Category Archives: Jamaican Health and Beauty

Health and Beauty information relating to Jamaica.

Smell and Feel Irie!

If the smell of tropical fruits and the feel of cocoa and shea butter make your senses come alive then meet Irie Rock Yaad Spa…

Irie Rock Yaad Spa

Since my SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! blog post, I interviewed a very inspirational Jamaican woman who I am very happy to support and who would defiantly be described as ‘the female boss’. Racquell Brown is the Managing Director, creative, marketing and business brains behind the brand that is ‘Irie Rock Yaad Spa’ a Jamaican beauty gem that you will want to discover….

Their flagship range of 6 lines with 10 different gorgeously scented body care products, has had a new line added which features a tea tree oil and witch hazel skin care range to further meets customers needs. Let me introduce to you the delight that is Racquell Brown and her fabulous Irie Rock Yaad Spa Range that you could be forgiven for wanting to slavour over yourself from head to foot!

Interview with Racquell Brown


1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

Racquell Brown the owner, creative and marketing force of Irie Rock Yaad Spa.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

 After leaving Jamaica and living in the UK in 2007, I found that I had dry and problematic skin and couldn’t find a suitable body care product in the shops. So I went to the pharmacy and natural food stores and started playing around with ingredients, taking cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil and mixing my own formulations, I gave some out to my friends and got a good reception. After returning to Jamaica it took 2 years to create the product ranges, 6 months later we had the first hotel customers, 6 months after that I was made redundant from my full-time job, but the next month we got one of our biggest customers.

Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa
Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa

 3. Tell me about your typical working day?

 Entrepeneurs and manufacturers of products have to work very hard as it’s not all glamorous. I have to take care of many things, from the business, creative, marketing and production side of things, such as checking the manufacturing side of the business and ensuring there is enough stock for suppliers, customers, direct customers and end users. In all the chaos and confusion you have to find a balance which is not always easy to find, seeing the madness going on around you and saying to yourself it will all work out. It’s important to have the confidence to know you can bring everything back together.

 4. What is your company philosophy?

 That each and every one of my customers big and small is pleased with service and products and truly happy.

 5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

 Everything is based in Jamaica, in Spaldings, Clarendon.

 6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

Unfortunately as Jamaica does not produce many of our ingredients we have to use a combination of Jamaican and imported products, such as shea butter, which the majority of is imported. We do use Jamaican products where available, such as coffee and coconut oil. Most of the scents are imported in powdered form which is added to the ingredients.

 7. Are you Jamaican?


 8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?


 1. The people, my customers put everything into perspective for me – our spirit is very optimistic as a people, we are very positive in the most part that things will be better tomorrow, Jamaican people think it will be better tomorrow.

 2. I have found that you cannot beat the beauty of the country whilst driving around the country visiting suppliers and customers, I find it very therapeutic and it lifts your spirits taking in the landscape.

 3. Jamaicans are open to the possibility of something new and different, we are very adaptive, in with new technology, we want to be the 1st movers and shakers when it comes to new things. For example, the response has been amazing to our new range of tea tree oil products. I have created a brand and want adventurous people to try it is see that is it equal or better than our international competitors.


 1. The People – we feel we are entitled to things coming to us and not necessarily wanting to work for it. We are wanting to be happy and rich, but don’t always work hard enough at it. We have a feeling of entitlement.

 2. The Government,  what they say and do does not match up, they are not doing enough to invest in small and micro businesses and building manufacturing.

 3. We don’t appreciate what we have in the richness of the culture of Jamaica, we should put ourselves on a pedestal.

 9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

 Locally we are building Irie Rock brand increasing the volume of products with our tea tree and body care line. Hotels and pharmacies love the range as it is a fresh, tropical, natural, authentic Jamaican range.

 We hope to expand the brand to other countries and start exporting more. We would like to see Irie Rock sitting beside international brands and people choosing Irie Rock over them as the preferred choice.

Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group
Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group

 10. What is your personal favourite product that you make and why?

I use different products depending on my mood, such as the coffee body butter to energise me if I haven’t had my morning coffee, or if I want something sweet scenting I uses passion fruit, it just depends on mood. I personally sat down and created the range of flavours so I love all of them. I also use the new Facial line as its good for acne prone skin and normal skin as it contains problem solving tea tree oil.

 11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

The Everyday person. When I see vendors with the odds stacked against them and they still go out there and work. Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson also are big success stories that are truly inspiring . But on a day-to-day basis it’s being with my friends that are living their normal life on a day-to-day basis, sharing a laugh and a drink, that is what really makes a real impact and is what is making a stamp on Jamaica. Creating a legacy not only for ourselves and children, but also to make other people’s life better.

