The arrival of the harmattan — the dusty northeasterly trade wind which blows in from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea between end- November and mid-March — has stirred expectations among dealers in shea butter here that sales are in for a boom next month.

They says the increased patronage of shea butter popular known as “nkuto”, which is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree and which is widely used as a skin moisturizer, salve or lotion, occurs during every harmattan season, which makes it logical for them to make the prediction of better sales ahead.

A survey carried out by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to determine the connection between the harmattan and the patronage of creams also reveals that shea butter sells more than any other cream during the dry season.

Susana Akua Atta, who sells shea butter at the Mallam market in Accra explains that the cream is believed better capable of fighting dry skin compared with other competing products. She says shea butter has some ingredients which make it effective in fighting some health problems.

Yaa Aboagyewaa Mensah, who owns a cosmetics shop at Dansoman, a suburb of Accra, says the cream moisturises the skin and makes it look bright. We use nkuto for babies, which makes them look beautiful,” she adds.

Appiah Kubi, an nkuto wholesale dealer here, tells the GNA that the cream is the only solution to fighting the harmattan. He explains that the cream is strong enough to withstand the harsh dry wind. The cream will make you look fresh all time. It makes your skin soft and relaxed,” he says.

A beautician and skin therapist says shea butter is better than all other creams as it has very significant nutrients capable of militating skin diseases such as pimples, rashes, boils and wrinkles and says she recommends the cream to everyone. It is the best fit for all types and colours of skin.”

Shea butter is slightly yellowish or ivory-coloured natural fat extracted from fruitS of the shea tree by crushing and boiling and is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturiser and an emollient, as cooking oil in West Africa, and sometimes used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter.