The Hammam Experience

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Moroccan tea service with silver pot, rose petals, and tea

I recently got back from a trip to Marrakech. It was my first time in Morocco, a beautiful country. Out of the list of things I wanted to do — visiting the YSL Museum was high on that list — a hammam experience was on top.

I am typically a sauna person. Basically anything hot and dry and I’m happy. But sauna is not part of the hammam. Steam rules in this experience. And it’s really important to check any modesty at the door. The treatment began with me being doused in warm water (from a beautiful silver pitcher I might add). Then a good rub down with the local black soap. My therapist told me that this truly softens and preps the skin for the scrub. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I then sat in the steam room for 10 minutes. Although I found it a little hard to breathe (and, full disclosure: I did think about sneaking out), I made it.  Then on to the next room with a rinse off and the scrub.

If given the chance for a spa treatment, I always love a good massage. I realized that I hadn’t had a serious body scrub in years. Years. This one was intense. I felt like layers of not only my skin but my life were falling off. My therapist did not hold back. How did I feel after? Completely alive and invigorated. Lighter. More alert. Present. And my skin was seriously smooth. Loved the argan oil rub down at the end.

I realized that the hammam goes beyond a beauty treatment. It is one of the five things that are found in a typical Moroccan village, in addition to the mosque, school, community oven, and fountain. My therapist told me that she and her family go weekly to the hammam. It was unimaginable to her to not take care of her skin on a weekly basis. This was not pampering, it was part of what you do. Also, it was a time to connect. Many women meet there, enjoy tea and catch up with one another. It all adds up to feeling great and connecting to the community.

I won’t wait another decade to have an amazing treatment like this again. Maybe I won’t get back to Marrakech, but I can bring it back to me with a simple DIY home scrub like this one:

Body Scrub

¼ cup olive oil
½ cup white or brown sugar (or course sea salt)
½ cup ground oatmeal (or coffee grounds for a more invigorating scrub)
1-3 drops essential oil (try lavender, almond, citrus or peppermint oils)

Whisk together all ingredients and pour into a mason jar or other airtight container. Use just a quarter-sized amount at a time, storing the scrub in a dry place for up to three weeks.

Canyon Ranch DIY Scrub

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