your own natir today. Start by running your shower hot for a few minutes to get a DIY steam room going. Sit in the steam until you’re feeling transported. Good-vibes pro tip: Add a few drops of an essential oil to the floor of the shower, especially sinus-opening eucalyptus or peppermint.
Feeling relaxed? Great—now you’re ready for step two…
Mask While You Cleanse
Hammams are traditionally known for their black soap, usually made out of saponified olive oil, which cleanses you from head to toe. It’s believed to be able to pull impurities from the skin too. Your beloved natir would soak you in water, and then lather you up with the rich, creamy soap, but you can do that too.
For the at-home version, use a soap like Kahina Giving Beauty Moroccan Rose Beldi Soap, which is made by artisan women in Morocco using the highest-quality local ingredients (and a percentage of proceeds from the brand gives back to their communities). This traditional, gel-like soap smells like walking through a rose garden and can be used as a black soap cleanser and as a softening body mask and massage treatment, which is precisely what we’re going to do here. Get your body wet, and then massage on the thick soap and let it sit for up to 10 minutes. Now it’s time for the magical part…
You thought your weekly body scrub was effective, but you haven’t seen exfoliation until you’ve used a kessa mitt. The fingerless-glove mitt is probably most associated with the hammam ritual and is known for its almost-painful but wildly effective results. Grab the mitt and start scrubbing the body mask–meets-soap off. Sure, the expert could exfoliate away every last single dead skin cell, but you can get a similar result by working in small sections in a circular pattern to go over every inch of your body. Skin should be feeling softer than soft from the scrub and moisturized from the black soap mask.
Soap It Up
Traditionally, the next step would be using the olive soap with a foaming mesh cloth to create a light-as-air, rich lather, which is massaged into skin to soothe freshly scrubbed skin. You can grab a foaming mesh contraption to grab any excess dead skin cells left on your body from the mitt. Try this beautiful hammam-inspired soap-on-a-rope from Senteurs d’Orient with a DHC Foaming Mesh and focus on massaging in the whipped soap for a DIY massage.
You still here or are you floating away, worry free? Wake yourself up by washing off the soap with ice cold water, which is incredible for body circulation and is standard in the hammam treatment.
Keep the Moroccan spirit going with an application of traditional argan oil. It’s lightweight, absorbs into skin beautifully, and is readily available all over Morocco. Try Garance Dore’s Argan Oil, which has local jasmine and neroli essential oils for a sensory experience and was handmade in Marrakech.
Hop out of your steam room (aka shower) and hydrate—you’ve been hard at work getting that glow, but all that heat and steam can be draining. Enjoy some Moroccan mint tea, made ahead of time and served chilled for the most delicious end to a body treatment. You’ll steep green tea, a large bunch of mint, and a touch of sugar if you want it a bit sweet. Sit down in a fluffy robe and let your body fully unwind. Who knew a trip to a hammam could be just a few steps away from your bedroom?