Today we're going to talk about dirt. Well, ok, not quite dirt, but it does come straight from the earth.
We're going to examine a particular clay that has some pretty amazing properties. As far as anyone knows, it is found only one place on the entire planet – in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
All Natural Moroccan SoapRhassoul, rasul, ghassoul, Moroccan Red Clay, or Moroccan Soap Clay gets its name from the Arabic 'rassalah' which means 'to wash', 'to cleanse', or 'one that washes'.
Rhassoul has long been a part of skin and hair cleansing rituals and is a staple of Moroccan hammams (bathhouses). Its use as a cleanser dates back as far as the eighth century (so says Wikipedia).
To use, the clay is mixed with water (or floral waters such as orange blossom or rose) to create a paste that is applied to skin and/or hair and allowed to sit for a period of time, then rinsed off.
Mineral RichRhassoul consists mainly of the stevensite mineral ghassoulite, but also contains minerals such as quartz, gypsum, dolomite, magnesium, and sepiolite.
It belongs to the montmorillonite group of minerals. Minerals in this group will increase in volume as they absorb.
Rhassoul is a real star in this particular area, having the ability to absorb over 150% of its weight.
How it WorksRhassoul cleanses by absorbing impurities and fats - both from skin and hair. Because it is sebaceous gland-friendly (read: it won't irritate those little glands that produce sebum to lubricate your skin and hair), both hair and skin are left cleansed and silky soft.
One might think that meant clay that can absorb impurites will also suck out moisture, but rhassoul 'magically' only absorbs the undesirable bits from skin and hair.
Sound too good to be true?
Check out Colin's article (link below) on mud masks for an interesting and understandable description of the science behind clay and exactly how it does what it does.
What Science Says About RhassoulI was pleasantly surprised to find a scientific study on how rhassoul functions as a hair wash as compared to other methods when testing for trace minerals (link below).
Rhassoul not only absorbs and removes impurities to the point where it was deemed 'amazing', but did so without any damage to the hair.
Many UsesAside from functioning beautifully as a cleanser for both skin and hair, rhassoul can be used as a poultice, body wrap, hair mask and makes for an ideal deep-cleansing face mask.
I have worked with it for years and it is a constant delight to experience how beautifully and gently rhassoul cleanses both skin and hair.
Coming UpWe're going to be having a bit of fun with rhassoul in coming posts, so if you want to try a few how-to's with me, it might be a good idea to procure some rhassoul (in powder form - the chunks are more difficult to work with).
You'll (hopefully) discover rhassoul is quite reasonably priced and readily available. It is where I live. Where to find it? Check your soapmaking suppliers for Ghassoul, Ghassoul, Rasul or Moroccan Soap Clay. For a few (worldwide) links, check the sidebar.
More about Rhassoul and How it WorksSurface Mining - 2. edition: rhassoul production
Youtube video of rhassoul production
Colins Beauty Pages: Clay Mud Masks and How they Work
Determination of trace elements in human hair (using rhassoul)