 And finally me I inspire myself ;I depend on me and the grace of God to make things happen for me. You can only rely on you as an entrepeneur, you have to be able to get up out of bed when times are rough and when things aren’t as you want, you need to have the strength and drive to get up and do it.

I would also like to thank myself, as a little girl at school dreaming big, feeling and believing that you are capable of being more than what is presented and executing it. It is a learning curve knowing how you deal with it, nurturing that entrepeneur spirit and having the courage to think beyond what was being presented in front of you. There is a big world out there with so much possibility.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Most pharmacies, such as Fontana Pharmacy and gift shops and hotels island wide, especially in Kingston stock the range.

We also have a website where we have lots of European customers and we ship all over the world.

 13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

With friends, the more you work, you appreciate having lunch and drinks and having fun with friends, the truth of the matter is you inspire each other, we share problems and help one and another. Doing absolutely nothing with my friends, everything we do ends up being good, even if its nothing.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

It’s a lot of responsibility, and a job I never wanted, people don’t appreciate how hard that job must be. I would give more support to micro, small and medium businesses, for us to be sufficient as a nation and increase our production capacity we need the government to help and encourage us by changing the policies that are created in parliament. The customs charges are too high and can be as much as three times the cost of raw materials, we are already contributing to GCT through our businesses, we are creating foreign exchange and we would like it to be nurtured to become a giant in manufacturing. Use strategies here to help our our local industries, Trinidad offers businesses more support.

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Bob Marley, when I think of how uplifting a song of his may be, if your feeling depressed it lifts your mood and transforms your mind in a way that is phenomenal. He has for a very long time, without trying put Jamaica’s name on the international map. When you think of Jamaica you think of Bob Marley, when you think of Bob Marley you think of Jamaica. A brand such as Bob Marley that you can associate with a country, for the new generation it is Usain Bolt who is the new phenomenon. But for me personally he had the most influence on me when I live abroad, its amazing how people treat you differently just through making that connection.

16. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?

Find something that you truly love.  It is sometimes the hardest thing to recognize, as sometimes we love something so much it becomes like a pastime or hobby, when we could make an honest living out of it and it doesn’t feel like work. Positive thinking is paramount. How you think is how you actually live your life, if you think it is possible, you will live positively and positive things will come, speaking it as to being it. Being negative is not an option, throughout all problems if you have a positive state of mind it gets me through, you have to think and belive that ok it will be better, because I will make sure it is better. Be positive.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

 I am following my dreams of creating something from nothing. I came from a working class family, always dreaming of being a business owner, but didn’t know what to do. I wanted to create something that was bigger than me. I am trying to do that, but the dream is not complete, but I am happy in the direction it is heading. If it was another business, I would want to be able to create something.

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

National bakery. When another company takes a smaller company and nurtures them, being a mentor to smaller company. Their generosity of information and knowledge and giving someone else the spotlight, we are selfish by nature and want it all. But the fact that they have been able to do that in a big way, is very inspiring. I would like to mimic and copy them as my business grows, as it is essential to give back. Through our Passion Fruit Scent we give back as it is our charity line.  Each year we choose a charity and the give profits to them. We have chosen the ‘Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation this year. I am passionate about Jamaican Cancer Society and would choose it every year as it is dear to my heart, but in order to not be biased, I have a team of people that help choose. We are also looking at assisting communities at grass-roots levels, such as the charity ‘Marys Child’ which we are supporting next year.

Irie Rock Body and Skincare
Irie Rock Body and Skincare

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s ongoing success?

90% of business come from local hotels and referrals. We are not only selling products, we deal with our customers as we would want to be treated. When sitting with a customer we get to understand our customers wants and needs, we have helped to rearrange stores to increase sales. If you support them they will eventually support you. You will create a linkage, a bond and a solid relationship because you are investing in their dream and aspiration, so they will become the interested in your dream and aspiration too.

 20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Whether in Jamaica or our International customers we keep intimacy with them, by being professional with a personal touch. When you are finished dealing with a customer they thank you for it and we thank the customer, for saying thank you.

 21. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?

Start small. We can all do something in a small way. We manufacture Jamaican goods and hope that people support us.

22.What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

Get national security in order in terms of getting the crime rate down, getting outside investors trusting the Jamaican brand not because of Bob Marley or Usain Bolt, but because Jamaica is the ideal location. For us to truly embrace the things that will bring us to the next level. Nuturing micro and small business and bringing investors in Jamaica.

23. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?

I support it whole heartedly. In order for us a nation to move beyond where we are we need to start buying our own. As manufacturers we need to make sure we are equally comparative or better than our competitors. If we buy international products we should also be willing to buy our local products as well.

Thanks Racquell it was a pleasure interviewing you…. anytime you need a product tester ‘hail me up!’


Want to learn more, buy something or get in touch with Irie Rock® you can do it here:

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Irie ROCK …” The Love Of All Things Natural” ….Your Jamaican Treat

 Press Captions on Irie Rock 2012


Dengue Fever in Jamaica Continued….

Dengue Fever is still posing a risk to Jamaicans and visitors to the island as the recorded cases of the illness are continuing to rise, with 5 suspected deaths to date.

The rain that is pelting the country may provide new breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegyti mosquito which transmits the virus as new vessels and containers fill with water. Efforts to disperse areas already containing stagnant water are now also put at risk as people are encouraged to stay indoors due to the Tropical Storm Sandy which is threatening to lash the island from tomorrow.

To give an update on my friend who contracted Dengue Fever, they have finally recovered from Dengue Fever after 2 weeks, although they are a little slimmer! They feel fit and healthy again and do not complain of aching anywhere in the body, bones or head, their appetite has come back and their body is functioning normally again. Which is a big relief.

Nowadays I religiously burn destroyer coils and wear mosquito repellant on exposed skin everyday,  I also sleep under a mosquito net every night, just because the worst is over for my friend it does not immunise anyone from contracting the virus again…. And they say prevention is better than cure.

The latest news in Jamaica is that of 23rd October 2012

The Jamaican Information Service is recommending and reminding persons who are suffering from severe symptoms of Dengue Fever or Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) to visit the nearest health facility immediately. The whole article can be read here:

The Health Minister The Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson is dedicated to tackling the problem which is getting worse and comments:

He noted that so far some 450 communities have been fogged; over 3,500 premises visited and approximately 5,000 containers inspected. “All containers found to be breeding sites for the aedes aegyti mosquito, which transmits dengue, have been treated,” the Minister said.

He pointed out that the intensified programme is expected to last until December 2012, but will be continued beyond that date if the need arises.


The Minister confirmed an increase in dengue fever cases for this year, noting that as at September 29, there were a total of 1,215 suspected cases, of which 345 had been confirmed. This compared to 887 cases in 2011 and 3,202 in 2010, which had been regarded as an outbreak year.


There have also been five suspected deaths associated with the disease, with one confirmed case, via autopsy. The victim was a 15 year-old male of Kingston and St. Andrew, who also had the sickle cell disease.


Dr. Ferguson said all parishes have been affected to date, with Kingston and St. Andrew showing the highest incidence of the disease, with 599 or 50 per cent of the cases.


The breakdown of suspected cases in the other parishes include: 71 cases in St. Catherine; six in St. Thomas; 19 in Portland; 36 in St. Mary; 67 in St. Ann; 20 in Trelawny; 66 in St. James; 38 in Westmoreland; 24 in Hanover; 30 in St. Elizabeth; Manchester, 128; and Clarendon, 82. There are an additional 29 cases for which no parish has been designated.


Read the full article from the Jamaican Information service at:

Dengue Fever in Jamaica!

Don’t get caught out Dengue Fever is a serious disease that can make you feel terrible for weeks, take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos when travelling.

I have to admit that as I regularly travel I like to make sure my inoculations for diseases that are prevalent in the country I am travelling to are up-to-date, although I decided against anti-malaria drugs due to the side effects and likelihood of getting the disease whilst in Jamaica. I am also aware of the risks to health in Jamaica and even wrote a post about it, but although I do sleep under a mosquito net I don’t regularly spray myself with mosquito repellant, until now…

Dengue Fever is alive and well in Jamaica current as of October 2012, although the worst recorded epidemic was in 2010, there have been many cases recorded in the local press including 5 reported deaths. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with Dengue Fever last week and I can tell you it is painful and not at all pretty to watch someone with the virus trying to fight it off.


How You Can Prevent the Spread of Dengue Fever:

  1. Spray yourself and your children with mosquito spray containing DEET, or wear clothing to cover the body.
  2. Cover windows and doors with a mesh to prevent mosquitos from entering your premises, as the mosquitos that carry the virus feed mainly in the daytime.
  3. Empty or pierce all containers and vessels that contain stagnant water to limit the breeding grounds for mosquitos.
  4. Sleep under a mosquito net.


