Chebe Powder Is the Long-Hair Secret From Africa You Need to Know About

No more breakage.

powder and comb

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

Have you heard of Chebe powder? If not, you're not alone—I hadn't either until two weeks ago. For those unschooled, it's a natural-based powder concocted in Chad, a landlocked country in Africa, where the women apply it to their hair. It's this powder they credit for helping their hair grow strong and long—in some cases, as long as 30 inches. That's down-to-your-butt-and-below long.

I stumbled across Chebe at a Janet's List (@janetslist) pop-up here in Amsterdam. The founder, Janet Oganah, created Janet's List, a London-based one-stop-online-shop, to curate products by women of color. Of course, I zeroed in on the beauty section and spotted S+AVA's Chebe Hair Cream. Oganah told me about the Chebe ingredient and its famous hair growth powers, and I immediately knew I had to find out more.

"Chebe powder is used by women of a Chadian ethnic group, giving them exceptional quality and length of hair," says Silava June Ogana, the founder of S+AVA (@sava_organics) an organic, vegan, GMO-free, cruelty-free brand from Africa. "The Basara women of Chad are known to have very long, naturally coarse hair that famously goes down to their thighs. They cover their hair with a homemade Chebe mixture that keeps their hair super moisturized and lubricated. This is the reason why their hair never breaks."

Chebe powder is used by women of a Chadian ethnic group, giving them exceptional quality and length of hair.

According to Ogana, "the Chebe powder will work for 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B and 4C hair types."

Woman with long hair

Chebe powder is a mix of Shébé seeds (from the croton zambesicus plant), mahllaba soubiane seeds, missic stone, cloves and samour resin. You can buy it as a powder, which can be mixed with an oil of your choice and then applied to the hair as a mask. Or, you can buy it via an already-mixed cream, like the one by S+AVA. The powder can be messy and quite difficult to wash out, but buying a pre-made cream will ensure a more fuss-free experience.

Find out more about Chebe and see how it is applied to the hair in the video below.

Rather than boasting some magic ability to make your hair grow, Chebe is touted for nourishing, hydrating, and improving moisture retention in the strands of hair. This in turn may help prevent breakage, which allows the hair to reach its full length potential, while also encouraging thickness and improving curl definition.

S+AVA Organic Skin & Hair Care
S+AVA Organic Skin & Hair Care Chebe Hair Cream $19

A little of this oil-rich Chebe Hair Cream goes a long way. The chebe powder is combined with unrefined Shea butter, organic coconut oil, pure vitamin E, and three organic cold-pressed oils: castor, argan and lemongrass essential oil. Ogana recommended I use it as a pre-shampoo on my mid-lengths and ends. The mixture melted into my hair with ease and I left it on for 15 minutes. It took a couple of tries to wash out but, once removed, my hair felt super soft and looked shiny and healthy. On my hair, I would use this once or twice a month as a deep treatment, but the thicker and curlier your hair, the more you could apply.

Sahel Cosmetics Traditional Chadian Chebe Powder
Sahel Cosmetics Traditional Chadian Chebe Powder $22

If you want to try the powder in its pure form, get yourself a bag of this and mix it with your own hair oil before applying.

Next up, Tracee Ellis Ross tells us her hair journey.

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