Protecting Yourself during Harmattan: Hair, Skin and Nails….

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Whether you realize it or not, every change in season affects your body. Knowing how you respond to these changes and putting measures in place to protect yourself is advisable.

Harmattan season, experienced in the West African subcontinent, occurs between the end of November and the middle of March and is characterized by the dry and dusty wind, which blows from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea.

As at the time of writing this piece people in the above-mentioned parts of the continent are battling the adverse of effects of the dry, dusty weather. This dry season that comes with some chill can wreak havoc on the skin and hair as it saps out all the moisture and nutrients leaving it dry and cracked. Thus, the skin loses its natural elasticity and wrinkles much faster.

Although due to the effect of climate change, some parts of the region do not experience harmattan for as long as they should, the rural parts feel the full force of the season.

These tips will help keep your skin and hair in a protective condition even when the weather is far from co-operating.

Carry face towelettes around:

Spending the day in a busy city attracts dirt to our skin that we cannot see with our naked eyes so, a quick cleanse every couple of hours works wonders. These wipes are also perfect for removing makeup as they also contain some of the natural vitamins that help revitalize the skin.

Use natural oils:

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Natural oils work wonders. Try using extra virgin olive oil, warm a few drops as complete hydration before smoothing over your face for ultra-moisturised skin. Coconut oil supports new skin formation and acts as a protective barrier against burns. Also, essential are oils like argan, lavender and rose which contain a natural SPF to protect your skin against the sun’s rays. They also smell amazing.

Use lip balm:

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Choose natural balms to moisturise and hydrate lips. Avoid lip balms that are free from mineral and petroleum oils. Some that can deliver soothing relief to lips have ingredients such as lemon balm, tea tree oil and peppermint. Carry it around for quick and easy re-application.


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Use natural scrubs that contain anti-ageing ingredients like vitamin C and E to break through dead skin and cells. Use moisturisers such as lavender and argan oil, and exfoliate, using sea salt and brown sugar. Use on your face, hands, body and feet.

Use a light moisturizer:

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Stay off thick, heavy creams as they don’t sink into the skin, they just sit on top making you greasy rather than moisturized. Choose a lightweight, hydrating lotion. Check out for brands that contain extra boosts of vitamin C and soy to enhance the skin’s summer glow.

Drink plenty of water:

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Dehydration is bad for your body both internally and externally. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty before drinking water.

No hot baths:

Appreciating that a cold bath must be a tall order for some at this stage but a hot bath is discouraged, as it allows for faster evaporation from the skin. Instead, use tepid water and gentle toilet soap with no added antiseptics or disinfectants. Try not to stay too long in the shower and apply your moisturiser while still in the bathroom.

Moisten the hair:

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Since this happens in the African region, those with afros are encouraged to moisten hair and apply natural oils before combing. Also, avoid using harsh products on your hair at this stage, as it facilitates dryness. As much as possible cover hair with a silk scarf/cap while sleeping and if you’re in a very windy area.

What other tips have you tried that has worked for you. Please share with us in the comment section.

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