Dengue Fever Symptoms

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  • Headache in the front forehead area
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Hard to keep eyes open
  • No appetite
  • Back Ache
  • Whole body aches
  • Want to sleep
  • High fever
  • Feel the need to vomit
  • Stomach Ache, cannot pass bowels
  • Extreme cases: Nose Bleeds, or blood from other orifices GO TO HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY



Treatment for Dengue Fever

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  • Panadol, or Paracetamol based products ONLY
  • DO NOT TAKE IBUPROFEN based products as it can cause the patient to bleed
  • Keep cool with wet flannel / rag
  • Drink fluids
  • Bed rest with mosquito net cover



Dengue Fever


Day One…

One evening my friend first complained of a headache in the front forehead area and pain behind the eyes, making the eyes feel weak and which even after taking pain killers would not subside. After lying down for about 45 minutes they were encouraged to drink some peppermint tea and eat something as it may ease the headache, but they had no appetite and barely ate a few mouthfuls of food before saying their whole body ached and they wanted to sleep. A few hours later they woke up and had the onset of a high fever, a terrible headache and felt like they wanted to vomit, which again painkillers would not ease.

Day Two…

In the morning as they seemed worse with a very high fever, headache, could barely open their eyes, feeling weak and aching all over, so they were taken to a medical centre and paid $2,500 to see a Doctor, which consisted of a visual check over, blood pressure test, taking of body temperature and a pin prick finger blood test. They were then advised it was possible that Dengue Fever was the reason for the illness and that the test to confirm would be an extra $3,700 which included a blood platelet count test. After waiting about 30 minutes it was confirmed that they had Dengue Fever and was advised as there was no ‘cure’ or anti-viral treatment and that the body generally fights it off within a week to 10 days, although it can take up to a month to feel better. I hurried to the pharmacy and additionally bought mosquito spray and destroyer (mosquito coils) as the only advice was to get a prescription for Panadol which could be taken 2 tablets 3 times a day, to get bed rest for 2 weeks and drink plenty of fluids, oh, and if they had blood coming out of their facial orifices to go to the hospital immediately…..

As soon as we got back we searched the Internet for information as the last piece of advice really scared us, where we found out there were 3 different types of Dengue Fever and you could tell it was getting worse if they started loosing blood from the nose, gums etc as it was the blood capillaries bursting. We also found out that it is spread by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito which feeds mainly in the daytime and is attracted to lay her eggs in stagnant water, which contains dead leaves and plant matter. So that meant if another mosquito bit them whilst they had Dengue Fever, which then bit anyone else it would be passed on and the 2nd person and they too would have Dengue Fever, or worse still if they were bitten by another mosquito which carried Dengue Fever they could develop a worser strain of the virus.

Shortly after they were put to rest under a mosquito net, kept cool by constantly replacing cold wet rags placed over the head, back of neck or chest and encouraged to drink water at least once an hour, even if it meant they had to be woken up to be made to drink. They drank a little fish tea (soup) and went back to bed. The second day was fretful as they kept waking up in pain, coughing and feeling like they wanted to vomit, burning hot like you could fry and egg on their skin and generally in a bad way with a stomach ache. After asking for some oats to drink (oats, water, vanilla essence and nutmeg) around midnight they laid down and almost immediately went to the bathroom to vomit, whereby they said it eased off the stomach ache a little. Afterwards they laid back down and slept restlessly.

Day Three…

This morning they looked a little better and after being bathed in cold water and given pain killers they rested again and felt well enough to eat a little rice and peas and fish and the fever seemed to ease. After going back to sleep again and waking up in pain with high fever, they were put in a bath of cold water to lie down for a while which again eased the fever. The pain in their back was really bad which we felt was caused by lying down for so long so we tried a back massage which relived it a little, but there was nothing we could do to stop the stomach ache including drinking milky drinks such as Lasco and Nutriment to try and get the bowels working.  Another fretful night followed with high fever and stomach and back pain which seemed to get worse.

Day Four….

