Traveling with curly hair: all the low-maintenance tips you need to look fabulous abroad.

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I all the time thought I had horrible hair. And I’m not simply fishing for compliments right here (ahem: the remark field is under. I’ll wait.) For my whole grownup life, my hair has simply been … not good: it’s half-heartedly curly and wavy on the identical time, tremendous frizzy and fly-away, inclined to separate ends and breakage, and intensely skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as have a look at it the fallacious means. And it has a endless thirst for blood moisture.

For sure, it was NOT enjoyable to journey with. Throughout my year-long honeymoon, I backpacked around the globe with my hair shoved right into a messy bun, which I dreaded undoing as a result of I simply knew there can be terrible tangles and breakage to cope with. I didn’t have house in my journey backpack for conditioner, and I didn’t have a lot luck discovering any on my travels. I returned house with a few of the worst hair of my life, and I used to be prepared to cut all of it off.

However then I heard about one thing known as the “Curly Lady Technique.” And whereas the total technique was extra concerned than I used to be actually ready to do, even attempting a half-a**ed lazy model of it truly modified my life. I imply, principally it modified my hair, nevertheless it modified it a lot that it spilled over into different components of my life, too. The boldness enhance was actual, y’all!

All of the sudden, I didn’t have wishy-washy frizzy hair anymore. It turned out that each one that frizz was truly simply thirsty curls ready to stay life to their fullest potential! And though my hair remains to be tremendous skinny – my ponytail is the width of a pencil when it’s completely straight – you’d by no means realize it to take a look at my hair when it’s curly. All you see is full, superb, bountiful curls! I felt like a brand new, assured, sassy, curly-haired particular person able to tackle the world.

Let me present y’all what I imply. Right here’s my earlier than hair, a wishy-washy fantastic mess with no actual texture that couldn’t resolve if it was wavy or curly – and this was on a good hair day:

Drinking watermelon juice in a swing in Nusa Lembongan, Bali.
My halfheartedly wavy hair not residing as much as its potential whereas the remainder of me was having a tremendous time in Bali.

And right here’s my after hair, stuffed with luscious outlined curls that I actually by no means even knew I might have:

Lia in a face mask at the airport
The Curly Lady Technique turned me into the type of one who takes selfies on the airport – AFTER the flight. (Tip: pineapple your hair in the course of the flight for a quantity enhance!)

The factor is, residing your curly life to its fullest potential isn’t the best factor to drag off, particularly whereas touring. It’s a bit labor-intensive, requires just a few area of interest gadgets, and customarily requires some planning forward. For me, what works finest whereas touring is a really low-maintenance model of my at-home curly hair routine.

What do I imply by low upkeep? Effectively, when you’ve bought your curls locked in, you’re in luck: your hair will look wonderful for 5 entire days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of fine hair days in a row. (You may nonetheless bathe if you’d like, although. I imply, I generally don’t. However you possibly can. I’ll clarify later!) That truly makes it price the additional effort on wash day. (As a result of I’m lazy.)

If it sounds a bit of intimidating, don’t fear: I’ve figured all of it out. Over the previous few years, I’ve managed to take my curls the world over and discovered tips on how to match my whole hair care routine right into a tiny bag that matches neatly into my carry-on bag! So whether or not you’re a curl professional already otherwise you’re simply beginning to coax your hair to satisfy its curly potential like me, right here’s all the things you’ll have to take your curls on the highway … or practice, airplane, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually wherever, actually.

The Curly Lady Technique (whereas Touring)

Everybody has barely completely different variations of the unique “curly lady technique” – which was coined and first debuted in this book – and through the years I’ve discovered what works finest for me.

I’ve additionally discovered that the routine issues greater than the precise merchandise. My hair is ok and skinny, so so long as I’m not weighing it down with tremendous heavy product, something that can provide it a number of moisture with out product buildup or silicones will work for me! I’m principally simply utilizing cheap merchandise – however they’re utilized very rigorously.

So, right here’s my routine in a nutshell:

Step 1: The “Reset” Wash

Every little thing begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes nicely throughout this a part of the method, I gained’t have to reset my hair once more for an additional 4-5 days.

The caveat is that that is the excessive upkeep bit. Consider it as an funding: the payoff for spending just a few hours fiddling together with your curls is that your hair will look wonderful for the remainder of your journey with nearly no effort.

First, right here’s the step-by-step course of I take for laundry my hair.

