Rhassoul - Cleansing with Mud

Today we're going to talk about dirt. Well, ok, not quite dirt, but it does come straight from the earth.

It's clay.

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 Soap

Rhassoul, 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 Rich

Rhassoul 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 Works

Rhassoul 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 Rhassoul

I 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 Uses

Aside 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.

It seems to defy logic that one could possibly cleanse anything with 'dirt', but rhassoul simply has to be tried to be believed.

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 Up

We'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 Works

Surface 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)
About Ghassoulite


María said…
I knew it! :D
Is one of those simples but über-fantastic prime materials from mother Nature.
I use it for almost all my cosmetic routines: simple clay mask, face cleanser, body wrap and solid shampoo.
For all those with normal to dry hair, I couldn't recommend it enough for a no-poo hair cleanser. It absorbs and washes hair beautifully (my hair is quite oily and rhassoul only is not enough), but you can feel the difference.
Try it also for inflammations and swollen wounds, the freshness of a rhassoul mask helps to improve healing and reduce inflammation.
A must-have, no doubt ;)
LisaLise said…
Yes María, you absolutely nailed it! I'd love to hear about your solid shampoo.. your own formula? I've actually never tried a solid shampoo bar (believe it or not!), so you have me all curious now.
María said…
Well, it's my own formula (ish...)
Is based I'd formulas I found in the internet and adapted to my own taste.
I normally measure my dry ingredients (like when making a pie) by volume with a measuring spoon.
I use 2 solid surfactants: SCS (sodium cocosulfate) and SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate), mixed 50/50.
So, measure 4 volumes of clay with 6 volumes of surfactants and mix thoroughly. Then add boiling water little by little until you make a very thick paste that you can mould and leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours. And that's it.
You can also add EOs, actives (like provit B5), etc, but when doing so, you need to weight the solid mixture to add the EOs and other ingredients accurately ;)
LisaLise said…
HI María - cool! Do you make these in bulk? I'm thinking preservatives since there is water in your formula. I like the idea of mixing clay with the surfactants- you could even get some good colours in there…
María said…
Hi Lise,
I don't do it in bulk. Due to the high concentration in surfactants, it auto preserves, but you can add also a 25% of glycerine as a humectant and preservative, or a full preservative as well. Possibilities are endless!!
I haven't had any problem at all and I live in Scotland, quite humid.
The shampoos I make normally are 50-60 g, and last about 2 months.
Hope this helps :)
Unknown said…
Thank you Lise :) So HAPPY To have come across this article. Question: this is also Morrocan RED clay, correct? Because I know I can get it from my local health food store..... For NOW. He has gone to the unscrupulous practice of " price gouging" in a very immoral way :( So I try not to buy from him any longer, if I don't " have" to. I went one week to smell Geranium EO for my ptsd. The meds from the VA(I was in the army) were so hard to take. He had NOW BRAND FOR $8 an ounce, it WORKED :) so went back the next week when I got payed and was $28!!!! Was so disheartening, as I thought this was a person who cared about ALL PEOPLE HEALTH and incomes. Enuff of negative! I get upset every time I think about what he does. :/

ON A GOOD NOTE AND BECAUSE OF YOU........I was talking to one of my managers and have an order to make a facial bar for her( and myself too! Will be 55 Dec 20th, she said I still look exactly the same after 6 yrs........but am seeing wrinkles deeper than I am liking....lol. Need to make her a Shea butter whip( YOURS OF COARSE! And BEYOND THANKFUL for the info you shared for SUCCESS) and some lotion bars for her upcoming cruise....... And will be using your deodorant recipe for her children too. I am unsure what causes Calcium deposits. I have them in my right breast.... Got that DREADED PHONE CALL, please come back in for more testing...... They resemble " exactly" what cancer looks like! Anyway, her daughters cluster under her arm, and last night, her son had a very painful stomach attack, calcium deposits. The ER doc worried it was cancer as well:/ I have to wonder what causes this anomaly tho! But think I will make them all some as a gift..... Since she is buying the other products. :)
Thank you again Lise <3
LisaLise said…
Hi Debbie - Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear that your local supplier seems to be jacking prices up here and there. Be aware that there are some times a botanical ingredient can jump wildly in price because of crop failure, resulting in less yield and higher prices. I've seen this happen in such 'common' things as soaproot and mallow. You might ask them why the price has jumped so suddenly before you completely dismiss them as a supplier.

As for the clay: check the INCI name of the product: it should be Moroccan lava clay. It might only say country of origin on the package though - and that should be Morocco!

