As we anticipate the festive season at the end of the year, let’s not forget that the harmattan season is also upon us. If you live in West Africa, there’s no doubt you are familiar with the adverse effect it takes on the skin.
However, if you have no idea of what the harmattan season is, let’s briefly introduce it to you. Harmattan is one of the West Africa seasons that occurs between November till mid-March. It is defined by a dry and dusty wind with frigid temperatures in the morning.
For most people in sub-Saharan Africa, the harmattan season is a break from all the heat, and the cold weather that accompanies it is guaranteed to make your night sleep lovely. Due to the drop in temperature of this season, the harmattan is sometimes referred to as African winter.
But, as pleasant as this time of the year may seem, it can also cause some detrimental skin damage; it brings about dryness that chaps the lips, weathers the skin causing it to be itchy, and dulls the hair. In this article, we share some helpful tips essential for skin and hair care during this period.
1. Stay hydrated
The dry and dusty wind that circulates the atmosphere causes us to feel dehydrated quickly and may result in sharp pain in the throats and lugs. This is why it is vital to stay hydrated during harmattan; drink as much water as possible.
Usually, the recommended daily intake is about eight glasses of water, so to keep your body hydrated enough this dry season, you may want to consume a little more; say ten glasses of water every day.
2. Moisturize your skin
Since everything quickly dries up this season, including your skin, It is essential to use a body lotion that will infuse the skin with moisture (Even better if it contains humectants).
You could opt for something natural, or you can make mixtures with natural oils and butter that are in abundance like coconut oil, shea butter etc. Or you could purchase already made body creams; there is a wide range of products you can select from, ranging from Cocoa Butter to Mango extract products and much more.
Regardless of the option you go for, make sure your choice is a solution that can easily be absorbed into the skin and ensure it’s soft and smooth all day.
If you love your hair, you want to pay much attention to maintaining its structure during this harmattan season. It is crucial to keep the hair strands protected and strengthened to prevent scalp damage, breakage and outright hair loss.
Ladies should consider protective hairstyles like braids, and make use of regular Deep Conditioning, as well as seldom application of a good leave-in conditioner.
Since you want to retain as much moist on your scalp as possible, so you don’t risk your hair breaking and scalp itchy; you want to consider washing your hair at most three times a week and not every day. This way, you get to keep your scalp naturally moist and in good condition, as you back it up with the little amount of cream or oil daily.
4. Protect your lips
One of the most annoying side effects that harmattan takes on the skin is drying up the lips. Since the skin on this part of the body is very thin, it is delicate and would therefore need a little more attention. For this cold-dry season, you should get a good quality lip balm to help protect the lips from inside and outside.
Although petroleum jelly is a standard option to keep the lips moist, and it’s usually in high demand this period. However a better alternative is lip balms; lip balms are mostly made with natural butter like shea butter, jojoba, cocoa butter, and some other rich oils and butter extract. Lip balms are designed to naturally nourish the skin on the lips, and keep them moist all day long.
Because the whole environment is dusty this period, it is normal to have thick dirt on the skin and clothes; therefore, it is essential to step up on the cleanliness level. Be sure to keep your clothes clean, and out of the openings to avoid dust sticking on them.
For the harmattan, you also want to adopt the use of a creamy moisturizing soap, bar or liquid, as long as it forms a lot of lather, it will help take care of the skin through this harsh weather. You may consider purchasing skincare soaps with exfoliants as they ensure that dead skin cells are sloughed. If you would like to take things a notch higher, you can also opt for a nourishing body scrub to leave your skin looking radiant.
6. Take warm baths
The weather can be freezing, especially in the early hours of the day. Taking a warm bath is the best option during harmattan, except you have allergic to warm water. You may also want to reduce the time you spend in the shower; staying too long in the bathroom could leave your skin looking dried and dehydrated, mainly when you use a cold shower.
7. Cut down on your caffeine intake
Since the body would need enough water during this period, you may want to limit your level of caffeine intake, because caffeine is a diuretic, and diuretics are used to eliminate water from the body. If you are tired of taking just water and want to want to increase your liquid intake, then you can opt for beverages and fruit juice, especially the ones that contain more natural extract and are sugar-free.
The harmattan season occurs during the festive period, meaning everyone would be busy making preparations for the events to come. As you go about whatever activity, you want to be sure your skin always looks bright and stunning.
Don’t be shy to carry or apply a neutral lip balm where ever you go, and you want to avoid having dried and wounded lips as much as possible. A small water bottle wouldn’t also be a bad idea, as you always want to stay hydrated.
Bottom line; make preparations to protect yourself from harmattan as you celebrate.