I grew up hating my hair.
It was a mess of 3c curls that no one in my town knew how to take care of — not even my mother. Granted, that could have been because I lived in a small, all-white town in the middle of Canada, and I was a very black, very East African little girl.
But that's not how I saw it. I hated my hair because it was a "problem." I was the only one who had to wear a swim cap at school, who always had braids, and wash-day Sundays. I learned to hide my curls, instead of taking the time to care for them. When I hit my teenage years, I started wearing a hijab. At the time, I thought covering my head would help put my curly-haired problems behind me, but I was very wrong.
Long story short: My curls turned to frizz. The dryness was so unmanageable that I just stopped taking care of it altogether. Besides, I was too busy to worry about something as silly as hair. But as I got older and started seeing the natural hair movement blossom online, something in me changed. I wanted to learn to love my hair, even if it was covered most of the day. That's how I came across Natasha Somalia, a natural and covered-hair expert.
"At a very young age, I always had a zest and zeal for the love of hair," Somalia tells Allure. She's been a hairstylist for the last 27 years, but it wasn't until she started covering her hair that she realized there was a gap in the market — and she decided to find a solution. "When your hair is covered all day, it can be prone to dryness and sweat. When I started to wear the hijab, I noticed a serious change in my hair," she says. "Covered hair care needs to be different because it's prone to dryness. It can become very brittle if it's not taken care of properly."
Covered Infusion is the line she created specifically for women, and when I stumbled upon it, it's like everything just clicked. My hair wasn't difficult, I didn't have "bad" hair — I just needed to listen to it. So listen I did, to everything Somalia (and my hair) had to say.
"The main hair tip that I would give to hijab-wearing girls is it starts in the shower. Make sure that you're detangling your hair," she says. "Use a leave-in conditioner and don’t allow it to dry without combing." Speaking of which, Somalia's even designed her own comb to tease apart matted hair.
Another important factor in hair-care for hijabis? Being mindful of your actual hijab. Somalia encourages women to pay attention to how they wear theirs, and what kind of fabric it's made of. "Hair loss comes from many things. I won’t say that wearing hijab will cause hair loss, but it does cause breakage. Sometimes women may wrap their hair too tight," she says.
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Breakage can also occur from tying your hair the same way every day. Somalia suggests opting for lower and loser buns under your hijab, and using good old-fashioned scrunchies instead of elastic ties. While it might seem counterintuitive for women who wear a hijab to wrap their hair before sleeping, it's something Somalia strongly suggests. "Because your hair is already more fragile, it's important to wrap your hair in a silk bonnet before sleeping so that you are not depleting your hair of more moisture," she says.
But the number one thing to keep in mind, Somalia says, is to do what feels right, and most importantly — listen to what your hair and body are telling you.
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