Monday, February 15, 2010

Khartoum Hair and Beauty

Back home in South Africa, I have my hair cut and high-lighted every month. I have had the same professional hairdresser for the past fifteen years. Sanet, who has also become a close friend over the years, knows my hair better than I do. Over the years I have been very blonde, then strawberry blonde. In 2000, I decided to go red and displayed this coppery bright colour for six years. Three years ago, when I returned to South Africa from Guinea, I decided to go with the grey. Sanet adds a little ash highlighter and to soften the overall effect. And my hair has always been short. Sanet knows so well what I want, that it takes her about eight minutes to cut my hair.

While I was in Khartoum in August, and we were travelling through town, my husband pointed out the barber (yes, a proper male barber, not a men's hair stylist) he goes to. He also mentioned that I would easily find a lady hairdresser when I needed to have my hair done.
Shortly after I returned in January, I mailed Lynda (Tanzania) and told her I would be looking for a hairdresser in Khartoum. She gave me a wonderful tip. She said I should get my husband to photograph my hair from all angles while it was newly done by my hairdresser. He did and we printed the photos for when I needed them.

At the same time, I asked our supermarket manager about a lady's hairsalon. We communicate in Dutch which is very similar to Afrikaans - one of the eleven official languages in South Africa- and get along just fine. He told me that Ona was the best in town. He gave my husband the directions and once we'd loaded our groceries in the vehicle we headed up the road to find the salon. We turned off into a side street, as per the manager's instructions, up another side street, when we came across sign he'd told us to look out for.

My husband waited in the vehicle while I entered the gate on which Ona's Beauty Center sign was displayed. Although the building looked very deserted , I knew that I would find her salon inside. That is Africa: expect the unexpected in the most unusual places.

I mounted the steps and on the second landing a sign in Arabic and English pointing along the floor to Ona's Beauty Center.

The passage was very dark, but I managed to locate a heavy ornate door with my cell phone flashlight. I knocked and heard what was obviously "Come in" in Arabic.
Once inside, I saw that this was a professional hair and beauty salon. I gesticulated to a lady who was busy with a client, that I needed an appointment in three week's time. The client could speak a little English and relayed my message to the hairdresser.
She walked over to the reception desk, told me (through the client) to "come anytime" She also gave me a business card.
Last week I phoned the number on the card and got Ona (I found out subsequently that the lady I saw in the hairdresser was not Ona but her assistant) She made an appointment for me at 9am on Wednesday.
I was pleasantly surprised when Ona met me at the door of the salon that morning. She has studied cosmetology in the USA; she and her husband lived there for eight years so Ona spoke perfect English. She also assured me that she had many clients from the Embassies who had short hair like mine.
I showed her my photos and she set to work. Soon she and the lady (an assistant) I'd met three weeks earlier, were pulling strands of hair through the plastic cap fitted to my head. The colour took a quarter of the time that it did at home, (she explained why, but I've forgotten -lol!) but the haircutting session took about forty minutes. She seemed nervous to be cutting anyone's hair as short as I had requested.
By the time my two hours were up, she had blow-dried my hair (she used a flat comb, next month I'll take my round brush) added a little mousse and I was done.
As I stood up, she asked if she could take photos of my hair for her album. I asked her to take photos with my camera as well. I think she did a wonderful job of the style and highlights if you compare the photos above and below with the one right at the top. (done by my South African hairdresser)

If anyone in Khartoum is reading my blog, I can definitely recommend Ona's Beauty Center for hairstyling. She also does acrylic nails, facials, bridal make-up and henna for Muslim women's fingernails.

Ona wanted photos of my hairstyle for her album
The salon is spacious, clean and the service very professional
That evening, feeling very groomed and thrilled with my Khartoum hairdresser, I leant over the balcony railing. Below me in the street, a woman was braiding her friend's hair...


  1. Your hair looks fabulous! Lynda gave you a wonderful tip for ensuring you get a great haircut and asking your supermarket manager for a recommendation was a wonderful idea.

