Right off the bat, I’m not someone who wears the tudung (headscarf) at present but I do, occasionally. I am, however, surrounded by Muslim women who do wear it on the daily — some just beginning and others have worn it for over a decade. Out of curiosity, I occasionally ask them about their experiences with the hijab and a recurring theme that seems to constantly pop up is haircare for Muslim women after committing to the practice.
Spending a lot of time with your hair tied up under a scarf, especially in a country that’s often sunny, gives rise to hair problems — and more so if you don’t maintain your tresses. Here are some common hair issues my fellow Hijabis (and maybe you) have faced and some tips on how you could combat them.
Flat & Limp Hair
One of the many effects of wearing a scarf in a hot climate is having flat, limp hair. With all the sweat and oil gathering, your hair weighs down through the day. At the same time, the pressure from your scarf, although rather little, plays a part in weighing down your hair. Tying your hair too tight also causes it to be flat and limp by the end of the day when you go hijab-free at home.
This is a pretty obvious one but if you don’t wash your underscarf regularly, you’re setting yourself up for this issue. Since your hair and scalp are in contact with it the whole time you’re wearing a scarf, a lot of oil, dandruff and dust can build up on it. Besides damaging your hair, it will also make your hair flat and limp.
How to solve it:
Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to really give your hair a good cleanse. Since these shampoos have the tendency to be a bit drying, balance it out with conditioner, making sure to avoid your scalp. You can also look out for clarifying shampoos which are moisturising, like this one from Joico.
Skip the tight hairstyles! Some people recommend wearing a bump-it which adds volume and will lessen hair fall in the long run. Another simple way to add volume to your hairdo is by changing your hair parting frequently.
Wash your underscarves regularly and invest in at least 3 pieces, so you’ll always be covered!
Hair Fall Or A Receding Hairline
Usually, we’ll tie our hair into a ponytail or tight bun so that we can get through the day fuss-free without having to take out our scarves and re-adjust. However, if you tie your hair in a ponytail or bun that’s way too tight way too often, you’ll end up straining and weakening your roots, hence increasing hair fall. If you’re the kind to bring your hair back into a ponytail, you’re also setting yourself up for a receding hairline!
Another common mistake that leads to hair fall is putting your hair up when it’s wet and putting on your scarf. When your hair is wet, it’s more elastic and hence more prone to breakage.
How to solve it:
Let your hair air-dry till it’s nowhere near damp or moist. If you want to dry your hair in a jiffy, invest in a heat protectant for your hair which will cut down your blow-dry time while protecting your tresses.
It’s much more cost effective than buying a new hairdryer and protects your hair from any heat damage. These ones from Living Proof (great for those with thick or coarse hair) and Hask (for all hair types) cut down your blow-dry time while providing additional benefits like detangling and leaving you with luscious, shiny locks.
Instead of tying your hair into a tight ponytail or bun, pull it into a loose, low bun or a side ponytail. Braiding your hair loosely is a great alternative hairstyle as well! You can also try using a ninja underscarf, which lets you get through the day with a loose hairstyle. Putting up your hair with a scrunchie or a large butterfly clip instead of elastic ties will also be less strenuous on your locks and will lessen hair fall over time!
Dandruff & An Oily Or Dry Scalp
Wearing a hijab in Singapore entails sweating every day and often having a moist or greasy scalp. So at the end of the day, nothing feels better than stepping into the shower and shampooing the day away.
However this desire to wash our hair more than once a day strips our scalp and tresses of the natural oils it needs to keep it healthy and moisturised. The troubling bit about having a dry scalp is that often, the irritated skin ends up flaking off.
At the same time, some of us would rather shampoo our hair only when we really need to. This leads to excess sebum on your scalp which leads to dandruff, where the excess oil causes dead skin cells to build up and shed — this is on top of the sweat and moisture that gathers daily thanks to SG’s heat. Some of us also have scalps that naturally produce excess sebum, so wearing a scarf for hours only exacerbates the problem.
