Bajans are notorious for taking pride in their appearance, and they love to dress up to show off their style.
Part of looking and feeling good is the use of various natural and chemically-based health care products, and Barbadians also believe in cleanliness and like to present themselves in a certain way.
Many restaurants and grocery stores have also become more health-conscious in Barbados.
There are many health and beauty supply stores on the island selling weaves and braids, hair cutting scissors, hairdryers, beauty products, and other items for all of your DIY beauty needs.
Pharmaceutical stores also sell health and beauty products such as facial wipes, hand sanitizer, nail polish, and a variety of shampoos and conditioners to keep you looking and feeling your best.
You can also make sure you stay “sun safe” by purchasing sun lotion and oils from these types of stores all over the island.
Supermarkets and convenience stores also stock a range of local body care products like natural soaps for those conscious of chemically-based products (look out for sandalwood soap and African black soap).
There is also Bajan sugar soap – natural glycerine soap for face and body with no added synthetic colors. These sugar soaps are made from pure Barbadian muscovado sugar with added coconut, olive and castor oils, and scented with high-quality essential oils, ideal for sensitive skin types.
You will also find body care alternatives like natural African Shea butter and cocoa ‘fat’ in many stores, and these creams are especially great for moisturizing skin that has been soaking up the hot sun all day. It’s also good to use for dry lips and healing scar tissue.
Bajans also like to make use of the natural aloe plant that is found growing all over the island to cool down sunburn, condition their hair, or help heal any scars, bites, or abrasions. But, please handle with care as the aloe liquid will stain if it comes into contact with your clothing.
Castor oil is a vegetable oil made by pressing the seeds of the Castor plant and is also great for hair care. Most convenience stores in Bridgetown sell this type of oil, and it’s a cheap alternative to brand name hair treatments.
Bajans also swear by the healing power of the natural lime, drinking the freshly squeezed juice at the first sign of the common cold. Limes are found growing all over the island and are also available in most supermarkets.
Coconut oil is also popular with many health-conscious Bajans and visitors to the island. It can be used in food and cooking, and some soaps. The oil can also be used as a skin moisturizer and for hair conditioning.
Drinking the water from a young coconut is also known for its healing and hydration powers. You can buy coconut water from most supermarkets in Barbados, as well as fresh from street vendors who will cut open your coconut in front of you for a delicious thirst quencher after a day on your feet.
The healing power of the Moringa tree is also a best kept local secret. The young seedpods, leaves, and flowers are used as a vegetable as well as in alternative medicinal practices, providing substantial health benefits. The healing properties of Moringa oil have also been well documented. It can be used in cooking and is excellent for your skin, body, and hair too.
Department stores and malls also sell designer health and beauty products, and most stock all the high-end brand names of duty-free make-up, perfume and aftershave, and body care products.
If you’re on a budget and want to get a taste (or smell) of some of the local options, you will also see various street vendors selling natural perfume oils such as frankincense and amber at bargain prices. Take your pick from the many oils on display, mixed by the vendor, that match many of the designer fragrances.
Bajans also love to take a sea ‘bath’ in the ocean, using the natural sand granules to exfoliate their skin. You will often see them taking their sea bath early in the morning, a time also dedicated to socializing and having a laugh to start the day off right.
There are several health shops on the island that stock vitamins and herbal remedies. They are a great place to pick up your healthy food and snack options, health and wellness books, incense, and some even have healthy cafes attached where you can grab a healthy meal or a power shake to keep you on the right track all day long.
These stores sell a range of organic, gluten-free foods as well as various protein supplement powders, herbal teas, and other health-enhancing products.
You may also spot some people on bicycles selling hot ‘bush tea’ with various remedies such as a ‘cleansing’ or ‘alkalizing’ tea made from a combination of natural herbs, grown right here on the island.
As you can see, the island of Barbados has the perfect balance between high-end designer health care products and the more ‘rootsy’ herbal and traditional remedies, passed down in many Bajan families from generation to generation. Come and try for yourself.
By: Brett Callaghan