Chebe powder is said to help the hair retain moisture, thanks to the shébé seeds it contains, while the cloves in the mixture may help the hair feel thicker. According to Okereke, “The improvement in length retention is what lends to its ability to have one’s hair grow longer.” She says chebe powder is a great addition to your hair regimen as a hair mask or leave-in conditioner, particularly for someone who has dry or brittle hair.
How do you use chebe powder?
The women of Chad use the powder in conjunction with protective styling, Okereke notes. As previously mentioned, it is traditionally mixed with water, creating a moisturizing paste that helps keep the hair shaft from breaking. It is generally applied directly onto braids or twists, typically left on the lengths and ends of the hair for anywhere from three to five days. The paste in its traditional form leaves a chalky residue on that hair shaft that looks similar to dried brown clay.
In the West, beauty brands are using chebe powder a bit differently. It’s usually added to products like leave-in conditioners or hair oils, making its application less messy and thus more appealing to this particular market.
“Anecdotally, I would think that the ease of application with the leave-in conditioner would encourage more frequent use, leading to increased exposure of chebe powder,” says Okereke. “Additionally, a leave-in conditioner or cream formulation presents the opportunity to add other ingredients that promote healthy hair.”
While the original application of chebe is obviously working for the folks who have been using it all this time, King suggests the efficacy of the powder may be even greater in a product like a leave-in conditioner. “Conditioner is cationic, meaning it has the affinity to attach to hair,” she says. “[Chebe powder] will work best in a leave-in conditioner, as opposed to the powder which can be messy.”
Which hair types is chebe suitable for?
Okereke recommends it for hair types ranging from 3A to 4C, which she says are typically the hair types of the women in Chad. Looser textures may have a bit of an issue with chebe. “It could weigh [the hair] down,” explains King. Plus, because chebe powder is a heavy mixture, it could potentially cause breakage in fine hair, depending on the formula.
Is chebe powder safe to use?
King notes that while chebe is a natural material that has been part of the hair rituals of Chadian women, “There is no data or scientific studi[es] on its toxicity/efficacy.” Although chebe powder has a very simple set of ingredients, “one may have contact dermatitis to anything,” says Okereke. “Always apply it to a small area behind the ear and check back in one to two days to see if you’ve developed any irritation.”