The Harmattan is a dusty and dry wind that hovers over West-Africa from the month of November to the end of March. Working in Ghana last year had not only given me the opportunity to meet the business environment of my homeland, but it also introduced me to the Harmattan. My cousin warned me about the impact it can have on my skin and before I knew it, I felt the difference. I experienced rashes, dry skin, I was more thirsty and had brittle nails. It took me about two weeks to get back to my normal self. This made me look up some health tips online for this infamous Harmattan season and I could not find many. I had to go about and ask around and try things that could work for me. So here is a list of what I did and what you can do.
Keep your hair and skin moist
If you shower with the kind of soap that dries out your skin. Put a drop of (Coconut/olive) oil in the water you shower with. If you use a bucket to shower, it is more easy to apply the oil by leaving it in your water. If you shower in another way, you can blend the oil with your soap by simply applying right after washing.
Use an oily moisturizing lotion
Ever had that feeling like you are sweating excessively under the heat of the sun after applying a traditional thick cocoa or shea butter? That means that you have applied a crème that that’s too greasy. It’s better to use a moisturizing lotion that contains oil for daily use. Personally, a Vaseline moisturizing cream (like Vaseline Intensive Care) doesn’t work for me. I need a good Shea butter lotion, like Ultimate Organics lotion.
Ghanaian actress Ama K. Abebrese posted a picture of the lotion she uses during Harmattan season.
Frequently use hand cream
I often wash my hands, especially when I am back home. This means that your hands will need extra moist. Therefore, it is good to have a hand cream in your bag for both your hands and feet. It is a good remedy against ashy feet too! I recommend Palmer’s Shea Butter Formula from the Concentrated Creams series. They have an Olive oil cream within that series. It smells good too!
The right face wash
It is essential not to dry out your skin when washing off your make-up. The type of face wash or face wipes which contain alcohol can definitely dry out your skin. Avoiding these types of face wash is the best. I use Coconut Care (It is available at Actions. Read a review here) throughout the year and I use an Argain oil based soap from Tunesia, of which I don’t know the name.
Food & Water
Always take with you a bottle of water wherever you go. Voltic water was stacked in boxes in my room and I took bottles with me everywhere I went. Drinking water helped me to get rid of my rashes. I got the rashes (view picture below), due to the drought of the Harmattan. If you can’t see it on the picture clearly, you can enlarge it by clicking on it. My auntie had the same rashes and hers went away also simply by rinking lots of water.
Polish your nails
The Harmattan also made my nails dry and brittle. Because of this, I used a good base coat nail polish to prevent my nails from shredding.
Keep your lips moisturized
In spite of the heat of the sun, my lips were still dry. A lip-gloss that had kept me through sunshine, rain, storm and fall is Lancôme Juicy tube. I know, I know, it’s a Western brand and it’s less natural than a pure shea butter. But that lip-gloss is my life saver. Once I discover a make-up product that is good for me, I never let go. I have been using Lancôme Juicy tubes for more than 10 years now and we have been happily together since.
Don’t dry your hair out
If you are wearing your hair natural, deep conditioning and daily conditioning is the right way to go. When drying your hair, choose to air dry instead of blow drying. In ways where your nails can get brittle, your hair can get brittle too. That is why your hair needs the best care it can get.
The main advice of everyone I asked, is to make sure you don’t dry out your skin, hair and nails. Even in the tropics, the weather always changes and it is essential to always take care of your body. I almost experience the same side effects as mentioned earlier when I am in the Netherlands around October and Autumn starts. The weather then becomes dry too.
I hope the points mentioned above are helpful. To our readers in West- Africa, Happy Harmattan! Next week, I have some tips on maintaining that gorgeous skin of yours through the winter.