This is a beauty ritual performed by Sudanese women using incense smoke to clean the skin and make it smell perfumed. It also tightens the genital area and makes you feel great. Dukhan, which means ‘smoke’ in Arabic, gives the skin a slight tan, while relieving joint problems and arthritis. Similar to the Somali ritual it involves stoking charcoal until it glows. After placing the hot coals into a clay pot, you cover them with perfumed acacia and sandalwood, disrobe and carefully sit on a chair or stoop above the pot with your legs as far apart as possible, with your hoo-ha positioned over the smoke hole, covered in a blanket, creating a small body tent while the sweet smoke billows around your body. It leaves users deeply relaxed and with a tan. This tan comes from the tinting effect that acacia wood has when it’s burned.
Dukhan is a ritual that many married women do at least weekly. And it’s a tradition with history. Incense bathing goes back thousands of years to the ancient northeast African Kingdoms of Meroe and Nubia. However, dukhan leaves a strong woody scent that lingers on the body for days which could be distracting to those who aren’t familiar with it.