5 March 2012

Hair Necessities: Moroccan Hair Oil and Porcupine Quills

While Jill is thinking and writing very studiously on funding for Congo (coming soon) and public health, I'd like to talk a little about hair. Because this ranks a very close third in terms of world problems.

First of all I've been blessed with non-frizzy hair. My mother says she prayed for this when she was pregnant with me. (But I guess she forgot with my sister, sorry Katie.) From my husband to mother to sister to daughter, everyone's got a frizz problem. Not me, that's always been the one thing I've got going for me.

husband (yes, this is for real.)


 Until I moved to Congo. Turns out even the most sanctified, straight hair goes out of control in the jungle. Even BBC's country profile of Congo says, "Humidity remains high throughout the year and rarely falls very low during the hottest part of the day, so that the weather feels sultry and oppressive most of the time. Except during occasional thunder squalls." Okay great, so the only time we get a break from the humidity is when it's raining. Thanks BBC.

Thus moving to Congo was my introduction to using hair "product." I've pretty much tried everything and honestly the only thing that makes my hair look like I don't live on the equator is Moroccan Oil. I have no idea who would need it in Morocco, quite possibly the driest place on earth, but this stuff is magic.
However, I can't even begin to pretend I know anything about suffering for your hair. Congolese women must devote entire years of their lives sitting in le salon de coiffure having their hair done. This happens on Saturdays. How do I know? Well at church on Sunday mornings their hair looks glorious. Even babies Annaïs' age have extensions. Often these women are in some serious pain from their tight do's. I know a woman who used to give their housekeeper the day off after having her hair done because she would be in too much pain.

I know I'm the last person on the planet to learn this, but they even make small plastic devices used for scratching faux hair. Le pic. How did I learn this? Well Mama Youyou left hers at our house one day and I found Charlotte scratching her head with it. A behavior she must have seen a million times from one mama or another. Now I notice them neatly tucked away in most women's "do's."

Interestingly, au village where cheap, Chinese plastic devices have yet to permeate, they use porcupine quills. I love the image of men proudly coming back from the forest with their porcupine kills and all the women scrambling for new head-scratchers.

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