Harmattan blues: Here are five ways to manage the Nigerian-winter

“Nose mask! Nose Mask! Buy your nose mask!” yells the woman at the front of Ojodu Berger market, Lagos. She’s not there all through the year, but once it’s the first week of December, Iya Monruf comes to occupy her corner of the road every morning, selling nose masks. So, if your mornings have not been unusually chilly — perhaps you are from obodoyinbo (abroad), and you have not experienced chapped lips or dry skin because you’re one of those blessed humans with really good skin — seeing people wear Iya Monruf’s nose masks should tell you that Harmattan is here.

But some of us didn’t even have to wait for a nose mask signal because it felt like the cold-dry, dusty wind whirled straight from the Sahara desert to our doorsteps. Typically, the Harmattan brings weather conditions with lower humidity, a dusty haze that often results in different respiratory tract infections and costs airlines millions in cancelled and diverted flights each year. But when the haze is weak, the weather usually creates the most beautiful sunny days with clear skies.

Apparently, the Harmattan comes with several challenges, ranging from a cold, chapped lips, to dry skin and viral infections. Here are some ways you can deal with the changes the season brings:

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. I need not tell you to bath with warm water, you must be very brave to choose not to do so.

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 that can pass for a raffia sponge; the harmattan can cause your hair to dry out, become stringy and brittle, ultimately leading to hair loss. So moisturize and oil your hair often this season. And if that is too much work, wear a protective style.

Moisturising hair oils Credit - Naturally curly
Moisturising hair oils
Credit – Naturally curly

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.


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.


Even vehicles are not spared from the effects of harmattan. You drive to work with a clean car, then come out by evening to find it all dusty, like it had not been driven or washed for months. What to do? Moisturise and condition your car often … Just kidding. Give your car a good wax after washing to ensure that dusts clean off easier. This is also a good time to get a car cover, if you didn’t have one already.

General hygiene

There’s a need to take more preventive measures during harmattan. Limit your exposure to dust, get a nose mask, or cover your nose with a scarf if you need to. Wash your curtains. Clean objects at your homes and offices with wet napkins. Take fruits, or vitamin c pills to prevent cold, catarrh, and sneezing.

Credit - Pinterest
Credit – Pinterest

Fire outbreaks are often recorded this season, the dry wind promotes the spread of fires at the slightest ignition. Hence, there is a need to handle electrical appliances with caution and as you light up firecrackers, please do so with care.

The post Harmattan blues: Here are five ways to manage the Nigerian-winter appeared first on Ventures Africa.