This Dirt Will Make You Clean
The use of mud and clay in cosmetics is hardly new. It’s not uncommon to see row after row of smartly packaged facial masks and body scrubs lining the shelves of your neighbourhood apothecary.
A visit to Marrakech, however, will show you a different take on this centuries-old beauty treatment. Here, a special clay called ghassoul is the norm. Found in spas such as Le Spa at Four Seasons Resort Marrakech as well as local pharmacies, it’s a reddish-brown natural clay naturally occurring in the Atlas Mountains of Eastern Morocco. It’s been used for over 1,400 years by everyone from ancient nobility to commoners in products such as soap, shampoo, masks, and moisturisers.
Unlike the smooth, ready-to-use concoctions most of us are used to, ghassoul typically arrives in its natural state – something resembling crumbly dry rocks. There are a number of recipes for preparing ghassoul for use, many of them passed down from mother to daughter. Mixing it with essential oils and rose or orange flower water are the most common.
Rich in minerals like silica, magnesium, and calcium, Ghassoul’s benefits are manifold. Its fans claim everything from anti-ageing to relief of acne and blemishes. Some pregnant women even ingest ghassoul as a cure for stomachs. It’s also a traditional Moroccan wedding gift, along with other dowry staples such as henna and milk.
Interested in trying ghassoul for yourself? You can find it in a number of souks (markets) and shops around Marrakech as well as the aforementioned Four Seasons Resort Marrakech Spa, where it's part of a couples' cleansing ritual. Whether you use it on your face, hair, or as an all-over cleansing treatment, it won’t be long before you become a devotee of this simple but effective beauty staple.