After staying up late and looking on the Internet the worry set in as it mentioned that if the patient develops more symptoms such as stomach ache it could be due to a worser strain of Dengue Fever and they should be taken to the hospital. So we decided it was best to get a further check so they were bathed in cool water again and dosed in DEET Mosquito Spray. We packed a bag in case they had to stay overnight before making the 15 minute journey to St.Ann Bay Hospital. Although we arrived at about 9.30am the hospital was packed full of people, including many children with their parents. There seemed to be a high level of people with suspected Dengue Fever and we waited to see the staff at the Information desk first where they listened to your symptoms, took your temperature and blood pressure and gave you a document to take to registrations. After queuing again at registrations they gave you your medical records (if you had been to the hospital before) and you then had to take them back to Information desk where you put them at the bottom of the pile of records to wait for your name to be called. Whilst waiting they went to the toilet and at last they had a bowel movement!

We waited for about  1 1/2 hours before about 10 people’s name were called and we were all ushered into another seating area in a corridor to wait to be seen by the doctor. After another wait of about 1 1/2 hours they were seen by the doctor were a blood sample was taken and a rather large injection of penicillin was received in the batty cheek (bottom) which proceeded to give them a new source of pain in the way of a dead leg! We were told to expect a 3 hour wait for the blood test and they were given 2 glasses of electrode salts to drink to prevent dehydration and to replace natural bodily salts lost through sweating and fever.

We decided to wait outside and after waiting about 3 1/2 hours with no news we went inside to find out what was happening. It actually took nearly 6 hours to be seen by the doctor again to get the results….. it appeared that we had not heard when they called our friends name and if we had not persisted to get seen by the doctor again we would have probably been waiting all night! Needless to say we were told to go home and continue with the same care and return on Tuesday to have another blood test to check the platelet count.

The night followed with fever and back pain and a somewhat restless night, so the cold rags (flannels) were used to keep them cool.

Day Five and Six…

Although they feel a little better than before and the fever isn’t so high they still look sick and get tired easily, their appetite hasn’t increased much and they prefer to lie down rather than sit for long periods of time. They are having regular bowel movements and sometimes cough until they nearly vomit. Tomorrow we go back to the St.Ann Bay Hospital for the 2nd Blood Tests at the Lab…..

What is being done by the Government of Jamaica?

Associated Press has put out an article about Dengue Fever which was based on a conversation with Jamaica’s Health Minister Fenton Ferguson. The article claims that fumigation trucks have been dispatched to try and control the spread of the epidemic across the island and school children are being encouraged to disperse stagnant water in small vessels and containers. The story was took up by businessweek….

Jamaica is stepping up mosquito eradication across the island and urging school children to stamp out breeding grounds to combat an epidemic of dengue fever, the Caribbean country’s health minister said Thursday.

Health Minister Fenton Ferguson told reporters there have been five suspected deaths from the mosquito-borne virus in Jamaica so far this year. Only one has been confirmed with an autopsy.

There have been more than 1,200 suspected cases as of Sept. 29, compared to 887 during the same period last year. About half the cases have occurred in the southern capital of Kingston. However, this year’s cases are far less than in 2010, an outbreak year.

Officials have dispatched fumigation trucks to spray roughly 450 neighborhoods and teams are clearing storm drains that are clogged with debris. Thousands of premises have been inspected, Fenton said….

The full article can be read at:


This information about Dengue Fever which is specific to Jamaica is from the NaTHNaC Website:


Dengue is a systemic viral disease.

Risk assessment
  • Epidemiology – Dengue is known or has the potential to occur in this country.
  • Exposure – Dengue is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours and are most abundant in urban or peri-urban settings. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk.
Risk management
  • Travellers should take mosquito bite avoidance measures. Aedes mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours.
  • There is no vaccination or medication to prevent dengue.
  • A previous dengue illness with one of the four dengue virus serotypes does not confer immunity to other virus serotypes.
  • Infection with a second dengue serotype may be a risk factor for the development of dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The Full information about Health Risks is Jamaica can be found at

Wow your nails look pretty!

Before I travel to Jamaica I have to find time to get my finger and toe nails ready too…. a tropical climate needs a hot and colourful mani and pedi!


Lovely things feet, take you everywhere you want to go, and they will not only get a daily airing (that those from the UK can only dream about), they will also get a fair bit of wear and tear in the process. I tend to spoil myself with a pedicure before I leave the UK and get my toenails painted in bright colours as they will be on show on a daily basis in slippers (sandals / flip-flops to us in the UK). Dry cracked heels and manky looking toenails are so NOT a good look when your feet are on show so take note!

I buy the foot scrub blocks from the chemist (drug store / pharmacy) to give my feet a quick once over when I hit the shower to keep the rough skin at bay, and if I am totally honest to scrub the red dirt (many regions in Jamaica have red earth) stain off of my feet! Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your feet when out in the sun as they burn too and cover them in cream in the evening to stop them looking dry and pitiful.

