Intro­duce your­self!
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
Con­sis­tent detan­gling and Con­sis­tent mois­tur­iz­ing.

What are 2 don’ts for your tex­ture?
Fin­ger detan­gling and Fin­ger detan­gling (it’s seri­ous).

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
Yes! My blog – Blog #45 — 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! 


Just anoth­er lover of nat­u­ral hair and expres­sion.
— Style Icon Coor­di­na­tor for BGLH

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26 Comments on "Sara // Natural Hair Style Icon"

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Safwa Shantour
Can’t believe i found this !! i can total­ly relate. I’ve start­ed wear­ing pro­tec­tive styles just recent­ly and every­one is giv­ing me the stink eye for it.So i’m stuck wear­ing a scarf the whole day when i’m out and about. Basi­cal­ly i’m hav­ing the same prob­lem of not find­ing the right prod­ucts. Every­thing i’ve used so far is too greasy and quite use­less in keep­ing my hair hydrated.It still dries, and frizzes pret­ty quick­ly. I hate that all phar­ma­cies in Khar­toum only sell prod­ucts specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed for soft­er hair. and lets not even men­tion how they fail to provide make up… Read more »

I just gained mas­sive respect for you after watch­ing this video :) You da best!


Final­ly a fel­low Sudane­se in the nat­u­ral hair com­mu­ni­ty! Do you go to U of K, btw? I remem­ber see­ing you on a Humans of Khar­toum post one time. I know how as an Afro-Arab cul­ture we are so obsessed with relax­ers and straight­en­ers, so I applaud you for going re-nat­u­ral and your hair looks gor­geous!
Quick ques­tion, did your moth­er ever use karkar paste (?????/???) on your hair? I know it’s an ancient Sudane­se beau­ty secret, but I’ve nev­er got­ten coura­geous enough to try it because of the ingre­di­ents :/

Sara E.
Yaaaay! Thank you for being one of 5 of us in the com­mu­ni­ty! lol. I could hug you right now. No, I’m waaay too old to go to U of K (we won’t say HOW old, lol), but yes I was on Humans of Khar­toum! :D Thank you so much for the sup­port — it’s tough out here in the­se streets! The looks I get, *espe­cial­ly* when I wear my hair out, are soul-crush­ing. Also, peo­ple keep con­fus­ing twists with locs… I don’t know, we have a long way to go. No, my mom nev­er used karkar on me — we… Read more »

Yay so glad you replied! No way! You could seri­ous­ly pass for 19 haha mashal­lah. I don’t want to gross every­one out but karkar is heav­en­ly com­pared to what peo­ple use out here in the Gulf (I live in Qatar). I’m sure you’ve heard of the camel urine and lice trends that have even spread to Sudan! Gross!
Any­who, it’s great see­ing a fel­low Sudane­se on here and glad there’s more! Hope to see many more on here in the future! I wish we could team up and do some­thing to change the sit­u­a­tion in Sudan!

*Mas­sive vir­tu­al hug* haha <3


You and your hair are absolute­ly love­ly


My girl­friend is liv­ing in a village/town about 40 min­utes out­side of Khar­toum and can’t find shea but­ter any­where. If you buy it in the city can you post where you find it so I can let her know?


Hey, sev­er­al inde­pen­dent retail­ers sell Shea but­ter and oth­er prod­ucts like Biot­in etc. in Khar­toum. This lady called Jamal Kar­ma is one of them, she has a Face­book page.
Your girl­friend can place orders with her on her Khar­toum num­ber 0911936720


Hey, sor­ry I got it as a gift from some­one who brought it from Burk­i­na Faso. They don’t sell it in Khar­toum :(


Beau­ti­ful! I have heard that twists are one of the best pro­tec­tive styles to encour­age growth and it looks like you have proven that. Thanks for shar­ing.



“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.” this is SO my hair sit­u­a­tion. espe­cial­ly about my hair tex­ture chang­ing over time. every­one gives me a seri­ous… Read more »

Your blog is so fun­ny :)


Great per­son­al­i­ty and great hair!


Prob­a­bly one of my favorite inter­views on this site!


Whoa, show­stop­per! You’re my newest inspi­ra­tion, girl; I love that you returned to your roots and relearned to love your hair! Good for doc­u­ment­ing it too. Gor­geous, lus­cious hair and won­der­ful home­made rou­tine.


gor­geous hair and wom­an.


you are a beau­ty! love your hair! it’s always amaz­ing to learn of dif­fer­ent cul­tures that face such crit­i­cism when it comes to curly hair.


You have beau­ti­ful hair and will def­i­nite­ly try the oil, egg yolk, hon­ey mix for a deep treat­ment. Thanks!!


Hi Brit­tany, the deep con­di­tion­er also requires either Greek Yogurt or May­on­naise or Beeswax but­ter AND the oil, egg yolk and hon­ey.

tracena b

beau­ti­ful hair; absoul­te­ly gor­geous


gor­geous hair I love the style in the red jack­et and blue shirt


Gor­geous hair! =)

Amma Mama

She’s pret­ty and so is her hair :-)


Haha the tan­gle abil­i­ty of Christ­mas lights? I can relate! Love her hair. It looks very healthy, full and I like that she pre­sent­ed the good and the bad for her hair type.


So beau­ti­ful and her twist look so shiny and per­fect. lol I love your intro­duc­tion. Go Third Cul­ture kids!