Every country has its own traditions and rituals, and the ones that pique my interest the most are those around public bathing — something totally foreign to westerners like myself who blush at the idea of stripping down in front of strangers.
The Japanese use their time at ryokans to soak in hot water and contemplate life, while the Finnish hit the sauna at least once a week to remove toxins from the body.
In Morocco, regular visits to a hammam are both a social outing and a chance to cleanse and exfoliate skin. Beldi soap (also known as savon noir or Moroccan black soap) is picked up from a local spice shop or apothecary and carried to the hammam in a plastic bag. Made from saponified olive oil, the gel-like soap is lightly scented with eucalyptus oil and used to cleanse and soften skin before the body is vigorously exfoliated with a kessa mitt.
Kahina Giving Beauty makes a high-quality version of the traditional soap for those of us who can't make it to Morocco. Rich with vitamin E, the all-natural, rose-scented soap can be used on both body and face to cleanse and soften. The beauty ritual, once reserved for the hammams of Morocco, can now be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.
Always game to try a new beauty treatment, I turned the hot water in my shower up as high as I could handle and transformed my bathroom into a steamy makeshift hammam.
I applied a thick layer of beldi soap and sat still for ten minutes — a good opportunity to peruse an old copy of Vogue. Then I did a quick rinse to remove the soap before heavily scrubbing my skin in circular motions with a kessa mitt. As someone who frequently exfoliates and moisturizes, I wasn't expecting much, but I was surprised by the amount of skin that rolled off. And for those wondering — it didn't hurt a bit. Actually, it felt quite nice.
The result: soft, glowing skin, and a new Sunday ritual.
The Moroccan rose beldi soap from Kahina Giving Beauty is available at amazon.com for $48.