The Pro's Guide to Taking Care of Textured Hair on Vacation

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Your bags are packed, your PTO request is in, and your vacation has officially begun. But textured hair girlies know one thing you absolutely can't forget is your haircare essentials. Who wants to be in a foreign place after TSA has thrown away your favorite (yet admittedly too big) frizz-taming conditioner or, even worse, your beloved edge control?

Related: The 14 Best Travel Hair Dryers of 2023

Because mainstream haircare brands have historically ignored Black customers, the scramble to find a product that effectively detangles, softens, and moisturizes our hair at a local drugstore or market can be overwhelming. That's why it's so essential to have TSA-friendly products in tow. Plus, the products you bring should help you work smarter, not harder — because vacation is not the time for a three-step deep-conditioning session.

Meet Our Expert

  • Lacy Redway is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Amandla Stenberg and FKA Twigs.

  • Ursula Stephen is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Yara Shahidi and Jodie Turner-Smith.

  • Gabrielle Henderson is a trichologist and hairstylist who specializes in textured hair.

Here, we tapped two hairstylists and a trichologist to give us the lowdown on effective and efficient textured hair products to use on vacation. They'll help you care for your strands and get back to enjoying your trip.

1. Warp-Speed Wash Day

Wash day doesn’t have to be a drag — or take up your entire Sunday. To expedite the process, we recommend starting by treating your scalp. “Scalp health is the foundation of hair health, making it important to prioritize the condition of your scalp with solutions that make sense for your specific concerns,” celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway shares. Shea Moisture’s Apple Cider Vinegar Anti-Dandruff Pre-Wash is great for detoxifying the skin underneath your tresses — especially if you have a protective style installed, such as box braids or a sew-in.

Salon owner and hairstylist to the stars Ursula Stephen also suggests scalp scrubs: “[They are] great for stimulating the scalp and removing dead skin cells around the follicle. Viviscal has a really good one that contains keratin and biotin, which is meant to leave the scalp re-energized.” A clean scalp takes care of most of the buildup at your roots, making your shampoo more effective at cleansing your strands and cutting the time you typically spend washing your hair in half. You’re welcome!

Related: The 4 Most Effective Ways to Treat a Dry Scalp, According to Experts

While these items will help speed up your vaycay wash day, they are over 3.4 fl oz. So, if you aren't checking a bag, you can decant them into smaller containers. Any local drugstore should carry travel-sized refillable containers that work — the Cabinet glass bottles sold at CVS, in particular, are made for medicine but can easily double as a vessel for a liquid product.

Shampoo and conditioner are easy enough to find at a local convenience shop or grocery store, but what kind of ingredients should you keep an eye out for? Redway lists the following ingredients as ones to grab for moisturizing and strengthening your locks: castor oil, honey, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and avocado. Pattern's On-the-Go Kit is a great option to keep your strands healthy — and the compact size makes it easy to throw into any backpack or suitcase.

2. Gentle Detangling

Don’t skip detangling afterward, either. While your arms may be tired, dealing with the knots to come if you don’t handle it now is worse. Denman’s Deluxe D90L Tangle Tamer Ultra is great for quickly detangling large sections of hair and leaving your tresses delightfully soft. This large paddle brush works on wigs and hair extensions in addition to natural hair without any yanking, breaking bristles, or snagging.

3. Leave-In and Styling Products

No matter where you're going or how you're wearing your hair, there's one multi-tasking product that your strands will love — Kristen Ess's Recovery Balm. Swipe this coconut and castor oil-based balm onto your strands to add rejuvenating moisture and shine. And if you're planning to wash your hair, you can saturate it with this, throw on a cap, and rinse it out in the morning.

Prone to frizz? Trichologist Gabrielle Henderson recommends an easy method to maintain the freshness of our hairstyle: “Pin curl your hair on the go if you can. This keeps a bit of tension on the mid-lengths and ends, preventing them from swelling or frizzing.”

4. Bring Your Own Bonnet

And lastly, BYOB (bring your own bonnet). “Making sure you wear a silk bonnet or scarf (no matter how tired you may be from the day) will help preserve your style and ensure that you don’t have to over-manipulate it throughout your vacation,” Redway explains. We love the silk bonnets from Blissy, as fabrics like cotton can dry out your strands. Another option is to pack a silk or satin pillowcase (like this one from Slip) to minimize hydration loss if a bonnet doesn’t suit your style.

Related: I Swear by Amazon's Best-Selling $10 Bonnet to Prevent Bedhead and Frizz

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