Hammam Treatments Are Trending: What a Steam Can Do For Your Beauty Routine

There's a reason this beauty ritual has been around for centuries.

There are some beauty treatments that are very, very new. Like collagen gloves, microfeathering, rubber masks, at-home chemical peels, smart hairbrushes, or LED facials, for example. Then there are beauty regimens that go back thousands of years.

That's the case with hammam treatments, which can be traced all the way to ancient Rome. The hammam beauty ritual involves sweating it out in a steam room, then getting soaped up and scrubbed down to remove dead skin. Lately, beauty brands are incorporating the ancient ingredients of the hammam into modern-day products that promise to give you a spa-day glow. Celebrity hair colorist Christophe Robin’s new Cleansing Volumizing Paste clay-to-foam shampoo incorporates rassoul clay, which has been used for centuries in Moroccan hammams. When Rituals released a hammam-themed collection this summer, it even created a virtual reality experience that allowed shoppers to tour a hammam in Marrakesh.

Instead of jetting off to Morocco—or even trying the VR experience—I ventured to an NYC spa offering a spa treatment inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern bathing ceremony.

I showed up to the serene Haven Spa in Soho and stowed my stuff in a locker pre-treatment. I felt anxious as I locked my iPhone away, which probably was a sign that I needed a spa treatment. Officially signed off, I hopped in the steam room for 15 minutes to detox. A sign on the door warned not to stay longer than 30 minutes but I could barely hang in there for half that, it was so hot.

After the steam, I stripped down to underwear and laid on a table that was covered with layers and layers of towels and plastic sheets. Warning: this is one of those treatments where there are no secrets between you and your esthetician. She lathered up the Beldi soup by Cinq Mondes (it's a black soap made with olive oil that she thinned with water). Then she rinsed it off and scrubbed my skin with a mitt that felt like sandpaper. After each step, she peeled a layer off the table.

Next, she slathered on tingly Rhassoul Clay Cream and wrapped me up in towels like a burrito and left me alone with my thoughts (or lack thereof) for 15 minutes. Every one of these products smelled amazing. My esthetician explained that this is a very relaxing, detoxifying, and moisturizing treatment as she washed off the clay and added dry body oil. I had to agree. I'm the type of person who buys body lotion and then never bothers to put it on, so it was a huge change of pace to feel like I had silky smooth skin. Plus, when I met up with my friend after I left Haven, she asked, "What smells so good?" That would be me, I said.

Want to try the hammam ritual at home? Here are tips from Kahina Beauty, an ethical brand inspired by Moroccan beauty rituals that uses natural ingredients like rhassoul clay andargan and prickly pear seed oils:

  • For those of us who don’t happen to have a sauna (raises hand), let the shower run to draw your bath to get your bathroom nice and steamy.
  • Apply Beldi soap liberally to cover your body, working in a slight lather and then allow it to penetrate your skin for three to 10 minutes.
  • After rinsing, scrub your skin heavily in a circular motion with the Kessa exfoliating mitt. "The beldi soap emulsifies immediately, and then once mixed with water, it transforms into a velvety foam, and easily rinses off," a Kahini rep tells us. "You're left with skin that's deeply cleansed and noticeably supple. This is also an excellent ritual for stimulating blood circulation."
  • Lock in that moisture with the brand's Essaouira Body Serum or Fez Body Serum.

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