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“My name is Badria Ahmed (@starsaresuns_), nice to meet you! I’m the founder of a hair care line called Holy Curls and I live in London, but I was born in Somalia and grew up in Sweden. I have a very religious Muslim family, and even though there’s a large Muslim population in Sweden, it wasn’t always easy to balance the two cultures. When you’re young you want to be like everybody else, and I really wasn’t—I wore a hijab from a really young age, and for a long time there was no leeway if I wanted to dress more like my friends. Back in the day, it was a really new thought to my parents that someone wouldn’t want to wear a hijab. I took my hijab off when I was 15, which forced my parents to face many of their own fears about losing their culture in a new country. Ultimately they were OK with it. I don’t agree with banning or forcing people to wear a hijab. For a lot of women the hijab is part of who they are—it’s nothing negative. I just always felt that it wasn’t the right thing for me. Why are we trying to get people to not be themselves?
When I did take the hijab off, just being outside and feeling the wind in my hair felt special. But I really didn’t know how to care for it. I have three sisters and we all have very curly, thick hair, and because it’s no small job to care for all that hair my mom let us get perms. I got my first perm when I was seven, and after that my hair was so easy to care for that I could even do it myself. I didn’t know what my natural texture looked like until I moved to Australia when I was 21 and I couldn’t find anyplace to get a perm. Between that and constantly fighting the humidity, I just decided it was time to stop. I started watching American YouTubers like Whitney White, and researched my hair texture. Once I understood that I could put different oils in my hair, or things like aloe vera, that’s basically when Holy Curls happened.
Now, I always wash my hair either Saturday or Sunday. I don’t refresh my hair during the week because everything makes it frizz—I just wait as many days as I can to stretch the style until wash day. I use the Holy Curls Shampoo and our Curl Mask, which is deep conditioning. Once that’s in I get out of the shower and wrap my hair in a shower cap, because that creates heat to turn the mask into a treatment. Then I just let it be. I have two kids so I can’t just sit around while I’m masking my hair! Eventually I rinse it out and add a little bit of oil, like jojoba or sweet almond, put a T-shirt around my hair, and let it dry a little. I twist my hair with a combination of the Holy Curls Cream and avocado oil, which is very fatty and moisturizing. I wrap my hair in a silk scarf to go to sleep, and when I undo the twists the next day I have really nice, defined curls.
During the day I’ll put a little bit of makeup on, just for the color. Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Lipstick in Brandy is my go-to lipstick, always, because it stays on for a really long time. I’ll also use Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara, which I love because it doesn’t get clumpy—it really defines each lash. Instead of fragrance, I’ll use scented body butter on my arms and neck. I have a friend who makes and sells her own body butters on Etsy with jojoba, coconut, and essential oils. That’s really great for my skin. But I have to say that my favorite is Laura Mercier’s Ambré Vanillé Soufflé Body Crème. It smells so. Good. Like warm vanilla. People want to eat me! It even makes my clothes smell good from just touching my skin. If I’m going out I’ll switch to Pure Poison by Dior, which smells stronger and musky-ish. And I’ll add a little more makeup—I fill in my brows with a random black pencil and use Maybelline liquid eyeliner. Finally, I put Glossier’s Haloscope in Topaz on my cheeks and nose.
Every night I cleanse with Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser. It’s a gorgeous gel cleanser, so it lathers really well, and it doesn’t smell too strong. Twice a week I exfoliate with this brush from Fancii—when I do that and apply an oil on top, my skin feels amazing. I make my own oil mixture with jojoba, grapeseed, rosehip, and frankincense, which I usually just buy on Amazon. I like to keep my ingredients as simple and natural as possible. That’s the only thing I moisturize with.
In Somalia, women make this bright yellow face mask out of turmeric and honey. My mom used to mask with that every weekend—she’d have a long shower, do her hair, and put that mask on. I think it reminded her of home. There were six of us kids, and we all knew not to disturb our mom when she had her face mask on. Even though she never said it, she made it really clear that that was her sacred time. I always loved that she took that time to take care of herself. To be honest, there’s no self care Sunday for me right now—between my kids and Holy Curls, I’m not caring for myself when I’m home. If I need to relax, I need to get out of the house. Luckily, there’s a nature reserve behind where I live. I really love going for quiet walks in that forest.”
—as told to ITG
Photos via the author