Question: Can man-shanu grow my hair like the Fulani?

Answer: Man-shanu  is milk fat that has been separated from fresh milk. From what I have been told, the Fulani and other people of Northern Nigeria, eat it and use it to soften and retain moisture on the skin and hair. Due to the fact that most Fulani people have long soft curly hair, there is a myth in Nigeria that man-shanu is solely responsible for their beautiful hair.

True or false?

I have not been able to find research done on man-shanu (or ghee) to hair growth but I have found sites that claim that it does grow hair with one claiming that it has the magical ability to open up closed follicles. Don't take my word for it but I wouldn't advise you to get your hopes up based on that.

Afro Hair Growth
According to Audrey Davis-Sivasothy's book, The Science of Black Hair: A
Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care, afro hair growth occurs through a two step process; hair growth from the roots (or from the follicles underneath the scalp) and hair retention along the length and ends of the hair (see p. 56)
One of characteristics of afro hair is that it gets dry easily and breaks off easily as a result of the dryness. That is why a lot of us assume that our hair is not growing when in actual fact it is growing but breaking off faster than you can retain length. To solve this problem, you need a lot of moisturising, sealing,and protein/moisture deep conditioning treatments for strength.

So where does man-shanu come into all of this?
Man-shanu used as a pre poo and to detangle
The nomadic Fulani might not understand hair care in the way that the online natural community does and with the terms that we use but they must have observed that manshanu leaves their hair soft and manageable. A friend of mine told me that her grand mother, who she says still has her full head of hair, mixes man shanu with coconut oil and has used it for a long time as a pre poo treatment before washing her hair.For me, I have learnt that;
  • Man-shanu mixed with eggs can be used as a protein treatment
  • When melted with hot water and mixed with other ingredients, like mustard oil and coconut oil  it is great as a pre poo treatment, and
  •  Alone, man-shanu is great for detangling dry natural hair. 
If  man-shanu has all of the above benefits plus the ability to seal in moisture (if you don't mind the smell) then it can help with the second determinant for noticeable black hair growth which is length retention. Therefore, I  don't think we should completely throw out the idea that man-shanu can help with growth. No matter your hair texture, using it can reduce breakage and give you soft beautiful hair like the Fulani.

Reference: Davis-Sivasothy, Audrey. The science of black hair: a comprehensive guide to textured hair care, 56. Texas: Saja Publishing  Company,  (2011).


  1. Finally tried it and my hair was noticeably softer, more moisturized and tangle free!

    1. Yes, yes, and yes to all points. The stuff does work wonders :)

  2. You have said it all. I started using manshanu on my hair as a deep conditioner and a daily to lock inn moisture. My hair texture has become a 4b from a 4c.

    1. Wow, daily to lock in moisture? Do you use it alone or mixed with other ingredients? Please share. About the change in hair texture, this is a first. For me, when my hair is dry it looks like 4c but when well moisturised the 4c looks like 4b and 4b like 4a. Could this be the case?
      *So many questions for one reader, I know :)

  3. Oh cool! Great article. Glad to see man shanu finally getting some credit as a good conditioner/sealant ☺As for the myth mentioned, will just like to point out that although the Fulanis use manshanu as a product to protect their hair and skin from most times our harsh dry weather in the north, thier curly - straight hair texture hair is actually genetic.

    I love it in food but can't say the same when it comes to my hair. The smell does bother me. I might try mixing it with some essential oils like lavender to see if it helps.

    1. Hi Amina,
      Thanks for pointing that out to us. Yes, Fulani hair texture is genetic but we can get softness, shine, easy detangling, and length retention by using their awesome manshanu. But its like you said, we shouldn't ever think that we can get a different curl pattern from the one we are born with by using the magic product. I think we as Nigerians (Africans) need to do better at finding out what works for us by looking within the continent not out.manshanu is just one of such products. Good luck with the mixture, I hope it works for you. Bless:)

  4. Hi . I love your blog. Just moved to abuja and im 5 months natural (second big chop) im trying to do things well this time around as per hair care. I would like to try man shanu do you know where I can buy ? And please write more àbout the local products i love them

    1. Hi Beeba,
      Welcome to Abuja!! You can get your manshanu from wuse market. Ask for the Fulani ladies who sell manshanu or ask for the Mosque in the should see some ladies sitting under umbrella's not far from there. They are the ones who sell it. And I will try my best to hunt for and blog about our local products. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Man Shanu is great for hair. I make a range of organic beauty products, and I started adding it to my leave-in conditioner )heavily scented with essential oils to hide the smell), and my customers have reported softer, curlier hair with noticeably less breakage which of course means length retention. I want to experiment with it as a moisturizer and see the effect.

  6. Hi hello. Tnks for the info.rilly hlpful.pks do u knw whr i cn get it in lagos

  7. Hi, thanks so much for this write up.
    Pls I'd like to know if mai shanu is suitable for dreadlocks.
    Though I must confess that the smell is not funny at all

    1. Hi Hawua, I would not advise you to use Manshanu for your locs because washing it off completely might be a problem.
      Thanks for stopping by :)



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