Let’s talk about hair. Or rather, let’s talk about how I don’t let hair care come between me and my travels.
When it comes to hair care, I’m a low maintenance kind of girl:
I’m not a product junkie.
I don’t do protective styles. (Although I live in Canada, and winters are harsh.)
I don’t sleep with a satin anything.
I don’t believe in being flawless every day. I accept bad hair days. Most of the time.
I believe in the power of water.
I’ve been a naturalista for almost 10 years now—meaning that, 10 years ago, I stopped straightening my hair with chemicals (a relaxer). Prior to that, I had relaxed my hair for close to 18 years. (If you do the math, you can guess my age. But don’t.)
My reason: I grew tired of the time commitment of having relaxed hair. An hour and a half (or two) under the hairdryer—on a weekly basis—just didn’t appeal much to me anymore. I decided to go back to a TWA (teeny weeny afro). I had rocked a TWA when I was 2 and again when I was 10 (all the way up to the age of 12). I knew how to manage that, and I knew I’d look good. So, I headed to the salon (in New Jersey, because why do it in Ottawa when you can go to Jersey), and requested the Big Chop. That was in 2008.
Fast forward to 2014. My hair got longer and requires quite some attention. At the time, my go-to hairdo was a twist out. On lazy days, I’d go with a pony puff. There were a lot of lazy days. Even wash-and-gos were a bit of a hassle. I was heading to South America (Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) for 3 weeks, and I wasn’t sure how my hair would behave. I didn’t know whether or not I’d have the energy, or the will, to twist it at the end of each day. I dreaded the inevitable wash days. Braids were not an option: I had never had braids before, and I wasn’t about to test them during a trip. I didn’t want to check a bag in order to carry all the hair product I’d need for the 3-week period. I didn’t want to be bothered. Once more, I headed to the salon—this time in Ottawa—for a Big Chop.
Allow me to digress. My barber in Jersey is from the Dominican Republic, the one in Ottawa is Haitian. They both were reluctant to cut my hair. Jersey-barber wanted to confirm that my boyfriend/husband/whoever I was with approved of my haircut. Hubs was with me, and he told him to tread lightly. He knew I wouldn’t put up with this line of questioning for long. “My wife doesn’t need my permission: her hair, her choice.” Ottawa-barber is Hubs barber; he told me point blank that the only reason he was going through with this was because Hubs was sitting right there. He interpreted his presence as approval. Hubs said the same thing to him. For my next Big Chop (because there will always be one), I’ll go to the barber shop sans Hubs. I’ll report back.
Four years later, my hair has grown, but it isn’t nearly as long as it was pre-Big Chop. But it’s long enough that I have to think about packing enough products. I still don’t check bags, even it if means that my hair isn’t going to be at its best. On the flip side, I think I found the right hair care routine pre- and during travel to be presentable.
Before I hit the road
The evening before my trip (or, if my schedule doesn’t permit, the weekend before), I take extra good care of my tresses. I add two more steps to my regular routine (shampoo, conditioner and style): pre-shampoo/oil treatment and a deep conditioner. These extra steps allow my coils to stay fresh and defined for a longer period.
What I take with me
All my containers are travel-size. Given that I don’t check luggage, I pack my hair care products in my toiletry bag—along with my skin care products. And I keep it simple: shampoo, moisturizer, leave-in conditioner, and my secret weapon—Eco Styler gel. When everything fails; when water, moisturizer and leave-in conditioner aren’t enough to keep the coils in line, Eco Styler gel is my go-to product. I use it every other day; in between, I refresh my hair with water.
I also travel with head bands, bobby pins and ouchless elastics. I’ve also gotten into the habit of taking a head wrap with me. Just in case.
While on the road
As long as it’s not freezing outside, I wet my hair every day—either by purposefully putting my head under the shower nozzle or by not using a shower cap while showering.
Depending on the level of wetness, I use a moisturizer or a leave-in (when hair is drenched). If my hair still looks blah, I’ll rinse the product out and bring out the big guns: Eco Styler gel.
When I’m away for a week or more, or when I hit the pool or the beach, I shampoo my hair. I don’t mind using shampoo and conditioner provided by the hotel or the Airbnb host. My hair doesn’t discriminate.
When I come back home
I give my hair some much needed TLC by repeating the routine I did pre-travel.
What is your hair care routine when you travel? Let me know.