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Meet the first model to wear a hijab in a hair commercial

L'Oréal model Amena Khan wears a hijab in her new hair ad.
British blogger Amena Khan wears a hijab in her new ad for the brand's Elvive campaign in the UK.
British blogger Amena Khan wears a hijab in her new ad for the brand's Elvive campaign in the UK.L'Oreal Paris
/ Source: TODAY

L'Oréal Paris has a new hair model, and she’s turning heads for a pretty cool reason. British blogger Amena Khan wears a hijab in her new ad for the brand’s Elvive campaign in the UK, making her the first hijab-wearing woman to front a major hair campaign. Amazing, right?

L'Oréal is just the latest in a string of brands embracing beauty of all types in their ad campaigns. Last year, CoverGirl named YouTuber Nura Afia as a brand ambassador, making her the first woman to appear in a hijab in the brand’s ads. And 69-year-old model Maye Musk broke barriers when she joined the ranks of CoverGirls earlier this year.

Then there's Target, who just announced a denim line made for all shapes and sizes (including those with disabilities). With all these diverse beauties finally breaking into the mainstream scene, it's pretty obvious that the tides are changing when it comes to our ideals of beauty. And it's about time, if you ask Khan!

“They’re literally putting a girl in a headscarf — whose hair you can’t see — in a hair campaign,” she told Vogue UK. “Because what they’re really valuing through the campaign is the voices that we have.”

I arrived to a set that was beyond anything I could imagine. With several open studio areas spread across a giant building, the first thing that hit me was the scale of the project. There were colourful sets assembled with multiple people behind the cameras. Amongst the buzzing of constant activity, the crew & @lorealhair team would often smile & say hello, always welcoming. Shoots like this are invariably stressful somewhere along the line, but I didn’t detect a hint of that. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀In the makeup room, I couldn’t contain my excitement about the project. @karindarnell regaled us with stories about the celeb world (being Riri’s MUA), all the while swiftly working her magic with makeup. We exchanged stories of working & of motherhood. @neelamkg joined us. Being an internationally successful model, I’m always struck by how “real” & humble she is. All 3 of us chatted away about life, triumph & sacrifice. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Lunch was great - lots of Vegan options so I was happy. The atmosphere was energised, especially as @ling.kt was on my table. She uplifts everyone around her. I ate quickly as we had some outdoor photography to do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Our beloved weather did the predictable… as we stood at the main door, it started to drizzle. But before I knew it, someone had slipped a robe & slippers on me. There I was, in a van with 5 other people from the team, driving down to the canal in the area. It was surreal but exhilarating. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Back at the studio, super friendly @francescajordan did touch ups as it grew closer to my turn. The photographer was the legendary genius, @rankinarchive. A quiet, down to earth man, he was deliberate & thoughtful in every shot. I felt confident, unexpectedly calm & filled with gratitude. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Then came the interview. @lillycon, the interviewer, put me at ease quickly. She has the kind of vibe that makes it easy to speak with honesty - to just be yourself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀When the long day finished & I was back on the train home, I reflected... not on how awesome this campaign (obviously) is, but more on the kindness I was privileged to have encountered that day (in so many more ways), & the beauty in connection between human beings <3

A post shared by Amena (@amenaofficial) on

Wearing her headscarf in the ads feels like a major coup for the blogger, and she's excited L'Oréal is embracing all varieties of beauty. Even before she started wearing a headscarf, Khan said she had trouble finding anyone she could relate to in ad campaigns or media overall. “I think seeing a campaign like this would have given me more of a sense of belonging,” she said.

The blogger covers her hair in public, but when she’s at home, she loves to treat it to some TLC, just like the rest of us. “For me, my hair is an extension of my femininity. I love styling my hair, I love putting products in it, and I love it to smell nice. It’s an expression of who I am,” she said. “And even if that expression is for my home life and my loved ones and for me when I look in the mirror, it’s who I am.”