Wearing the hijab is a lifelong commitment. As a Muslim woman, wearing the hijab or tudung as it’s known in Malaysia and Singapore gives me a sense of self-respect, and discipline to set boundaries which allows me to embrace being a better person daily. One of the most important factors that ties in with this commitment is maintaining the best hair care routine. Let’s look at the facts. A hijabi may be in her tudung for up to 10 hours a day. It’s common for hair to be tied into a bun or various up-dos before donning on our tudung inner and finally a shawl or scarf. This often spells overheated scalp that hardly gets to breathe, and with hot weather that we’re famed for throughout the region, the hair is cocooned in a micro-environment of sweat, sebum and humidity.
Truth be told, there are three main concerns when it comes to hair care and wearing the hijab. First: itchy scalp from sweat and sebum, product build-up or using the wrong hair care products. According to expert hair stylist and owner of HairKunst and HairKunst Hijab, Bambang Sutrisno Soteto, “It is very common for women wearing the hijab for long hours to suffer from Alopecia traction which is caused by the constant pulling of hair especially at the front area where there is more strain to the roots.”
The next concern for a hijabi would be hair-fall and hair breakage from the constant tying of hair and tight hijab inners that help keep her hair in place under her tudung. And the third and albeit sensorial concern involves hair that’s less than fresh and clean smelling. Yes, damp or musty-smelling locks happen. We are all too familiar with the briny smell of sweaty clothing after a workout—apply that to hair that’s been covered under layers of cloth for hours and you’ll get a glimpse of just why scalp and hair maintenance is so vital to us hijabis.
“Studies show that heat from wearing hijab or working in hot environment can cause overproduction of sebum. This can lead to clogging of the hair follicle and may cause thinning of hair, and subsequently hair loss. I highly suggest that hijabis wash their hair regularly to avoid oily hair and scalp. Always use shampoos formulated with salicylic acid,” shares Dr Ainana Aszeme from Hana Aesthetics Clinic.
Eri Su, director of his namesake salon in Singapore’s Bali Lane, Eri Su shares that the most common scalp and hair issues for hijabis include “hair loss, dandruff, and both oily and dry scalp. Due to the humid weather, hijabis have minimal oxygen on their scalp that can lead to hair itch and fungal growth. These, eventually leads to hairloss.” For Su, consistency is key. “Apply scalp tonic once a day to improve blood circulation.” He also recommends, “exfoliating your scalp once a month to remove excess sebum and flaky scalp, and to create a healthier scalp environment for hair to grow.” His other tip for healthier scalp includes finishing it with cold water, so as to “close the cuticles of your hair leaving it shiny and silky smooth.
From shampoos to conditioners, masks, dry shampoos and serums, we unearth the best products to help hijabis navigate a better hair care regimen and ensure that maintaining fresh, healthy scalp, and shiny, resilient hair are a breeze.
Best shampoos and conditioners for healthier scalp and hair
Strong, hydrated hair that’s able to withstand the rigours of up-dos and hijabi use begins with first understanding and nourishing your scalp. Depending on whether you have oily or dry scalp, understanding your scalp’s concerns can help you find the perfect hair care products to suit your needs. There is no denying that scalp care ensures the overall health of your hair even if you’re not a hijabi. Our pick of shampoos and conditioners will leave your scalp feeling fresher for longer, curb itchiness, and keep your hair healthy and strong while wearing the hijab.
Phytopecia Hair Boosting Shampoo
This intensive hair care shampoo instantly refreshes your scalp with a cool tingling feeling as you massage your scalp. Made with phytospingosine phosphate and pure plant extract, it helps to deep clean your scalp. And as for your locks, you’ll notice less hair fall after a couple of washes. Scalp feels less oily with stronger and healthier tresses too.
Phytopecia Hair Boosting Shampoo, $45 for 250ml; available at K Sisters
The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Undeniably one of the most sought-after scalp care shampoos around, one bottle of this goodie is sold every four seconds globally. But just to put the claim to the test, I gave it a try and was surprised at how my scalp felt cleaner for longer under my tudung. Even after sweating, I experienced less irritation and itchiness. When used frequently, you’ll notice less hair-fall as well with every wash.
