“I’ve worn a hijab for over 19 years. Here are 4 things I’ve learned about caring for my hair”

Written by Zeynab Mohamed

From hiding her hair away to celebrating and caring for it, one writer reflects on her time wearing the hijab.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my hair. Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt that it made me stand out from the people around me. Not only was it different to my sisters’ but it was so much thicker, requiring a designated haircare routine that took twice as long as the rest of my family’s. 

Then, when I was 13, I started wearing the hijab, and I took to it like a duck to water. The women around me wore hijabs and it was a beautiful thing; a symbol of our faith and devotion to our beliefs. It felt easy and natural, but I also liked it because it covered my hair. 

The hijab gave me an easy way out and saved me time, especially because I no longer needed to figure out what worked for my hair and what didn’t. I would just twist it into a bun and cover it, something that also helped me avoid damaging my hair trying to fit into Westernised beauty standards. Yes, it is central to my religious practice but it’s also been a shield against the harmful biases and discrimination that Black women face. 

Fast forward 10 years and I’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge, largely thanks to copious amounts of YouTube and TikTok videos. More than just learning how to take care of my hair, it’s been a journey in accepting and loving my hair for what it is, not just something to hide beneath my hijab.

While I’m not strict, per se, I do have a haircare routine that makes me feel good and leaves my hair feeling healthy. 

1. Wash day

I have quite dry hair naturally and wearing the hijab means that my hair is prone to increased dryness and breakage, something I try to counteract with hydrating products and ingredients. Everything I use, whether it’s a shampoo, conditioner, mask or leave-in product, is centred around hydration.

I love washing my hair with the Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Ultra Rich Shampoo and Conditioner. They’re products that feel like they’re really doing something and my hair feels nourished and hydrated after each wash. 

2. Masking

I’m not loyal to a particular hair mask but I do love a deep conditioner. I’m currently rotating between the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Hair Treatment Mask, £12.99, Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner, £15.99, and John Frieda Hydrate & Recharge Deep Soak Masque, £7.99, all of which make a considerable difference to my hair and repair damage caused by dryness.

3. Scalp care

Recently, I’ve introduced the This Hair of Mine Scalp Serum, which I massage into my scalp using the clever 2-in-1 Love Chrome Scalp Gua Sha and Comb. Scalp massagers are brilliant tools to stimulate blood flow to the scalp and promote hair growth and I’ve noticed such a huge difference in the condition of my hair. It’s easier to take care of and has much less breakage. 

4. Leave-in treatments

I’m never without my Aveda Be Curly Enhancer, £23.50, K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask, £25, and The Que Silk Headband – it helps protect my hair underneath my scarf and my edges are eternally grateful.

My routine is ever-changing but that’s the beauty of hair, including hair beneath a hijab – it can be so many things. I’ve been wearing the hijab for over 19 years and like many hijabi women, looking after my hair is still integral to my beauty routine. 

Main image: Getty

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