7 easy beauty treatments we love

“Easy” in today’s world is almost a bad word, with connotations of shortcuts and quick but unhealthy choices, but it easy doesn’t have to be bad, nor does it have to be expensive! Here are seven easy ways you can look after yourself, mostly with things you have around the house or can buy in your local supermarket!

Exfoliating

Hammams are famous for their beauty and health, and a big part of a hammam is exfoliating. You can build this into your daily routine really easily. All you need is the shower with flowing hot water, a soap that is somewhat astringent, leaving the skin slightly taught after use (olive oil soap or natural oil soaps are great, shower gels and liquid soaps less so) and a bath brush or ideally an exfoliating glove.

Get warm and wet in the shower, step out and lather well with the soap and then rinse it off. Now, standing outside of the stream, either brush vigorously or, if you have the exfoliating glove, massage forcefully up and down, until you get little strings of dead skin rolled up over your body. Do this all over and although it stings a bit when you’re doing it, you skin will glow afterwards (you’ll feel great, too). Work a little at it and you’ll see and feel the benefits, and it’s so easy to do a couple of times a week!

Face masks

Your face gets a beating every day and treating it with a face mask is great. Start with a clay, and you can easily buy beauty clays in supermarket organic sections that are cheap and effective (get the purest one you can find – it will often be the cheapest one, too!) We prefer Ghassoul clay because it’s packed with minerals, but Kaolin clay is great (especially if you have sensitive, fair skin). Mix it with water or cooled herbal tea, add some oil (argan oil’s great, but olive oil works too as does almond or coconut oil) and add a safe, non-sun reacting essential oil if you want (lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang and sandal wood are all safe and smell lovely).

Put this on your face in a thick layer and leave it to draw out the nastiness of the day’s wear. Before it dries completely, wash it off with water and a gentle face soap, and put a light moisturiser on to finish pampering your face!

Hair masks

You can get really creative with hair masks. Mix an oil of some sort (argan and coconut oils are fabulous, but you can also use crushed over-ripe avocados) with an egg. Put it on your hair and leave it for a few hours. You may look weird but your hair will glow after you wash and condition it!

Salt baths

Baths are great, in general, but adding some good quality salt can transform them into a great beauty treatment. Bath salts found in the super markets are fine, but if you can, get a good quality mineral salt (a Himalayan one, if you can) in large crystals. Add them to the bath, let them dissolve, and add a safe essential oil like lavender, if you want. Sit back and relax to have the salt draw out the toxins your skin has absorbed whilst your skin draws in the minerals in the salt. Exfoliate after a long bath and your skin is going to be thanking you all day!

Self-massage face and neck

Massaging is great for the skin. It gets the blood flowing, helps to unblock pores and relaxes you. Use a light oil like argan oil or do it very more gently dry, and a massage which starts at the top of your head and ends at the base of your neck will do you a world of good. You can do a proper face and neck massage in a few short minutes, so you can do this every morning or evening to not just look after your skin, but by reducing your stress, looking after the rest of you, too!

Sun protection

We all know how important sun protection is, but follow these few steps and you’ll see how easy it is. If you are going out into the sun and know you will get a lot of it, start off with a good quality SPF50+ sunblock. Try to get one with as few chemicals as possible. Some chemicals such as Ethyl Butil Methoxycinnamate, Octocrylene and Titanium Dioxide are necessary and safe, but try to buy products with as little of the rest as possible. Always moisturise your skin, always cover it as much as possible (large floppy hats are great for protecting face and look lovely, too) and always wear good quality sunglasses.

This may seem common sense, but the vast majority of the damage to your skin comes from the sun. The Vitamin D you get from sensible exposure is very important, too, so you need some sun, just be sensible and your skin will look great much longer with these simple tips!

Eat for your skin’s health, too

All the beauty treatments you do will have little effect if you don’t think of the impact to your skin. So much that happens to your skin comes from not eating what your body needs. It doesn’t mean going on mad diets or following the latest fads about what is healthy. It does mean being sensible and thinking what you eat. If you see your skin is unhappy, changing your diet can be the best thing, and the easiest way to have good skin is to eat as little processed food as possible (know what is in your food), have a good mix of protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre and listen to your body.

 

Looking after our bodies is important to us, and we’ll be making lots more posts in this vein. Look out for some great skin care and hair care recipes as well as a detailed look at how to do hammams properly at home!

 

Here’s to your hair, skin and body looking great and feeling fantastic!

Does Argan Oil come from goat poop???

It traditionally does come with the help of goat poop, but not so much anymore!

Argan trees are tough trees and the fruit isn’t in nice low-hanging bunches, ready for picking. Argan trees are tall, wide, trees with sharp spines and fruit dotted all over them. Goats, being small, light animals, are good at climbing these trees and love the taste of the fruit. They’d eat it and then would digest everything but the nut, which would come out in their poop and would be cleaned and cracked to extract the kernel, which would be ground to extract the wonderful oil that is as much part of Moroccan cooking as it is their beauty.

Luckily for us, we’re not so reliant on goats nowadays!

Today, Argan Oil is one of the most expensive, most luxurious oils on the planet. Trusting that to the vagaries of a goat’s digestive system isn’t necessarily the right thing to do! Modern argan tree plantations are as cultivated as olive plantations – not a goat in sight! The oil is mostly processed by women’s cooperatives, who tend the trees, pick the fruit, press the kernel and bottle the oil.

“It used to be produced like that in the past,” Amnir, our guide in the beautiful area around Essaouira told us. “Now, there are women’s collectives all around here, hand pressing the argan kernels. It’s a better life for them and it’s better for the oil, too.”

The process is better for the trees, better for the oil and definitely better for the women in the collective, who no longer need to handle goat poop and who are economically in better control of their lives.
They pick the fruits and then remove the skins so they can crack and peel the outer shell from the kernel. Smaller cooperatives use tools or stones for this part, larger ones now use machines to make it a less manual process. Once that’s done, the kernels are roasted if they’re going to be used for edible oil, left as they are for cosmetic oil.

The final stage is getting the oil from the kernel by grinding it to a pulp and then hand-wringing the oil from balls of the pulp. This very muscle-wearing task is also slowly being done in machines similar to olive oil presses, which gets more oil out, as a further benefit.

A healthy, fully grown tree can produce 50kg of fruit, which might yield 0.5l of oil, so it’s understandable why it’s so expensive.

Ecologically, goats weren’t the best, either, and now that the argan plantations are part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme, there is more attention on preserving this precious resource. As the world outside of Morocco hears about it, the demand increases the pressure on the fragile ecosystem that nourishes these remarkable trees, so the better care that these collectives provide can protect and guarantee their future. It’s no longer a question of picking from the trees that are there, but planning what to pick, what to plant and how to care for the trees as they are being harvested.

“My mother, my sister, my wife and my daughters use it every day, and they’re all beautiful because of it,” Amnir told us proudly.

I’m not sure that they would say it’s only due to their use of Argan Oil, but am sure it helps!