Shawna Morneau first fell in love with the hammam in her early 20s living in Vancouver, when she experienced the ritual at a facility run by a Moroccan family.
She says: “It was a beautiful ritual, right down to the sweet mint tea they served me at the end. I have this enduring memory of feeling deeply cleansed and purified. There’s also something so comforting about the hammam that takes you back to childhood and being bathed and nurtured by your mother.”
Fast forward more than a decade and Morneau, whose consultancy is based in Dubai, has just launched her own range of hammam products for use in spa and wellness facilities worldwide.
It’s also the first luxury spa range to offer some products that are made exclusively in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) using only UAE ingredients.
The range was first conceived in 2010 when Morneau was working for Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco. “Two Berber sisters worked in the spa’s hammam and they took great pride in their work. They taught me traditional techniques,” says Morneau.
This September, Morneau’s new Hammamii range will launch with 29 all-natural, chemical-free, Halal-certified products for face, hair and body, which are used to make up Hammamii’s eight branded signature hammam rituals for use in spas.
“Traditional hammams don’t tend to treat the hair or face, but we added hair and face products to ensure these important areas were not overlooked,” she says.
Morneau’s range uses ingredients that are grown and harvested from its Moroccan laboratory’s on-site farm. They represent the rich landscape of the Ourika Valley with its many indigenous desert plants and herbs such as prickly pear, bergamot, mint, eucalyptus and argan oil.
A nearby women’s co-operative makes the reusable fabric bags for the products, as Morneau wanted to avoid wasteful, unnecessary packaging as much as possible. An all-natural linen hammam mitt is also part of the range.
The range is rooted in tradition, yet has a modern twist. Mirage is a milky cleanser with bergamot – “just one sweep and all your make up is off”, says Morneau, who started her career as a top facial and body therapist at Four Seasons.
Khôl is a charcoal cleansing balm and Atay is a Moroccan mint tea body wash containing five different types of mint.
Beyond Morocco, the range is also like a journey across the Middle East, using camel’s milk produced in the Dubai desert (offering a high mineral content and anti-inflammatory properties), solar salt drawn from the sea using solar panels in Abu Dhabi and sand from the Sahara Desert.
Much of the range sounds good enough to eat, with the use of spices such as za’atar, sumac and turmeric, cloves and cardamom, as well as Arabica coffee and preserved lemons. Morneau adds: “They’ve also been developed for hot, humid climates, so when the body lotion is applied after a treatment, it’s immediately absorbed into the skin.”