When in Jamaica…

You can get your pedicure refreshed in many establishments or by local mobile technicians throughout Jamaica and in most larger inland towns, such as Browns Town in St. Ann’s, you can expect to pay about $600 this includes applying tips on your big toes; but you will find the price goes down to around $500 for the more rural areas. A bright nail pattern design which is often hand-painted or airbrushed and stencilled with outrageous creativity is included in the price. It is popular in Jamaica to wear long extensions on the big toe, but I am too scared that I will knock them and rip them off, so I stick to my natural toenails! I usually tip the technician up to $500 if they have done a good job and I am feeling flush.


I tend to have nail extensions applied in London before I leave the country and as with my toenails, I have them painted in bright colours to fit the bright sunny mood of Jamaica. Many Jamaican women love to wear extra long nail extensions, which to those who are familiar with the process, are often worn at the longest length possible. Nail extension application is big business in Jamaica and the creativity of the nail technicians is outstanding. I have personally seen flowers and curled horn like adornments created out of the product used in the process of nail extensions. Equally the colours and design work carried out with the nail polish (nail varnish) is unrivalled by most of the London-based technicians I have come across and is often drawn freehand or airbrushed with stencils.

When in Jamaica…

You can sometimes expect to pay a different price for your nail extensions based on the length of the nails you prefer. In most of the larger inland towns, such as Browns Town in St. Ann’s you can expect to pay about $1,500 for even the longest nails; you will find the price goes down to around $1,000 to $1,200 for the more rural areas. I usually tip the technician up to $500 if they have done a good job.

Please be warned, my first experience of a Jamaican manicure was when I went to have my nail extensions replaced and I was alarmed (and in pain) when she literally started picking the old nails off with a credit card, instead of the usual soaking in acetone or filing that I was used to in London. You also may have to wait sometime for your turn, so make sure you make eye contact with the technician and let them know what you want when you arrive and take notice of how many other people are there before you. Be patient! It is worth it when you look down and admire your beautiful new nails. WOW!

The Basics Before You Go….Bugs, Medicines and Travel Insurance

Most people don’t like to think about taking ill or having something bad happening to them when they travel, it does sometimes happen. So be prepared, before you leave home.

Whenever I travel to Jamaica I make sure I buy travel insurance and a basic supply of medicines before I leave, so I have them readily available if I need them. If you need  Private Health Care whilst in Jamaica,  you will have to pay for it and even basic medicine, such as  Hay Fever tablets, are expensive in Jamaica.

My toiletries bag essentials can be found here:

But, these are some other essential items that I pack when coming to Jamaica……

Bug Repellent

Some people are particularly tasty to bugs, whilst others merely get the odd one or two having a go at their ankles. There are mosquitoes and other biting bugs in Jamaica and at certain times and locations they are numerous, so take precautions with repellent or anti-histamine tablets (Hay fever tablets like Piriton).

General Medicines 

Chemists (Pharmacy / Drug Store) are readily available in all the larger towns whereby you can easily buy medicines and ointments over the counter for non serious ailments. On one trip to Jamaica we were even able to buy a small supply of prescription medicine for a relative who had forgotten theirs. Medicines tend to be expensive in Jamaica and things like Ibuprofen (Nurofen type products) are not as readily available as Paracetamol, and Piriton and other hay fever/anti-histamine tablets are very expensive, so if you prefer them bring a small supply of the basics with you. Some people tend to suffer from indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation, so again bring what you may need as you just never know what might happen!

My dear Mum has always been a bit of ‘girl guide’ when it comes to the ‘medicine box’ she brings away on holidays (vacations) with her and after my sisters and I poked fun at her over the years for the sheer scale and magnitude of its contents… I have realised that I too am slowly starting to follow her example of ‘BE PREPARED!’ (Although I must add it is still defiantly a scaled down version of what she used to bring).

I Bring:

  • Ibuprofen – Defeats all types of bodily pain! – DO NOT — — USE IF YOU SUSPECT DENGUE FEVER! — — USE PARACETAMOL / PANADOL ONLY!
  • Cold / Flu Tablets – Not to be expected, but it is more common than you would think to suffer these symptoms in Jamaica.
  • Cough Mixture – Soothe that tickly throat.
  • Antihistamine Tablets – Hay fever, rashes, minor allergic reactions and itchy skin solved.
  • Antiseptic Cream – Bites, stings, scratches, scrapes, (new tattoos!), all cooled down.
  • Plasters, small amount of dressings / bandages – Damaged skin is clean and covered.
  • Stomach Upset Tablets – Because you just never know when a grumbling tummy will start!
  • Sudocream – Spots, sunburn, and bites all zapped with this thick cream.
  • Eye Drops – Tired, itchy, bloodshot eyes made clear again.


