If You Want Long Hair in 2023, Start Using Chebe

The ancient ingredient has been used by women in Chad for centuries.

ALL NATURAL: If You Want Long Hair in 2023, Start Using Chebe

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No matter the length or texture, all natural hair is beautiful. Now, if length retention is one of your goals for 2023, then you may want to think about adding chebe to your routine.

"Chebe is a shrub that grows in the mountain ranges of my country Chad," explains Salwa Petersen, founder of her eponymous beauty brand that's well-known for its signature Chébé Du Tchad Hair Cream. "Chadian women discovered millennia ago that the seeds have powerful hair strengthening properties."

Master Cosmetologist and Global Education Manager at Design Essentials Alicia Bailey also boasts about the ingredient's benefits for hair. "It helps to reduce split ends and breakage, keeps the hair moisturized and extremely soft, and provides easier detangling which in turn helps with length retention," she says.

Ready to learn more about the superstar ingredient? Read on to discover everything you need to know about chebe.

What is chebe?

As previously mentioned, chebe is "a shrub that grows in the mountain ranges" of Chad, known for its hair strengthening abilities. So it's easy to see why it's been used by women in the country for centuries.,

However, Petersen notes that while the ingredient has started to become increasingly popular in the west over the past few years, not all chebe powder is created equally.

"The kind that has that effect on hair only grows in a specific region in Chad," she says. "I bought a few powders on Amazon and elsewhere on the internet — none of them were chebe. I don't know what it was — sand, henna, cigarette hash?" Yikes.

That's why she says it's important to know where you're getting your chebe from — and who's a part of the sourcing process.

"Beware of people selling 'African' chebe, as it is a whole different variety and has no effect whatsoever on hair," she warns.

How do you use chebe?

Typically, the shrub is pulverized into a powder, then mixed with water, natural oils, and butters and applied to the hair. "[You can use] shea butter or kakar oil," Bailey shares. "Or [you can use a] carrier oil of choice, like sesame or coconut."

Traditionally, the Basara women of Chad gather and take turns applying the moisturizing paste into each other's strands, while braiding each saturated section. The mixture is then left in the hair for several days. However, for those of us in North America, if it's been a while since you've sat between your mother's knees, feel free to apply Petersen's Chébé Du Tchad Hair Cream, which was perfectly designed as a leave-in treatment.

"The ritual of chebe is documented in prehistorical rock art paintings," she explains. "It has been long revered in Chad and passed down for generations. I learned about it from my mom and the women of my family."  

How often should chebe be used?

Traditionally, chebe is applied to the hair two to three times a week. However, it can really be used as often as you'd like.

"Some may opt to use it as a leave-in, or in oils or butters if they are unable to utilize it as the Basara women traditionally do," explains Bailey. "The Basara women often put it in their hair twice per week. They sometimes reapply the mixture every four days."

What makes chebe beneficial for hair?

"By applying the paste to the hair and keeping the hair braided in plaits, it keeps the hair moisturized, and helps to retain length," says Bailey. This, in turn, also prevents damage and breakage, leading to healthier hair overall.

"Lots of women, especially Black women with textured hair, feel their hair is not growing," says Petersen. "Their hair grows, it just breaks faster than it grows."

Petersen's line in particular has taken chebe to the next level by extracting the best the ingredient has to offer and putting it into her products.

"The proprietary patented extract I made out of my chebe seeds allow us unprecedented access to all the active molecules of the seed, hence multiplying its powers and repairing hair inside out, as if it was new," she explains.

Is there anyone who should avoid using chebe?

Those with fine hair may notice a weighed-down feeling, says Bailey. But otherwise, chebe is a universally-beneficial product, with only a few exceptions.

"It may also be challenging for people with locks or protective styles to use traditional chebe powder as it can get tangled into the style and not rinse out properly," says Petersen. "But as long you have the authentic real deal from Chad, there are no contraindications. To be extra safe you can do a patch test, and of course, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to seek your healthcare provider's advice." 

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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