  1. I begin by shampooing my roots with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo. Not everybody truly wants shampoo – many curly ladies clear with conditioner solely – however I discover that an excessive amount of conditioner weighs my skinny, light-weight hair down! My present favorites are Shea Moisture and Maui Moisture.
  2. I situation all the best way from my roots downwards with a light-weight, moisturizing conditioner. For me, it’s tremendous essential that my conditioner is light-weight as a result of my hair is tremendous light-weight.
  3. I situation my ends with a thick, heavy, moisturizing hair masks. That is the place my hair wants most of its moisture, so I glob on a LOT of thick, heavy conditioner – however ONLY on the ends of my hair, so it doesn’t overwhelm my quantity. The deep conditioner I’m at the moment utilizing is that this Shea Moisture curl smoothie.
  4. I finger-comb my hair and clip it up for the remainder of my bathe. There are normally just a few tangles to work out at this level, and as soon as I’ve kind of gotten these out of the best way, I pile my hair on prime of my head and clip it as much as maintain it out of the best way and let my conditioner soak in.
  5. I comb by way of my hair upside-town and wash out the conditioner. Once I’m prepared to complete up, I run a wide-tooth comb by way of my hair whereas upside-down – this is essential! At this level, you need to be beginning to see “curl clumps” forming. Wash your hair out whereas nonetheless the other way up, taking particular care to maintain these curl clumps collectively!

Now that you simply’re finished showering, it’s on to the second half: product utility and drying!

  1. Whereas nonetheless the other way up, “scrunch” your hair to assist these curl clumps type. You’re principally simply squeezing out some water, in order that whenever you begin making use of product, it gained’t all combine with the surplus water and fall proper off! Take particular care to to it the other way up and gently, in order that your curl clumps get even curlier.
  2. Apply curl cream by “scrunching” the other way up. I don’t want to do that each time, however generally my hair wants a bit of further enhance, and I discover {that a} curl-forming cream actually helps! There are a great deal of completely different curl lotions on the market. I actually like this one for my fantastic hair as a result of it’s good and light-weight.
  3. Apply hair gel. That is by far, palms down, the MOST vital a part of my routine. Your gel is what is going to maintain your curls going robust for the remainder of the week – it’s ESSENTIAL! There are two methods I like to use gel. First is identical scrunching movement I exploit to use cream. The second technique known as “prayer palms” – you’re principally working your palms down the size of your hair, after which gently crunching once more to maintain these curl clumps curly! I exploit this extremely cheap, super nostalgic 90’s era gel as a result of it’s low cost, has an ideal maintain and incredible shine, and washes out absolutely in water so I by no means get product buildup. (Additionally, nostalgia.)
  4. Plop utilizing a micro-fiber hair towel. You need to plop your entire curls onto the highest of your hair and keep away from stretching them out. It’s tremendous simple to do utilizing my favourite microfiber hair towel! After which, it’s lastly time to flip right-side up.
  5. Air-dry or diffuse your hair. After letting your hair sit plopped in a towel for some time, you possibly can both take it down and let it air dry the remainder of the best way, or for those who’re tight on time, use a blow-drier and diffuser to softly dry your hair whereas upside-down. For those who’re diffusing, begin on the roots util they’re dry, after which gently cup your hair up into the diffuser and push all of it upwards towards your head, so that you’re nonetheless conserving these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is absolutely dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair may have become a rock-hard little forged. Assume Justin Timberlake’s “Ramen Noodles” look within the 90’s. Whereas splendidly nostalgic, this isn’t the specified impact! You’ll want to interrupt up that gel forged to launch your bouncy, shiny curls. All it’s important to do is scrunch your hair like loopy together with your palms. I like plenty of quantity, so I’ll even fluff up my roots a bit of bit to actually get that gel damaged up! As soon as your crunch is absolutely scrunched out, congratulations: you might have stunning, shiny (that’s the gel), bouncy curls.
Curly haired girl wearing glasses and bright red lipstick drinking beer in Salt Lake City.
Nothing pairs with curly hair like brilliant pink lipstick (and beer).

Step 2: The Upkeep

My reset bathe takes plenty of work. However fortunately, I solely must do it each 4-5 days. The remainder of the week, I simply perform a little upkeep to maintain my curls trying good! Right here’s what I do:

  • Sleep together with your hair piled on prime of your head.

Sleeping together with your hair in a “pineapple” retains your curls above your pillow and shielded from getting stretched, frizzed-out, and in any other case ruined whilst you sleep! I usually simply pile it on the very prime of my head with a tender scrunchy. Some of us swear by utilizing a buff or silk scarf, however I’ve by no means managed to determine that out.

