How to manage the Nigeria-winter(harmattan)

​Harmattan is a typical geographical feature of the Sahara and savannah region of West Africa, usually accompanied by cold, haze, dusty and dry weather. It is characterised by strong wind, which blows south from the Sahara into the gulf of Guinea.

Harmattan can damage our health in many ways: it affects our skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It cracks your lips and damages your skin. The eyes are also vulnerable to dust. A lot of other unpleasant diseases are easily triggered by this weather as well. Here are some tips on how to make this season easier for your health.

Protect your Skin

The weather can be really harsh on the skin, so hydration is at the top of the to-do list during this season. Proper skin care begins from the inside out so people are advised to drink lots of water. If it is uncommon for you to drink water often, then water should become your best friend this season. It keeps you hydrated, leaving your skin refreshed.

Ensure your creams and lotions have enough oil in them to avoid looking like a ‘human-leopard’ with white patches all over when you step out. This is a good time to invest in a jar of Vaseline, shea butter or palm kernel oil. But if you are not all for the shiny-greasy effect and don’t want to end up looking like newly polished patent leather, then you can mix any of these with your regular lotion before application.

Take a bath with moisturising soaps or bath gels and try not to dry yourself completely after.

For your lips, choose a balm over gloss. Lip balms contain ingredients to protect your lips from cracks, while lip glosses only provide the shine. So if a shine is all you want, you might as well dip your lips in a bowl of groundnut oil. Lip balms are a must-have this season to help keep dry, chapped lips at bay. You can also exfoliate your lips by brushing them with a wet toothbrush, or brown sugar mixed with honey. Don’t get carried away though, remember it’s your lips, not your teeth, so brush gently.

Tend to your hair

Ladies, you certainly do not want hair to pass for a raffia sponge; the harmattan can cause your hair to dry out, become stringy and brittle, ultimately leading to hair loss. So moisturise and oil your hair often this season. And if that is too much work, wear a protective style.

The men are not excluded from hair care, especially those in the “beard gang”. All that dust and cold will surely affect your beard, making them coarse, and brittle. Condition, moisturise, trim and comb your beard often during the harmattan. And don’t forget your beard balm or oil.

Clothing

Since Nigerian designers rarely create ‘harmattan collections’, be your own designer and create a collection for the season. It’s the Nigerian winter, so whip out your cardigans, scarves, head warmers, sweatshirts and hoodies. Some may go ahead to add gloves, but I say, it’s never that serious.

However, this is not to say you cannot be stylish this season, please don’t leave your home looking like a stuffed thanksgiving turkey, or an inflatable balloon toy in the name of harmattan. It is important to protect yourself from the cold in order to avoid pneumonia, joint and muscle pains, which could lead to worse medical conditions in the long term.

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