It’s time to unwind on that much-anticipated summer getaway. You’ve booked your flight and can’t wait to whisk yourself off to an exotic or adventurous hot spot.
Now comes the hard part.
You’re packing your bags, deciding what to bring. Your stress level begins to rise when you realize you can’t tote all your hair products and still meet the two-suitcase limit. What’s a curly girl to do?
Here, curl-centric stylists cut through the clutter with strategies and must-have products to help you embark on a stress-free vacation—whether you’re headed into the dry, desert air or a more humid, beach environment.
If your respite includes little more than your bikini and a white sandy beach in the Caribbean, don’t let the ocean breeze catch you off guard. You may not feel the harsh heat on the glittering shoreline, but you will feel the humidity—and so will your curls and kinks—especially if you’re coming from a drier locale.
But if you pack the right products, curl experts say you can keep the frizz at bay while you play.
“You’re going to need a high-humidity gel and a treatment, such as a styling cream that blocks out the humidity,” says Christo, curl expert and Global Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue salon.
“You mix the gel with the styling lotion,” he adds.
In the evenings, if it’s just too sticky hot to bother styling your curls, Christo suggests creating a no-fuss, sleek look.
“You can use a bit of gel, slick the hair back and twist it into a chignon,” he says. “I always tell my clients to consider accessories as well, like a ponytail holder with water pearls, japanese beads, etc.”
After all, vacations are supposed to be fun, relaxing and worry-free!
“You never see anyone going out with perfectly coifed hair at these beach resorts,” adds Stanley of New York’s Christopher Stanley Salon. “It’s all about low-maintenance fun, so bring lots of clips and bobby pins. And don’t bother spending money on doing your color before your beach vacation because it’ll just be ruined in the pool and the sun. It will oxidize a lot and you’ll just have to come into the salon and get it fixed.”
When you’re spending a day by the pool, make sure you rinse your hair every time you step out of the water. Then add a protective coating of conditioner. Don’t want to carry another bottle around? In a pinch, Stanley says the same creamy, sunscreen lotion you use to protect your skin can also protect your hair. Just make sure it doesn’t contain a bronzer or any type of pigment.
Remember, the more moisture you have in your hair, the less frizz you’re going to see. And the earlier you start to improve the health of your hair, the better off you’ll be.
“A few weeks before you leave on vacation, you can use a deep conditioning treatment once a week—although twice a week wouldn’t hurt— and your hair will be much better prepared to handle the humidity,” says Christine Williamson of Carriage House Salon & Spa in Cambridge, Mass., who recommends Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque and Bumble & Bumble Deeep Treatment.
In your hotel or bungalow, you can continue to use a deep-conditioning treatment. Even keep it in overnight, as needed.
“When you allow the conditioner to penetrate the hair shaft for those eight hours, you’ll get the most luxurious, gorgeous curls when you rinse it out in the morning,” Williamson says.
She also recommends bringing your own satin pillowcase to snooze on.
“It will be much more gentle on your curly hair,” she says. “You can just fold it up and stick it in your suitcase.”
Elie Camoro of New York’s Frederic Fekkai 5th Avenue Salon also recommends making room in your suitcase for Fekkai’s Zero Humidity Frizz Control to keep the frizz down and Beach Waves to boost the curl. On damp hair, Camoro suggests curlies start with the anti-frizz spray, which offers UV protection and serves as a leave-in conditioner. Then apply Beach Waves, starting at your hairline and moving to the back, using your fingers to twirl sections of hair away from your face.
“When you’re in the Caribbean, you don’t want to pack a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron—it doesn’t make sense,” Camoro says. “It doesn’t go with the whole vibe of your vacation. The summer is less maintenance, a softer look, more beach chic. So, you pack these leave-in products, a detangling comb, and it’s wash-and-wear hair.”
If you already live in a beach climate and you’re opting for a hike in the Colorado Rockies, a luxurious Palm Springs resort or the casinos of Las Vegas, the drier air in these areas offer a much-deserved break from the battle against frizz. But you will want to protect your curls from wilting in the arid weather.
“You’re probably going to find that your hair gets flat because there is no humidity,” Stanley says. “A lot of times, when people live in a humid climate and go into a dry climate, the curl stretches out so you won’t need as heavy a product.”
“You’re probably only going to need a styling lotion and products with protein, like a leave-in conditioner to create a more defined curl,” adds Christo, who suggests Curlisto Structura Styling Lotion and Curlisto Protein Boost leave-in conditioner for body and bounce.
Meanwhile, Camoro recommends Fekkai’s Quick Quench Rehydrating Gelee and Sun Bandana, which serves as a sunscreen for the hair and a conditioning treatment for drier climates.
“When skin is exposed to too much heat, you put aloe on it and it cools you down,” Camoro says. “The gelee is like aloe for the hair. It’s a good product in a dry climate because your hair is so exposed to the sun and the gelee contains UV protection. You can put it on dry or damp hair and comb it through. It can even be used as a styling product for thick, coarse hair—just add more product for control.”
If you don’t want to buy another product, Stanley says you can simply use a smaller amount of your favorite gel—or just water it down.
“When your hair is wet, you can also scrunch in your product and then gather your hair from around the crown and clip it on the top of the head,” Stanley says. “This allows the curls to dry with some lift, rather than flat to the scalp and straight out. It will prevent you from ending up with Cleopatra triangle head, which is every curly-haired person’s nightmare!”
Moisture is also important in drier climates to prevent static. Deep condition the hair and use a light leave-in conditioner to calm those electric locks. Avoid hair products that include ingredients that will dry out your hair, such as alcohol or harsh chemicals.
Pack along a fabric softener sheet and run it over your hair when it starts to get out of control. You can use it several times during the day if necessary.
Traveling with ProductSummer time vacations are always anticipated with excitement. After all the planning and making reservations are done I am ready for the next phase, packing. I think about white outfits and how many shoes I can really fit in my suitcase. I start shopping for the perfect book to read on the beach. Now the vacation is starting to all come together. Then I remember my hair. It isn’t as care free and easy as I wish it was even on vacation. That just out of the ocean or pool look is really unattainable without my hair products. Did I leave enough room in the suitcase for my hair products? Do I really need them all? My Curlisto Bio Gel Mousse, Curlisto Control I Gel , DevaCurl Set it Free spray, the cleansers and conditioners.
Yes, of course, I need them all — no curly headed woman would dare travel without her products. My vacation outfits would be worthless to me if my hair was a frizzy mess. Not even the best pair of shoes would help. But my suitcase is small and I always carry it on. Now the battle begins in my mind. Shoes or hair products? Luckily some of the products I can’t live or travel without come in the small sizes that airport security requires. Deva Curl and Curlisto are great. But the mousse and a few of my other favorites aren’t available in small sizes. So I am left with trying to make my own travel size bottles. It is messy and time-consuming, but any curly woman understands these efforts. All is going well with the funnel and labeling until I get to the mousse. The first try is a big foaming overflowing mess. Will the mousse work if I let it settle to liquid? It took a while to get the bottle full between squirts and settling time but it was worth it.
Yes, mousse works in the liquid form! Maybe not as perfectly, but well enough. I am now ready for the trip. Zipping up the suitcase, I notice I have more hair products and shoes than white outfits. Does every other curly woman’s suitcase look like mine?
— Suzanne Schroeder
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