How to solve it:
The first obvious solution for those with a dry scalp is to cut down on how often you wash your hair — once every day or two is enough. If you’re like me and can’t resist the greasy feeling even after a day, use a dry shampoo to freshen up your roots. I particularly love Percy & Reed’s No Fuss Fabulousness as it doesn’t leave a white or powdery residue and really leaves my scalp feeling shower-fresh. At the same time, you should switch to a shampoo which helps to soothe and revive your scalp back to full health — try The Body Shop’s Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo or Briogeo’s Scalp Revival™ Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo.
For those with an oily scalp, wash your hair more regularly! The American Academy of Dermatology says that shampooing once a day if you have an oily scalp will help with the condition. You can get a deep-cleansing shampoo too, like Tresemme’s Deep Cleansing Shampoo.
You may also want to go for a scalp treatment once a month at your hairdresser’s or get a product you can use in the convenience of your own home. Pearlista is a great Muslim-friendly salon which also uses Halal-certified products. For an at-home treatment, I recommend using Lush’s Roots Scalp Treatment, which works to refresh, revitalise and nourish the hair follicles. It works great for both oily and dry scalps!
Dry & Brittle Hair
Although our hair is rather protected from sun damage thanks to the scarves, it’s still possible to encounter the issue. Our climate is still hot and dry at times, so it’s possible for our hair to heat up and deteriorate.
Regularly blow-drying your hair before wearing your scarf and not using the proper hair care for it also causes your hair to be damaged. Even though no one’s going to see your hair (besides yourself) it still wouldn’t be nice knowing you have frizzy, dull or dry hair! Other styling treatments like dying or chemically treating it, or using harsh hair products can also lead to unhealthy tresses so always be wary of what goes on your crowning glory!
How to solve it:
Hair oils work wonders to hydrate, revitalise and fix your hair, but be sure to go for 100% natural oils. Argan Oil works best for this scenario but, you must be sure to apply the right amount otherwise your hair can end up too greasy. Also, avoid applying it on your scalp unless you have a very dehydrated scalp. When applying the oil, it’s best to leave your hair to air so that the oil can be properly absorbed, so apply it at night for best results.
Like we mentioned earlier, tying your hair when it’s wet can lead to it being more fragile and brittle, so be sure that it’s absolutely dry before you wear the scarf. If your hair is truly suffering a drought, you’ll also want to blow-dry your hair less often and choose to air-dry instead. You can also purchase heat protectors which are designed to help you moisturise your hair at the same time!
The simplest thing you can do is to condition your hair when you wash it and use shampoo and conditioners which are meant for your hair type. It’s very very important!
Know your hair.
Find out what work’s best for your hair. Don’t blindly buy hair care or styling products without knowing that it’s suitable for your hair type and condition. If it helps, head to a specialist who can determine what will work best for you!
Air your hair.
After a long day of keeping your hair under wraps, it’s important to let your scalp and hair breathe and unwind too! Leave your hair down, sit under a fan, massage your head to encourage circulation. Let your follicles chill out! If you can, find a way to let your hair sit in the fresh air under the sun cause it needs Vitamin D too!
Trim the ends.
You could have perfectly healthy hair but dry or split ends. It’s important to keep everything fresh and trim your hair every four to six weeks. This will help to promote healthy hair growth!
Use natural brushes or combs.
It helps to properly distribute the natural oils and is gentler on your hair, reducing breakage and hair fall! Regularly brushing your hair also promotes circulation in your scalp, improving overall scalp health.
Find the best scarf material for you.
We’re always tempted to get the prettiest or trendiest scarves. But just like skincare, there’s a scarf material which you should and should not use. If you feel like your hair condition is best when you wear a cotton scarf, wear those. If you feel like a chiffon scarf doesn’t make you feel good, then don’t wear it. Remember to ignore what everyone says you should wear and pay attention to how the material feels on you.
Most modern Muslim women I encounter are quick to invest in makeup or skincare that boosts their confidence or makes them feel better about themselves. But why aren’t we investing in something that’s equally — or maybe even more — important? Sure people won’t see your hair, but it’s always nice to do something for yourself!
We really hope that you found this article useful! If you have personal tips you’d like to share, or if there are more topics you’d like us to cover, let us know in the comments below.
Lots of love,