Fact: How we style our hair under our hijab is as important as how we wear hijab, for the health and longevity of our hair. Most of us who wear hijab know this. (And if we don’t or if we are new to hijab, we should.) Also fact: Black and Muslim women are an under-represented demographic in hair space.
If you are Afro-textured, natural or ‘Type 4,’ there is another level to this under-representation. So, this intersection of Black, Afro-textured and Muslim women face a unique set of cultural and practical hair challenges that need to be addressed. Do any of these ring a bell?
- Finding ghusl-friendly styles. (Ghusl is the ritual bathing/cleaning women must do after physical intimacy and at the end of each menstruation cycle. Ghusl can be harder for textured hair, as getting such hair wet, moisturizing and drying it is a process that is very different from non-textured hair.)
- Finding hijab friendly salons.
- Finding hijab-friendly styles.
- Finding suitable hair routines tailored to a Muslim woman’s lifestyle.
- Hair texture bias in school or professional spaces.
- Texture bias at home from friends and family.
- Assumptions that you wear hijab, so you don’t care about your hair.
- Your hair is covered because it is “beautiful,” which in the one-dimensional view of most people means straight and long.
These challenges present barriers in allowing Black and Muslim women to engage with hair care in the way that they would like. They make it difficult to find practical and applicable steps to create a hair routine that is rooted in positive perceptions and self care that fits into our Islamic lifestyle.
It's time to change that narrative. We cannot tackle all these problems at once but, let's start with changing the narrative of the following:
No more hiding under your hijab or satin bonnet around the house. No more boring buns all week. No more wondering if the style will fit under your hijab. No more second guessing if your hairstyle will still look good after ghusl.
Let’s change the narrative with The Hijab Styling Guide created by me, Rahma
The Hijab Styling Guide for Natural Hair
Image source: @4c_hijabi
A survey I took on my 4c_hijabi IG page
asked Black and Muslim women about their hair styling issues, and it revealed these common concerns:
- Trying to avoid the infamous “camel hump.”
- Bumpy look of braids under hijab.
- Finding cute and protective styles to wear under the hijab.
Here is how the guide helps you solve these natural hair hiccups.
Flat in the Front of Your Head
When choosing your hairstyle, pick a style that is flat in the front half of your head, from the top to the crown and from ear to ear. As long as the bulk of the style does not go an inch above the crown, that’s one hump down (pun intended), and two more to go.
To keep the style flat at the front with braids, cornrows, twists etc, consider parting more sections in that region. More sections means the gap between each braid will be small. Smaller gaps = less room for your hijab fabric to dip in between the braids and look bumpy.
An undercap, like Haute Hijab’s Silk-Blend Satin Underscarf
, is also a great solution for this. It can keep your hair in place and smoothen out the top part for a smoother hijab look.
Now that you know what to look for when picking a hijab-friendly style, let's find some beautiful looks to go with it. And don’t worry, we will also give you install, maintenance and take down tips.
1. Single Braids
We love how @lavislybritt effortlessly demonstrates the many ways you can wear single braids in or out of the hijab.
Styling your hair with single braids is a great under-the-hijab style for a number of reasons: It’s very versatile, easy to style, ghusl-friendly and low maintenance. However, install and take-down time can take a while, especially if you do a lot of braids or if you leave them in too long.
Hijab styling tip: Flat twist the front edges into a braid. This will reduce the tension on them and give you a flatter look at the front. Remember, the braids at the front need to be a smaller size if you are looking for a smoother hijab look.
This is another great style to wear under one’s hijab, and protective as well. Cornrows create intricate patterns, are ghusl-friendly and are fairly low maintenance (just moisturize and go). You should be aware, though, of tension on the edges and nape area. And, this can sometimes appear bumpy under the hijab.
Hijab styling tips:
Wear an underscarf
to smoothen out the bumps before wearing hijab. And, flat twist the edges or single braid the delicate nape area.
Twists are a great way to style texture hair under your hijab for a number of reasons. They are very versatile, lay flatter under the hijab, are easier to create (with two strands), are also low maintenance (moisturize and go), have a faster takedown and install time than braids and bonus – your hair will dry faster in twists then in braids after ghusl.
Two things to be aware of: twists can unravel during ghusl if installed too loosely, and if you borrow during install (if your twists aren't evenly divided and you have to borrow from the other half of the twist), your hair will be very matted during takedown.
Hijab-friendly tip: Try doing rope twists instead of loose twists. These hold better and are less likely to unravel during ghusl. If your hair is shorter, do not stretch your twists into a tight low bun. Section out the front half and create your bun with the lower half. Finally, use bobby pins to hold down the front half instead of stretching it back.
4. Flat twists
Flat twists create beautiful intricate patterns. They lay flatter under your hijab than cornrows, are easy to install and take down, are low maintenance, are gentle on edges and also help you do a faster ghusl because the water reaches the scalp faster. They can unravel during ghusl if installed too loosely, and this hairstyle doesn’t hold as long as braids.
Hijab- friendly tips: Wear your silk or satin bonnets under your hijab and when you go to bed. This will reduce friction against the hair, and you will be able to maintain the style longer.
Locs are the most ghusl-friendly hairstyle you can have under your hijab. They are very low maintenance and as versatile as single twists and braids. However, they do collect lint easily and have a longer drying time after ghusl.
Wear a satin or silk fabric against your locs. This will prevent it from picking lint from jersey or pashmina fabrics. Consider wearing the SIlk-Blend Satin Underscarf
. Lightly blow dry your hair after ghusl on low heat to speed up drying time but do not dry the hair completely, otherwise you risk heat damage. Get the hair 80 percent dry with the hair dryer, then air dry the rest.
6. Loose Buns
@GloryOkings has some exquisitely elegant, yet simple, bun styling tutorials that you can try.
These are quick to install and quickly create a hijab-friendly shape. They can cause strain to your edges if pulled tight, and they can cause strain to your crown if too tight. Also, this style tends to fall apart during ghusl. However, they are great short term styles to do on pre-stretched hair.
Hijab friendly tip: Look out for high buns. Keep them low. Otherwise the fabric of the hijab will hang on the bun and weigh it down.
For more hijab-friendly textured hairstyles, follow the gallery I will be creating here. Let us know, which hair style and hair tip was your favorite? What’s your go-to style for natural hair under hijab? If you had to pick a style for Eid, which would it be?