Although not strictly medicines these are still all on my essential list of things to bring with me:

  • Anti-bacterial hand wash (no need to use water with it) – For clean hands on the go.
  • Tissues – Small packets serve to wipe mouth, nose, sweaty foreheads, and most essentially for when going to the toilet (toilet tissue is rarely available, except in the larger touristy places).
  • Wet Wipes (Baby wipes) – All types of sticky situations left fresh and clean!
  • Nail Glue and File – To fix back nails that go flying, start unattractively lifting, or loose shape.
  • Nail Polish (varnish) – Freshen up nails or for providing a patch up job until you can get to the professionals.
  • Dylash eyebrow and eyelash tint – Defined eyes without make-up, genius!
  • Tampax and thong panty liners – Feminine comfort.
  • Vaseline – For lips and dry patches (and to stop the eyebrow dye staining my skin too much!).
  • False Eyelashes – Defined eyes when you want that extra va-va-voom!
  • Make-up – Lighter formulations work better in the heat such as a tinted moisturiser instead of a foundation, if you really cannot put up with going bare-faced. I also love to use a mineral powder, just wipe your face first with a tissue to remove any moisture, before applying the powder, otherwise you end up with a caked powdery mess on your face. I also prefer a gel or cream blusher, and not a powdered version. As I have found in the past that block powder products such as blusher and caked face powder are easy to break up and spill everywhere when you least want or expect and can block pores.

Although not technically in my toiletries bag, these are also worth a mention…

[text_left]Travel Insurance[/text_left]

Prior to leaving it is advisable to buy travel insurance for the entire length of the stay, as it not only covers you in the event of cancellations, lost luggage and misplaced cameras, but also in much more serious incidences of health problems, injures, or even death whilst abroad. I have found to offer excellent cover and good deals on pricing…. Take my humble advice GET SOME INSURANCE!


Before you travel to Jamaica it is advisable to check with your local G.P. of your cover for diseases including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Malaria, Dengue Fever and in some cases Yellow Fever.

There is a risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, so if you wish to get frisky and cannot be careful, be GOOD! Condoms are readily available, but may not have the British standard that we have at home, so if you that bothers you bring some with you.

The National Travel and Health Network Centre has full details of the precautions, recommendations and the latest updated information for Jamaica, and is recommended by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as the best source of data:

Find out more about travelling to Jamaica from this Post about Airports….

Please see my posts on Dengue Fever as there is a near epidemic in Jamaica as of October 2012…. and continued at:

So Fresh and so Clean – My Toiletries Bag Essentials

Whenever I travel to Jamaica there are some items that I religiously buy in the UK to take with me, I love to travel but I also want to look and smell good in the process and there are some things a woman simply cannot do without! These are my list of ‘Most Wanted’ items to put in the toiletries bag, no matter how long or short the trip to Jamaica.

As a point of reference, a friend of mine recently came round to try to persuade me not to emigrate to Jamaica and when he finally gave me a chance to speak after ranting for 20 minutes, I explained why his arguments were unfounded and that the longest I would be gone for was 6 months in one go. This seemed to soothe his fractured mind so much so that he replied “I feel much better now that I let you talk” (my eyes rolled) He then retorted with “If you do go to Jamaica you won’t turn into a hippy will you?”. I nearly keeled over laughing at this last remark, as that would defiantly not be happening anytime soon… I plan to be a Hot Gyal ’til mi dead!

A point to make for all those who plan to travel to Jamaica: Jamaicans look GOOD and invariably smell GOOD too, so if you want to fit in follow their example! They even sing about the topic, a case in point is the wonderful song by Red Dragon ‘ Hol a fresh’ this is the first chorus of the song:

And mi seh all who nuh bathe from morning run go hol a fresh!
Go hol a fresh! Go hol a fresh!
All who nuh bathe from evening run go hol a fresh!
Go hol a fresh! Go hol a
And how you wake up this morning and you don’t hol a fresh!
Evening pass and you don’t hol a fresh!
Water deh bout here, you is a dirty wretch water come now
Tek up the rag, tek up di soap and run go hol a fresh!
Come out a di dance if you nuh dead and run go hol a fresh!

