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Beauty lover's guide to Marrakech

17 March 2017

We are pleased to share a “Beauty Guide” to Marrakech from Sophia PanychBeauty Editor of Allure, travelling in-between fashion shows.

Sophia was travelling with Allure Fashion Director Rachael Wang when staying @ #LaSultanaMarrakech

Sophia managed to put together a beauty lover's guide to Marrakech with advice from her personal experiences and from the dozen or so hairstylists, makeup artists, and fashion editors she spoke with before her trip.

We loved it and thought it might help you plan your stay with us. Here is everything you need to know before visiting the historic "red city."

“Pack considerately. Nearly 99 percent of Moroccans are Muslim, and while the younger generation tends to be more lax than their parents and grandparents, you will notice that most locals keep their arms and legs completely covered. That's not to say you need to wear a sweater and jeans in 90-degree heat, or that it's required for you to cover up (I saw plenty of tourists wearing off-the-shoulder dresses and shorts), but out of respect it's not a bad idea to pack clothes that will cover your shoulders and upper legs. I lived in silk kimonos from Matthew Williamson's beachwear line (over a tank top and cropped jeans) and floaty peasant tops in lightweight fabrics to be respectful of the culture while trying to stay as cool as possible.

Don't forget your sunscreen. Everything in Marrakech is bright—the spices, the paint on the buildings, the pottery—and that includes the sun. I didn't spot a cloud in the sky the entire time I was there, making it even more crucial to be diligent about sunscreen application. I brought along a travel-size bottle of La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60, which I slathered over myself every time I went outside. I'm not going to lie: I threw it in my bag because it was the only TSA-friendly sunscreen I had, but it turned out that the nongreasy formula was perfect for Marrakech because it didn't turn slimy in the heat.

Go to a hammam.... While everyone should experience a hammam, or Turkish bath, when visiting Marrakech, it's a requirement if you're a beauty junkie. I'd even say it was the highlight of the whole trip. There are several great hammams in the city (I've heard rave reviews about Hammam de la Rose right in the medina) from friends, but lucky for Rachael and me, La Sultana has one of the best spas in Marrakech (it's won numerous awards) tucked away in the hotel's basement (below).

...and prepare to get naked. For newbies to a Turkish hammam, here's what happens: You slip on a paper thong and a robe and get taken to a steam room, where you are quickly instructed to de-robe. Then you are splashed with warm water and left to lie there for about a half an hour. Once you're nice and sweaty and the heat is turned back down, an attendant scrubs you from head to toe and washes you like a baby. Depending on where you go, you can then tack on a massage afterward. At La Sultana Marrakech, I honestly had one of the best and most relaxing massages I've ever experienced, using natural, locally sourced argan oil to boot. My skin has literally never felt smoother and softer, but I've also never been so naked in front of a complete stranger. And a word of warning: If you wear contacts, leave them out for the hammam. You sweat a lot, and the perspiration can get in your eyes, which is fine if you don't have lenses in your eyes, but pretty painful if you do.

Buy yourself an OG lip stain. There are a lot of things to buy in Marrakech, the most popular being rugs and lanterns and spices. But for the beauty obsessed, make sure to pick up a traditional Berber lip stain, called aker or aker fassi in Arabic. It looks like a miniature clay pot, but it's actually red clay terra-cotta that's coated in a dye made of poppy leaves, pomegranate extract, and henna. To use it, you dip your a brush in either water, cream, or oil, swirl it around in the pot, and apply it to your lips or cheeks (you can also apply it with your fingers as well). The result is a sheer brick-red stain that you can layer to make more opaque.

Shop for loafers at Topolina. Again, there are plenty of places to buy clothes and shoes in the medina, but the best store I went to while in Marrakech was Topolina, a clothing shop in the Gueliz district that was not only recommended to me by friends in Paris, but also has a mention on's shopping guide for the city. Started by a French expat, Topolina has amazing colorful, intricately patterned coats, dresses, and tops, but the highlight is the selection of printed tassel loafers. I bought three pairs—two for me and one for a friend.

Visit Yves Saint Laurent's former home. A trip to Marrakech wouldn't be complete without stopping at Jardin Majorelle, best known as the vacation home of Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. (It was originally owned by an artist by the name of Jacques Majorelle, who painted all the buildings a bright shade of cobalt, which is how the color, Majorelle Blue, got its name.) You can stroll through the 12-acre gardens, grab a bite to eat at the café, and check out the small-yet-jam-packed Berber Museum. Any beauty nerd will appreciate the ancient kohl eyeliner containers and applicators displayed along the walls, as well as the amazing collection of Berber jewelry.

Get dinner at Nomad. Tucked away in the corner of the spice market in the medina, Nomad came highly recommended and ended up being my favorite restaurant of the trip. It offers modern interpretations of traditional Moorish dishes (I had the lamb burger) and has a gorgeous rooftop (call ahead to ensure you get a table, though if you don't you'll probably find room inside, which isn't too shabby).

Sip a glass of Moroccan rosé on the La Sultana rooftop. The most picturesque place to grab a drink in Marrakech is hands down the rooftop at La Sultana (shown above and below). You can look out onto the historic mosques and souks, and it provides a breathtaking view of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. They have an extensive wine list, but I especially liked the Moroccan rosé that was on the menu (it's the only option by the glass).”

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