In recent years, Morocco has become a leader on the global beauty scale for natural, potent ingredients and a rich history of rituals that center on self-purification for religious/spiritual practices and honoring the physical body as a temple and the home of one’s soul. As a result, Moroccan women have always had the family beauty secrets and rituals based down from one generation to another. That’s why when you see Moroccan women, they tend to have gorgeous skin, hair, and (a little TMI) I’ve rarely seen a Moroccan woman with cellulite!!! Now we know you don’t have time to dig up all these rituals on your own, so here are some Saharan beauty secrets to include in your beauty routine!
1. Argan is King
Argan oil is the Coconut oil of North Africa. Argan oil can be used on your hair to control frizz and bring shine without weighing it down. Argan oil can cleanse your skin of impurities and getting rid of makeup. Argan oil can also deeply moisturize your skin but dries quickly so you never feel that heavy feeling often associated with oils. Argan oil is even great for tanning your skin and giving you a beautiful bronzed complexion (though always use SPF in addition to any tanning products!!). Argan oil is only produced in Morocco and it truly is their golden elixir. If I could only have one beauty product for the rest of my life, it would be Argan oil. Now go get you some.
2. But Don’t sleep on Other Oils from Morocco
Ok, Argan may be king but Morocco has a whole court of incredible oils for your every need. Moroccan Atlas Rose oil is incredible for moisturizing and preventing fine lines and wrinkles on maturing skin. Prickly Pear oil is also full of Vitamin E and an ideal oil for those of us with acne/breakout prone skin. Olive oil is also Queen of the land as it forms part of the traditional “Sabon Beldi” or Moroccan Black Soap. Super cleansing and hydrating for the skin, Moroccans will use it during their hammam bath/shower and let it soak on their skin for a few minutes before scrubbing. More on this later.
3. What’s Good for Outer Beauty is Often Just as Good for Your Diet
Argan nuts/oil, Olives and olive oil, and prickly pears and their oil are fantastic for your skin and hair but they are also delicious and just as good for you to include in your diet. In the West, we’re already used to using olive oil in our salads and meals but have you tried pantry argan oil? Its has a distinct nutty, buttery flavor that is often drizzled on traditional breads like msemn or just plain baguettes. Just make sure you read on the label if you’re buying cosmetic or cooking argan oil because it is definitely not like olive oil where you can use it for either since a different part of the nut is used for both. Also, before living in Morocco, I had never had the experience of eating a prickly pear but during my first Ramadan, I realized how amazing they are. The texture can be a bit strange at first since it’s so seedy but it’s a light snack that’s packed with water. It’s ideal for keeping hydrated whether you’re fasting or if you’re just bearing the heat Morocco is so famous for.
4. Henna isn’t just for Tattoos
Henna tattoos are a common practice in Morocco and across the Arab world as protective symbolism and also enhances the wearer’s beauty in celebrations and new endeavors. But did you know that henna can be used as a hair treatment to strengthen weak hair and also works as a semi-permanent natural dye for your hair? Women will often create a henna mixture with an oil or water base and leave that in their hair for a few hours or overnight to penetrate their strands leaving them with stronger strands and a reddish tint to their hair. When I lived in the Sahara and wanted to boost my hair, I’d mix my henna with whatever oil I had on hand and coffee grounds so the henna would give me a deeper chocolate/burgundy brown tint.
5. Exfoliating is the Key to Success
One of my favorite pastimes in Morocco is going to the weekly Hammam/Bathhouse. The Hammam dates back to Roman days where there are often a few rooms ranging from cool, hot, and sauna. In the hottest rooms, you bathe as usual and let your pores open up with the steam and heat. After about 30-45 minutes in, your skin will be ready for the hardcore scrub down of all the dead skin cells that your body doesn’t remove with just a daily shower. Usually one scrubs as much of their body as they can with a textured hand mitt called a Kessa and then another woman will help scrub your back and hard to reach areas. I always had someone scrub me down because Moroccan women would often laugh at how “softly” I’d scrub myself as if I wasn’t getting it done properly. So fine by me! I’d let them scrub me down until I had new baby soft skin. If you want to try this yourself, make sure you take a hot shower with lots of steam and kill some time in there as your pores open up, lather up with some Moroccan black soap, and then lastly start scrubbing with a gritty shower glove until you start to see all that dead skin fall off!
Going through all those tips, just have me so excited to be surrounded by the beauty and magic that make up Morocco. I love to spend hours in the Hammam, physically and emotionally stripped down in a place where women can come together and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives and bond on the communal experience of self-care and being there for one another, whether it’s literally (when ya gurl gives your back a good hammam scrub down) or when its emotional by laughing or crying together in a place where women can feel and express themselves freely.
I am getting so pumped to walk down the souks streets in Marrakech and already have my laundry list of beauty goods I NEED to bring home with me. If this is something you wish you could do as too, well come join me on our Morocco Beauty Tours in 2019! You can live these Saharan beauty secrets and rituals firsthand while travelling with a fabulous collection of empowered women that has been joining our Around the World Beauty Tribe. In the meantime, if I left you wanting to know more about how to incorporate more Moroccan beauty into your life, check out our post on “How to bring the magic of Moroccan Beauty to your bathroom.”
Learning about Beauty Rituals from Domaine De La Roseraie
Henna and Oils direct from Source
Rose Oil and Prickly Pear Scrub sold in Medina Morocco Shops
Black Soap, and Natural Ingredients found in the Medina
Riad Zam Zam shared their Moroccan Beauty Ingredients
peace, love & couscous,
Brenda Garcia Jaramillo