Harmattan skin care tips: How to prevent dry skin during harmattan

Some people fear for their skin during harmattan, especially those with dry skin. But it doesn’t have to be so. You can experience the cool breeze of harmattan without dry or cracked skin by taking certain precautions and raising your skincare game.

Image showing moisturizers and lip balms for moisturizing the skin to prevent dry skin and lips

Key takeaways:

  • Harmattan doesn't have to go hand in hand with dry skin. Simple things like using the right moisturizing creams that contain skin-friendly ingredients and wearing cotton clothes can make a huge difference in how your skin looks and can help prevent dry skin during this period. 
  • Some of the best creams and moisturizers you can use during the harmattan include Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Dove cream, and shea butter.
  • Don't use lip products that irritate your lips during harmattan. Instead, use lip balms that contain shea butter (ori) and petroleum jelly. Also, bathing with warm water (instead of hot water) for a few minutes once a day can help prevent the loss of the body's natural oils.

The Harmattan period is that time of the year when the air smells a certain way and feels dry, the atmosphere looks a bit white, and people’s skin is even whiter. Some people love this period, while others loathe it. Those who have dry skin during the harmattan are the ones who tend to hate it.

Some people’s skin looks dry during harmattan because they naturally have dry skin, they don't use creams that moisturize their skin, or they stay in very dusty environments. Whatever causes your skin to look dry during this season can be remedied by using the right skincare products and wearing appropriate clothing. 

How to prevent dry skin during harmattan

The fear of dry skin is the cloud that looms over the festive period of Christmas and the New Year. It's a time when people want to slay and look their best, but dry skin stands in the way of that.

Follow these tips to prevent dry skin during harmattan: 

  • Bathe with warm water, not hot water. Hot water dries out the skin.
  • Bathe once a day to prevent losing the natural oils in the skin (or take the second bath without using exfoliating soap products).
  • Don't spend too long in the bathroom. Limit bath time to 5–10 minutes. 
  • Use fragrance-free soaps to bathe. If these aren't available, baby soaps are a good alternative. They don't contain chemicals that can irritate the skin. Dove and Olay soaps are also recommended because they don't dry the skin.
  • Don't drag the towel over your skin while cleaning your body. Instead, dab your skin dry (gently use your towel to pat your body).
  • Don't dry your skin entirely off; leave a little water on it to help lock in your creams or moisturizers.
  • Apply the cream immediately after taking a bath. Take care to apply to every part of your body.
  • Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. The cream should contain at least one or more of these: jojoba oil, mineral oil, shea butter (also called ori in the local Nigerian dialect), petrolatum, lactic acid, lanolin, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
  • Don't use creams or skincare products that contain alcohol, retinoids, or fragrance. They cause the skin to lose its natural oil.
  • Cream your hands whenever you wash them. You can go around with small creams or hand creams.
  • Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent to prevent skin irritation. 
  • Wear skin-friendly clothes like cotton or silk. If you must wear wool, ensure you wear cotton underneath it.
  • Use a humidifier in your home.
  • Use a moisturizer containing sunscreen, especially on parts of the body exposed to the sun, like the face, neck, hands, and legs.
  • Stay hydrated from the inside by drinking lots of water to keep the skin moist.

How to prevent dry lips during harmattan

Dry or cracked lips are a nuisance, especially during harmattan. Here are ways to prevent dry lips during harmattan:

  • Use lip balm several times during the day and before going to bed. If your lips feel dry or cracked, apply a lip balm.
  • Use lip balm or lip products that don't irritate the lips. They should contain ingredients like castor seed oil, mineral oil, ceramides, shea butter, petrolatum, hemp seed oil, and white petroleum jelly. They should also be hypoallergenic or fragrance-free. These ingredients help prevent and heal chapped lips.
  • Avoid lip products that contain camphor, fragrance, eucalyptus, flavoring, or menthol.
  • Use lip balms that contain SPF 30 to protect them from the sun. 
  • Stop licking, biting, or touching your lips. Licking your lips is counterproductive, as it feels wet for a few seconds, but the saliva evaporates, leaving your lips even drier.
  • Stop using lip products that burn or hurt your lips. 
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Carry a water bottle around when you go out.
  • Don't hold metal items like jewelry with your lips; they irritate them.
  • Use a humidifier. 
  • Apply Vaseline or other products containing petrolatum to your already chapped lips. [5]

How to prevent and treat itching during harmattan

Since dry skin is usually associated with itchy skin, doing things that prevent dry skin can also prevent and treat the itching. Do these to prevent and treat itching during harmattan:

  • Bathe with warm water.
  • Use fragrance-free soaps and detergents.
  • Avoid wool and other rough clothes that can irritate your skin. Instead, wear cotton.
  • Reduce stress, as it can worsen itching. 
  • Avoid extremely hot environments that increase itching, or use an air conditioner to keep the temperature of your room skin-friendly.
  • Apply a wet or cold cloth to the part of your skin that itches for a few minutes. 
  • Don't scratch your skin. Pat the part that's itchy instead. 
  • Use fragrance-free moisturizers.
  • Use cooling agents like menthol, especially on the itchy areas.
  • Identify the things that trigger your itchy skin, like certain clothes, and avoid them.
  • Soak the itchy parts of your skin in water for a few minutes. 
  • Apply topical steroids like hydrocortisone to the itchy areas of your skin following your doctor's prescription.

If the itching persists even after trying these remedies, seek medical attention to be sure there is no underlying condition causing it.

The best creams for harmattan in Nigeria

These creams are recommended based on the ingredients they contain and reviews from those who have used them.

  • CeraVe moisturizing cream: It contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, and petrolatum. These ingredients help keep the skin moisturized, even during harmattan. The National Eczema Association also approves of it, so people with sensitive and dry skin can use it.
  • Vaseline petroleum jelly: This can be used to moisturize and protect dry skin, including the lips and eyelids. It prevents the skin from being white and dry during harmattan. It also prevents chafing and helps small cuts heal faster.
  • Nivea lotion for dry skin: It provides long-lasting moisture and keeps the skin hydrated.
  • Dove cream: It contains dimenthicone, cocoa seed butter, petrolatum, and other ingredients that help lock in moisture.
  • Shea butter: Shea butter is one of the ingredients added to most creams used for dry skin. It can also be used independently. It makes the skin shine and prevents it from being white or dry during harmattan. 

You can enjoy the harmattan, and your skin will have you to thank for glowing if you take these extra steps to care for the skin. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What causes itching during harmattan?

During harmattan, there's reduced moisture in the air, and it becomes dry. Dry air, causes your skin to be dry, which may, in turn, cause itching.

Can hot weather cause dry skin?

Yes, hot weather can cause dry skin. When the weather is hot, more water is lost from the skin via sweat, leading to dehydration, which can manifest as dry skin.


  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Dermatologist's top tips for relieving dry skin
  2. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Dry skin
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association (n.d.). 7 Dematologist's tips for healing dry, chapped lips.
  4. ROSEMONT, Ill. (2021). How to prevent and treat dry, chapped lips
  5. MedlinePlus (2022). Chapped lips
  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association (n.d.) How to relieve itchy skin
  7. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (n.d.) Eczema
  8. CeraVe developed with dermatologists (n.d.) Moisturising cream 
  9. American Academy of Dermatology Association (n.d.). 5 Ways to use petroleum jelly for skin care