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Dry Season Must-Haves and Dos

The Harmattan season, which is unique to the Western part of Africa, just debuted a few days ago and there’s been lots of excitement in the air. This period is a personal favourite as I’m not so much of a fan of the rainy season. 

One of the things it reminds us of is our childhood. We’re flooded with so many memories of what we did as kids around this time. It also tells us that Christmas is just around the corner. Harmattan is the smell of Christmas and New Year, no caps. 

This season is usually between the middle of November and March.

Sadly, it also comes with some downsides. I mean, if we can enjoy honey from the bee, we might as well endure its sting, right? 


So, the harmattan season comes with so much dust. Sand particles become lighter and with the wind constantly blowing, it lifts the dust particles very easily and spreads them several kilometres away. Surfaces at home remain dusty, no matter what one does. Even if you leave your windows closed, this dust has a way of still entering the home. Some people dust their homes twice daily, to no avail. 

Consequently, the dust brings with it different forms of allergic reactions, from sneezing to an itchy nose and red eyes to what I like to call the triple C’s. Cough, catarrh, cold and even sore throat. For those who are asthmatic, this period triggers more attacks. 

But away from the downsides. Let’s talk a bit about the good sides. For those of us who don’t like rain, there is no rain this season. Everywhere, the air is dry and especially crisp in the mornings. Also, due to no rain, no puddles or water is flowing. This in turn makes it impossible for mosquitoes to lay eggs. This is very unfavourable weather for mosquitoes to breed so we have greatly reduced incidents of malaria. But the best of these has to do with laundry. Clothes get dried pretty quickly, one can do multiple washes in a day. This is the best time to wash those things that take days to dry like those thick curtains, duvets, carpets and rugs. 

The following things you must have and use during this period:


  • Lip balm. It’s even better if you can get the one with sunscreen to protect the lips from dryness. Cracked, white lips aren’t the least bit sexy. 
  • Hand cream/lotion. The palms also get dry. Hand creams are necessary all year round. But more importantly during the harmattan. Constantly putting our hands in water makes them dry so it’s a normal care. The thicker the better. Mine gives this protective covering that feels like I’m wearing gloves and still working even after I’ve washed my hands. 
  • Coconut oil. Extra conditioning for dryness. Great for hair and our skin but oil on skin should only be used at night so you don’t suffer sunburns. 
  • Body butter. It’s time to ditch the regular body lotion for something thicker and heavier and body butter, is that thing. A combination of 2-3 kinds of butter (cocoa butter, shea butter, mango and or kokum butter) whipped into a thick fluffy texture will surely protect your skin from the elements. 
  • Petroleum jelly. Somehow, we still need to lock up extra moisture after moisturizing with petroleum jelly. The thick jelly carries for longer in the driest of conditions. I still top up whatever moisturizer I use with petroleum jelly. 
  • Stockings and sweaters never fail. I’m talking about indoors. If you catch a cold easily like me, and you also love the soft warmth of wool on your skin, then these 2 should never be too far away. I also cover my kids up like this to prevent cough, catarrh and cold. 

It’s important to note that your body needs to be hydrated as much as possible, too. Let your urine colour be your guide. As you won’t be sweating much during this period, you’re likely to pass out more urine and if it’s a dark colour, then you’re severely dehydrated. Strive to maintain a mild yellow to almost colourless urine. So, more water, please. 

It would help greatly to do the following:

  1. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Currently, I’m averaging 11 glasses of water daily
  2. Wash your eyes regularly to avoid red eyes which is common this season. 
  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or towel when it is dusty. 
  4. Avoid or reduce outdoor activities, especially if you have allergies. 
  5. Stay indoors as much as you possibly can to avoid dust inhalation of harmful particles coming with the wind. 
  6. Temperature usually drops in the evenings through to the morning of the next day so wear clothes that keep your body warm. It gets very warm, even hot in the afternoons so we have to strike a balance. 
  7. Be sure to see a doctor if you have red, itchy, and watery eyes.
  8. Get medical help if you have a runny, itchy, sneezing, and stuffy nose. 
  9. Keep the doors and windows closed. 
  10. Always use moisturisers to prevent dry skin and dry palms. 
  11. Use lip balm to prevent cracked lips. 
  12. If you’re an African woman with natural hair, find ways to wet your hair often and apply oil to lock in the moisture. Apply oil around your edges too. 
  • Joy Mfon Essien is an Entrepreneur and the CEO, of Discover Essence Media, Millionaire Woman Soapworks and Delicioso Foods. Writer, TV presenter and producer, Wellness Coach and mom of two.

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