Saturday 10 December 2022

Harmattan is Here! Tips on How to Care for yourself

This year's Harmattan Season has begun and it's going to last throughout January, February and March.

Harmattan is a dry, dusty season that occurs across West Africa between November to March. Whilst we enjoy a cooler climate during this period it can be dry and detrimental to our skin and hair. Here are some tips on how to take care of your skin, hair and body during this very dry season.

During Harmattan

Harmattan haze (heavy amount of dust in the atmosphere that obstruct visibility) is a major identifier of Harmattan season.

The sun is blocked by the Haze and temperatures at early hours of the day (before noon) can be as low as 9 °C (48 °F). After noon, the temperature can also soar to as high as 30 °C (86 °F).

Some Nigerians may erroneously compare the cold hours of the day to Winter. This might be due to the chilling winds the Harmattan season brings.

However, winter is the coldest season in European and American countries, usually accompanied by snowfall whereas Harmattan is the driest season in West Africa, accompanied by cold dusty winds.

It is advisable to bath with warm water during the early hours of the day, as the cold cold from the harmattan could get into the body.

Cold, dry and dusty air is what the harmattan season is known for. The surroundings is usually dusty with outbreak of Flu and dryness of skin which leads to crack skin. Most people experience cough & sore throat which is due to the dry dusty air inhaled from the surroundings. Also, dry skin and broken lips are common during this harmattan season.

In addition, the weather makes people susceptible to flu & cold and although the body has adaptive mechanisms that help reduce the effects, it is only wise to take good care of ourselves in order to prevent infections and stay healthy.

The dust has particles that can cause illness such as Cough and Catarrh, if inhaled. Hence it is noteworthy to wear a facemask when outdoors.

Also, due to the dryness of the atmosphere, prolonged exposure can cause the lips and skin to crack. For this reason, it is traditional in Nigeria to lubricate the lips and skin after bathing.

Personal experiences with some seasons of harmattan have revealed that protracted times outdoor can lead to wearing away of the outer lips due to the harsh atmosphere. Although, this can be averted by applying vaseline and moisturising the lips at all times.

Not to mention, harmattan also happens on Christmas and New Year days, which makes them special and memorable for us. The coldness of the early hours is chilling and prefatory for the onset of Celebration usually during afternoon.

Some parts of Nigeria experience harmattan than others. The Northern part of Nigeria is more affected by Harmattan due to their closeness to the Sahara Desert where the dry and dusty trade winds originate.

The mornings are really cold and having a shower with cold water never an option; however, on the contrary, hot water isn’t also an advisable option for you as it strips the skin of its natural oil barrier, thus resulting in dryness and itching. Hence, opt for lukewarm water. Skin care experts recommend short, warm showers or baths that last no longer than 5 to 10 minutes.

Wearing the right clothes in this harmattan season helps to prevent common infections or diseases that spread during this season. Thick and heat absorbable clothes keep heat released from the body trapped inside and limit radiation of heat to the surroundings. Hand gloves and well-covered shoes also provide enough warmth that you need.

Tips on How to Care for your Hair, Skin and Body

 Stay Hydrated

If you are not much of a water drinker, H20 has to be your best friend right now. This will be beneficial for your hair and skin and your overall physical health. Make sure to drink at least 2 litres of water a day which translates to about 8 glasses a day or 4 small bottles of water a day. You do not have to consume so much water at once, it is better to pace yourself. 

Keep Hair Moisturised

 Remember, your Liquid, Oil and Cream (LOC) and is a method that is effective in moisturising and sealing the hair. Water or a water based product (e.g mist/leave-in conditioner) for the Liquid, a sealant such as an any oil of your preference (e.g coconut oil, olive oil) for Oil and a cream/butter to keep the moisture in which will aid in hydration of the hair for Cream. You can use the LOC method each time your hair starts to feel dry. 


Exfoliate Regularly

Make sure you are exfoliating your skin regularly (1-2 times a week) as this will get rid of the dead skin and allow for your face and body moisturiser to work more effectively. Do not use harsh exfoliants on your face and body. This will leave your skin smooth and hydrated  after exfoliation. 

Protective Styling

Keep your hair in more protective styles. You can put your hair in twists or cornrows after using the LOC method. Make sure your scalp and hair are moisturised under your wigs and whilst your hair is in braids, to avoid breakage and excess shedding due to the dry season.  

Healthy Diet

Lastly, make sure you’re consuming food that help with the hydration and moisture of your skin, hair and body.

For example; avocados, bananas, nuts are really good with keeping the hair and skin moisturised. Your diet plays a big part in how moisturised your skin and hair will be.

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