  2. Thanks Penny; that was an excellent tip from Lynda, the sweet girl. I ask the Supermarket manager all sorts of directions and they always work. I went back there after having my hair done and showed him, and he called his assistants and said: Ona! Ona! pointing to my hair, to which they all smiled and clapped.

  3. Ona did a great job. I always hate changing hairdressers when I find a good one.

    I was certainly surprised to see the inside of the shop after that dark hallway.

  4. Your hair looks terrific, it's difficult to find someone that does a good haircut. I wear my hair similar to yours and I really need a trim!
    Sunny :)

  5. She really did a great job ! It's not easy to find a good hairdresser for short hairs. I have a very good one too, now !

  6. Hi Gaelyn;) it is normal the first service I look for when we're in a new place with my husband's work. I'm also so pleased with the result, thanks!

    Hi Sunny;) yes, I see you have an easy hairstyle! Thanks for the kind comment.

    Hi Gattina;) I also found that if anyone other than my South African hairdresser cut my hair, I couldn't do anything with it for weeks afterwards. I'm glad you have a good hd as well.

  7. You were lucky to find such a good hairdresser. The syle is how I like mine cut too. Boy oh boy do I need one now. My neighbour does it very cheaply but she's gone o relieve in a salon for a few weeks so I have to wait a bit longer yet.

  8. You're so right, diane;) I always know when I need a haircut - nothing falls into place no matter how well you blow it...

  9. Jo...I really enjoyed this post and I love your haircut. So glad that you could find someone to do this. My hair is very short easy to manage.

  10. Hi vriendin - dit is omtrent 'n ontdekkingsreis waarop jy is! Jou hare lyk pragtig. En jou beskrywings is - weer-eens - uitstekend!!!

    Nou eers jou kat-storie gelees. Is daar iets soos 'n SPCA in Khartoum?

  11. Hi Lori;) I have so many ladies telling me that they wish they could wear their hair this short but don't have the courage.

    Hi Ida! Ons het vanaand besef dat die Calico Kat swanger is. Ek kan huil. Ek wens ek kan haar vang en veearts toe neem en haar laat regmaak (hulle kan mos die ongebore katjies verwyder - dit sou beter so wees.) Maar sy is baie wild en sal nie eens onder die Prado uitkom om te eet totdat ons uit haar sig is. Dankie vir jou mooi woorde. Liefjou. Jo xxx

  12. Hi Jo, everything is an adventure in your new home! Your hair looks great, I am always nervous of new hairdressers too as a bad cut takes weeks to grow out.
    I have my hair short also and have kept the grey which lightens a lot in summer from the sun, I had not thought of getting highlights in the winter months when it goes quite dull.

  13. Your hair looks wonderful! The inside of the salon looks very nice, but it must have felt strange, going down a dark hallway to find it. Glad it all turned out well for you.

  14. Hi Peggy;) I'm also glad this haircut turned out well. (I think the poor hairdresser was relieved!) I love your hair - it always look bright and shiny. And of course, easy...

    Hi Janie;) Thanks for your kind comment. It turned out very well and I now have a regular hairdresser!

  15. I like your hair, looks fabulous!.....Ona did a wonderful job. Glad to know that you found one who can speak good english.

    I have to catch up reading your blog Jo. Am off today and am working again tomorrow night.

  16. What a glowing recommendation for Ona's Beauty Salon...
    What a brilliant idea to take the photo's as well... That is the most tedious part of changing hairdressers, to try to go through and explain in detail, what you have done... and also try to remember all the things you don't want done (The things that have gone wrong over the many years of fine tuning your perfect hair style)

  17. I have just read this and I'm so impressed so I would love to get my hair and make up done by Ona for my wedding, until I realised that this was nearly 6 years ago! Can anyone help me find a good make up artist in khartoum or even if Ona is still active, where can I find her ?


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