Diaries of Curly-Haired Bahraini Girls: From Kisha to Kween

Dear Diary, 

For so long, curly-haired girls have faced scrutiny and mockery from people close to them before strangers; be it with the “kisha” comments or being compared to animals with wild hair (yes, you’ve read that right), and that sort of commentary produces significant damage to a person’s perception of their beauty, their innate bed of curls causing them to curl in on themselves in shame and discomfort with the hair they were born with. 

This notion has thankfully lessened in recent years as curly hair has been embraced and celebrated in beauty industries and campaigns across the world with the rise of the natural hair movement. Rejection of traditional beauty standards, ideally Western, and rebelling against it has swept the region and our beloved Kingdom.

The journey has been long, but still you will come across people who deem certain types of curly hair as ugly, untamed and unprofessional. We’re all familiar with the usual “why don’t you straighten it?” and “I heard this treatment could make it straight and silky” comments from relatives, friends, and hairdressers whose unsolicited professional opinions sadly echo these negative comments, prompting girls of all ages to change the curls to something they’re not. They reinforce the outdated idea of curly hair being a substandard, something that requires fixing and cannot exist on its own without interference. 

And for that, curly-haired queens have to unite in not only spreading the message of the beauty of our natural curls, but to also show it and feel confident in whichever shape of curl they come in. So Diary, “what’s next?” you ask, and “here we go” we answer with a determined knuckle crack. The best way to display our pretty curls is by taking care of them, (we owe them and ourselves that for all the hate they went through!) and making them shine in their element and feel as fluffy as possible. 

What you need to start doing to live your best curly life

It’s confusing, we know. There is no guaranteed right answer to treat your curly hair, as each person’s hair reacts differently to whatever it absorbs, many items and products or hair regimes could be a hit or miss (and don’t forget about the weather elements!). Going into beauty stores or supermarkets with curly hair products on the shelf can be quite intimidating, but we’re here to make it easier! 

The first step of taking care of your hair is to identify your curl hair type, so as to facilitate the process of healing. You have to consider the hair’s porosity, texture and whether it’s dyed or not. This video helps you conduct different tests to determine what type of hair you have, or just take this quiz! Once you have that knowledge, the path becomes clearer. 

In the case of our friend Maryam Alhaddad, her motto is, ‘knowledge is power.’ How so? By knowing what products work best for your curls. Maryam shared that her preferred product to hydrate, nourish and define her curls is none other than Ouidad! Their products are made for curly hair. “I use a leave-in conditioner post-shower, then I use a wide tooth comb to brush my hair starting from the ends and work my way up to the roots.” She follows that ministration with a curl-defining cream and diffuses her hair on low heat (It’s important to avoid using extremely hot air on your curls!) then wraps up her routine with an organic coconut oil or a serum to make sure the curls stay hydrated and healthy.

But what if you don’t know what to do? That’s okay too! As a fellow curly-haired queen, Haya Khalifa, put it best when she said, “what I learned is that it’s a journey based on trial and error and you don’t have to be strict with it.” The journey of hair-care is often more than not a rollercoaster, but the most important advice Haya passes onto us is embrace it all, embrace the curls and the imperfections (yes, we’re talking about the frizz). 

Haya mentioned that her hair routine consists of washing her hair once a week and only restyling it as needed. “I have low porosity hair so rewetting is such a headache and the mist spray bottle made it easy. So I use it to rewet the curls that have lost their shape, apply spray leave-in conditioner and scrunch it up with a bit of lightweight gel. I highly suggest investing in a good quality bottle because it makes all the difference.” Thank you for the tip, Haya! 

Unfortunately, taking care of your curls can be more expensive than ruining it. That’s the impact of a culture that dismisses curly hair and labels it as ‘less than’. Nayla Jassim, another dear friend with the prettiest of curls, mentioned having struggled to come to terms with her locks until recently. “I’ve always had a rocky relationship with my hair and it was all due to society’s beauty standards. 

I cannot recall how many times family members and strangers told me that my hair is not beautiful and I should have it relaxed, which I did by the time I turned 9.” As she grew older,  Nayla’s appreciation for her natural curls grew and she learned to love and take care of it, and similarly, the same people who used to judge her, began to realize how beautiful curly hair is. 

The tale isn’t new, but the retellings are constant. Nayla’s advice is to scour the internet, find the right products that best suit your hair type. One of the best ways to do so is to go on YouTube, search your hair type and cross examine it to the beauty influencers’ or regular reviewers’, and get an idea of what to expect in terms of hair care routine, products as well as the do’s and don’ts. 

Speaking of products, you can tend to hair nourishment and beautify it with affordable products catered to curly hair without hurting your bank balance. Amal Mashkoor swears by the Cantu line, which is available in supermarkets and is quite inexpensive in comparison to other brands. “I tried Shea moisture, Mixed Chicks, Inahsi and many more until I settled on this. The game changers for me were brushing my curls only when they were wet, using a microfiber towel for my hair, using a flexy curly hair brush, giving up straightening my hair even for occasions and just loving myself the way I am.” A sprinkle of self-love is the magical ingredient! 

But let’s not forget the curly-haired hijabi girls. How do we keep our hair healthy and moisturized while wearing a hijab? “My tip would be to deep condition once or twice a week to get shiny and bouncy curls.” said Badreya Yusuf. A really good tip is also to use a leave-in conditioner, a remarkable one that is almost always out of stock is none other than Boots’ own Leave-In Conditioner with its different natural scents. You can also scroll through Curly&Fierce, the FIRST curly hair store in Bahrain with reliable products. 

Once you have the products, the only thing’s left is the washing technique. We asked our friend Dana Mohammad about hers, and she had wonderfully thorough advice on the matter! “Before beginning the process of shampooing, I start by wetting my hair completely and squeeze out any product residue from before.” This helps your hair to easily absorb water. 

“I like to shampoo my hair upside down as it makes it easier to get into the roots. I focus the shampoo on the roots of my hair, massaging the scalp, and then rinse.” So cool, what’s next, Dana?

“I go in with a hefty amount of conditioner. I like to start from the mid-length and work my way down to the ends. I use a detangling brush to brush each section of hair, and after that I let it sit for about 5-8 minutes. To clean off the conditioner, I don’t wash my hair the same way I do with shampoo. Instead, I add water to the palm of my hands and squeeze the conditioner out with the water – you’ll want to hear a squishy sound in this process. I’ll rinse out most (but not all) of the conditioner.” We’ll give that a try! 

Dana’s post conditioner process includes applying the leave-in conditioner – focusing only from mid-length and works her way down to the ends. She then uses a shower cap to secure the curls and lets it sit for 20-25 minutes. How does she wrap up the washing process? “I use a microfiber towel or anything silky to lightly scrunch my hair. When my hair is damp or towel-dried, I use my tried and true hair-care products.” Dana swears by Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Volume Arabica Coffee Fruit, Shampoo and Conditioner. (Cruelty free too!

To make matters easier when it comes to product shopping, you can use this website to enter the ingredients mentioned and it will determine if the products are CG (Curly Girl) approved or not. A heaven-sent piece of technology! 

Additionally, if you’re as interested in exploring the Arab Curly Girl identity like us, we recommend taking a chance by scrolling through Curl Heritage to learn more about it, alongside a lot of helpful tips and tricks to ease you in or through your curly journey. 

Do you have any questions or thoughts about the curly hair journey? Any tips or regimes you’d like to share with us? We want to hear from you. Reach out to Startup MGZN through our social media platforms on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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