  • Refresh your curls each few days.

Round day 3, my curls begin trying a bit of flat and fewer outlined, so it’s time for a refresh! There are 2 primary methods I prefer to refresh.

The primary is by having a shower with my hair piled up on prime of my head in a scrunchy. I don’t get my hair moist, however the steam from the bathe provides sufficient moisture to my hair to get all of it good and overrated once more, so by the point I come out of the bathe, I’ve bought a number of quantity once more.

The second is a bit more concerned. You’ll want to combine a bit of little bit of conditioner and gel into a sprig bottle and fill it up with water.

Flip your hair upside-down and spritz it throughout together with your refresh spray. Then, scrunch your hair (the identical means you do within the bathe) to assist your damp hair re-form curls. The conditioner provides moisture, and the gel helps set the curls once more. You would possibly have to scrunch out the crunch a bit of bit in a couple of minutes when you’ve dried!

In a pinch, even simply getting your palms moist, flipping your head over and scrunching your curls just a few instances will assist add some quantity and definition. The secret is that curls CRAVE moisture, so any means you will get moisture into them will assist your curls type!

And that’s it – that’ll maintain you trying wonderful for an additional 4-5 days!

Watching the sun rise in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.
Early morning curls whereas watching the solar rise in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Curly Hair Journey Necessities

There are just a few hair instruments that come together with me once I plan to rock curly hair. That is my full curly hair journey packing checklist, and whereas it might appear to be so much, I’m capable of shove all of this into a type of drawstring shoe-bags or a medium packing cube for tidy storage in my suitcase.

  • Travel blowdryer and travel diffuser: I truly usually air-dry my hair at house, however time is a treasured commodity when touring and a blowdryer cuts dry time by roughly a zillion %! It’s additionally a vital software in a chilly vacation spot – no one desires frozen hair (even when it appears actually cool). I exploit a really small, foldable blow dryer with a collapsible curl diffuser that take up a small quantity of house in my bag. Simply don’t overlook to carry alongside a plug adapter/converter for those who’ll be touring overseas!
  • Microfiber hair towel: Together with a full sized travel towel (since resort towels by no means, ever match me), I additionally carry alongside a small microfiber hair towel to assist my hair dry sooner. I “plop” it whereas I’m getting dressed and prepared for the day after which blow-dry/diffuse it till it’s absolutely dry.
  • Scrunchies: I exploit scrunchies to pile my curls on prime of my head in a excessive ponytail in a single day. That means I don’t knock out the curls in a single day and get a quantity enhance within the morning! Any outdated scrunchie will work, however silk scrunchies are finest for taming frizz and sliding out of tangle-prone hair, like mine.
  • Hair product: In fact, you want tiny travel-sized bottles of your entire important hair merchandise! I carry alongside my gel, curl defining cream, shampoo and conditioner decanted into little 1oz bottles. And I throw in a wide-tooth comb and a clip for the bathe, too. All of it suits in my zip-up hanging travel toiletry case.
On the beach in Maui, Hawaii.
Right here’s a tip: you want much less product in scorching, humid environments, like a tropical seashore. On seashore holidays, I can normally get away with simply moisturizing my sea salt-coated hair and embracing the waves!

Journey Suggestions for Curly Hair

Put all of your haircare merchandise into tiny, travel-friendly bottles.

We’re carry-on-only sorts, so all of our favourite merchandise (sure, Jeremy and I each use the very same hair merchandise) get decanted into little tiny bottles that neatly slot in our hanging toiletry bag.

Deliver further conditioner!

Don’t depend on the resort’s free bottles, or discovering appropriate hair merchandise wherever you’re touring. You gained’t, and for those who do use some random resort conditioner, you would possibly find yourself making your hair worse – they’re normally loaded with silicones!

When you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works to your hair, carry as a lot of it with you as you possibly can – particularly conditioner, which you’ll be utilizing a LOT greater than shampoo. I’ve a number of mini containers of my conditioner packed into my journey toiletries case, so I by no means run out!

Use a t-shirt to plop for those who don’t have a micro-fiber towel.

I all the time carry alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however for those who overlook yours or don’t have one, you possibly can simply sub out a t-shirt, or any clean merchandise of clothes. It’s a bit of more durable to wrap round your head, however I discover that long-sleeved shirts work finest.

What you completely ought to NOT do EVER, is resort to a daily outdated terrycloth towel, even for plopping. These little loops of thread on the floor of the towel really feel nice in your pores and skin, however they’re terrible to your hair! They trigger frizz, disrupt your curl sample, suck up extra moisture than you need, and customarily break an excellent curl day.

