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Hair Week: Ethiopian Hair Secret



I recently read an article about Liya Kebede (an absolutely stunning Ethiopian model, mother, role model and maternal health advocate). Her hair is gorgeous, and she spoke about how she teaches her daughter to braid her hair. There's a lot of pressures on women of with Afro type hair and for their hair to look sleek, and I think all Desi people need to learn something here because we're often told we're not "fair" enough, and our hair are not "sleek" enough. Curly hair isn't deemed beautiful. Brown skin isn't attractive. I love that she's teaching her young daughter to embrace her natural hair texture and not follow blindly set Western beauty standards.



She spoke about how when she goes back to Ethiopia she gets these treatment which is a local secret where home made clarified butter (ghee) is applied to hair and leaves hair really healthy. Me being me was instantly intrigued. I'd never heard of this before. I stayed up and googled as one does. There wasn't a lot about this on the net, so I set to make my own ghee as it's not a ingredient we keep in the house. She made a point of saying that the clarified butter was organic and home made. I read a post on how to make ghee and off I went with my butter. Set it on the pan and watched in amazement as it turned into ghee. I poured my ghee into a container and took a whiff and oh my God, it smelt of gulab jamuns. Such a delicious smell. I was planning on dying my hair that day so I tested the ghee on hair treatment on Nigar and mum. Both were so impressed. Nigar felt  like she wanted to eat her hair (all her words here not mine), her hair felt smooth and silky, and easy to style. It washed out with normal shampoo as well. 

I've made another batch of ghee to use on my hair this week.
I used it on my hair and it's made my hair very soft and really really silky (a little too silky because when I curled my hair, my curls were a little limp, but that's okay). It did wash out in one shampoo (I used a sulphate free one). I left it on my hair overnight. At first I smelt like a gulab jamun and as the night moved on the smell turned pungent. It wasn't overly overpowering, but I'd recommend to only leave on for a few hours.

How to make ghee: 

Grab:

A lump of unsalted butter (use organic if you can, I didn't have any)
A saucepan
A container to store your ghee in 
{This whole process took me about 5 ish minutes}




Cut the butter into cubes and put in the saucepan 
Turn on a very low heat 
Watch it melt 



Slowly the butter will start to boil and separate in 2 layers: a white foamy layer on top, and  gold layer in the bottom. 





Slowly start to skim the foamy layer off with a spoon. Be careful not to burn yourself.  



A third layer will start to form at the bottom which will be darker brown. This means your ghee is now done. 



Remove all you can of the white foam, then slowly strain the gold liquid through a sieve (a metal one, I used a plastic one the second time and obviously it melted).


Pour gently and avoid pouring the darker brown into your jar. Store and use as needed. As it cools down it will turn into a more solid texture (as in the first picture)

 That's normal. Just warm it up before applying to your hair for easier application. You can also use this for cooking. 

Ever tried this nifty little hair trick? 
Intrigued enough to try it? 
Hashtag us on twitter/Instagram using #desidossierhair if you try it 

Have a great hair week.


30 comments

  1. not sure if you've seen the hindi movie Namaste London, but there's a scene in it while Katrina is visiting her dad's hometown and her grandma applies "desi ghee" (thats what we call homemade ghee in India) to Katrina's mom's hair, saying how dry her hair have become in London Never really paid any heed to it then, but this post reminds me... Maybe this is something in ancient Indian wisdom too..

    Going off the topic, the next scene shows Katrina throwing up because of the smell of the ghee, and the Indian aunties speculating if shes pregnant!! *rolling eyes*

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    1. Hey Vasundhara! I have seen the movie and forgot about this scene! Thanks for reminding me about it. The ghee left my hair really really really soft! and *rolls eyes* at the next scene too.

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  2. Wow.. we include ghee in one meal in a day & never knew it could help the hair too. I was told it helps the joints in the body.. Great tip!!

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  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your article. Just a few questions: Can it be used on relaxed hair? Also, how often will I have to use it, daily, weekly?
    When I wash my hair after using it, will my hair revert to how it originally was? So sorry about all the questions.

    Thanks much

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    1. Hey anon,
      no worries, I don't have relaxed hair so can't answer your question fully. I assume it's suitable for all hair types as it is just a deep conditioning treatment essentially. I'd say do it once weekly as if you do it more than that you'll just be over washing your hair (a big no no). Over time it will make your hair healthier and stronger. If your hair is very damaged from being relaxed then I'm not sure how much this will help as the only way to get rid of super damaged hair is to chop it off....Hope this is helpful!

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    2. Hi,thanks for reminding me of my home hair treatment. Im Ethiopian and yes it can be used on relaxed hair and you can use it as often as you want. Back home our butter is organic and has no additives in it. We used it as often as we wanted to. Thanks again. My hair is in a really bad shape thank you for the reminder. ��

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  4. Hi,

    I'm not sure where the myth "purified butter" came from but we always use raw butter on our hair that is not purified in Ethiopia. We purify the butter for food but never for hair care. I use Kibe (butter) ever two weeks on my hair, wrap it for a couple of hours, I been doing this all my life. My hair touches my but in my natural texture. I never straighten my hair so I don't know how long it is straight. Anyway, I just wanted to point out the fact that melting the butter and purifying it sort of defeat the purpose. Raw butter does amazing things for hair.

