[Updated 21 Jan 2020]
Living in a tropical country with hot and humid weather, many of us can probably relate to having hair that gets oily pretty quickly, especially when we’ve been perspiring a lot! Maintaining healthy hair (which stems from a healthy scalp!) is by no means an easy feat, especially when you include travelling in the mix.
For those of us who wear hijab (or travel with friends that do!), we’re all too familiar with the specific hijab-related struggles that often arise and may even worsen when we travel to destinations with different seasons! Like having limp, oily hair when summer is hotter than what we experience back home or dry, itchy scalp in the winter ?
We want to help out all our Muslimah sisters, so we’ve gathered the opinions and advice from our hijabi friends and colleagues here at HHWT and have compiled the best hair care tips to keep your hair healthy and fabulous, even when travelling!
1.Practice good hair care hygiene
These are tips that you probably already know, but it can’t hurt to go over the basics!
Many of us know that it’s best to avoid wearing your hijab when our hair is still damp after washing. There’s a sensible reason for this - the enclosed environment from wearing the hijab while your scalp and hair are still wet may leave it prone to greasiness and dandruff, while also making your hair frizzy. Plus tying up wet hair isn’t great either and can damage or cause your hair to break! So where you can, do dry your hair thoroughly before wearing your hijab.
We know this is often easier said than done, especially when we’re travelling, as we’re often rushing about our day to go out and sight-see. While air-drying is usually best, when you’re in a pinch you could also opt for blow-dryers (on a cool or lower heat setting) to help speed up the process.
If you have long hair and tie it up to wear your hijab, opt for loose ponytails and updos rather than pulling your hair back tautly. Having your hair tied up tightly for long periods can stress the hair follicles and cause damage. Use softer hair ties like scrunchies, rather than rubber elastics ? And when you’re back at your hotel or accommodation after the day is done, wear your hair down and loose rather than having it tied up.
#HHWT Tip: An extra tip for keeping your hair healthy is to trim it at regular intervals, so you can cut-off split or damaged ends. The general rule of thumb is to do it at least once every 3 months, though this may vary according to person and hair type.
2. Know your hair & scalp, and invest in a routine to nurture it
Healthy hair usually starts with a healthy scalp, and to have a healthy scalp, we need to know more about it! Think about it: while a lot of us choose our skincare based on things like whether our skin is oily or we have breakouts, many of us don’t really know the exact condition of our scalp, given it’s something hidden under our hair and not easily seen. Because of that, we often don’t give it the proper care it needs.
My colleague Khaliesah recently found this out when she went for her very first hair consultation ever. She went for a session at Beijing 101 Hair Consultants, a hair care centre that specialises in treatments to promote hair & scalp health.
During Khaliesah’s consultation, they checked her hair and even scanned her scalp so she could see exactly how it looked like up close! And that’s when she found out that her scalp had certain areas that were dry, while the crown of her head was more oily and sensitive, in addition to having more stressed follicles (i.e. weaker hair, with areas of the scalp that were irritated).
Beijing 101 helpfully caters for Muslimahs that require additional privacy - they can provide a secluded area, either by using curtains or private rooms (where available) so you won’t have to worry about how you’ll take off your hijab when going for your treatment ?
Once you figure out your scalp needs, it’s easier to also go about figuring out the best routine and methods to help keep it healthy over the long term, such as going for hair treatments, using hair tonics, applying hair masks, etc.
After her consultation, Khaliesah tried Beijing 101’s hair and scalp treatments that helped deep cleanse and remove build-up from her scalp. Beijing 101 scanned her scalp again after the treatment, which showed it looking much less irritated than before, plus, the next time she washed her hair, she noticed much less hair fall than usual! ?
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about your own scalp, you can get a consultation with Beijing 101 for yourselves! Beijing 101 is also currently having a promo on their Intensive Scalp Treatment, priced at SGD40 (usually priced at SGD420!) ? They’re even giving a free pair of Golden Village movie tickets and a haircare kit to those that sign up for the promo!
The important thing is to figure the routine that nourishes and keeps your scalp and hair healthy, and also sticking to it, even when you’re travelling and away from the comforts of home.
3. Use products that are right for you
Another key step is to find products that work for you. There’s a vast array of products out there catering to every different need, so it’s important to get the ones that are right for you.
