beauty, ramadan, Uncategorized

A Day of Halal Self-Care w/ Bayance

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

With most of us around the world in lockdown, the topic of self-care has been more popular than ever. And with Ramadan upon us, now is the time to establish a solid, halal routine to be our best selves! To do this, I’m teaming up with my girl, the amazing Bayance, to go back to the sunnah and a few popular halal beauty practices. The glow up is real, y’all.

In Islam, beauty is so treasured and respected that we have been given a responsibility to protect and preserve it. As Muslim women, we’re encouraged to beautify ourselves for the sake of Allah (SWT), our husbands, and ourselves. It is said that beautifying yourself can be an act of worship if done in accordance with the sunnah. Check out the list below for my halal Ramadan self-care routine!

1) Hot Oil Treatments for Hair

“I heard Jabir bin Samurah being asked about the gray hairs of the Prophet [SAW]. He said: ‘If he put oil on his head they could not be seen, but if he did not put oil on his head, they could be seen.’” (An-Nasa’i)

“Rasulullah often rubbed oil in his head and also often combed his beard. He put a cloth over his head, which became like an oil cloth due to the frequent use of oil.” (Shamaa’il Muhammadiyya)

Oiling the hair was recommended by the Prophet (SAW), who did it himself. It nourishes the hair, promoting softness and shine and can protect against split ends. To do a hot oil treatment, you’ll need an oil of your choice (olive oil is highly recommended), an old t-shirt, water, a bowl, and a towel or plastic bag. Soak the t-shirt in water, place it in the bowl, and microwave for 30 secs or until hot. Make sure it’s not so hot that you’ll burn yourself. As you wait for the shirt to heat up, coat your hair in oil. Once done, wring the excess water from the shirt and wrap your hair in it. To insulate the treatment and get the full effect, wrap your head in a towel or plastic bag and let sit for 30 minutes or until the treatment goes cold. Then shampoo your hair and you’re done!

And full disclaimer, you will look crazy while doing this. Good thing we’re in lockdown, right?

2) Manicure

A’ishah said, ‘a woman gestured from behind a screen, with a letter to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in her hand. The Messenger of Allah withdrew his hand and said: “I do not know whether it is the hand of a man or a woman.” She said: It is a woman. He said: “If you were a woman, you would have changed your nails,” meaning, with henna. (Abu Dawud)

It is sunnah and hygienic to keep nails short and clean. But this doesn’t mean they can’t look pretty and feminine! To achieve this, you can file them to a nice shape, clean under the nails, and use a nail buffer to increase smoothness and shine without polish. You can also use any oil of your choice to moisturize the nail beds and promote nail and cuticle health.

3) Black seed oil massage for face and scalp.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:  “Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Black seed oil holds a number of health benefits both internally and externally. It is a well-known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties as well. There have been some studies showing improvement of eczema, acne, and psoriasis for individuals using black seed oil. For skin health, you can use it to do an oil cleanse and massage for the face and scalp.

4) Rosewater

Rosewater is a very popular beauty product used in a number of households all over the world. It is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known to help balance the skin’s pH. This basically means that you can use it to soothe redness and irritation in the skin and also to protect the skin from damage. It can be used in place of normal water for clay masks or as a toner after cleansing the skin.

5) Clay

You can use rhassoul clay (or bentonite or green clay) to treat the skin and clear pores. You can also do a Moroccan-style hammam bath at home. This helps to draw out impurities from the skin, combat redness, soften the skin, and make it radiant.

And that, my lovelies, is my 5-step Ramadan self-care routine!

Bonus: make sure your everyday skin and hair care products are halal! One of the sneakiest ingredients is collagen which is often derived from beef and/or pork. Also watch out for wine and sake extracts. Funny story, the first 2 months I was Muslim I didn’t think to do this with my skincare routine. You would think I would have found the collagen products questionable with the cute little piggies on their packaging, but no. I continued to slather my face in it right before maghrib. Don’t be like me. Check the ingredients!

Be sure to check out Bayance’s post here for more genius halal beauty tips! What are your favourite self-care rituals? Tell me all about them in the comments below!

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Food

Hey guys! I’m back with another instalment to the Organic Beauty series. Today’s topic: food. One of the most under appreciated topics in the beauty industry. Usually we just focus on food for weight-loss with crazy fad diets and broken dreams but it goes way beyond that. The foods we eat can also play a big role in our hair, skin, nails and mood.

