We’re always game to try the most cutting-edge beauty treatments, but sometimes what you need has actually been around for centuries. Such is the case with chebe powder, a natural hair product used by the Basara tribe in the African nation of Chad. “They are known for growing their hair well beyond their waist due to the use of chebe powder,” says Alicia Bailey, hair expert and global education manager at Design Essentials. Chebe powder has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among those with textured hair as of late. But does it live up to its reputation?
What Is Chebe Powder?
Chebe powder is “a powder made with cherry seeds, lavender, resin tree sap, cloves, and stones,” according to Taylor. “Mixing chebe powder with water will turn it into a clay that can be put onto your hair. It’s an old tradition from Chad, Africa and is used to reduce breakage and shedding.” Chadian women use chebe powder “once or twice a week and leave it for a minimum of one to two hours and longer, if possible,” says Posina. Now, chebe powder is also being incorporated into other types of products, like Salwa Peterson’s Chébé du Tchad hair cream.
Does Chebe Powder Help with Hair Growth?
The experts agree that chebe powder on its own will not stimulate growth, but it may give the illusion of thicker, fuller hair. “Chebe powder does not grow hair, and there is no evidence to suggest that it does,” says Posina. However, “It is known to nourish and hydrate the hair, so as a result there is less breakage.”
So, What Are the Benefits of Chebe Powder?
Chebe powder is “more or less used to reconstruct and strengthen the bond and shaft of the hair,” according to Taylor. “It will help retain length since it’s stronger, but doesn’t actually promote more growth.”
Bailey also notes that unlike other hair masks, chebe is only applied to the hair shaft, as opposed to the scalp or roots. “Since it is known to provide intense moisture to the hair strands, it helps with moisture retention and improves the elasticity of the hair,” says Bailey. “Also, since the hair is easier to manage and detangle, less hair will break, and length will be retained.”
And while it was designed for—and may be particularly useful for—curly hair, that doesn’t necessarily rule out its efficacy for other hair types. “It’s difficult to say that one hair type would benefit more from it than others, but anyone looking for hydration can give it a try,” says Posina. “The women that have been using it in Africa historically have coarse, curly hair naturally and they strongly believe it nourishes their hair and keeps the moisture locked in.”
How to Use Chebe Powder
First, chebe powder is mixed with water or oil to create a paste. “Apply it all over your hair and put it into thick braids,” says Taylor, adding that the specific number of braids “will depend on you and your hair thickness.” Then, you can leave it in for up to a week. “Most people will leave it in their hair for 3-7 days and wash it out,” says the hairstylist, noting that “it will be a little harder to wash out since it hardens, so don’t tangle it up as you rinse it out, or else it will tug more.”
If you want to try chebe powder but have straight hair, Taylor recommends washing it out sooner rather than later. “For straighter hair types, I would suggest not to leave it on for long, or else it will end up doing the opposite of what you intended and breaking off,” says the hairstylist. Bailey adds that finer hair types may want to avoid it using chebe powder, “because the treatment does provide moisture and may weigh fine hair down.”