Your question about calcium deposits is quite interesting. I might just do a bit of research on it. As for fighting wrinkles: add a little A vitamin to the whipped shea for extra wrinkle-fighting action. Best of luck with it. :)
LisaLise said…
Hi Nancy John - I do apologise , but I accidentally deleted your comment and question. I was able to copy the question and am posting it here.

nancy john has left a new comment on your post "Rhassoul - Cleansing with Mud":

So the issue is I'm looking for a night moisturizer, something light that works- the neutrogena one makes my face oily when I wake. Any suggestions?

My reply: Not knowing your age and skin type, I can only make a general suggestion. If you want to try something very light, go back to the barest of basics and try using a light layer of jojoba - straight up. Apply this to cleansed skin while it is still slightly moist (shortly after washing). This will both lock in moisture and will not make your face feel (or get) oily. If you do this a try, please feel free to comment back here. (I shall be most careful not to delete your comment next time)
Best of luck
Rebekah Osorio said…
I adore rhassoul clay for my face. I tried it as a hair mask twice and have had the same result both times, which goes against everything it's suppose to do. The first time I left it on an hour (which I figure was WAY too long) and my hair felt fabulous afterwards (it's never felt that good) but from that point on my scalp became chronically greasy. Beforehand I could go 3 days before it started getting greasy, and after, within 14 hours it was looking gross. It took me a few months to balance it out again. I recently tried rhassoul again and left it on for about 10 minutes. My result was the same. Any idea why this might happen?
LisaLise said…
Hi Rebekah - Thanks for your input. There are a couple of possible solutions to your hair greasing up so quickly after using rhassoul.

1. Try adding a titch (under half a teaspoon) of sweet almond or olive oil to the rhassoul mixture before applying to your hair, and leave the mixture on for a max of 2 minutes.

2. Try using less rhassoul to water, so your mixture is runny enough to pour over the scalp (obviously, you'll want to apply in the shower). Again- leave on for a max of 2 -3 minutes.

3. Try adding a bit of powdered banana to the mixture (this will work a little like the addition of oil). Leave on for max 2-3 minutes.

4. Try doing a pre-rhassoul application of coconut oil to your hair and scalp, letting it sit for up to 30 minutes if you have time - otherwise, any amount of time is probably going to make a difference. Don't apply so much oil that your hair is dripping grease-- just enough to where you feel you have 'touched' every bit of hair and scalp. When you do apply the rhassoul, let it sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing.

I wonder if the 'greasing up' reaction could have something to do with the use of other hair products (styling, spray, gels etc). There could perhaps be something in what you are applying subsequently that is 'bothering' your scalp.

I think you are the first person to ask me about this kind of reaction. I don't believe I've ever heard anyone else experience increased greasiness after using rhassoul to cleanse the hair. I'm not saying you are the only one on the planet, but it seems unusual enough to make me think there might be additional factors playing in here…

Please get back with feedback on whether or not any of this was of help. I'd love to hear how it works out for you.
Rebekah Osorio said…
Thanks for getting back with me Lise! Yeah, I figured this must not be normal! I have tried adding olive oil to the mix, but it wasn't a pre-application. I'm going to try your pre-application suggestion and do the runny quick rinse of the clay with the banana and I'll let you know how it goes.

When I used the masks I didn't put anything on my hair afterwards, BUT, even though I use natural shampoos, the occasional styling products I put on are not natural. Maybe some sort of detox reaction could be involved?
LisaLise said…
Hi Rebekah - Detox reaction is highly unlikely. I am interested if there could be a possible connection between the greasiness and silicones in any of the hair styling products - but truth be told - this is just a wild guess on my part. You write that you only use styling products occasionally, so it doesn't sound like this could be the cause. Do you ever experience any itchiness on the scalp? have any other issues you struggle with? I'm trying to pinpoint possible outside factors--- Also, from your pic it looks like you have straight-ish, semi long hair. Is it otherwise manageable? Sorry to be firing to many questions at you--- it intrigues me that you should experience this.
Rebekah Osorio said…
Lise, on the contrary, thank you for caring enough to ask! :-)
I do have some issues with my scalp. Occasional itchiness and I'm always fighting off dandruff. It's not severe, just a lingering low level problem. I think it may have to do with the well water here...it is HARD water, and the dandruff was never a problem before moving here. My hair isn't too much trouble. It's fine but there is a lot of it. The worst problem is the ends being brittle.
LisaLise said…
Hi Rebekah - I hear you about the hard water. I live in a very hard water area. I can't help thinking perhaps adding a touch of apple cider vinegar to a final rinse of your hair might help as well--- Do keep me posted on how the different suggestions work - good or bad. :)
Unknown said…
Hi I'm very very curious about this Mudd can you please tell me where I can purchase this ? I live in Hamilton Ontario Canada all information would be greatly appricated
LisaLise said…
Hi T Rene - In Canada, you might want to check New Directions Aromatics. they sell the clay under the name ghassoul. Best of luck with ti!