We are what we eat. How many times have we heard this? Probably too many to count but it’s true. Whether the consequences are visible or in hiding, our diet plays a big role in our lives. One of the simplest ways to feel a little bit more beautiful is to focus the way we eat around what our bodies need. For example, eating a healthy source of omega fatty acids results not only in cognitive brain function but allegedly softer, smoother skin. Dark leafy greens are filled with vitamins A and C aiding in cellular turnover and a brighter complexion, also eye health.

The Prophet (SAW) actually encouraged us to make a habit to eat from necessity rather than pleasure. We are encouraged to eat as He (SAW) ate: 1/3 food 1/3 water and 1/3 air. While it’s fun to treat ourselves every now and then, doing it all of the time can end up with us feeling ill, bloated, irritable, and our skin a wreck. Even if you’re one of the blessed few that doesn’t see these effects now, they’ll show up eventually. Just like how smoking, drugs, alcohol, and lack of sleep eventually make themselves known, food has its own way of creeping up on people through premature ageing, weight gain, and medical issues.

The only diet that’s right for everyone is one that is balanced and governed by moderation. Everything else is individual so you have to figure out what works for you. From experience, I know that most meat besides seafood, tomatoes, and dairy don’t make me feel so beautiful and wreak havoc on my skin. So I stay away from those when there’s no pizza around and instead eat the things that my body does love which tends to include lots of green veggies, beans, olives, hummus, lentils, and chocolate (antioxidants and all that). This will look different for everyone so the easiest way to figure out what your body wants and needs is to pay attention to how you are feeling after you eat. Go with the foods and drinks that make you feel like your best self and don’t force yourself to eat things that you absolutely can’t stand. If you know you need to eat more vegetables, start with the vegetables you like. If you’re not the biggest fan of veggies, start with the most tolerable and eat them in small portions.

There are also so many fun foods and drinks that you can find recipes for on Pinterest that are packed with nutrients but also taste delicious. Eating doesn’t have to be boring but the more we see food as a tool, the closer we can get to feeling our best and most beautiful. I think this may also help us repair our relationship with food, insha’Allah. It’s not about extremes, it’s about balance and doing what is truly good for us. For more on this kind of topic, check out Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution. This book goes deep into food and how we can use it to our advantage.

So that’s all my rambling on food for today. I wish you happy and beautiful eating!

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beauty, Uncategorized

Modest Shopping Hacks

While I am all for a conscious and ethical approach to our purchases, sometimes we can’t find what we’re looking for. Most of the ethical companies that I used to love don’t carry clothes that I would choose to wear now that I dress more modestly. So, I’ve resorted to searching elsewhere for clothing and learning to take care of the items I buy so that I can get the most use out of them. Today, I want to highlight some of the hacks that have allowed me to find inexpensive, modest clothing that is still stylish.

  1. Boohoo/Pretty Little Thing/Fashion Nova: Okay, here me out. I know that these retailers are the last one to come to mind when one thinks about modesty but they have some hidden gems. They have quite a few basics such as long sleeved jersey maxi dresses that can be layered up. They have plenty of longer, tunic-like shirts, especially in the button up category. And they have a hefty selection of kimonos that come at a much more affordable price than most abayas. They also carry a number of gorgeous skirts that can either be worn alone or layered over leggings. They frequently hold sales with the most recent one being 50% off the entire site!
  2. Shop XL+: So many “regular” sizes still fit tight even if they are larger than your size. Shopping in the plus size department for items such as dresses, tops, and jackets allows you to find pieces that fit loosely and are long enough to cover all the necessary areas.
  3. Check out thrift stores: Modesty was a little more popular back in the day so on a good day, you may score big at a vintage or thrift shop!
  4. Buy mini dresses: This one didn’t occur to me until later on but there are so many mini dresses out there that make perfect modest shirts! Seriously, how did I not realize this before? Most of my tops are marketed as dresses but I tend to buy them a few sizes up if they are fitted so that I can have a basic, modest top. It works out perfectly!
  5. Marshall’s/TJ Maxx: These are two of my favourite stores to buy clothes from. They’re super affordable and when you go at the right time, they have some of the cutest styles available. I’ve found that if you go right before the season starts (I went at the beginning of September right before Autumn officially began), you get your pick of all the new arrivals.
  6. Amazon: Hijabs and maxi dresses galore! While the site can’t beat Southall prices for scarves, it’s decent for the styles and materials that can’t be found in American stores. They also have quite the selection of long-sleeved casual maxi dresses that are perfect for travel and lounging around.
  7. Modanisa: A crowd favourite for their affordable, hijabi-friendly fashion and countless different styles to choose from; Modanisa is the online center for modest fashion. They also guarantee the fastest, most efficient shipping no matter where you are in the world at no extra cost. However, I must warn you that their customer service can be a little tiresome to deal with and getting a refund can take awhile after a return. I suggest only ordering hijabs and more affordable things from them just in case you are in need of making a return and to stay on their case about receiving your money back.

