There is a stigma that suggests there's no point in caring for your hair if no one will see it. But, as a hijab-wearer, I can tell you that simply isn’t true. Some people wonder, “Why make time for hair care if you wear a hijab all day?” Well, I believe we should honor and treat our hair—hijabi or not—the same way we treat our skincare, makeup, and outfits. It’s not about what others can see—it’s about feeling beautiful.
My hijab plays a substantial role in my beauty routine, influencing my perspective on outer beauty while reminding me of the importance of inner beauty. Today, I wear one religiously (figuratively and literally speaking), but that wasn’t always the case. To understand my hijab journey, you must understand my hair journey as a whole. It involved fulfilling my rights as a Muslim woman, educating myself about the meaning of hijab, and embracing its unique beauty. To my surprise, I learned to love my natural hair texture along the way.
Having curly hair significantly shaped my identity growing up, but I was oblivious to my hair's true nature for quite some time. From as young as five, my mother would brush out my curls, creating a natural fro. In my final year of primary school, she decided to relax my hair. She felt my hair was too much to handle, and relaxing it would make it more manageable. So, for the rest of my adolescence, I endured relaxers. At the time, this didn't strike me as problematic. Almost all the women around me, except for my younger sister, also had relaxed hair.
Between primary and secondary school, I did not wear a hijab daily, even though a majority of my female family members did. I only wore mine on specific occasions, such as Eid al-Adha (an Islamic holiday), and to the mosque, our place of worship. My parents were okay with this choice; they wanted me to wear one daily only when I was ready. This time came when I was 16 and in college.
Although I had worn a hijab many times before I turned 16, it still felt new and took some time to get used to as a regular part of my routine. There were days when I didn’t want to wear it because I didn’t feel pretty, and sometimes I also experimented with turbans or showing small parts of my hair. It was a learning process to appreciate the true beauty of a hijab and what it represents in my culture. But now, I can say that I feel 100% pretty in a hijab.
When I first got into the swing of wearing a hijab full-time, I was still relaxing my hair. Eventually, I decided I would start transitioning to my natural texture. At the time, I was murky about what transitioning your hair meant. I stopped using relaxers but continued with all my other unhealthy hair habits. Now, as a hair educator on social media, I see how counterproductive this was.
Fast forward four years, and I noticed growth like never before. I was surprised because my hair had never passed my shoulders. But what really caught my eye was how damaged it was—my curls were stringy and unhealthy-looking. So, I continued to educate myself on transitioning hair and what that looks like for a hijab-wearer. One thing that often popped up in my Google searches was the “big chop.” But my mother wouldn’t entertain the thought of me shaving my head bald, so I did a different kind of big chop instead—I cut a massive chunk of my hair off.
My mission to bring back my curls while simultaneously wearing a hijab was more serious than ever as my re-growth came in. I spent time researching and finding things that worked under my hijab and suited my coils—which I was finally able to see fall between a five and six on the texture chart. Through visits to the salon, I discovered products from brands I came to love like Kérastase. Moisturizing hair masks and accessories like silk scrunchies became staples. I even created a diary in my notes app to track when I would use a particular product.
Slowly, my routine developed, and I stuck with it. The results started to show, and I knew I wasn't the only one who could benefit from my experience. Every other day, I would post a hair tip on my Instagram and TikTok, and I managed to grow my very own community of people transitioning their hair, starting their natural hair journey, or wanting to embrace their natural texture. It was during this period that my blog Covered’N’Curly was born. I used the platform to share my transitioning journey as a hijabi and how I went about it, aiming to help others.
To some, me being in the public eye talking about hair may initially seem odd because no one actually knows what’s going on under my hijab. But thankfully, I’ve been well-received by my fellow hijabis, who are gracious to have representation, and by outsiders looking to learn.
Today, my platform is flourishing—the proof is in the press, and I’ve had my fair share. I’ve had the opportunity to represent Muslim women, hijab-wearers, Black women, and women with curly hair for online magazines. It's important to note that I’ve been able to grow my platform, which is all about hair, without once having to show my hair publicly. I haven’t had to prove what I do to my hair because I have built trust in the content I produce and my authentic passion for hair. And now Covered’N’Curly has expanded into a business selling products of its own! We launched our shop with handmade satin reversible bonnets and have plans to introduce more hair products to meet the needs of Muslim women wearing hijabs.
As I encourage hijab-wearers to care for their hair, I understand it can be difficult to figure it all out. But with the proper knowledge, time, and effort, caring for your hair can become an act of love. It’s my form of self-care. When it's time for my wash routine, I feel excited knowing I can use my favorite products. I style my hair mostly in braids, and when I take them down, I love to see it looking curly and bouncy.
Currently, my hair is healthy, shiny, and thriving, all while I continue to wear a hijab. It’s integral to my identity and defines the person I am today. My hijab will always be more than just a piece of cloth that sits on my head. Rather, it provides a sense of protection, allows me to retain my modesty, and represents a significant aspect of my Muslim religion. By honoring my faith, I feel empowered and beautiful.
Muna Sheikh-Mao has a career in tech sales while running Covered’N’Curly, a passion project that's blossomed into a meaningful mission centered around hijabi hair care. Her goal with the platform is to reshape the concept of diversity in the beauty space, especially for fellow Hijab-wearers. She loves to enjoy basketball, boxing, and fashion when she’s not talking hair.