S: My name is Sara. As for where I’m from, that’s a much more difficult question. I’ll try to resist the urge to ramble, so in a nutshell, I’m a first generation Sudanese-American third culture kid who grew up on three continents, currently based in Khartoum, Sudan. :)
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
S: I was natural until the age of 20, when I decided that I had had enough of wearing box braids and wanted to try wearing my hair loose. I had never been able to because my hair was extremely thick and easily matted. So in a bout of collegiate rebellion, I chemically straightened my hair using the thermal reconditioning system.
The first 6 months my hair was unbelievable – shiny, manageable, and bone straight; I could hop in and out of the shower and not have to worry. At 6 months, it started to fall out. I stopped chemically straightening my after that, and spent the next year and a half losing the majority of my hair. I was just shy of turning 23 years old, trying to resist the inevitable (and the consistent look of disappointment from my mother who had spent the majority of my life taking care of my hair just so I could destroy it), I went to a natural hair salon and cut my hair from hip length to barely touching my collarbone. Basically, I’ve been re-natural for the past 6 years.
How would you describe your texture?
S: I’m not an expert at the numbering system, in fact I find it confusing, but if I were to guess I would say about a 3c with the “tangle-bility” of Christmas lights, lol. When I was younger, my hair was extremely dense, somewhat coarse, and would tangle even while it was being detangled. Now it is a lot finer, and a lot thinner overall. I thought that on the bright side, at least that would mean fewer tangles…nope. Still a tangle champ.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
S: My hair is very temperamental, and tends to change its mind about what styles/regimens work for it, almost on a monthly basis. Besides that, I find that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to hair maintenance. I’m not good at sticking to a regimen, particularly if it has a lot of steps/requires a lot of time (e.g. only finger detangling – tried it, hated it, failed at it. Any tips on how curly girls keep their hair detangled just by finger detangling?). So, I usually go for twists (thus coming back full circle to non-loose hair). I wash and twist my hair once a week. I know that a lot of girls can make their twists last for 2–3 weeks, but for some reason that has never worked for me. Within the first 3 days they become fuzzy, particularly at the front, but that might have to do with my severe Hand in Hair Syndrome. I usually undo the twists a day or two before washday and keep my hair in a bun during those days. In Khartoum, people aren’t used to girls having big (they would call it “wild and unkempt”) hair, so it’s almost impossible to wear a twist out or a wash and go.
I’m also really limited in the types of products I can use because very little (read: none) is available here. Whenever I go back stateside I stock up, usually buying Cantu’s Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream (a little goes a long way, and it works great to hydrate my easily dried-out hair). But for the most part, I make do with things I can find here. My go-to products these days are a homemade butter made from beeswax and assorted oils (which acts as both deep conditioner and twisting product), and most recently homemade whipped shea butter.
What does wash day look like for you?
S: Well, first there’s a lot of crying. I’m joking. Not really (I dread wash days). As I mentioned before, I untwist my hair a couple days before wash day and wear it in a bun, which helps to stretch it out a little more in an effort to minimize tangling. I then detangle, and wash. Again, none of the amazing natural hair products available in the States can be found here, so I have to make do with “regular” shampoos and conditioners, which strip my hair. I then deep condition with either beeswax butter or a Greek yoghurt, honey, egg yolk, and oil mix. For a while, I used to do henna treatments every other week, but my schedule has since become quite hectic, so I haven’t been doing much of those lately. Anyhoo, I usually deep condition for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how much time I have). I prefer to wash my hair at night, so after that’s done, I section off my hair and detangle, applying a little whipped shea butter to each large section, then twist/braid the sections and let them air dry overnight.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
S: Well, my hair is in twists for most of the year, so it’s kind of like style once and then don’t worry about it for a week. The other advantage of twists is that you have the flexibility to wear them up or down or be creative. I’m not at that level of awesomeness yet, but I’m working on it!
How do you combat shrinkage?
S: My hair shrinks massively (from just above waist length to armpit length), and I used to hate it, but I’ve lately become more accepting of shrinkage. But yea, buns. Buns are the way to go. A 2 or 3-day old bun will usually knock out most of the shrinkage.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
S: My crown! And my ends! My crown is extremely dry, and so far nothing has helped cure this problem, although the whipped shea butter seems to be having an effect, so we’ll see. As for my ends, I have a serious fairy knot issue, probably because I’m always fiddling with the ends of my twists and tying them in knots (I know, I’m a terrible person).
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
S: Consistent detangling and Consistent moisturizing.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
S: Finger detangling and Finger detangling (it’s serious).
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: Yes! My blog – Blog #45 http://alucan.wordpress.com — where I talk about amongst other things, the struggle of trying to consolidate two (or more) cultures into one life. I have been writing one post (titled Larry, Moe, and the Death of Curly) about the irony of how unacceptable curly/natural (non-straight) hair is in Sudanese society, despite the fact that most Sudanese people have curly hair. It’s proving to be a much bigger (and more emotional) challenge than I anticipated, but it’s almost done!