Camping was a foundational part of my childhood. Every summer, my extended family would plan two to three trips to the beautiful provincial parks of Alberta. We would either stay in our tent trailer, an Alpine Club of Canada hut, or tents depending on how remote our campsite was. Access to water was quite limited and we had to pack light, which meant no room for extraneous items like hair care supplies.
Whether your regimen is minimalist or high maintenance, every naturalista needs her holy grail kit to keep her curls popping. But when you've got to choose between packing camping essentials and your fave styling gel, it's a no-brainer: the hair stuff stays home. This generally wasn't a big deal for our shorter trips. My hair would usually be tucked away in box braids or cornrows ― styles that could survive a weekend without fuss. Longer trips took a bit more planning, though. If we were going away for a week or two, I'd try to get my hair done as close to our departure date as possible to maximize the longevity of the protective style. This way, I wouldn't need to touch it up during the trip and could get away with shampooing just once if necessary.
If you're going camping or travelling for an extended period of time, I recommend sticking to the easiest styles and simplest products you can find. The last thing you want to do is spend hours detangling your hair in the woods when you could be enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Here are some suggestions:
Buns are fantastic for short trips because you don't have to spend any time installing them, and they do a decent job keeping your coils out of the way. Big cornrows, flat twists, and Bantu knots are better options if you don't want to restyle your hair every morning, but because they won't last longer than a few days before getting fuzzy, you should consider medium to small ones for week-long trips. Most naturalistas are able to keep braids, twists, and weaves in for anywhere between two and eight weeks, making them ideal for trips longer than seven nights.
Of course, some lucky people get to travel for months and months at a time. Should you be on the road for over eight weeks, I would suggest braids or twists ― but only with your own hair. Taking down extension hair in the wilderness is very difficult and time-consuming. You can literally shave hours off this process by braiding or twisting your own hair, taking it down after a few weeks, giving it a good wash, and reinstalling the style while sitting by the campfire.
If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned twist outs, braid outs, or wash-and-go's, it's because those styles are wayyyy to high maintenance for camping. Moreover, you'll be in big trouble if it rains or you decide to take a dip in the lake! That said, I'm sure many people have no issues travelling with their afros out and you're certainly welcome to try it if you want, but I prefer to keep the number of things I need to worry about to a minimum.
No matter what you decide, make sure you're doing what you can to keep your hair healthy while you travel. Remember to moisturize regularly and protect it from the elements. And try not to worry about it so much! It'll keep growing no matter what, so just relax and have a fantastic vacation.
How do you keep your hair healthy while travelling? Share with us in a comment below!
They say wearing bright colours can lift your mood, as style expert and TV personality Marlo Hampton demonstrates in this cute two-piece. Wouldn't you be all smiles if you were sporting electric orange and pink on the beach too? ;-)
RECREATE HER LOOK FROM UK CLUB WEAR
Chapping and windburn and frostbite ﹣ oh my! If these are the effects winter can have on your skin, imagine what it's doing to your hair. Fortunately there are easy ways to avoid incurring any serious damage, and the first step is knowing what the causes are. In my experience, natural hair has had to fight against three enemies in particular:
1. DRYNESS - I've got a relatively thirsty head of hair. Daily spritzing has done it wonders, even with high humidity during the summer. If your 'fro shares the same personality, then moisturizing in winter is especially crucial. Denying it the hydration it needs leaves it more susceptible to splitting and breakage. This is because moisture boosts the strength and elasticity of each hair strand. Dry hair is especially vulnerable to the next two enemies, so don't skimp on the deep conditioning!
2. COLD TEMPERATURES - While the lower temperatures in and of themselves probably don't hurt my hair, I have noticed that many of the products I use function differently in cold weather. The best example I can think of is liquid coconut oil. It melts gloriously into my locks if I apply it while it's warm. However, if I don't stay indoors long enough for the oil to properly moisturize my hair, it slowly begins to solidify and become more like a gel! I sidestep this by making sure I only use coconut oil at night in the winter so that by the time I awaken, pretty much all of it has been gobbled up by my hair. Some of the products you use may also be temperature-sensitive, so it's important to tweak how you use them in the winter in order to continue achieving optimal results.
