Goat hair is the traditional and original material from which exfoliating gloves were made across Morocco. The texture of woven goat hair is unlike any other material, course enough to remove dead skin while stimulating the circulation and gentle enough to use on the face.
Why we have revived the goat hair exfoliating glove
Nowadays the goat hair gloves have been totally replaced by the popular nylon ‘kesse’ or ‘kessa’ used by virtually every individual across Morocco and much of North Africa. In fact nylon exfoliating gloves have been ubiquitous since nylon and plastics flooded the planet from the mid-twentieth century. The situation is quite serious, because the ‘kesse’ sold to the public in Morocco are in fact a very thin nylon and they are considered to be disposable. We do sell nylon ‘kesse’ in this shop, but they are spa quality made from a much thicker grade of nylon and they are washable and reusable. Even though the nylon gloves work very well, they are still nylon and not easily biodegradable. We have been very keen to offer a fully natural alternative.
Aware that the knowledge of how to make goat hair gloves would still be in living memory of older people, with research we have been able to bring these goat hair gloves out of memory and in to reality. It has been a difficult but exciting project.
We started by sending our Moroccan researcher into the far south of Morocco among the mountain Berbers who subsist by raising goats. They do not speak French or Arabic in these districts, the languages spoken by our researcher. Our researcher was asked to obtain 10kg of goat wool. The herders groom their goats to keep them in good condition and to collect the valuable goat hair. Goats, especially those in hot climates do not give up very much hair, the groomings of several surrounding villages was collected to provide the 10kg of raw material.
The goat hair is then spun into wool by hand. Spinning wheels are not used by the Berber peoples – actually, spinning wheels are a recent thirteenth century invention! Instead the women spin the hair into wool using a drop spindle, a technique developed in the Palaeolithic. A drop spindle is formed from a stick with a weight on the bottom. Once spun, it retains enough momentum to twist a few centimeters of goat hair together into wool. The wool is then wound onto the top of the spindle. A drop spindle is simple to make and requires virtually no maintenance but it takes three times longer to spin in this way than it does with a spinning wheel, plus goat hair is compared to soft sheep’s wool, relatively resistant to spinning. The drop spindle is portable and women can spin either sitting down or while moving around. Eventually 10kg of goat wool appeared.
My researcher then took the goat wool up to the more ‘civilized’ part of Morocco where French and Arabic are spoken. He took the wool around the weavers to see who could remember how to weave exfoliating gloves. Finally he found a weaver who exclaimed, ‘I haven’t made one for forty years – so let’s get the wool on the loom.’ Within a few days bands had been woven, the basis of the goat hair glove.
The next stage is to cut the bands and stitch them together. Actually this was not the weaver’s strong point, so we decided to import the bands and have a textile historian and artist stitch them together in such a way that they are very durable. We have both been testing examples and have just been able to improve them, making them even more durable by stiching a cotton canvas lining on the inside.
How to use the goat hair exfoliating glove
Use the goat hair glove either wet or dry. The glove can be used with savon noir (black soap) for exfoliating and we use ours whenever we wash with clay. I even use it on my face.
After use rinse the glove in fresh water and allow to dry. We place ours over a radiator.
Wash by hand with warm water – as all sorts of things can go on inside a washing machine and temperature changes inside a washing machine i.e. warm wash and cold rinse could cause shrinkage! Goat hair textiles have a mind of their own. Please don’t let anyone try to iron the goat hair glove! Actually I have been using mine for one and a half years now and it always has a fresh aroma, I have never felt the need to wash it.
Please note when you first start using the glove quite a few loose goat hairs will fall out and even after using the glove for a while several goat hairs will be lost. However thousands of goat hairs make up the glove and the gloves are very durable.
It is impossible to describe the sensation of using a goat hair glove for washing … I’m trying! Invigorating, refreshing, stimulating, tingling … like having a good itch all over … very mammalian!
Use the exfoliating to remove dead skin which can not be moisturized, leaving a superb skin texture.
A well exfoliated skin needs far less moisturization – the skin is suppose to breath releasing carbon dioxide and other gasses and absorbing oxygen, so the less it is smothered in products the better.
If exfoliate toward the heart you will improve the ciculation of lymph. Lymph is the blood’s cleaning fluid and does not have its own circulatory pump. It relies on massage, exercise and exfoliation.
Feel great and super clean!
Ethics of using goat hair exfoliating gloves
These gloves, although very hard wearing are biodegradable.
These gloves were the missing element of one of the the world’s most ancient traditional washing systems.
Even though the project is very small scale we can help people maintain their traditional lifestyles by purchasing their resources and labour, helping to prevent rural depopulation and retaining traditional craft skills.
The goats like being groomed!
It has been difficult to work out my costings and I think that these gloves are being sold at cost price – however it is good to begin the project. I have paid all of the producers the price they have asked.
Specifications of the goat hair exfoliating glove
The goat hair exfoliating glove is approximately 22cm long by 14cm wide.
The wool is of 100% goat hair, in fact the gloves will still smell faintly goat-like!
The bindings are made with cotton bias binding and a small loop is sewn in in case you want to hang it somewhere and as stated before they are lined with 100% cotton canvas.