So after speaking to a number of muslim women who have worn the hijab since the age of puberty, a lot of other discussions went down at the time in their homes: regarding menstruation, hormone changes, what the hijab means, and why its our choice to wear it. A recurring theme keeps resurfacing, however, no one, (or most) never really got the pep talk about hair care under the hijab. Just because we don’t see our hair on the day to day doesn’t mean slinging it in a tight bun or pony tail to keep it pulled away from sight each day is the answer either. Why do we seem to place more emphasis on our faces for example with all the products in the world to perfect it, but don’t invest in something relating to hair-care?
If I think about my day, I spend about 90% of my time in my hijab, if I have had a long day at work, and get home late, I am spending around 9 hours after I jump into bed, actually allowing my hair to breathe in a moderately open space, nothing outdoors (lets not go crazy) just enough oxygen that an average bedroom can hold with no windows open.
Not because you’re a boujiee queen, even though you may well be, they say our hair is a lot more sensitive than we may initially think, silk pillows help your hair control sebum, an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands. So the normal, traditional cotton pillowcases actually are able to soak the sebum up overnight, making our scalp actually end up producing more oil in the process to compensate for what has been lost. You may not see a change over night, but its always the small and consistent steps that add up over a longer period of time.
So there are litterally hundreds of hair type combinations, trichology, the study of the scalp and hair have tidied it into categories, whereby certain products can be better used for certain hair types. But even then, it can be very difficult to tell what works for you since your hair history is a thing, do you hair dry it daily? (try not to) How many times have you coloured it? Does it need a cut every month? How dry does it get? Is it combination hair? Learning about which products work and which dont is nothing other than trial and error, and recommendations. I would always say the more natural the product the better, the less artifical chemicals in your hair, the more you can start the process of rehabilitation and detox from all the chemicals it has collated and collected through the years.
Needless to say, once you have the products down, its time to formulate your little routine. This can range massively, from scheduling in a time in the week where you literally truly do have the excuse that you cant come out because you are ‘washing your hair’ to brushing it whilst wet in the shower. How often you wash your hair is also very dependent on your hair type, some would say that those with straight hair, may wash every day, but use conditioner every four to five days or one or two for a “light” style. Those with wavy or curly hair may wash three times a week, whilst conditioning it once or twice. But this is all subject to hair type. Find times in your week, kind of like scheduling time for journaling, to look after your hair, after it goes to the gym, after it goes to a party and is straightened. This is all on you. You have the freedom and creativity to contrsuct a dreamy routine for silky, lucious curls waves or straight tresses.
Listen I am all for whitechapel hijabs as much as the next person, there is nothing modest about over spending on a piece of cloth essentially. But I think it can be argued that we stand corrected on this. I guess its really an amanah to look after our hair, Allah entrusted your tresses with you, what you wish to put on them is on you. Material is everything, just like we wouldnt use certain material types depending on our skin type, we need to treat our hair the same. If cotton works for you, become an expert cotton hijab wearer. Silk, satin, jersey, find hijab materials that are breatheable, whatever the material that suits you, think less about what it looks like, or which blogger is telling you to pick, based on what they are trying to sell to you, and more about what YOU need. Hijab style is a very personal choice, not because of what it looks like but what it FEELS like!
This is the most serious point I think I will make, the nature of our surroundings really does affect our skin and hair in ways we may not even notice. We are suffocating our hair when its covered all the time, and then only seeing light in the evening, artificial light. Your hair will naturally climatise. I can only imagine it by metaphorically comparing it to a plant, that is never watered, its just out here with its tongue out breathing heavily so unbelievably thirsty. It is absolutely necessary for us to go outside hijab less every once in a while, if you are based in the UAE or Middle East in general go to town in your ladies beaches. Here in the UK when the sun is out, we are in the park for most of it. Take this time to let your hair feel some vitimin D, let it feel the wind, let it breathe in the oxygen too. This can also lead you to another sub point, why not in the process try a little gardening to make your hair care routine even more enjoyable. Having a lounge and a cup of tea amongst blossoms and roses sounds kind of heavenly, right? If you dont have a garden, ask a friend to sit in hers, find a secret rooftop to have a moment alone, whatever you choose give your hair a moment to breathe.
Many women complain about their hair line receding after years of wearing the hijab, I dont think its a problem Muslim women have faced over the ages, its a new phenomea that has emerged as a result of the perhaps ill informed millenial hijabi blogger youtube space. We all remember growing up on hijab tutorials urging us to tye our hairs tight in ponytails and buns, putting a buna (a clip used in the back of the head to create a look which puffs the hijab out from the back). I think the rage found origins in the gulf, a trend emerging to give the impression women had longer hair than they did. But this is 2018, no more proving to humans that we actually DO have hair beneath our hijab. Lets protect what we have, to prevent receding hairlines, something that many girls are starting to complain about and find treatment for through microneedling and micro-debravasion. Lets start with loosening our buns and ponytails. Putting an under cap that you can find from any islamic book shop, or mosque to tidy away the baby hairs and strays. 2018 is all about comfort, over style, and health and self care in places that are hidden, the self care that is purely for yourself, not because others can see it.
So with the fear of balding in mind (Islamophobes relax we are not really bald under here) a great solution, is by cutting a fringe, if you are one of those women too busy to think about the optimum number of twists needed from a hair tye on your ponytail, before you leave each day, and want to sling on a hijab without worrying about your receding hair line. I would say cut a fringe, theyre actually super in this season, and women like Claudia Winkleman (my life muse) actually makes it so unbeleivably culturally acceptable to be donning a fringe without looking like a child, think parisian chic.
Your hair is your crown in glory, we dont wear hijab because its ugly, and neglected therefore making it easier to cover each day, looking after it can make the act of wearing hijab transformative. Knowing you have a silky lucious bed of roses on your head, and to choose to cover it any way is the real act of jihad. Having sweaty betty tangled in a hot mess because you NEVER make time for your hair, isnt. Your hair is entrusted as an amanah too. So with refernce to bullet point 2, definately find the right oils for your hair type, and create a trial and error process, avoiding the ones that leave it dry and bristle, and others that leave it drowned in grease.
I feel like hair masks have been the rage of 2017-18, its all about taking time out after a lovely bath, putting your hair in some argon oil, tying it nicely in a pretty towel and sitting with a good book as it breathes in the good kind of moistures. There are many hair masks on the market, for every type of hair. See bullet point 2 for a reminder about finding a mask that suits your hair type.
This kind of comes down to point 2 again too, your type of hair, braiding it is still a really common tool across the board to keep hair at bay. Creating waves in very straight hair that are not often there, giving a little volume, taming frizz, or even a means to keep your hair tidy whilst under the hijab all day so it doesn’t annoy you with unruly strands coming into your eyes, whilst ensuring your maintaining that heairline. Braiding and plaiting the hair is a more softer way to keep the hair tied back, and it looks beautiful unbraided/plaited too when you’re home ready to unravel your crown in glory!