3. FRICTION - I'm wearing a toque as I write this blog post knowing full well that it could be breaking my hair. This is because wool, cotton, and other fibres that make hats and earmuffs warm are also notorious for tugging at kinky hair. The friction these cozy accessories cause by rubbing against our strands dries out and weakens our hair. If you like chunky cable knit scarves like I do, be sure to protect the hairs at the nape of your neck by hiding them away in braids or twists. Right now I'm wearing my hair in flat twists and I've got them wrapped up in a silk scarf underneath my toque ﹣ just to be safe!
Got a winter hair care tip? Share in a comment below!
If you live in the northern hemisphere of this beautiful planet, it's time to get serious about your winter hair routine. It's never too late to ramp up your hair care regimen -- even if the snow has already begun to fall -- but the earlier you prepare the better. Last winter was something fierce here in Toronto. I was introduced to a chilling phenomenon called a polar vortex (they couldn't have come up with a scarier name) in which the frozen air chewed vigorously on my delicate tresses. Temperatures were often below -30ºC (-22ºF) and humidity was high, which meant moisture could easily seep into each hair strand... and then freeze! Having never heard of deep conditioning back then, it's no wonder I experienced so much breakage. This year I am older and wiser. Here's a list of preventative measures I'm taking to keep my hair strong this winter.
How do you prep your hair for cold weather? Share in a comment below!
Many people mistakenly believe that all oils are created equal. Because the vast majority of them are plant-derived and do an excellent job of sealing in moisture, it's commonly thought that any one oil can be substituted for another. However, each oil has properties that make it unique. Characteristics such as the viscosity and ability to penetrate the hair shaft can determine whether or not an oil is right for you. It's getting colder outside, and the weather can also have a big impact on the effectiveness of certain oils in your hair. Keeping that in mind, here are the top oils to use for your natural hair this winter.
What is your favourite oil to use when the temperature drops? Tell us in a comment below!
If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may be noticing some changes in the weather. Here in Toronto the sun isn't shining as brightly, the days are a bit cooler, and the wind is definitely picking up. It's important to pay attention to these atmospheric changes because they have a great impact on your natural hair. As the temperature and humidity drop, you should focus on how your hair looks and feels. Here are the top three ways you can update your natural hair regimen for autumn:
What are your tricks for preparing your hair for cooler weather? Share in a comment below!
Having grown up in the hot, dry Canadian prairies, I know firsthand what it's like to struggle with dryness. If you're living in a desert-like climate with high temperatures, relentless sun, and limited humidity, this post is for you! Years of experimentation have revealed to me three main tricks to keeping natural hair moisturized in dry summers.
1. Spritz Regularly
You can't afford to cut corners on this one, even if you're worried about shrinkage. You don't need to douse your hair completely, but applying a mixture of water and aloe vera juice with a spray bottle every so often will definitely help quench your hair's thirst. I do this once a day to every other day because my hair dries out fairly quickly. You may only need to spritz once or twice a week if your hair more readily holds onto moisture.
2. Use Light Oils
As I mentioned in The Best Natural Hair Oils for Hot Weather, you should opt for runnier oils during the warmest months of the year. Coconut and jojoba oil are two examples of light oils that are great at sealing in moisture without weighing your hair down. In the heat, thick oils like castor oil will feel heavy on your scalp and clog your pores. (Remember to apply a small amount of oil after every spritz, otherwise the water will simply evaporate leaving your hair as dry as it was before!)
3. Avoid Humectants
Humectants are products like vegetable glycerin and honey, which absorb moisture from the air and release it into your hair. Sounds good, right? Usually yes, but when humidity is low it can spell disaster. This is because humectants also transfer moisture from your hair into the atmosphere if humidity is low. They do this to create balance, shifting moisture from an area of high water content to an area with less. That's why humectants can be your worst enemy in dry weather － they can literally suck the moisture right out of your hair!
How do you combat dryness in the summertime? Tell us in a comment below!
