Tried and True Tips for the Natural-Hair Traveler
Tame your curls in even the most unforgiving conditions.
Traveling can be a real nuisance when it comes to hair care. And for curly-haired travelers, it can be even more of a struggle. Who wants to spend their beach vacation stuck in front of the mirror with a flat iron? Or feeling like their curls didn't get as much TLC as they needed?
As a woman who loves her natural tresses, I want my travel photos to show off the beautiful scenery and an impeccable fro to match—but anyone with 4b curls knows that this is much easier said than done.
From essential styling products that slip easily into your carry-on to natural protective serums that combat dry airplane conditions, we have all the things you need to stay carefree and curly on your next getaway.
Related: Waterfall Braid Tutorial
Your Style Essentials
There are a few styling products that are must-haves to ensure your curls stay hydrated and fresh throughout your trip. The first and most important is a curl cream. If you’re looking to refresh your twist-out overnight, then styling it with curl cream the night before will have you feeling like you just stepped out of the salon. A personal favorite product for this is As I Am Twist Defining Cream. With ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, and castor oil, it minimizes frizz and promotes healthy hair growth for a style that'll last for at least a week.
If you're worried about items taking up space in your carry-on, opt for the travel-friendly sizes of your favorite brands or invest in a travel bottle kit to fill with your products. Some favorite creams include Eden Bodyworks Medium Hold Curl Defining Crème, and Bb. Curl Defining Crème.
Styling Your Curls
If you're natural, you've probably heard of the "2-strand twist out" method, which makes for cute and manageable curls. Take it up a notch and try a "3-strand twist out." It'll leave you're curls even more defined and moisturized, perfect for the natural girl on the go.
To achieve this style, use the LOC method. Start with freshly washed and conditioned hair, part hair into four sections and apply a leave-in (L), an oil (O), and then a cream (C) to "LOC" in all of the moisture. Section again and twist hair using three strands. It's important to let the twists dry completely or you'll end up with a frizzy afro, which is cute, but not the look you may be going for. This popular style is ideal for beach trips if you're looking for a hassle-free way to spend time in the pool at the hotel without worrying about the water (and chemicals) destroying your hair.
On days where the humidity is unbearable or you're just eager to get out of the hotel room, a simple top-knot is the way to go. To achieve the look flawlessly you'll need Eco-Styler Gel, edge control, and a toothbrush (really!) for taming pesky edges and laying those beautiful baby hairs. I never leave the house without one in my purse. The key to this look is to start with wet moisturized hair, apply a liberal amount of eco-styler gel, then edge control and brush into a high bun. Finally, wrap your edges with a satin scarf and leave on for 10-20 minutes. This will leave your bun sleek, shiny, and flyaway-free. Finally, use the toothbrush on your edges and you're done.
Consider carrying a small detangle brush or Denman brush in your carry-on for touch ups in the airport, along with your emergency hair band when you need to style your hair quickly so you don't miss your flight. If you want to rock your straight hair during vacation, be sure to bring a travel-sized straightener for your carry on, like the Revlon Perfect Heat Travel Pro Mini Straightener. Don't forget to bring a satin cap to sleep with at night to keep your hair fresh overnight.
In-flight Hair Treatment
Being 30,000 feet up can really take a toll on your curls. You learn the hard way that a twist-out doesn't agree with the temperature (or lack of moisture) on the plane, which quickly dries it out. By the time a long flight is over, curls are fallen and frizzed.
To keep your hair fresh for those long trips in the air, it's best to either wrap your hair up and cover it (which can look stylish with a pretty silk scarf!) or pull it into a bun. I also like to twist my hair before the flight, cover it with a hat or scarf, and by the time I get to the hotel, my twists are dry and perfectly defined and moisturized. Use a hair lotion to keep your hair hydrated during your flight. Go for the Elasta QP Anti-Breakage Oil Moisturizer—or keep it simple with some old-fashioned organic coconut oil.
Wrap 'N Go
Sometimes you just don’t have to energy to braid or twist your hair. Head wraps can make a lazy style look effortlessly good. Plus, hair wraps are great ways to experiment with accessorizing. They're also perfect for long waits in the airport, so you don't have to worry about the temperature in the terminal frizzing your fresh curls. A great place to get head wraps is the Brooklyn-based online store, The Wrap Life.
Keeping Up With Your Curls
While traveling, the last thing a girl wants to worry about is having a bad hair day. Make sure you either re-twist your hair every night before bed or sleep in a "pineapple." This is a simple but effective magic trick to get perfect second-day hair. Simply pull all of your hair up into a high pony tail so your curls aren't smashed while you sleep and voila. Refresh them in the morning with WEN Sweet Almond Mint refresher spray. It'll give your curls just the pick-me-up they need without having to re-wash your hair.
Check Your Weather Forecast
Are you going somewhere cooler or more humid? Because of our hair textures, certain protective styles work better (or worse) in particular climates. For example, you'll probably want to reconsider getting an 18-inch weave down for a retreat to Bali.
On a recent trip to Martinique I wanted to sport my curly fro, but knew the island's humidity would laugh at my attempt to be a carefree black girl in vacation mode. When it comes to destinations with a lot of humidity, it’s wise to use a heat protection spray to protect your curls from the harsh UV rays—my favorite is ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer. You can also keep your curls shiny with Crème of Nature Argan Oil Gloss and Shine Polisher. Happy styling!