The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo $15 for 250ml; available at The Body Shop
Sublimic Fuente Forte For Oily Scalp and Sublimic Fuente Forte Treatment
We’re not here to shame anyone with musty-smelling hair—it happens to the best of us—but you should know that there are great shampoos that not only clarify the scalp but offer a relaxing, aromatic experience as well. I loved the refreshing scent that was unlike many other scalp care shampoos. Not only did it keep my scalp feeling fresh and healthy, when paired with the Sublimic Fuente Forte Treatment, my hair felt thoroughly pampered and instantly was softer and manageable. Enhanced with Jasmin Sambac Element, it is said to help with blood circulation and thus, allows healthier hair growth too.
Sublimic Fuente Forte For Oily Scalp, $40.66 for 250ml, Sublimic Fuente Forte Treatment, $34.24 for 130g; available at Lazada
Rahua The Classic Shampoo and Classic Conditioner
This shampoo is made with omega-9 rich Rahua oil, creating the best well-balanced environment for your scalp; not too oily nor too dry. After one wash, you’ll notice how your hair is softer, easier to manage and a lot more lustrous.
Rahua The Classic Shampoo, $55 for 275ml and Classic Conditioner, $59 for 275ml; available at Ken’s Apothecary
Percy & Reed Radiance Revealing Invisible Dry Shampoo
We’d only opt for dry shampoo in a pinch, as optimal hair scalp for hijabis means hair washing on the daily. Sometimes though, life happens and it’s not always possible to cleanse and condition on the go, especially after gym workouts before work. I was pleasantly surprised by the fast absorption of sebum and greasiness, as well as the instant deodorising effect it had in perfuming the locks. This invisible, powder-free formula, means that when used correctly, chalky or powdery residue commonly associated with dry shampoos is avoided. To make it work effectively, blow dry your hair thoroughly before donning the hijab.
Percy & Reed Radiance Revealing Invisible Dry Shampoo, $28 for 200ml; available at Sephora
The Most Effective Hair Treatments
Although shampooing and conditioning your hair is key in caring for your hair, when wearing the hijab, extra pampering helps in ensuring your tresses stay healthy at all times. There is no doubt that when your scalp is in good condition, your hair grows better and stronger. From an array of serums, tonics and masks, we’ve chosen these few that perfectly complement your hair care regimen for those wearing the hijab.
Drunk Elephant & Chris McMillan T.L.C. Happi Scalp™ Scrub
If you often scrub your face and body to buff away dead skin cells and ensure that your skincare products absorb into your skin, how about a scalp scrub? As it was my first time trying a scalp scrub, I was eager to see the results. Having suffered from a slight bout of dandruff, I tried this scrub to remove as much flakes possible to ensure the serum I would use next absorb better into my scalp. Although it was hard to properly scrub my scalp, I was happy to notice that my flakes were no longer visible. Best of all, you can even use this scrub on your body.
Drunk Elephant & Chris McMillan T.L.C. Happi Scalp™ Scrub, $52 for 180ml; available at Sephora
Sachajuan Scalp Treatment
For any hijabi, using a scalp treatment at least once or twice a week can really help strengthen your roots. Infused with rosemary oil, this treatment not only soothes irritation, but also helps in maintaining a healthy moisture balance for your scalp with an easy-to-use applicator that reaches your scalp directly. I used this before hair drying my hair to ensure I did not dry out my scalp further from the heat.
Sachajuan Scalp Treatment, RM 155 for 125ml; available at Ken’s Apothecary
Coco & Eve Like A Virgin Super Nourishing Coconut and Fig Hair Masque
Pampering your hair to give it that extra oomph is definitely worth the time. And if you have long hair which stays tied and covered most of the time, using a masque will help to replenish and maintain hair moisture. Truly one to use on the weekends for some deep healthy hair conditioning, what I love most about this product is that it’s paraben-free, sulphate-free, phthalate-free and yes, even gluten-free.
Coco & Eve Like A Virgin Super Nourishing Coconut and Fig Hair Masque, $31; available at Sephora