Liquid Magic: Lwil Maskriti and Jamaican Black Castor Oil

This post is also available in: Kreyol

This post is also available in: Kreyòl

“Manmi, no, don’t put that stuff on me,” cried the small child as they looked up at their mother. Insert any Haitian mother and child and you have the classic case of #LwilMaskritiCureAll. Whether you had a runny nose, a scar, achy bones, a bald spot or a fever, the Haitian child knew lwil maskriti would undoubtedly be the source of their recovery process. Nobody wanted that stuff smeared all over them, only to have to try in vain to breathe out of their mouth. Mothers just shushed their child and continued to use the timeless natural healing remedy. Unbeknownst to those children, their mothers were actually right.

Fast forward to present times, a new revolution is occurring similar to the one that happened when the French were expelled out of Haiti. The difference today is the war is not about human freedom, but hair freedom, specifically black women’s hair. All over the world a hair revolution is presently being waged against the old regime, perm and the lack of entrepreneurial ownership of black hair products and stores by blacks. Time.com records, perms currently experiencing a 14% drop in product sales in the past 5 years. According to bostonglobe.com, “In the late 1960s, Angela Davis, an activist, wore her voluminous afro as a political statement and started a movement toward natural hair.” Inspiring a new generation, this new natural centric campaign is part of a cultural revolution to reclaim the oft ostracized black women’s crown of beauty: her natural curls and waves.

There have been much debate and hurt when considering black women’s natural hair and the oftentimes views of long straight hair as the standard of beauty (often played out on the world’s biggest stage; American primetime television.) Who cheered while others booed when  Olivia Pope decided to be in the sun without her trademark pin straight  hair, but instead her beautiful beachy curls? Or when Annalise Keating,  portrayed by the courageous Viola Davis, wiped her make-up away and removed her wig to reveal short tight curls to go to bed? Black women have the right to do what they want with their hair, but have long been denied this right. Now that they have the choice, to perm or not to perm, natural hair is steadily becoming mainstream. Thanks in large part to products in support of this revolution and the money that comes from this movement.

The face of this revolution is not a single revolutionary leader, but a product that is unifying black women into natural centric soldiers. Jamaican Black Castor Oil, otherwise known as JBCO, is now touted as a hero to women who are abandoning perms and want a more natural hairstyle. This is the new cure-all and savior of the black women’s natural hair movement. It not only prevents hair loss, restores edges and eliminates dry hair, other key benefits to the skin and health includes smoothing scars, moisturizing dry skin, soothing aches from arthritis, immune strengthener, and used as a first aide in minor cuts.

Sound familiar? Well, what if I told you that Haitian mothers knew all along what they had inlwil maskriti, liquid magic. Lwil maskriti, also known as L’huile Palma Christi, imports all of the same benefits as Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO).  In fact, they are actually the same product, as both come from the castor seed, cold pressed into either a colorless, pale yellow or brownish liquid, grown both in Jamaica and Haiti.

The only difference is that JBCO has a more refined texture, due to the commercial aspects of the brand, but that in no way implies that it is better than lwil maskriti. They both equally work in the same way and come from the same source. While an 8 ounce bottle of JBCO will set you back $10-$12 in the beauty shops, the less commercially marketed product of lwil maskriti is sold on Amazon.com ($12-$25) and Haitian company Kreyol Essence, owned by Yve-Car Momperousse,  an eco-luxury beauty online store featuring products from Haiti, sells it starting from $12.00 to $17.00.

While this might seem too much for economic minded shoppers, there is another alternative.  Go to your mother’s or any aunt’s houses, apologize for all the complaining you did about maskriti as a kid, and get some for free. It is a staple in most Haitian households and is vastly cheaper in its natural form than the commercially produced version. JBCO is currently experiencing record high usage and sales, but lwil maskriti is not a trend, it is a proven constant in the past and current lifestyles of Haitians everywhere. This movement is about acceptance and liberation from decades of mandatory chemically treated hair. Even though JBCO is leading the charge in this movement, lwil maskriti is also becoming a popular item in the hair movement, and given time Haitians’ secret hair and health weapon will be known around the globe.

The following health benefits are just a few of the ailments lwil maskriti can treat:

Rheumatism

Inflammation

Migraines

Foot Callus

Photo Credit: Doris Lapommeray

Priscilla Brissault

Ah, poor Priscilla. The only Haitian American girl in her West Philly class who still till this day has no clue what an African booty scratcher really is. So instead she focused her average brainpower on romance books, Horror / Sci-Fi movies, and art. When she is not teaching ESL to her students in South Korea, she is traveling the globe culturally exchanging, making jewelry, creating art in its various forms, and just generally being a kickass ninja at night.

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