Moroccan Hammam: Health and Beauty Benefits

The Moroccan Hammam purifies both the body and mind, as believed in Morocco. The history of this ritual dates back to ancient times. In Morocco, the hammam occupies a central place, representing much more than just a public bath. It is an inherited tradition, a religious ritual, a health necessity, and a social practice all at once.

What is a Moroccan Hammam?

What is a Moroccan Hammam

It is a moist heat bath, very different from the sauna, which is based on dry heat. It is also different from the Turkish bath, almost wholly steamed. The Moroccan hammam heats thanks to a coil system up to mid-height. Unlike the Turkish bath, it is moist but not filled with moisture.

Inspired by the Roman baths that the Arabs discovered during the conquest of Syria, the hammam is currently and often composed of a single room or even two for exfoliation. However, it is its shortened version that we know today. Traditionally, it includes several rooms (minimum 3), which will increase in temperature to reach the hottest room by 50°. The goal is to evolve within these rooms by accustoming the body to progressively more intense heat. Thanks to this heat, the skin will become more supple, and the pores will open.

Moroccan hammam: anti-stress detox

anti-stress detox

The Muslim religion recommends the practice of purifying ablutions, especially before prayer. This is the reason why the hammam was quickly annexed to the mosque.

Therefore, their place is outside the center of the City, like the Roman baths. Still, they are distributed in the different districts of the City. It is a central meeting place in a Muslim society where a large part of social life occurs.

Unlike Turkish baths, the Moroccan hammam diffuses dry heat. Traditionally, it is made up of three parts which differ in their respective temperature and function:

The Roman frigidarium, which came before the first room, is the same temperature as the rest of the room. The short corridor acts as a foyer and a place to rest after the session.

This small hallway leads to a warm, 40-degree room called the “harara,” a copy of the Roman tepidarium where different treatments and body massages can be done.

This room is adjacent to a steam room, the Moroccan version of the Roman laconicum.

The procedure of the treatment in the hammam

treatment in the hammam

It is in this room that the treatment begins. The dry heat will cause profuse sweating, which deep cleans the skin.

After spending 15 or 20 minutes in this room, lying on benches on the floor, the body treatment begins in the space provided for this purpose:

The session begins with an exfoliating treatment with black soap. This completely ecological paste is made of olive oil and black olive pulp. It is often flavored with eucalyptus oil. The body is coated, then vigorously rubbed with a kesse glove.

This is followed by thorough rinsing in the shower. Your skin can then receive the famous ghassoul wrap. This gray clay from the Middle Atlas Mountains contains mineral salts, trace elements, and vitamins that will cleanse, heal, and nourish your skin.

After 20 minutes of exposure, your skin covered with Ghassoul is gorged with invigorating active ingredients. You are ready to receive a massage with argan oil, rich in vitamin E and renowned for its nourishing and restructuring properties.

The treatment ends in the restroom, the departure room, where you can sip mint tea or refreshing drinks.

How to use Moroccan hammam

How to use Moroccan hammam

The peel must be cleaned entirely by peeling and freeing it from contaminants. Accordingly, the ritual bath consists of three stages that enable this result to be achieved:

  • application of black soap, which prepares the skin for exfoliation
  • scrub that removes dead cells and external impurities
  • application of Ghassoul to eliminate subcutaneous impurities
  • application of argan oil to nourish the skin

black soap

Black soap has a pH of around 10. Therefore, it will peel off the most superficial layer of the epidermis: the layer of dead cells. A hard Marseille-type soap has a pH of around 8, so less aggressive and less effective. Black soap should be used in a warm place (hot skin softens) and on damp skin. It is associated or not with essential oils depending on the desired purpose.

The scrub

Before exfoliating your skin, rinse the black soap with hot water (if possible, wet the glove with hot water 5 minutes before). Then, exfoliate the skin with an exfoliating glove. Exfoliating salts can be a good alternative if you can’t stand the glove. There are several exfoliating salts in the Nectarine line. Lavender has a calming effect, while pelargonium wakes you up. Depending on the type of skin and the desired effect, one will be better than the other.


Ghassoul means “one who washes” in Arabic. It is a product existing only in Morocco 200km south of Fez, used in Morocco since the 12th century. It is the most absorbent clay of all. Thus, using a ghassoul after the exfoliation makes it possible to suck up subcutaneous impurities and harmful bacteria.

Argan oil

Following the routine, the application of argan oil preserves the skin. In reality, exfoliation and Ghassoul destroy the hydrolipidic layer on the skin’s surface. Therefore, argan oil restores this film and prevents dryness of the skin.

Moroccan Hammam: benefits and contraindications

The treatment is highly recommended for muscle tension and joint pain.

It is a moment of great relaxation that allows you to get rid of stress. It is also very beneficial for ENT disorders such as bronchitis and sinusitis.

On the other hand, it should be avoided after a light meal and during digestion in general. Additionally, it is not advised to have low blood pressure or blood sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Moroccan hammam treatment?

A traditional Moroccan hammam treatment, also known as a Moroccan bath, consists of a thermal bath followed by a body scrub and massage. The hammam is a hot, humid room with tiled walls and a heated stone slab. Clients lie down and are scrubbed with a special exfoliating glove called a kessa by an attendant.

The treatment begins with a steam session in the hammam, designed to relax the body and release the pores. The client is then cleansed with the Kess glove, which removes dead skin cells and leaves the skin feeling smooth and revitalized. During the scrub, a traditional black soap made from olive oil and eucalyptus is also used to exfoliate and hydrate the skin.

After the exfoliation, the client is typically rinsed with tepid water and then given a massage with argan or other nourishing oils. The massage is intended to calm and relax the body, leaving the epidermis supple and soft.

Popular in Morocco and other parts of North Africa, the hammam is a profoundly purifying and revitalizing treatment. It is also considered a social experience, as hammams are frequently frequented by friends or relatives who appreciate the communal atmosphere and the opportunity to decompress together.

What happens during a hammam?

During a hammam, which is a traditional Moroccan steam bath, clients typically endure a series of body-cleansing and rejuvenating treatments. Depending on the spa or hammam you visit, the precise sequence of treatments may vary. Still, the following is a typical example of what occurs during a hammam:

  1. You will be led to a chamber where you will disrobe and don a bathrobe or towel.
  2. You will enter the hammam, a chamber with tiled walls and a heated stone slab in the center that is hot and humid. You may be provided with a small towel for seating.
  3. You will spend some time in the steam chamber, designed to relax the body by opening the pores. You may have a bowl of water to splash on your body to chill off.
  4. After a few minutes in the steam chamber, a staff member will scrub your body with a kessa, an exfoliating glove. The scrub eliminates dead skin cells and leaves the skin feeling rejuvenated and silky.
  5. During the scrub, a traditional black soap made from olive oil and eucalyptus is also used to exfoliate and hydrate the skin.
  6. After the scrub, you will typically be rinsed with tepid water and given a massage with argan oil or another oil known for its nourishing properties. The massage is intended to calm and unwind the body, leaving soft, supple skin behind.
  7. Then, you can unwind and appreciate the tranquil atmosphere of the hammam before dressing and leaving.

The complete hammam experience typically lasts between one and two hours. It is a popular thorough cleansing and revitalizing treatment in Morocco and the rest of North Africa.

Do you wear clothes in a hammam?

In a traditional Moroccan hammam, you usually wear little clothing or just a towel. Most hammams provide a towel or a robe for clients to wear during the treatment. You typically remove all clothing and wear only the towel or robe provided. This is to allow the skin to be fully exposed and easily scrubbed during the treatment.

However, if you feel uncomfortable being nearly naked in a communal setting, some modern spas may provide disposable undergarments or allow you to wear a swimsuit during the hammam. It’s best to check with the hammam or spa ahead of time to see what their dress code policy is.

Do you wear a swimsuit in a hammam?

In a traditional Moroccan hammam, wearing swimwear is uncommon. Clients typically don a towel or robe during treatments. It is done so that the skin can be thoroughly exposed and scrubbed easily during the treatment.

However, in modern spas that pander to international tourists, it is becoming increasingly common to allow bathing suits in the hammam. It is recommended to contact the hammam or spa beforehand to inquire about their dress code. Suppose you are uncomfortable being nearly naked in a public setting. In that case, you may wish to don a swimsuit or disposable undergarments.

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