Recently, there have been whispers amongst the blogosphere claiming that Haitian women may have a secret related to maintaining long natural hair. I even found one comment that said Haitian 4c hair may even be somehow different because it shrinks less and is not so dry. While some attribute longer hair or hair with more luster to the tropical climate or diet, I focused my investigation on whether there are any traditional methods and products common among Haitians that may have a scientific benefit.

1. Moelle de Boeuf (Bone Marrow)

bone marrow hair product
Yes, I will start off with one that on the surface appears quite odd. Moelle de boeuf is French for bone marrow. There are tales of grandmothers stirring up bone soup , cooling it down to allow the beef jelly to form and adding that to oil to create a hair and skin moisturizer. Commercially, there are hairdressing pomades available with the highlighted ingredient moelle de boeuf. So, what is this miracle ingredient? Well, beef jelly derived from bone marrow is essentially gelatin! Commercially, gelatin is produced from boiling bones much like the grandma story! Gelatin is hydrolyzed protein and therefore can both strengthen and moisturize hair.

2. L’huile mascreti (Haitian Castor Oil)

haitian castor oil
Apparently almost every Haitian will have seen or used L’huile mascreti which is Haitian castor oil. It can be cold pressed with a yellow color or indeed have ash added to make it Haitian black castor oil. Most reviews that I have seen do say that the genuine article is supposed to have a really strong smell (some say stink) and therefore recommend adding an essential oil. If you are a fan of castor oil then this may be a variation that you may choose to try. As is common with castor oil, there are many who say it can help hair regrow (no hard evidence) as well as serve as a thick sealing oil for longer lasting moisture (definitely likely).


3. Nighttime Routine

braids2
Moving away from products and going to methods there is a rather common night time tradition of braiding hair rather than sleeping with hair loose in Haitian culture. Some may choose to moisturize and use l’huile mascreti in the process, while others just detangle lightly and create 8-10 braids. It is common knowledge, especially if your hair is fine, kinky,long or dense that compacting it in a braid or twist before sleeping will reduce tangling in the morning. You can also utilise the process to create a fresh braid or twist out. Scientifically, the less mechanical damage your hair experiences, the more likely it is to still be on your head for years to come.

Any Haitian ladies out there? What hair care secrets were you taught growing up? If you’re not Haitian, feel free to share your cultural background and what you were taught about maintaining natural hair!

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89 Comments on "3 Haitian Traditional Secrets for Longer Hair"

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Vanessa

Both my parents are Haitian and I have been natural all my life! I rock a curly fro now (wash and go) but my mom greased my scalped and I always did hot oil treatments! All my family has thick healthy hair. Our diet is pretty rich as well!

Belinda

I am Haitian !! 2 years and a half natural, yeeyyy !
I will not say l’huile maskreti because I hate the smell, i prefer coconut oil ! But pomade, especially with moelle de boeuf in it, is a must have. After I wash my hair, i do a oil rinse with coconut oil and vitamin E, let it dry in twists, then moisture my hair and scalp with some pomage and retwist
It helps to stretch my hair when i wear it out

Nancy

Haitiennes kampe!!! The l’huile maskreti is the truth! Used for everything! My mom used to do lots of hot oil treatments & would also put egg or avocado In my hair before washing it as I got older. When I was a kid, it was very low manipulation, but there was hair grease involved! I also had the beer treatment before it was a normal thing. I’ve never used the bone marrow though.

belle

Sakapfet! Definitely L’huile maskreti. Also, my fam love a good oil treatment covered with a plastic cap for a few hours. And an adopted staple is aphogee, phytospecific, and minoval.

tamara fouche

i love that haitians are being highlighted! so cool!! I would definitely saying nightly braiding and l’huile maskreti have helped my hair and my mothers hair stay long and healthy.

i also think a healthy diet helps. rice, beans, fresh chicken and fish, and lots of veggies help for sure!

Rebecca

Haitian born and raised and l’huile maskreti is to diiiiiieeeee for

Fabiola
Haitian born and raised here! How I wish I could go back to my younger days…hair wise! The secret may also have to do with less manipulation. Growing up, I remember getting my hair washed, combed and all greased with Dax (the green one); hair was put up in plaits until I was 14-15. Even when I got a perm at 15, hair was still put up in plaits. Roller setting is very important in Haiti for the relaxed ladies. Even when I came here and was relaxed, my mom roller set my hair every Sunday. My hair was at… Read more »
Lau Afronoya

My parents are Haitians. I was born and raised in France, so yes i am definitly familiar with all three… But l’huile mascreti is a must have in the community. I think you’ll find at least a bottle of it in every Haitian’s house lol.
Thank you BGLH for sharing those tips.

