– by Un’ruly contributor Ieshia McDonald
I was blessed with the opportunity last April to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and believe it or not, one of my first worries was about my hair and how I would take care of it. In a country where kinky hair is rare, I was able to not only continue to take care of my hair, but also gain some length! We as black women should never let our hair get in the way of travelling. Here are some of the tips and tricks I picked up along the way.
1. Pack your favorite oil.
For me, this was tea tree oil. Although it was a very small amount (3 FL OZ to be exact) the entire bottle lasted me for more than three months. This helped me to seal in the moisture once washing my hair, and also helped my skin whenever I suffered from sporadic breakouts. Packing your favorite oil is definitely a two-for-one deal.
2. Pack a spray bottle.
Moisture will be your hair’s best friend while traveling. Water is actually the one product you can count on. However, before testing the water on my hair, I was sure to examine how my roommates’ hair reacted to it first. I saw that their hair reacted well, so I knew it would be okay for mine. Before travelling, I suggest you do your own research on the water quality of that country. If it is not safe for you to drink the water, then it probably won’t be good for your hair either. If this is the case, try bottled water instead, or another recommended source.
3. Keep styling simple.
Do not spend all of your time worrying about your hair. Go out, explore, and wander. Venture out with the people you’re travelling with, or that you meet along the way. Prior to leaving for your trip, know what your staple lazy hair day styles are, and stick to them. Know how often you need to wash, and don’t bother with deep conditioning if you can; use your time wisely.
4. Humidity hates your hair products.
Be mindful that humidity plus oils and other products equals an extra shiny forehead. Keep this in mind when you are adding product to your hair. Because of the extra moisture in the air, you do not need to add as much product for your hair to keep it moisturized as you would in colder temperatures. Remember a sweaty forehead is never cute; that’s an international rule of thumb.
5. Have a silk bonnet on deck.
And remember to wear it at all times. There were many times when I misplaced my bonnet and I woke up to extra dry, tangled hair. A hair bonnet will help your hair remain not only moisturized, but in tact for an easy morning routine. If bonnets aren’t your thing, try packing a silk pillowcase to sleep on instead.
6. A wide-tooth comb will save you time.
For those days when you really need to wash your hair, but you don’t have the time or energy to bother with finger detangling, a nice wide-tooth comb will do the trick. Be sure to always use this tool when your hair is either damp or wet. Combing your hair when it is dry could result in breakage. Also, just because you have opted to use this tool to save time does not mean you shouldn’t handle your hair with care, take your time and be gentle.
7. Co-washing is awesome, but shampoo gets the job done.
I’m all for moisture and cutting shampoo out of one’s hair regimen when necessary, but sometimes you want an extra clean feeling when it comes to your scalp and hair. Traveling, you will most likely be out most of the day, and you never know what elements you will be travelling in. Be sure to pack shampoo, you will need it, especially with curly hair. While in Buenos Aires, I would find so many plants, branches and other scraps that had flown from trees in my hair, or even the dust from older barrios I would be wandering in. Using shampoo will help cleanse your hair fully.
8. A puff/bun is simple, but still acceptably stylish.
It’s sleek. It’s simple and a headband can always glamorize it. Not to mention, pulling your hair back will prevent the locals of that area from petting your hair, especially if people of color are a rarity.
9. When backpacking:
Have a wide-tooth comb, brush, black stretch bands, bonnet, gel and moisturizer. That’s it! Everything else I have deemed as unnecessary. Remember when backpacking, you are travelling through and not to. You will most likely never be in that area again, so leave your precious hair care items at your regular place of stay.
10. Create a nighttime routine and stick with it!
If your hair is out for the day, gather your hair into a very high puff or do chunky twists before bed and re-moisturize. It’s that simple.
11. Pick a protective style for the weekday.
This is a smart method, so you won’t have to worry about your hair during the week. You will also be able to retain more moisture this way.
12. Take care of those ends!
Moisturize, seal and protect.
13. Let your hair be your last worry.
Be adventurous; be proud of your beauty and immerse yourself into the culture as much as you can!