Me vs Harmattan: Your Beauty Guide
There are two kinds of people during harmattan; the kind that breaks out and the kind that glow.
Only one thing sets these two groups apart; hydration.
It’s that time of the year when you don’t have to worry about sweat! That takes a huge problem off the hands of millions of Nigerians, except that now you have to try not to look like an unkempt stray cat.
Protecting yourself from harmattan isn’t just about looking presentable. It helps you feel just as presentable as you look and prevents you from falling sick. The key to surviving harmattan is water. As easy as that may sound, drinking water is twice as hard during the dry season because you simply do not feel thirsty. Plus, it appears that all the water you drink goes right into your bladder. Here’s your self-help guide to staying hydrated during harmattan, inside and out while maintaining beauty.
How to stay hydrated during harmattan
- Chapsticks and lip balms- the first signs of harmattan are chapped, sore lips. And if you’ve ever had a harmattan lip blister, you’d hold on tight to your lip balm. Letting your lips dry out makes them split and blister, and this injury may progress into an infection like Herpes. Yes, it can get that serious. Licking your lips only makes them dry out faster because your saliva contains enzymes that break down food. So, if you forget your lip balm, don’t try to substitute by licking your lips every 10 seconds. You’re only making things worse.
- Moisturising lotions- your skin will feel like it isn’t yours anymore when the dryness hits. A little moisturise can do the trick. The lack of humidity calls for an extra step in your morning routine (and your evening one too). It may be wise to double down on your moisturiser during your regular morning routine.
- Extra layers of petroleum jelly- there are only a few things worse than bumping into a table and splitting your skin because it was dry and flaky, to begin with. But let’s be honest, slathering on petroleum jelly in heaps may be uncomfortable. There’s a strategy to it. Apply extra layers on the areas of your skin that undergo the most abrasion; your elbows, your hands, your knees and feet, since these areas are always in contact with objects.
- Your sunscreen is a staple- the sun is no joke during harmattan. Protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun, which may precipitate skin cancers, sunburns and wrinkles. Cover every inch of your face and neck with sunscreen and if you’re going to be out in the sun for extended periods, retouch your protective layer of sunscreen every 2 hours.
- Hair conditioners, serums, oils- harmattan strips your face and lips of moisture. The same applies to your hair. This is the best time to secure your strands in a protective hairstyle. If you must have your hair out, lock in moisture daily with a leave-in conditioner, hair oil or serum. Avoid excessive brushing during this period and tuck in your roots.
- Facial wipes with no alcohol- alcohol dries the skin out faster than any other cosmetic ingredient. Should you need to wipe your face or hands during the day, avoid using any alcohol wipe. Instead, use a hydrating wipe such as tea tree facial wipes that replace the nutrients wiped away with essential oils.
- Nasal sprays- if your breathing gets laboured and your airways dried, spray a few puffs of water or normal saline into your nostrils to regulate your breathing. Your nose should always be moist. This instantly relieves painful breathing seen in harmattan and heightens your sense of smell.
What not to do during harmattan
- No soaking in the tub- you probably think that a long, hot soak is just what you need. That isn’t exactly true. The longer you spend soaked, the drier your skin will be when you finally get out of the tub. During harmattan, lukewarm weather is the preferred option. If you must use hot water in your bath, rinse with lukewarm water to close your pores and prevent a breakout.
- No excessive scrubbing- dead skin cells spring up by the minute, and it is a huge temptation not to scrub every day. Excessive scrubbing rids your skin of its defences, predisposing you to infections like eczema and rash. After scrubbing, follow up with a mild toner and don’t forget your moisturiser.
Your skin needs all the moisture it can get during this period. Your skincare will be incomplete if you do not drink enough water. It is good for your kidneys and other organs, and it will help you feel energised throughout the day. The goal is 2-3 litres in 24 hours. That’s at least four bottles of water in a day.