Could your hijab be irritating your skin?

Many of us suffer from acne, eczema, rosacea and a whole host of skin conditions that can be difficult to cope with both physically and emotionally. Some of us who wear a hijab and suffer from a skin complaint might find our skin remains the same, whilst others find our symptoms becoming worse. It may be difficult for many of us to make substantial changes to our routines so that we can spend more time ‘scarf-less’. However, being more aware of the fabrics we are wearing as well as making some minor lifestyle changes could help minimise any irritation we may be experiencing.


Go soft – Going for softer fabrics can minimise the abrasion between your scarf and skin. Generally speaking, natural fibres such as cotton and silk feel soft and cool, which can be a welcome relief for irritated skin. But try to avoid scarfs with a wool or linen component because, although they are natural, they tend to have a ‘scratchy’ feel which can be uncomfortable to wear. Semi synthetic fabrics such as rayon and modal feel similar to cotton and are also worth considering. Rayon is made from recycled wood pulp which is chemically treated, hence it being classified as ‘semi-synthetic’.  Modal is a type of rayon that is processed under slightly different conditions making it more absorbent than regular rayon. Both are popular fabric choices for scarves and hijabs so there are plenty of options out there to choose from.


Let it breathe – Trapped perspiration can cause skin irritations, which is why it is important to wear fabrics that absorb and release moisture quickly. Cotton, modal and rayon are again the kings of this category as they are all super absorbent and can help your skin stay dry. Most types of polyester are not the best option for summer months as they do not absorb moisture well and can make our skin feel hot and clammy.


Could ‘dye’ be the problem? –  Sensitivities or allergies to dyes used to manufacture fabric can result in skin irritations. This is especially true if the dye is ‘unbound’ and water soluble meaning it can transfer onto our skin by combining with sweat. Check the label to see if the garment needs to be washed separately. This is often an indicator that the fabric has a tendency to ‘bleed’. You could also try washing the hijab a few times before wearing it to help release any colour from the fabric. Alternatively, it might be worth opting for lighter, solid colours rather than bold hues and colourful prints.  This could help minimise any dye transfer onto the skin.


Organic fabrics – Depending on farming methods and treatment techniques used, some fabrics could have high toxin levels, which could trigger skin irritations in some people. Organic fabrics are made up of natural fibres grown without the use of chemical pesticides. Whilst there may still be an element of processing involved in their production, they could potentially be a more skin friendly option for the most sensitive of skin types. The use of organic cotton and bamboo in hijabs is increasing as more eco-conscious hijabis are looking for a more sustainable and environmental friendly fabric for their scarf.


Mix it up – Despite having a wardrobe bursting with hijabs, many of us have one or two go-to scarves that we end up wearing day in and day out. This could mean we are routinely transferring back to our skin a steady build-up of dirt and oil leading to clogged pores and blemishes. Regular laundering and adding a few more scarves to the mix can help keep you feeling and looking fresh.


Get some (h) air play – Many of us tend to wear our hijabs indoors even when we don’t have to. “Why bother to take my hijab off if I’m going to go out again in a bit?” Or, “I really don’t have the minute it takes to de-scarf”. We have all been there.  But making the most of hijab free opportunities will give your skin (and hair) some much needed downtime – especially if you wear a hijab for the majority of the day.


If you suspect your hijab is exacerbating a pre-existing skin condition or causing a new irritation, finding out what is triggering it involves a degree of trial and error. As with any sensitivity some people can tolerate an allergen whilst others can’t. Similarly, no two skin types are the same so it is worth experimenting with different fabrics as well as implementing some practical changes to your lifestyle to help identify what works best for you. And there is no reason why you can’t have fun experimenting with different fabrics in the time being!


Please share this article with anyone you think might benefit. If you have your own advice on how to keep skin issues at bay whilst wearing a hijab, feel free to share below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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