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Skin Hack: How to Care for the Skin During Harmattan

Skin Hack: How to Care for the Skin During Harmattan

We get seasonal changes every year: Summer, autumn, spring, winter, and fall. In this part of the world, we have two seasons which are the wet season and the dry season. The dry season is mostly called “harmattan”.

I woke up with a sore throat today and realized it has been like this for some days now – the weather has been harsh. It gets very cold sometimes and very hot other times. Then it hit me! It is that time of the year again when we get to deal with much cold and dust and invest in heavy moisturizers and warm baths. 

“Harmattan” for me, means dry flaky skin, dry lips, drizzle hair, and cardigan.

This is actually my favorite season as it brings forth Christmas and New Year vibes. But, I hate that my skin gets very dry like the one in the picture above. 

Distinguishing between Nigerian Harmattan and American Winter. 

“Harmattan don start o, na everywhere. E don start for America too, everybody just dey wear sweater,” I once heard a next-door neighbor say to my mum over a decade ago. 

Whenever I come across the word “winter” anywhere, I substitute it with harmattan. It is quite common to think they are both the same, but they are only similar. 

One of the distinctive differences is that Harmattan is characterized by cold and dust. It is that season where everything gets covered by dust, and there is a wide spread of respiratory infections like cough, which is caused by very dry weather, or red itchy eyes caused by small particles in the air. 

Winter is characterized by cold and snow. It usually gets very cold, up to freezing point.

One thing they have in common is their effects on the skin. 

During summer, there is a high increase in the sebum production, which is how the skin gets oily. During cold seasons, like harmattan and winter, there is no sebum production which makes the skin get very dry. 

How do I Prepare my Skin for Harmattan? 

Growing up, our entire arsenal to battle against harmattan was bathing hot water, applying vaseline or shea butter, wearing a thick cloth like a sweater, but it goes beyond all these things just mentioned. 


The importance of water cannot be overemphasized. Dehydration is more likely to occur during harmattan, due to the dryness of the air. The first thing to remember doing is taking lots and lots of water. 

Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! 

beautiful african american woman showing her nails isolated on black

Always stay moisturized. Harmattan is the perfect time to upgrade your hydrating skin-care products. Whether you have oily skin or dry skin, you need a good moisturizer to get you through harmattan. Do not use moisturizing products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Typically, hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture from air. During the dry season, however, the air is much less humid. Due to low moisture in the air to absorb, the hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture from the skin, leaving the skin significantly drier than usual.  

If you are confused on what moisturizer brands to use, you can try applying natural moisturizers like vaseline, shea butter, coconut oil, or carrot oil. 

Do not forget to moisturize your hands and legs, as they have less moisture, making them easily dry to the point of wrinkling and cracking. . 

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The moisturizer should be applied immediately after bath to lock in the moisture. It is easy for the skin to absorb moisture when it is a bit wet. 

Avoid Bathing With Hot Water  

Mba! Bathing with hot water during this season is a no-no! I know this is an age-long remedy for the cold season, but it is not good for the skin. Bathing with hot water during harmattan can be relaxing and satisfying, but it poses a great threat to the skin, as it strips the skin off its natural oil. Bathing with lukewarm water is preferable. Inugo?


UV light is just as dangerous during the cold season as it is during the warm season. So, it is essential to step out with sunscreen on. You wouldn’t want to deal with cracked skin and burnt face, at the same time. 

How do you prepare your skin for harmattan? Share your infamous tips with us! The hilarious ones from your childhood too. 

5 must have items in your bag during harmattan 

 I know you want to be OUTSIDE for detty December. But, while you are outside make sure you are protected too and you are always with your harmattan kit. Here are a list of things that should be in your bag during this dry season:

  1. Petroleum jelly or shea butter 
  2. Lip balm 
  3. Bottle water 
  4. Nose mask 
  5. Inhaler 
  6. Body oil

Do you have more to add to this list? Share with us in the comment section below. 

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