Moroccan pampering

when we decided to book a trip to Morocco for New Year holidays, my first thought was “great, I’m getting an argan oil refill!”  Last time I went there it was to Rabat for my friend’s wedding and we spent quite  a lot of time taking care of ourselves, as good brides & bridesmaid should do ;)!! Local production of henna, lemon, olive & argan oil, avocado, rose water, cloves….and a secular tradition of  hammams and sea salt scrubs make of Morocco a great destination for pampering.

I wanted to share here a couple of great natural tricks; I guess the products can be found almost anywhere, albeit at rather steeper prices!!!

my 2 absolute essentialsRose water is my absolute favourite, sprayed on a hot day or just in the morning applied on a cotton on my eyes…. it beats the smell of any beauty shop product and it’s naturally allergy-free. It’s said to naturally prevent against wrinkles – not sure if it does but it’s definitely pleasant to use.

Argan Oil. When I used it the first time, I wondered why I had ever been buying such expensive moisturising serum and hair masks. The trick is to use a very small amount on the tips of your hair overnight, tie it in a plait to avoid greasing everything and wash it with a gentle shampoo in the morning…silky and fabulous especially for long and dry hair or sun-damaged.

Another great use is to massage your feet with argan oil and sleep with cotton socks on….scrub them in the shower with a loofah mitt the next morning…and tadahhh, you’re party-heels ready! it’s also said to be good for your face skin but I find it doesn’t feel very nice, it’s oil after all.

Last trick a friend gave me recently is to use a 50/50 mix of lemon juice and argan oil on brittle nails, apparently it does marvels following too many shellac applications.

417771_88630318_ghassoul_H131214_LRhassoul clay is another traditional and typically Moroccan natural remedy. It’s especially great for oily hair as it’s really quite hard to find a cure that cleanses without striping.

– rhassoul clay

– rose water

– 2 egg yolkes

mix until you get a not-too-liquid-not-too-thick mixture and apply on your hair roots. Once a month, apply more warm water and massage the paste on your scalp. Then rinse completely.

20130101-235649.jpgand last but not least: green tea! packed with anti-oxydant, preventing halzeimer, “flushing” excess calories…I read just about anything on green tea; only one thing is sure, in Morocco it’s THE social drink, any occasion is good enough, any time of the day. Sit back and enjoy.

I could carry on endlessly with black soap, other oils and clays, henna, honey & honey combs, vanilla, clove, eucalyptus etc etc…but I guess at this point, better just pay a visit to your local hammam, or a weekend in Marrakech

want to read more?  sorry the good sources I found are mostly in French sorry

http://www.artetsaveurdumaroc.com

http://www.bladi.net/secrets-de-beaute-des-femmes-du-maroc-la-feminite-dans-tous-ses.html

http://www.letangerois.com/secrets-de-beaute-marocaine

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Season’s greetings!!

Tonight mulled wine is spreading a spiced scent around the house, raisin bread is baking in the oven and I’m wondering what size of tree to choose… Christmas approaching, marking the end of that depressing post summer autumn season very rightly named “fall” (mostly rain fall in London actually…). It’s the search for the perfect wooly hat, the guilt-free hot chocolate with marshmallows, the ginger-man baking and the feeling of excitement….love all of that!!!

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My all-purpose packing check-list

at school they used to call me little miss scatterbrain … for a reason! (as well as little miss chatterbox…) So after numerous last minute panics, and a few missed planes and trains I acquired many different plug adaptors and developed a little fool-proof check list that works pretty much for all types of trips.

  • Must have

– passport / ID / driving license – personally I memorized my passport number, ok it doesnt help crossing the border but it’s good to check-in online the day before for example
– credit card + minimum cash in euro or usd
– boarding pass or train ticket + ticket of the connexion train if needed (express train)
– phone number of taxi company city of departure and arrival
– paper written address of landing – or at least a made up one, for border control; also think about getting it in the calligraphy of your destination country if different from English (Japanese, Russian…)
– bank assistance + health insurance phone number
– phone charger(s) and whatever other chargers your need (camera, ebook reader etc)
– international adaptor or relevant ones (requires to have a few but normally they do work better)
– topped up and charged phone

  • Handbag: my travelling handbag is always ready to go, it’s the only one in my wardrobe that has a proper zip + button closing and can fold into another bag (yes, it’s a Longchamp pliage); it has to be small enough to avoid back pain but big enough to carry my SLR and “handbag kit”

– Refreshing gel
– Wipes /disinfectant gel
– Moleskine notebook
– Phone charger(s) + adapter
– Sunglasses – wherever I go
– Sleep mask / fly stocking / earplugs
– Pill and other medicines
– Mini mascara / mini gloss / toothbrush + mini toothpaste / moisturising cream / make up wipes
– A book (or call it an iPad, a kindle)
– a scarf that can do pillow and blancket
– Business cards
– my house keys – back to basics

my photo gear normally also makes it to the  hand luggage too as I don’t feel it would be handled securely enough.

Also carrying a small padlock can be a good idea (cloak rooms and other luggage drop places aren’t safe everywhere)

Inevitably when travelling, your luggage will be lost one day or another, your flight will be delayed overnight etc…I tend to have at least one change of underwear in my handbag and a toothpaste and the minimum make up kit in addition to money and documents.

  • Suitcase: I try to have a “minimum survival kit” in term of clothing, stuff that I can wear in any circumstances and match easily, such as a black cardigans and a pair of black repetto flats

– Different colour underwear
– Shoes polish / sewing set
– A pair of jeans
– A pair of black flats
– A black cardigan
– 2 pairs of black and transparent tights
– Night dress
– Mini towel
– neutral colour heels / flip flops
– A bikini – it doesn’t take much space and you never know

  • Beauty case : this kit is always ready as well, I never unpack it, it’s made of “large samples” (such as the Clarins or Clinique ones, boots also has a large shelf)

– Nail polish / remover wipes
– Make up wipes and Toothbrush (unless it’s already in your hand bag)
– Make up
– Moisturiser
– Shampoo / shower gel
– Sample perfume or refill spray with your own

The US government has a rather helpful page full of common sense travelling tips, and I can’t recommend highly enough glancing at the country-specific recommendation page.