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 is… Read more »
The Natural Haven

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

trackback

[…] 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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