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    1. Hey Anon, thanks for the info. I'd read about the clarified part in a few articles online and in a few hair forums. I'll try the raw butter when we go on holiday to a hot country soon. In England it never becomes hot enough for butter to get soft on its own. It's like a brick! Thanks for stopping by

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    2. Hi , where can I get raw butter ? For my hair

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  5. Hello again @Kayennat Toofany Syed,

    If you have a farmers market or a farm near where you can buy organic butter, you can make the butter yourself. The process of making Ethiopian raw butter is really easy. Buy a couple of gallons of organic butter directly from a farmers market, let it sour, then place it in a container and rock that thing for a while, the sour milk eventually turn into butter, really soft fresh butter that's. You can preserve the leftover butter in the freezer for future use. This is the best form of hair butter that does wonders for hair. I live in the USA and I'm still able to make my own butter at home. You can search traditional Ethiopian butter making process online. Here is one. http://ilri.org/infoserv/Webpub/fulldocs/Bulletin22/Traditional.htm

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    1. Anon, what's your name? I feel silly calling you anon :D I will try it and get back to you. Thank you so much for the info!

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  6. Hi! Check out www.werknesh.com to order and learn more about Habesha Kibe, Ethiopian Hair Butter imported from Ethiopia (sold only in the US).

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  7. I went to my mom and asked her if she's ever hear of ghee (since we're ethiopian) and she said she never has... I'm not sure if I'm going to try this though... oh well let's see!!!

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    1. It's usually just called kibe (butter). I think ghee is just the English word for it.

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  8. Thanks for sharing the awesome information=tion

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  9. You don't melt kebe(ethiooian ghee) for hair purpose! You Go for the fresh ghee straight extracted from milk.

    The above method is for food purpose.

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    1. Hey thanks for stopping by. It's not possible to get ghee from milk where I live so this is the next best alternative for people like us :)

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    2. Use the normal unsalted butter. Leave it on a room temperature for an hour or so before applying.it's not as good as a fresh one but it does the job. Good luck

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  11. Thanks for sharing. This is a modified recipe (based on limited resources, as you note in the comments), but it is a place to start. I don't think most Ethiopians call the hair butter "Ghee," but rather "Niter kibbeh" that can be prepared a certain way to be eaten or used in the hair. I have seen "Ghee" sold in a Middle Eastern/Global grocery store and wondered how well it would work for hair - I wasn't sure how it was prepared and if it was "pure," so I decided against buying it. I believe you can order Niter Kibbeh online.

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  12. In ethiopia we use qebea which is butter and that is what they apply on Liya Kebede hair. You don't melt butter. You buy milk and shake it to make you fresh butter and you apply the butter directly. you have to shake the milk in a certain way and slow down. At the end you can add small cold water for the butter to collect. In Ethiopia you get the milk directly from the cow,but since here in the US nothing is natural and 100% organic you have to pick one and try. My mom usually use milk that have hight fat, cream.

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  13. In ethiopia we use qebea which is butter and that is what they apply on Liya Kebede hair. You don't melt butter. You buy milk and shake it to make you fresh butter and you apply the butter directly. you have to shake the milk in a certain way and slow down. At the end you can add small cold water for the butter to collect. In Ethiopia you get the milk directly from the cow,but since here in the US nothing is natural and 100% organic you have to pick one and try. My mom usually use milk that have hight fat, cream.

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  14. Hello there, the butter we use is never heated,(because it beats the purpose) it has to be organic and making it from whole milk wont give you a butter that is exactly like the butter we, Ethiopians use.you can get the real butter from some stores in Maryland and Virginia. its called SHURUBA Ethiopian hair butter.this is not only butter but it also has so many natural oils, it will breath life in to your hair. if you need more info, Email me and i will let you know which stores i get it from.

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  15. Hello there, the butter we use is never heated,(because it beats the purpose) it has to be organic and making it from whole milk wont give you a butter that is exactly like the butter we, Ethiopians use.you can get the real butter from some stores in Maryland and Virginia. its called SHURUBA Ethiopian hair butter.this is not only butter but it also has so many natural oils, it will breath life in to your hair. if you need more info, Email me and i will let you know which stores i get it from.

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  16. Okay ladies, i know i have commented before about this but Ghee isn't what we use in Ethiopia. if you are looking for the real thing and more, head on Shuruba.com. this store got Ethiopian hair butter thats taking the natural hair industry by a storm.

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  17. Sorry but you are wrong. Do not use clarified butter on your hair! Your version is strictly for food purpose. You can use simply the unsalted butter straight to your hair. I am ethiopian and I know what I am talking about. The clarified one will damage and dry your hair.

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  18. Hello I am a sudanises and my hair are not soft but I have thick hair texture. I have a lot if hair breakage I was wondering if the butter oil can work for my hair?

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