Just when I started getting the basics of co-washing, I went traveling through five different countries that haven’t hopped on the natural hair movement. Lawd what was I thinking.
One big chop + too many tears = one cute head of natural hair. My natural hair journey started in 2011, before natural hair YouTube was a thing. It has been a long road and worth every second on my path to self-hair love.
Enter my new found love for travel.
I learned more about my hair in six weeks abroad than six years in the states. I picked up a few tricks for keeping my natural hair in check while traveling.
Here are the lessons I learned from traveling with natural hair:
1. Oil is Your Best Friend
What is the best moisturizer for my hair and can be found almost everywhere on the planet? Oil! It doesn’t matter if it’s Black Jamaican Castor oil, coconut oil, or olive oil it all does wonders for my hair while traveling. I’ve used it as a pre-poo before cleaning my hair in sketchy water, to protect my hair from the harshness of salt water, and of course used it to give my curls a little shine after a cold and dry flight. I can always find a natural oil in a convenience store abroad and a little bit of oil goes a long way. Making it perfect to get through airport security and one of my favorite travel hair products.
2. Protective Styles are Amazing
Upon entering a pharmacy in Bali expecting to see Shea Moisture or Patentee (Really, Girl!?), I was hit with instant regret of not getting a protective style. If your trip is less than a month, a protective style is a great way to travel. Crochet, box braids, weave, etc are perfect for when you just want to relax and not stress about getting 3 lbs of hair product through customs. Yes, I have had my $15 bottle of conditioner tossed, yes I did shed a tear.
3. Scarves and Hats Reverse Any Bad Hair Day
I am a self-proclaimed lazy natural. When my problem child hair isn’t acting right I put her in time out with a head scarf or hat. Scarves and hats can pull double duty, use it to hide your hair when you are deep conditioning. One full day of deep conditioning under a hat and my curls are ready for the next adventure.
4. Find a Local Black Hair Dresser
If you’re traveling for longer than a month, try finding a local black hair dresser or braider. I know, I know, it sounds difficult. It freaked me out at first too but, by the time my travels took me to Brazil my hair was in need of some serious lovin’. And like I said, lazy natural. After a few hours on Facebook, a terrible broken-Portuguese conversation, and one super nice doorman I found an amazing Afro-Brazilian woman to crochet my hair. While she proceeded to whip my hair we talked everything from American hip-hop to the Afro-Brazilian diaspora. What was a source of drama, turned into a gateway into the Afro-Brazilian culture. Not to mention my hair looked great and fit my new location.
5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Don’t let your hair get in the way of enjoying your trip. Traveling with natural hair shouldn’t be a source of stress, so don’t let it be. Sometimes your hair is not going to be perfect that’s okay; enjoy the adventure at hand. Afterall it’s just hair.
Bonus: Protect your ends.
A 20-hour flight in a pressurized tube pumped full of cold dry air reeks havoc on my ends. I always use a little oil on my ends before I take off to keep them moisturized. Also, keeping them tucked away in a headscarf or braids protects them from the harsh conditions in flight.
What are your tips for Traveling with Natural Hair?