By no means use a daily towel in your hair! Any tender, clean shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Simply ensure to pack a travel clothesline so you possibly can cling your shirt as much as dry after your bathe.)

Curvy girl in a bikini printed with monstera leaves, turned away with one arm raised in a peace sign facing a beach with palm trees and water in the background.
Rocking curls and certainly one of my favourite curvy-girl swimsuits in Maui, Hawaii.

Plan out your “wash days” strategically to suit into your itinerary.

Wash days are an entire factor. It takes my hair like, 5 hours to air-dry sufficient to the purpose the place I can “scrunch out the crunch.” And I don’t normally have 5 hours once I’m touring! Which is why I all the time pack a journey blowdrier and diffuser, however even that may take up 45 treasured minutes that I might spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, resembling once I’ll be on a protracted flight or practice trip. I don’t care if I look cute throughout these days, and it provides my hair loads of time to completely set into the curls it’ll keep in till my subsequent reset day.

Then, for the following 4-5 days, I exploit varied tips to maintain my curls trying good, together with sleeping with my hair in a “pineapple,” sporting my hair in a super-high ponytail whereas I bathe to take in moisture & quantity with out truly getting moist, and spritzing my hair with a refresh concoction of water, gel, and conditioner.

Water can have a really completely different impact in your hair whereas touring than you’re used to.

Onerous water” because it’s known as, isn’t truly ice (complicated, I do know) however water that comprises hint parts of chemical substances and minerals. That isn’t essentially a foul factor, however it might have a detrimental impact in your hair known as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled rest room flooring. And many resorts, hostels and trip leases have laborious water!

To scrub away that icky buildup and maintain it from damaging your hair, both carry a small quantity of clarifying rinse or shampoo, or – my desire – carry a small bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar with you! Distill the Apple Cider Vinegar with water and rinse your hair with it. As a plus, watered down ACV can also be my favourite remedy for a foul sunburn!

Deliver a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

That is only a normal journey tip – scissors are tremendous helpful to have available. However in the case of hair, scissors might be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim cut up ends, reduce bangs, trim beards, tidy up down there, and – for those who’re up for it – give haircuts! This is the pair we introduced with us on our year-long honeymoon, which has include us in our suitcase ever since.

  • Haircare Journey Tip: ONLY use these scissors on hair –  by no means on paper or anything! You may doubtlessly injury the blade which might in flip injury your hair.
Jeremy exploring the Palace Market in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bonus photograph of my good-looking husband and his lil entrance curls! He swears by the Curly Lady Technique, too. Besides his is 50x simpler as a result of his hair air dries in about 5 seconds.

Take particular care with the ends of your hair.

(Rhyme intentional.) The ends of your hair are probably the most susceptible to breakage and splitting, which ends up in tangles and frizz – two issues I’m regretfully nicely versed in. I take a tiny tub of split end balm.  I put it on my ends after showers, each time they’re feeling dry, or simply once I have to tame issues down and clean issues out. I brush by way of with my boar bristle brush to unfold the oils by way of my hair evenly.

In a pinch, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are incredible for hair. 

Just a little tub of coconut oil or argan oil goes a good distance. Whereas it’s not nice for facial pores and skin, coconut oil is ideal for hair, palms and ft, and dry lips.  

And each argan oil and olive oil are all-around magnificence powerhouses! I carry Argan Oil on journeys to make use of for each my face and hair … however I’ve additionally been recognized to benefit from shared olive oil bottles in hostel kitchens, too.

Just a little little bit of oil goes a good distance: put a dime-sized drop in your palms and clean by way of your hair beginning together with your ends.

When all else fails, simply get your hair moist and begin over.

The magic of curly hair is that each time you get your hair moist or add moisture, you might have a possibility to reset your curls – even for those who’re not doing an entire “reset” wash day.

You may spray water into your hair, put it up right into a ponytail whilst you bathe your physique, or simply get your palms moist within the sink and scrunch your hair to reset your curl sample.

I’ll typically do that with a very annoying curl up entrance that will get simply frizzed out – you possibly can actually re-curl a bit of hair together with your finger and let it dry into an entire good lil’ corkscrew.

And now, my fellow curlies, go forth and look fabulous!


What questions do you might have about touring with curly hair? Drop me a remark under!

Psst: Searching for extra ideas for feeling and looking incredible whereas touring? Check out a few of these different posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic

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