What to Bring…

Top Tip!  If you are going away for up to 2 weeks then stick to travel sized versions of your favourite products, which are readily available in most high street chemists (drug stores/pharmacy) in the UK or the airport. If your favourites aren’t there, or to economise a little, you can decant products into smaller clean and empty bottles.This will not only give you more space in your bag or case, it also frees up more of your (stingy) weight allowance for shoes and such like! Just remember to store them in a bag or tape the lid down well to limit the risk of messy explosions in your luggage.


If you have Afro-Caribbean type hair, you are spoilt for choice for hair products and most of the products from the USA and are readily available. Some larger chemists (pharmacy / drug store) and supermarkets sell familiar UK brands, but they are invariably very expensive. If you are of white heritage it is advisable to buy your favourite brands of shampoo, conditioner and styling products from the UK and bring them with you, as the majority of the products for sale in Jamaica are for hair of black heritage and maybe too oily for your hair type.

It is hot and humid so you may find your hair gets drier and more frizzy than usual especially after long periods in the sun and swimming, so buy your products accordingly. Hair serum or one of the Moroccan hair oil brands work well to calm most types of unruly hair. I also bring cans of Baptiste Dry Shampoo with me as this is great between washes to give your hair a freshen up, especially when you are in an area that has a shortage of water.

Obviously we do not usually only have hair growing on our heads, so I am going to tackle the topic of hair and its removal or freedom to sprout from other areas of the body! Many female Jamaicans, especially in the country areas do not shave their under arms or legs, so if you want to go natural you won’t be scorned in the same way that you would in the UK. However, if like me you prefer to stay hair free then I would advise that you either get a good wax before you come out, or as I do and invest in some razors and bring them with you as the better brands are expensive to buy. I prefer to use the men’s Gillette razor and bring multi-packs of the razor heads with me along with the holder and a tube of Nair cream for the bikini area. Please be warned, it is likely that you will produce more hair than normal so come prepared… it must be the weather!


A good face wash or scrub or even a face mask, if you are really adventurous works wonders to slough off old skin and keep that face looking fresh. It is hot in Jamaica, you are going to sweat, and your skin may get spotty and unattractive looking if you do not regularly give it a good wash! It is hard to keep make-up on your face as it has a tendency to slide off during the day, therefore fresh skin is essential if you want to get away with minimal cover up. Face cream / moisturiser is essential and your face will love you for it especially if it has sunscreen, no matter what skin colour you have. Unless you have oily skin being in the extremes all day will dry out your skin even more than usual so a good (not necessarily expensive) cream will do wonders for your skin tone.


I tend to bring soap and a bottle of shower gel with me so I have it available when I arrive, but when it runs out I buy ‘Irish Spring’ soap which is a popular brand available in the majority of the larger retail outlets for around $110 each. During the day I tend to use suntan lotion as my body lotion and then in the evening after I bathe I use a tan intensifier or a thick cream such as Victoria Secrets, which smells gorgeous and hydrates my skin and which I stock up on in duty-free.

Body Odour!

This is not something many people want to talk about, much less have to inhale!… being called ‘green’ in Jamaica is not a compliment as it implies you are not very fresh smelling! Come on people, it’s hot and humid in Jamaica you are going to sweat, a lot, and on a regular basis, so some simple precautions can help you stay feeling fresh and clean all day long! Obviously regular washing (of at the very least your ‘crevices’) is the key to freshness, but using a deodorant or anti-perspirants helps massively… I tend to buy some roll on deodorant which I leave where I am staying and stock up on the mini travel versions of the spray deodorants, so that I can pop one into my bag in case of emergencies.

Small packets of wet wipes or baby wipes are also a good friend for a multitude of sticky situations (if you will excuse the phrase) and at a push can be used for a quick swipe of sweaty bodily places when on the go, followed by a blast of mini sized deodorant…. ah fresh again! Another tip is to buy a body mist (not the aerosol type) the more watery based spray type, which you can blitz yourself with when feeling over heated as they not only cool you down, but carry a sweet refreshing scent where perfumes are often too heavy (and expensive).

Women’s Hygiene Products

Many retail outlets do not have a wide range of internally worn protection, such as, UK known brands, Tampax or Li-lets, but they do tend to stock a range of sanitary towels. It is not often that you will see ‘thong’ shaped panty-liners for sale either, so if you prefer these types of products it is advisable that you bring them with you to be on the safe side.

My next post will have details of my other essentials to buy and organise before you leave to your trip to Jamaica….