I’m sure most of you have heard, there are these narrow plastic strips that can be put inside your scarves to achieve a sturdy, flop-less frontal arc. I know some may think they are stupid or maybe even haraam (!?!) but as someone who prefers simple styles and who often wears square hejabs, I actually think these are quite neat and actually helpful!
Personally I think the plastic arcs which you can put inside your scarves are a way to sort of make your life a little easier when you wear a square scarf! I mentioned square scarves because as anyone who has worn them with any regularity can tell you…they can be difficult to wear and look well-put together in, especially if the material is thin like thin cotton, chiffon, silk or georgette…its typical for the hejab to get very floppy in the front and to move around when you wear it.Not only does it look not so great but is also incredibly annoying! Nothing is worse than trying to put together a nice outfit for school or work or going out with your family and upon double checking see your square scarf has gotten all wonky in the front!
Now, I learned the hair spray trick from sister Edibe who runs EDB designs in Australia and its really useful for those scarves which are slippery such as Turkish silk scarves or satin’s…and all of my Turkish silk and satin squares have a nice thick spritz of air spray on them so they keep a nice look in the frnt, but with a georgette or a chiffon scarf I have found that hairspray doesnt work as well…I dont know why, maybe because the material is synthetic or thicker or thinner or just the texture is different, but I find the plastic arcs work best in those types of scarves..although I have worn them in the Turkish scarves.
The one I have was given to me by a Iraqi-American sister after I pestered her about how she got the front of her chiffon scarves sooo firm and nice looking while mine, no matter what I did (and Ive worn squares since the late 90’s!!) would just flop around horribly. It took me a few tries to figure out how to wear them well and she showed me how she puts them in which is to make the square into a triangle and basically slip it in the side, shake a few times and quickly/carefully put it on.
Since I got a new camera, I made a quickie video showing this…note I obviously could not demonstrate it with both hands, so its not exactly like how I put the arcs in my squares, but its close enough. You’ll get the idea. I am not a huge fan of laying it down and putting it in, as I find it front gets wonky faster when I put it on. Its harder to keep the square even.
So now, where to get them…it becan rather difficult to buy them in the US, really the only places I know where they are easily had is the hejab stores in Dearborne, Michigan (because they are most popular with Iraqi and Lebanese women) and the USA-based online store Al Sharifah carries them, calling them “stiffeners”.
Speaking of which, Al Sharifah has a youtube video about them as well. I didnt know about putting them in a tube underscarf before seeing it, but it can be done and personally I’m not a huge fan of the arc in a shaylah as I find the front doesnt stay as nice and it can be hard to keep them in place.
…and just for reference, I highly recommend this video by Edibe on Turkish squares and hair spray.
So now some practical tips…these are my own tips/tricks which Ive found work pretty well.
1) pins! Anytime I wear a square unless the material is a heavy one, I stick pins at the top and sides of my hejab like you would do with a Turkish silk hejab. Ive found it helps to keep the hejab tidy…and…
2) Arc slippage! yes they do slide around a little, like at the sides, sometimes after wearing you’ll feel it sort of slidding down a little. Placing pins at the sides of the hejab near the arc sort of helps to stabilize it. If you didnt do this, its easy to slide it back up again while wearing the hejab.
3) Super thin, sheer and slippery squares, I recommend spritizing it a little with hair spray before putting the arc in and wearing it. Cuz just in general it’ll help cut down on any slippage and help with a better look.
Also these work well with niqab too, I know some sisters who wear squares with half niqabs and put these in their squares and can wear them really low down almost over the eyes like a visor. Its quite a lovely look. mashallah