Don’t judge the gook by its look. I get it – this doesn’t look like the most appealing jar of soap but I assure you it is magical. It was the VIP of my weekend. Allow me to break down the experience of using a traditional Moroccan Beldi soap. As a bath connoisseur, I’m fascinated by bathing culture around the world. I’m the middle of researching a trip to Finland where saunas are a national pastime. I’m part Finnish so my affinity toward hot steam is perhaps ground into my DNA somehow. I really appreciate the cultural nuances on how we choose to relax and clean our bodies. In Morocco, Beldi soap is used in bath houses called hammams. It’s a process.
Pores are first opened with hot water and steam and then Beldi soap is applied all over damp skin like a mask and left on for 3-10 minutes. The texture of the soap is a thick gooey gel – it’s simply olive oil that’s been turned into soap – and usually is scented with eucalyptus essential oil. With steam and heat, it sort of soaks in and softens on your body. Once it’s time to rinse, you use a coarse mitt – called a Kessa in Morocco – and scrub the Beldi off. Along with all of your dead skin. Now you see why I use the word magical.
I learned of Beldi from Kahina Giving Beauty and have only seen a similar product at one other place in Chicago at Merz Apothecary.
I love the luxury of Kahina’s. For me, nothing exfoliates my skin better and the ritual of it all is what I love most. You’re thinking – I have to sit with soap on my skin for 10 minutes without rinsing? How does that even work in the bath or shower?
Here’s the way I Beldi. I take a bath – usually one where I’m not washing my hair but rather in it to soak and relax. I get in it while the water is still running so my body adjusts to the temperature and I can get the water super hot. Once I’ve been soaking for a bit, I’ll apply Beldi on my limbs, neck, chest – pretty much everywhere and then I’ll sit up in the tub with my legs propped up. That way, I’m not submerging the areas I’ve just Beldi-d. I’ll chill for a bit and then wet my Kessa mitt (Kahina sells one!) and then start scrubbing. It lathers up really nicely and then once you’ve scrubbed it all off there’s usually evidence on the mitt. So satisfying! After I’m all rinsed off, I usually get out of the tub and drench my body oil. It’s unreal how soft your skin feels.
Kahina now has two versions of Beldi soap – the original with eucalyptus oil and now one with rose oil that you can also use on your face. The rose is a little gentler. I wouldn’t go totally ham on your face with an exfoliating mitt but lighter pressure might feel really nice.
There’s nothing quite like scrubbing Beldi soap off of your skin. I highly recommend trying…you totally can get past the look of the gook.