By Kristin Conard/Aug. 25, 2021 11:25 am EDT
Going to a hammam, or a Turkish bath, is a tradition that is hundreds and hundreds of years old and rooted in the traditions of Roman bathhouses (from The Met). Typically associated with Arab culture, a hammam is a public bathhouse with a series of treatments. You start in a hot steam room or sauna where you get nice and sweaty, then you get exfoliated and washed in a warm room, followed by a cool shower or plunge (via Jumeirah). Historically, hammams were used — and in some places in the world still are — as a weekly cleansing ritual as well as a chance to build community (via BBC Travel).
The treatments and style can vary depending upon the type of hammam you’re visiting; one of the options at a Turkish hammam includes a bubble wash and massage. The luxurious bubble massage part of the hammam experience comes after gommage. Per the blog My Women Stuff, this step consists of a thorough exfoliation that’s done with soap and a Kessa mit which is like a roughly textured loofah glove (from Well and Good). The scrub will be intense and could be uncomfortable — they really strip away all the dead skin. Once all the dead skin has been stripped away, you get washed beneath a mound of olive oil soap bubbles.
Your skin will be baby soft after a visit to the hammam
The bubbles are created when the masseur dips a torba — essentially a pillowcase — into soapy water, fills it with air, and then squeezes it out over you, resulting in a mound of bubbles (via Infinite Walks). Then you get washed/massaged with the olive oil soap bubbles, and then rinsed with alternating hot and cool water with a final ice water rinse (from Fodor’s Travel). You’ll be left with baby soft smooth skin by the time it’s all done.
If you’ve never been to a hammam before, there are some things to consider. Traditional hammams are public and generally separated by gender, and many guests will strip down entirely, so you can expect to see naked people around; however, if you’re getting a hammam treatment at a spa or resort, there may be more modesty and privacy (via Around the World Beauty). And make sure you are hydrated before you go to a hammam; you’ll be getting hot and sweating and you don’t want to end up passing out (from Effe). Bring a change of underwear or a bathing suit along with flip flops, since you will get wet; you may be provided with sandals and a cover-up, but better safe than sorry!
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