Rhéa

I am Haïtian born and raised, the author mentioned many of the secret above. The reason why Haïtian are known to have such “long hair” is the temperature, it’s extremely warm, which allows for the hair to be extremely moist.

Rebecca

I am Haitian and familiar with all three! These are staple products in my household that are beneficial in mine and my 85 year old grandmothers hair in maintaining long natural hair. Especially the l’huite mascreti and the night time routine of braiding up our hair before bed.
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This is a picture of my grandmother before bed.

The Natural Haven

Thanks for sharing Rebecca! There are not many fully grey naturals around and I love love her hair!

tammy1969

Wow…this is so ironic,because this morning I was reading about health benefits of different broths and bone broth was one of them. I went to Whole Foods to purchase the grass fed beef bones and the veggies. II found this simple recipe beef bone broth recipe from a website called ramblings of a homemaker blogspot. I have everything needed in crock pot to make the bone broth and sat down to check my fb page and came across this post 20 minutes ago.

carmen

No that’s wrong. Black castor oil is not made by adding ash to the oil. that’s actually disgusting. who would want to put ash in their hair. The opposite of cold press is hot pressed and that is how it turns out brown (not black) and if it’s done right it won’t smell bad.

AJ

I am half hatian, a quarter Puerto Rican and who knows the last bit. But I wasn’t raised by the Haitian parent so this is news to me. I will say that my hair is stupidly thick and grows fast even though I have treated it so poorly. I attributed it to the Puerto Rican part but hey maybe there is something different about Haitian hair too!

Mica
I say yes to all!! I was raised in moelle de boeuf. Unfornately, my grandma didn’t make it, mine was imported LOL but it does wonder for your hair! With the knowledge I’ve acquired in the last few years about hair, it makes sense why it works! Lwil maskreti (as written in Kreyol), which is our own very Castor Oil, is the ultimate remedy for EVERYTHING!!! You’re aching, rub it where it hurts; constipated, have a tbsp of it! I spilled some of mine once, I cried like a baby! I made sure none of it was lost! That thing… Read more »
The Natural Haven

Eep just coming to read the comments today, a belated thank you for the compliments 🙂

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[…] except what I should be doing I ran into this article on Black Girl w/ Long Hair about some Haitian Traditional Hair secrets for longer hair. Just from the title alone I had to read further, and here’s what I […]

Coco

I m from the Bahamas and Haitian castor oil is be the first thing to go in the beauty shops so says my mom. The next is be Jamaican castor oil love both of them !

Primmest Plum

Interesting stuff! The bone marrow bit took me by surprise. But I’m vegan, so I think I’ll give the Haitian Castor Oil a try. It can’t hurt.

Vera
I’ve never heard of the bone marrow thing, but all else is FACT. Haitian castor oil is like the holy grail of oils in Haiti and works miracles. It’s similar to JBCO but thicker and smells stronger. As for the hair braiding, as a child my hair was always natural and never out. It was ALWAYS braided either every week or every other week. The only time it wasn’t braided was wash day. I have 3C/4A hair and now that I do what I want with it, it does not tangle. I literally detangle my whole head in 2 minutes… Read more »
Danessa

Yes Haitian castor oil is definitely big in the Haitian community and my personal favorite. And I LOVE the smell… Kind of nutty (if you live in a heavily haitian populated area find the ladies outside or little shops way better prices than health food stores.)

I never heard of the first one so I will ask around.

Farah

I’m Haitian and I’m familiar with 2 and 3. I’ll ask my mom about #1. My family/mostly older folks used Castor oil a LOT! For everything. We also used avocado and eggs masks in conjunction with said oil on our hair when I was younger.

Tyler

Interesting. I have lots of Haitian friends and I’ve never heard of these. Great tips!

Tyler
onelittleblackdress.com

Jo

Awesome! I’ll try all of these (except the marrow as it’s nonvegan). Does the ash make a difference in how the castor oil works?

Shannon

^^^ hahaha I know right! Lol

Grey Poupon

Damn. The secret is out LOL!

KP

Castor oil seems to be the go-to sealing product for many people. I think I should investigate!

momofIV

Another option for the collagen or gelatin is just to eat bone broth. It’s good for your hair, skin, teeth, bones, immune system…overall health. I would use organic grass fed beef or chicken bones.

LBell
Co-signing on bone broth…it gives a nice healthy boost to almost any recipe that calls for regular meat-based broth or stock. I highly recommend broth made from chicken feet (!)…there are several recipes online. To the topic: The last tip isn’t unique to Haitians. As a kid I remember watching period movies in which the (usually white) woman would take down her daytime updo and brush her (usually very long) hair before putting it into a single braid for bed. Bringing it to the present, I can think of several women (one of them, Fotki name Yassylane, has long been… Read more »
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