These are only some of the many modest fashion hacks out there. As I stated above, I know that some of these options, like the fast fashions sites, are not ideal especially when it comes to their treatment of factory workers and their impact on the environment. Where you shop is up to your discretion. For me personally, I only order from these sites if they are the last place for me to find what I’m looking for which is usually a basic piece. Alhamdulillah, I’ve been able to build up a wardrobe from many vintage and thrift store pieces as well as bits and bobs from TJ Maxx. I’ve also finally graduated to that stage of adulthood where you realize how to wash and dry your clothes properly so you don’t destroy them (insert feeling of worth and accomplishment here). This was mainly out of financial necessity and heartbreak over losing some of my favourite pieces. But seriously, if you love your clothes look into how to wash them to preserve them and consider line drying instead of using a dryer. This prolongs the life of some of your favourite outfits and keeps you from having to spend more money than you want to on a new wardrobe.

What are your hacks for finding modest clothes? I’d love to hear about them!

Thank you,

Nahlah

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Sleep

A lot of talk surrounding inner beauty solely focuses on personality and values. While these aspects are very important, beauty from the inside also heavily relies on health, meaning diet and lifestyle. It is no coincidence that the most redundant beauty advice tells us to drink lots of water, cut down on junk food, and go to bed on time. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason.

From personal experience, I’ve come to believe that sleep is the start of it all. We are nothing without energy to go about our day and practice good habits. Our bodies need sleep in order to rejuvenate, detox, and function. This is the time that our cells get to work repairing and strengthening our bodies in ways that we often take for granted. If we discipline ourselves to get at least 8 hours a day, we ensure that we start off our days right, mentally, and physically. Keep this in mind, when our bodies are tired, they begin to shift their priorities towards the most necessary bodily functions while normal functions like appetite, sex drive, and short-term memory begin to lag behind a bit. Without proper sleep, I don’t have the energy to workout or stick to my skincare routine. My diet also tends to center around whatever is most convenient, which is rarely healthy.

So, what is ideal when it comes to sleep? Yes, 8 hours is the recommended amount to achieve ultimate rest, but the time at which we fall asleep is incredibly important as well. I’ve found that I can sleep for 10 hours straight if I go to bed past midnight but do I feel refreshed the next morning? Absolutely not. However, I can only sleep for 7 hours if I go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 5 am feeling ready to conquer the world. This can be explained by our body’s natural circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” Most of us have a circadian rhythm that responds to light which explains why we naturally begin to feel sleepy once the sun sets and why many of us can wake up naturally at the same time every day.

And last, but most certainly not least, how do we get enough sleep during the summer with prayer times starting so early and ending so late? My method is this: I finish all of my errands and physical activities before Maghrib as well as finish getting ready for bed (shower, skincare, teeth). That way when Isha rolls around, I can pray and fall right to sleep. I use the hour in between Maghrib and Isha to wind down for the night so that I may drift off to sleep in a peaceful state of mind. Winding down for me typically looks like reading a good book, journaling or writing drafts for blog posts (in a notebook instead of computer), and studying Quran. Now, in the morning for fajr I’ve developed the habit by the grace of Allah (SWT) of staying awake afterwards and getting my day started. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone so by all means, go back to sleep so you can get adequate rest. But, I will say that forcing myself into becoming a morning person has been so beneficial for me in having productive and fulfilling days. I enjoy the early morning quiet that I get to myself where I can savour my tea and reflect on things before going for a good workout. It sets the mood for the rest of my day and I find that I accomplish so much more when I get started early.

Thank you so much for reading the first installment of our new Organic Beauty series! I hope that this brought something new to the table, so let me know what you think in the comments below! Also, what are your favourite ways to relax at night?

Wishing you all dewy skin and a full night’s sleep,

Nahlah

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Intro

With my own personal experience with beauty and working every day in a salon, I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to be beautiful. And today I want to introduce a new series on the topic of true, organic beauty. I don’t mean organic as in a label that guarantees the health of your products, I mean a beauty that radiates from every fiber of your being. A beauty that upholds integrity and health, that invites people in and embraces them in warmth and love, a beauty that is intoxicating because it is pure and kind-hearted. It is you through and through, no fakery, no homogeneity, just you. So, how do you achieve this kind of beauty?