Have you ever wondered why there's so much variance in hair types? There must be a biological or evolutionary reason for so many differences in hair textures across the human race, right? Even within groups of people with similar ethnic backgrounds, it can be difficult to find two people with exactly the same hair thickness, colour, and curliness. Why?
HERE'S MY THEORY
Just like putting your hair up in a bun, having curly hair is an awesome way to keep your hair off your neck. This is especially advantageous if you're living in a hot climate where long hair would only serve to make you really sweaty. I think that's why our hair naturally seems to grow up and out, rather than in a downward direction; it's a method of temperature regulation. If you've got a really big afro, you already know first-hand that it's a pretty effective shield from the sun, too... just like a wide-brimmed hat!
Regardless of the reason, it all seems to boil down to the shape of the hair follicles on our scalp. If the follicles are asymmetrically shaped, the hair that grows out of them will have an oval/flat cross-section and will therefore curl as it grows. The opposite holds true for straight hair. This is because the follicle determines how the protein keratin is distributed along the hair shaft. The less even the distribution of keratin, the kinkier the hair. (Source: Popular Science)
Got another question about the science of natural hair? Share with us in a comment below!
If you're heading to the beach this weekend or planning to take a dip in the pool, you might feel overwhelmed with all the styling options available for your natural hair. This belief that the possibilities are endless is actually an illusion. In reality there are only two ways you can prepare your hair for a swim:
The Smart Way
The Not-So-Smart Way
So the next time you have to pack your pool bag, don't fret. Remember this advice to narrow down your styling options and have a happy beach hair day!
How do you prep your natural hair for the water? Share your tips in a comment below!
Did you know our hair grows slightly faster in the summer than in the winter? But before you scrap oils and butters from your natural hair care regimen, realize that not all oils are created equal. Some oils are very light and they run like water. Others are so viscous you need to heat them up in order to pour them. If the temperature is hot where you live, be sure to opt for lighter oils. Some of the best options include:
Each of these oils will lock moisture into your hair without suffocating your scalp during the warmer months. As such, they are also less likely to cause product build-up.
What oil do you use on your natural hair during the summer? Let us know in a comment below!
Did you know that most of the damage your hair sustains is likely caused by UV radiation? Natural hair is pretty susceptible to the elements. Even under the best conditions it still requires a lot of TLC, and if you live in a sunny clime you must take extra precautions to avoid frizz, dryness, and even bleaching (unless you're striving for that look, in which case a hair coloring product might be a healthier option).
Ultraviolet radiation weakens the external part of the hair shaft, which is made of a protein called keratin. Keratin is sensitive to UVB rays and thus begins to degrade when overly exposed. You might notice your hair isn't as shiny anymore, and it may seem less elastic. Not only is this bad news for the structural integrity of each hair strand (hello split ends!), but the accompanying UVA rays can also strip the hair of melanin, which is responsible for giving hair its colour. The ultimate result is dry, brittle hair that looks fried.
Luckily this damage can be avoided. Here are a few tips to keep your hair safe while you have fun in the sun:
How do you keep your hair sun safe? Tell us about it in a comment below!
Have you figured out which products your hair loves? If not, it's okay. Every naturalista experiences a trial and error period where she goes through about a hundred cans, bottles and tubes before she strikes the golden combination. They call this phenomenon product junkie-ism. Being a product junkie can be exhilarating, but it's also a bit taxing on your wallet (and can leave your bathroom looking like a beauty supply store warehouse)!
If you're still in the process of understanding which ingredients are best for your curls, there is a way to fast-track the product junkie stage and start seeing results. It's all about the weather. The climate you live in has an incredible impact on how your strands respond to different treatments. This might seem strange, especially considering hair is dead tissue, but think about it. Have you ever noticed that your blow-outs always shrink on rainy days? Or that your hair lightens slightly after spending a whole summer under the sun? Pay attention to the seasons. If the winters where you live are quite windy, you should seriously consider protective styling to minimize exposure and tangles during those months. Natural hair is particularly sensitive to its environment, and you can harness this to your advantage! We'll explore this more in upcoming blog posts.
How do you keep your curls immune from the weather? Share in a comment below!