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iVillage: Global Beauty: Skincare Traditions from Around the World

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The Atlas Mountains: Rhassoul as a Cosmetic Clay

Morocco’s most buzzed-about beauty export may be argan oil, but another endemic ingredient has equally impressive benefits. Rhassoul—a brown clay found only beneath the Atlas mountain range—has been used for more than 1,500 years to maintain the supple, blemish-free complexions of local women. Like all clays, it works by drawing out impurities as it dries, but thanks to unusually high levels of silica, calcium and potassium, rhassoul actually replenishes and nourishes the skin after it’s rinsed off.

Cultural practice: After mining the clay from local quarries, locals let rhassoul sun-dry before it’s pulverized into a fine powder that will be used as a body cleanser, facial mask and scalp treatment. Many hammams (traditional Moroccan bathhouses) incorporate rhassoul into their treatments.

(CREDIT: Nicholas Devore/Stone/Getty Images)
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