World Hijab Day: 4 Muslim women on what the hijab means to them (and how they care for their hair)

World Hijab Day: 4 Muslim women on what the hijab means to them (and how they care for their hair)

February 1, 2023

Written by Nassima Iggoute

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This World Hijab Day, we spoke to four women to find out what the hijab means to them – and how they care for the hair underneath their scarves.

This year, 1 February marks the 11th annual World Hijab Day, created to celebrate the millions of Muslim women around the world who wear the hijab.

For many Muslim women, there is one symbol that identifies and unites them: the hijab. Known to many as a headscarf or a veil, the hijab is an act of worship within Islam. It has been subject to scrutiny and while some believe it to be oppressive, the reality is when women make their own choice to wear the hijab, it can be empowering. 

One thing many might not consider when it comes to the hijab is the matter of haircare. It’s easy to think out of sight, out of mind, but for many Muslim women, this can throw up challenges, from the struggle to find great hairdressers that cater to hijab-wearing women to selecting products that maintain healthy hair amid the friction of fabric. 

We spoke to four Muslim women about what the hijab means to them – and how they maintain healthy hair while wearing a headscarf. 

Nashaat Imran Salih-Bello, 23, content creator and medical student

Nashaat Imran Salih-Bello, 23, content creator and medical student, London

“For me, the hijab is an expression of my ongoing journey and commitment to upholding modesty. My relationship with hijab is deep and personal and I am always striving to embody it as best as I can. It has become a part of my identity and even in difficult times has been a source of strength and pride for me. 

“As a hijabi with afro hair, I have had my fair share of haircare trouble. Currently, my hair is chemically treated, so I am always looking for ways to minimise breakage from the relaxing process as well as wearing a hijab everyday. 

“My recommendations for healthy hijab hair start in the shower with my Shower Filter by Hello Klean [which removes minerals, impurities and chlorine from the water], which improves the quality of my hair, followed by Olaplex No 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, which leaves my hair super soft with less breakage in the shower. I love finishing this off with Inde Wild Champi Hair Oil followed up with a spritz of Ruka Hair Perfume.”

Dr Ayah Siddiqi, 33, clinical scientist, dentist with a special interest in cosmetic dermatology

Dr Ayah Siddiqi, 33, clinical scientist, dentist with a special interest in cosmetic dermatology, London

“Hijab means strength and identity. I show the world my faith and that I don’t feel the need to conform to social ideations. Hijab-wearing Muslim women not only face the challenges of being a woman, but a woman with an external declaration of faith. 

“I have worn a hijab for around 10 years and I would say that my hijab style is more about efficiency and minimal faff. When I’m concentrating at work, the last thing I want is my hijab sliding all over the place. 

“Under the hijab, I do suffer from traction alopecia because I tie my hair in a bun super tight under the hijab. My haircare starts with regular hair masks like the Vichy Dercos Nutri Protein Hair Mask. Switching to silk hair accessories is key as this helps reduce any tearing – I personally love the Slip Pure Silk Turban. 

“So many women forget the direct correlation between hair and internal health so taking the right supplements is key as deficiencies can contribute to hair loss and thinning. I swear by the JS Health Hair + Energy supplements as they support hair growth as well as hair health. 

“And finally, don’t forget your scalp. Scalp health can tell a lot about hair health and the scalp is most affected by the hijab. The Living Proof Scalp Care Revitalizing Treatment has been a weekly fix in my haircare routine for a healthy and clean scalp.”

Farah Khalil, 30, e-commerce agency partnerships manager at TikTok

Farah Khalil, 30, E-commerce agency partnerships manager at TikTok, London

“The hijab is a reflection of how I chose to modestly dress as well as represent the religion I choose to follow. I think the hijab is a beautiful representation of Muslim women around the globe and I feel sincere comfort to be able to wear it and style it with my personality. 

“I’ve been wearing the hijab for 16 years since making the choice to wear it at 14 years old. Having my mother as my role model, I was influenced by her modesty and elegant style. I have combined my personality, personal beliefs and creativity with the hijab and enjoy the experience of wearing it. It makes me feel empowered as a woman. 

“I have suffered some hair thinning which really affected my personal confidence so I started to take regular supplements to restore my hair growth and have seen a significant improvement. The Hair Gain Gummies, also certified Halal, contain biotin, selenium and zinc, which can aid hair growth. 

“I am also a big fan of the Gisou Honey Infused Hair Oil, a great multipurpose oil, perfect for styling or treatments. Finally, a fantastic product for hair is the Grow Gorgeous Hair Growth Serum – it’s amazing for repairing hair thinning and I’ve seen amazing results in the past few months.”

Eniyah Rana, 37, content creator

Eniyah Rana, 37, content creator, London

“Wearing the hijab is more than a symbol and a way of dressing. For me, it’s a personification of the acts I represent: being humble, respectful, empathetic and loving. What a true Muslim woman represents. 

“As a hijab wearer for almost 15 years, my hijab journey was not easy. I grew into the woman I am today because of my hijab. As a content creator in the early days of social media, I had always felt like I was alone because of what I wore but I am proud that I persevered and became part of that journey to diversify the industry. 

“When it comes to haircare for hijab wearers, I start from the inside out with my daily collagen. I swear by the Vida Glow Natural Marine Collagen. For my hair, it’s all about the oils. Spending some time finding the right oils is crucial but can make the biggest difference to the health of your hair. Hair loss is common in hijab wearers so I use the Nature Spell Rosemary Oil to keep my hair from shedding. Haircare is part of my self-care, so the Aromatica Ritual Hair Oil Lavender & Patchouli is perfect to nourish and hydrate but also relax the mind. Finally, a hair oil ritual is incomplete without Inna Skin Argan Oil, a fantastic and versatile oil that hydrates and repairs the hair but can also be used on the face and body.

“Oh, and if you’re looking for hijab-friendly salons with access to some of the best hairdressers in the industry, try the Aveda Flagship Store in London. Absolutely recommend.”

Images: Nashaat Imran Salih-Bello; Dr Ayah Siddiqi; Farah Khalil; Eniyah Rana; Stylist

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