5 Stylist-Approved Vacation Hair Tips for Traveling

In a perfect world, we’d be able to bring the luxuries of our at-home beauty routines with us wherever we go—an entire suitcase dedicated to our favorite full-sized products, styling tools, and every makeup product we own. But the reality is that we’re usually struggling to shut our carry-ons, and while paring down our makeup and skin care products are difficult enough, vacation hair care is an entirely different beast in itself.

Changes in the weather, water density, humidity, and your routine—which are all things that can come up when you’re away from home—can wreak havoc on your hair, making it difficult to predict what you might need in a new, unfamiliar environment. And while slicking your hair into a bun is always an option, if you want to actually style your hair, it’s worth coming up with a travel-friendly routine. Below, stylists explain exactly how to tweak your regimen to ensure your hair stays healthy and happy no matter where summer vacation may take you.

1. Prep before you go

Before you head out on a trip, Harry Josh, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the eponymous brand, recommends treating your hair to a deep clean. Use a pre-shampoo treatment to remove debris and buildup, followed by your favorite shampoo and deep conditioner.

“I have lots of jet-setting clients who come in the day or a few days before a trip for a blowout,” says James Ruiz, a hairstylist and global educator for Bumble and Bumble. “I use a mixture of hydrating products as well as products to help prevent getting too oily.”

By thoroughly cleansing your scalp, you’ll be able to keep your hair cleaner for longer, thus limiting the amount of washes and styling sessions you’ll need to deal with on the road.

JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment Oil — $28.00

Made with a power-packed trio of squalane, rosemary extract, and basil root extract, this pre-shampoo treatment creates an optimal environment on your scalp. It hydrates your hair from the root while also stimulating the scalp and hair follicles to promote growth, leaving your hair prepped and ready for a nice, deep clean.

Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Clarifying Shampoo — $20.00

Like all clarifying shampoos, this one is designed to break through whatever buildup is hanging out on your scalp. It’s made with antioxidant-rich green tea and soothing aloe vera, and opens the hair cuticle so that it can better retain the moisture from your conditioning step. While the formula technically works best on curly or coily hair, any texture can benefit from the nourishing benefits it has to offer.

2. Educate yourself about the climate

Josh also suggests doing a bit of research on the climate and weather beforehand so you can bring the proper products to keep hair looking healthy. For example, if you’re headed to a polluted city, opt for an antioxidant-infused shampoo and conditioner combo that will help protect your hair from free-radical damage. If you’re off to somewhere with dryer temps (and thus less humidity in the air), opt for hydrating formulas. And if your destination is blanketed in humidity, choose moisturizing, frizz-fighting products that will help keep strands smooth.

Climaplex Strength and Volume Shampoo — $10.00

Climaplex’s products are packed with antioxidants to protect hair from environmental stressors like pollution and UV damage, making this the perfect formula to take with you to a new city where your strands will be exposed to all kinds of different factors. This particular shampoo helps to strengthen strands and boost volume, which will give your vacation hair a little extra va va voom.

Kérastase Aura Botanica Conditioner for Dry Hair — $42.00

With a combination of lightweight oils (namely coconut and argan), this formula will keep hair hydrated in even the dryest climates. Because its ingredients are rich in nourishing vitamins and fatty acids, this conditioner is great for locking in moisture so that your hair can stand up to whatever arid environment you subject it to.

Living Proof No Frizz Conditioner — $30.00

Drenching your hair in moisture is key for fending off frizz, which is where this frizz-fighting conditioner comes in. It’s free of strand-coating silicones and packed with hydrating jojoba esters and hemisqualane, and will leave your hair smoother and shinier in a single wash.

3. Make your look last as long as possible

Instead of trying to replicate your at-home regimen in a hotel bathroom, Ruiz recommends finding formulas that will allow you to maintain your look as you go. Pack products that will help you extend your blowout for as long as possible—like dry shampoo, heat protectant, and styling tools that can help you touch up your look.

Bumble and bumble Mini Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil — $24.00

This multi-tasking oil fights frizz, hydrates hair, and protects against heat damage, earning it a well-deserved spot in your travel bag. It works on both wet and dry hair, and takes just a couple drops to see serious results. In a pinch, Ruiz says he’ll even mix the oil with hotel conditioner to make it more moisturizing.

KMS California Hair Play Makeover Spray — $20.00

This hybrid dry shampoo and style finisher is great for quick style touch-ups and extending the life of your blowout. Josh is a fan because it keeps hair looking clean and fresh without weighing down strands.

Ouai Mini Super Dry Shampoo — $14.00

A great dry shampoo is key to making your style last, and this super-absorbent formula fits the bill. Packed with rice starch and volcanic minerals, it adds volume and body and is color safe.

4. Opt for products that will keep styling as simple as possible

Traveling is already stressful enough, so both experts agree that when it comes to hair, your best bet is to be flexible and roll with the punches—when you’re away from home, a simple routine is always the best option.

Avoid overwashing hair, which can dry it out (… consider this your excuse to limit your hotel shampoo use to a minimum), and travel with a few hair accessories that can dress up a bun or ponytail to help hide a greasy scalp.

Terrain Water Colors Floral Bandana — $18.00

Use this scarf as a headband or as a way to add a little bit of flare around your standard elastic in a ponytail or bun. Hair aside, it’s got about a zillion other applications (You can wear it as a top! As a belt! Tied to the handle of your bag!), making it the perfect travel accessory that will barely take up an inch of suitcase space.

5. Protect your hair before and after activities

If you plan on swimming, especially in a pool, wet your hair and apply some conditioner to the ends before jumping in. Both stylists agree this is the best way to minimize chlorine damage and keep hair protected and nourished. Be sure to wash the chlorine out of hair as soon as possible once you’re out of the pool, and if you’re dealing with particularly curly or textured hair, deep condition post-swim.

Rizos Curls Deep Conditioner — $20.00

Simply put: This is an A+ deep conditioner for curly and coily textures. It’s made with a whole slew of hydrating and scalp-enhancing ingredients, including olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and shea butter, and (like any good deep conditioner) will give your hair some serious moisture.

Ceremonia Mascarilla de Babassu Hydrating Hair Mask — $25.00

The star ingredient of this leave-in treatment is babassu oil, which is known for its ability to repair damage and split ends. This, combined with five other natural oils (including chia and cupaçu butter) will give you smooth, shiny, healthy hair even after a week filled with pool and ocean dips.

Sol de Janeiro Triple Brazilian Butter™ Hair Repair Treatment Mask — $36.00

This formula serves double duty in preventing and repairing damage, which makes it the perfect product to apply both before and after any water-based vacation activities. Thanks to ingredients like cupuaçu butter, murumuru butter, and tucumã butter, it’s rich in fatty acids that really help to lock in moisture.

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