Knowing the condition of your scalp makes it a lot easier to choose the right products. For example, those with drier scalps might want to go for products rich in moisture, while those who have dandruff or hair loss problems may choose products that can help with these specific issues.
Currently, many people are also moving towards products that use less harsh chemicals or those that are made from natural ingredients. For example, Beijing 101 offers shampoos and conditioners that are free from sulphates, alcohol and silicones, and are formulated using traditional Chinese herbs such as ginseng and Ling Zhi.
It’s hard to find one product to suit everyone’s needs and preferences, so experiment to find the best ones for you ?
If that sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Consult your hairstylist or other hair care professionals that can point you in the right direction. Once you’ve determined the right products, use them as part of your hair care routine consistently.
#HHWT Tip: Your own products are usually always better and more suited to your needs than the shampoos and conditioners you find in hotels, so do pack them along when you travel! Full-sized shampoo bottles often take-up unnecessary space, so stock up on travel-sized bottles of your product of choice, or you can also buy reusable mini toiletry bottles than you can fill with your products at home ?
4. Choose the right fabrics for your hijab and inner scarves
Credit: @tudungpeople on Instagram
Similar to clothing, choosing the right fabrics for your hijab is important in keeping your scalp comfortable and less prone to irritation, especially in the hot and humid weather of our shores or when travelling to places with hot weather.
A general rule of thumb is to wear hijabs made out of fabric that’s breathable. Natural fabrics like cotton and viscose tend to be recommended, though there are also synthetic fabrics such as jersey and spandex (also known as lycra) that can provide comfortable hijabs. It’s important to remember that the right hijab for you also boils down to personal preferences as well as your travel needs. If you’re expecting to be out and about all day when it’s hot and you’ll perspire, choose breathable fabrics that are also moisture-wicking. If you’re travelling to very cold places during the winter where you’ll be exposed to dry chilly air, wear thicker materials that can help protect your scalp from the elements.
Credit: @arzuscarf on Instagram
Breathable and lightweight fabrics are especially important for under scarves and inner caps, which have the most direct contact with your scalp. Try opting for under scarves made out of cotton or viscose (for example, Sugarscarf sells inners made with a blend of both!), or you can try those made out of jersey-lycra blends, as sold by the popular Duck Scarves. You could even try out speciality fabrics, like the Titan Tech inners sold by STAILOZ that have recently come onto the market. In addition, under scarves now come in so many different styles, from those that cover the neck to those that tie at the nape of the neck, or those worn like a cap (which can sometimes be more comfortable when it’s hot!). Experiment with the different styles and fabrics available and see what works for you.
P.S. Another quick tip that probably goes without saying: don’t forget to swap out and wash your inners regularly! If you’ll be travelling for several days, bring enough inners so you can switch them out as needed.
5. Massage your scalp to promote circulation
Blood circulation is a key function of our bodies, with our heart pumping to keep oxygen-rich blood flowing throughout our entire body. It’s important not just for keeping our organs working but also for overall vitality. And that holds true for our scalp too! Healthy circulation to your scalp is good for your hair follicles and can help promote hair growth. This is why you’ll often see hair salons throw in a scalp and neck massage when you washing your hair!
Credit: @bellamiaedu on Instagram
But you don’t have to just do it at the salon, you can also do it on your own, even when you’re travelling. Doing it while you’re shampooing your hair is an easy way to incorporate it into your regular routine, but you can also do it when your hair is dry. Just remember to use your fingertips (not your nails!), going in small circular motions all across your scalp - don’t forget the sections behind your ears or near the base of your neck ? You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush through your scalp - it’ll definitely feel good!
When Khaliesah went for her hair treatment at Beijing 101, it included a head and scalp massage session to help boost circulation. Not only did it feel great, but it was also super relaxing - she nearly fell asleep! ?
And there you have it: 5 easy tips that will hopefully help us all take better care of our scalp and hair, even when we travel! By doing these steps, we can keep our hair and scalp healthy over the long term, which will help us travel more comfortably too ? Don’t forget to check out Beijing 101’s promo for their Intensive Scalp Treatment that’s priced at SGD40 which also includes a free pair of Golden Village movie tickets and a haircare kit (total value worth SGD640!). Sounds like the perfect combo for some self-pampering!
This article is brought to you by Beijing 101.