Find out the secrets and traditions behind ANIA's new Rhassoul Clay Mask

Find out the secrets and traditions behind ANIA's new Rhassoul Clay Mask

Family recipe

Text: Renée Batchelor

ANIA co-founder Mehdi Elaichouni lets us in on the creation process and secrets behind the brand's new mask that allows you to get that glow in just 5 minutes

ANIA is rising skincare brand that's based out of Singapore and co-founders Mehdi Elaichouni and Fern Lee are passionate about making traditional African recipes and ingredients — specifically those from Morocco where Elaichouni was born and raised — accessible to the everyday Singaporean. With an initial offering of products that included pure argan and prickly seed oils as well as Moroccan rosewater and black soap, the brand has branched out to treatment products with its first ever face mask.

Following the popularity of the product in mask-making workshops that the brand conducted, Lee and Elaichouni were inspired to make the Rhassoul Clay Mask a permanent offering on the ANIA website. Because of the lack of preservatives in the formula, the mask has a six month shelf life and is only available for purchase online. We tried the mask and were impressed with it dual-ability to both hydrate and deep cleanse the skin. Just apply a thin layer (see the video below for more details) over the face and neck, leave it on for five minutes and rinse it off. The initial tingling sensation that you feel is perfectly normal – Lee tells us that's the deep cleansing ingredients really working on your skin. The mask will leave your skin feeling cleansed, without that stripped dry feeling that a lot of clay masks leave. The result is also impressive and instaneous. Skin glows, feels supple to the touch and is more moisturised. Bonus? The mask helps with greasiness on the skin and with blackheads and blemishes as well. We spoke to Elaichouni to find out more. 

What was your inspiration for the new Rhassoul Clay Mask? What prompted you to create the mask for ANIA?
Rhassoul is a natural mineral clay mined from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco since the eighth century. It is an essential part of the hammam ritual and has been used by North African women for centuries. It's 100 percent organic, hypoallergenic, and packed with magnesium, calcium, and potassium. When applied to the skin, rhassoul absorbs excess grease and eliminates impurities from deep down. I knew that we had a time tested skincare superhero in our hands — we just had to find its equally powerful sidekicks.

Before launching the product, we first conducted market research to ensure that there was demand for such products in Singapore. Looking at the skincare market in Singapore, we found that the face masks category grew by 41 per cent between 2009 to 2014. According to Euromonitor, the category is expected to continue it's growth in the next few years.

We also leveraged on various events, where our mask mixing activity was available, to get hundreds of potential consumers to try our products and gather feedback on the product's texture, smell and composition. This first hand consumer research was used to decide on the final formula, size and price of our Rhassoul Clay Mask. We really believe in turning to the masses for input, and user comments solidified our belief that we had a hero on our hands.

Was the combination of ingredients a family recipe? What role does each ingredient play?
Rhassoul is an essential part of the Hammam ritual and all major Moroccan families have their own recipes that are passed on from mother to daughter. Rhassoul is often mixed with orange blossom or rose water, as well as argan oil to enhance its cleansing or hydrating properties. My grandmother owns a Moroccan public hammam and she has developed her own secret recipes that my entire family has been using for decades. While most face masks either cleanse or hydrate, ANIA’s Rhassoul Clay Mask gives you the best of both worlds. The rhassoul clay will absorb grease particles and impurities while the luxurious argan oil and Moroccan rosewater will leave you with supple, hydrated skin and a glowing complexion.

What is this mask especially good for, what are the effects we will see after using it a few times, and could you use it on your entire body? 
This antioxidant-packed face mask is specially formulated to deeply cleanse, refine, hydrate all skin types. In fact, clinical studies and testing on rhassoul found that it can increase skin elasticity, even out skin tone, reduce blemishes and blackheads, as well as reduce skin dryness. The amazing thing about this mask is that you will see results instantly.

In a consumer study we carried earlier this year, 100 per cent of users saw a glowing complexion immediately. Also 83 per cent of people going through a breakout felt that their breakouts were reduced. We would recommend to use the mask at least once a week, and not more than three times a week. This is to prevent over-cleansing, which will cause harm to the skin by stripping it of it’s natural protective oils. Long term use will help to control sebum production, even out the skin tone, and of course, keep your skin nice and clean. On it’s own, rhassoul can be used on the entire body but our formulation is specifically catered to the face.

ANIA Rhassoul Clay Mask
The mask has an expiration date of 6 months after opening, is it due to the ingredients and lack of preservatives? How do you think that affects the quality of the product? 
Using only botanicals like argan oil and Moroccan rosewater dramatically reduces the product’s shelf life, but it ensures that our customers are applying only the best and purest ingredients on their skin. For us, there should never be a compromise on quality. The paraben- and formaldehyde-free natural preservative allows our customers to keep the mask for a maximum of six months after opening. Our face mask will only be available for online purchase because of this short shelf-life, but we are proud to have managed to get a final product that is 95 per cent organic and 5 per cent natural.

Do you have any traditional secrets or tips for applying this mask in a unique or unusual way?
There is no real right or wrong way of applying this mask. The mask comes with a spatula and a brush to allow everybody to have fun they way they want to. I personally like to use the brush because it’s fun and feels like I am in school again painting on my face.

$48. Purchase the Rhassoul Clay Mask here