Or as we call it in Morocco, Rhassoul, which literally means “washing paste,” as it is so anchored in our ancestral skin cleansing rituals.
Rhassoul is much more than a beauty product; it’s a process hard-wired into Moroccan women to bring about the softest skin and the shiniest, smoothest hair.
Its earthy smell is one of my strongest memories. For centuries, it has been made by the hands of those in our community. How could a four-year-old girl with a slightly overactive imagination (that’s me, by the way) not irreversibly fall in love with this magical ingredient?
Throughout childhood, I was lucky enough to witness the process of hand-making Rhassoul: each spring, my grandmother’s cousin (everyone seems to be remotely related in my hometown) would deliver piles of raw clogs of Moroccan clay, sourced straight from the million-years-old Atlas Mountains, to my grandmother’s house. With the help of my aunts and cousins, my grandmother would transform it into the delightful clay base that I ( and millions of others) thank for beautiful skin and hair.
The women first start by washing and sieving the clogs of clay in homemade rose water to purify it from odd debris (debris is code for fossils) that happen to pollute the stones over the years.
The result is a big, goey gray mixture that gets poured onto sheets, carefully laid on the rooftop of the family house.
This begins the slow process of sun drying, and waiting.