Like all true beauty, it starts from the heart and mind. Sticking to the 5 pillars of Islam, studying Quran, improving upon oneself, fostering strong and healthy relationships with friends and family, practicing gratitude, controlling your response to your own emotions, seeking knowledge, practicing kindness and compassion, etc. etc. etc. Did you know that it has been said that waking up to pray Fajr on time contributes to a glowing, healthy complexion? Creating strong mental/emotional habits, as well as physical ones that aid in mental/emotional stability and harmony is key to achieving inner beauty that shines through the exterior. For example, I know that getting enough sleep is crucial for me to avoid under eye bags and dull skin, but it is also necessary for a bright and cheery mood and a heart that feels excitement and passion for my life and the people in it. When I compromise on sleep, I turn into a negative and apathetic person with emotions that run rampant.

As a woman, my emotions play a big role in my everyday life and my interactions with others. I have been learning recently how important it is to exercise control over my responses to emotional stimulation. Emotions are not always what they seem; I may feel upset at my husband for something quite menial but if I withhold from reacting and take time to analyze what’s really going on in my mind, I can usually find that that particular emotion is stemming from something entirely different (like hunger, lack of sleep, personal insecurity, etc). When I am disciplined and make myself go to bed early, I am at my best. My mind is clear, my heart is happy, and I have energy to focus on my iman, my work, my health, and my relationships.

This is only an insight to what I would like to talk about in this series. I have so many thoughts on this topic that I cannot possibly force them all into one article. I know you may even be wondering how this has anything to do with Islam. Organic beauty is actually based on many Islamic practices. This isn’t vanity, this isn’t solely focused on the outward appearance and gaining attention for it. This is a philosophy aimed at bettering ourselves and our lives in a way that worships Allah (SWT) and fosters beautiful relationships with ourselves and others. It is the only type of beauty that matters and lasts for the rest of our lives. I can sit here and talk to you about anti-ageing and the best way to apply eyeliner, but we all age eventually and the eyeliner always comes off at the end of the day. These things do nothing for our health, happiness, or character. So, please join me in a journey to learn about achieving a beauty that actually does.

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Adopting a Minimalist Lifestyle

From my guest post on Hijabies Hood.

Minimalism has always had a special place in my heart. I first came across the idea while watching a bubbly YouTube video on capsule wardrobes. At first glance, minimalism was chic. It was neutral colors, clean lines, and a tally of possessions that could be counted on one hand. I loved it! I remember donating bags and bags of clothes, leaving only my most worn items hanging in the closet: it didn’t amount to much and consisted of only the color black. I remember the feelings of calm and relief that swept over me as I sorted through books, old school papers, jewelry, and useless little decorations. After the massive overhaul was compete, my room looked much like those one could find on a dream house Pinterest board.  

What I found during my little “journey” was that minimalism was so much more than a seasonal capsule wardrobe. It was and still is a freedom from possessions and mindless waste. It is a rejection of what corporations push in our faces. In this modern age we have slowly taken on more gods without realizing it: stuff. We chase after possessions and glorify those who have what we don’t. I had become disillusioned with it all as many of us often do and I was seeking more. I saw minimalism as a mindset that shifted my focus onto values, learning, experiences, and connections. Before I came to Islam, being a self-proclaimed minimalist made me feel like I was partially fulfilled. I was focused on things that were adding value to my life rather than taking away but it wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t until after I reverted that I felt completely fulfilled and found even more reasons to continue on in this lifestyle. And it all started with this hadith:

“On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (RA), who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along a path.”

Perhaps I am a little biased because I love traveling, but I really connected with these instructions. I see living this way to mean that you only possess what is necessary and convenient, you experience many different cultures, you wonder at Allah’s (SWT) creation, you meet amazing people, you value your time, you work hard, you abstain from excess so that your journey will not be hindered, you are always learning, and you are always ready to pick up and go if Allah (SWT) calls you somewhere else.

The Muslim lifestyle, in general, is one that embraces moderation and simplicity. We are instructed to only eat what is needed, live as travelers, abstain from excess spending on weddings, not to flaunt beauty or wealth in public, and use our money for good (giving zakat). Not only is this way of living good for our health and bank accounts, but it is wonderful for our faith. When we are not so focused on the show and the stuff, we are more focused on Allah (SWT) and living as He has instructed us to.

Minimalism doesn’t have to look like it does on Pinterest or in the apartment tour videos on YouTube. Most of us have families/roommates or we have hobbies/careers that require us to keep certain things, or we just really love throw pillows. What matters is that we live lives that are in alignment with how Allah (SWT) wants us to live. This means that we must live with the awareness of our time, money, actions, words, and health. On the Day of Judgement we will be asked five questions: It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.”

I believe that if we live in a way in which we will be able to answer these questions with little to no regrets, we will not only be happier then but happier in this life as well.

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