You’ve agreed to go on a camping trip, but now you’re wondering, “How in the world am I going to take care of my hair while I’m out in the wild? Do they even have plugs for me to use my flat iron?” If you’re a city girl and used to traveling to Chicago-style hotels when you go out of town, camping may be a bit of culture shock, but it is possible to be cute and rough it at the same time. As a five-year Beth Eden Girl Scout, the Chicago Black Hair & Health Examiner learned what products were a waste of time and what products kept black hair in check at camping sites. Here are the top six things you’ll need.
Shampoo and Conditioner: While some camp resorts will provide shampoo and conditioner in their bathrooms (assuming you’re not really having a traditional camping trip where the bushes and Port a Potties are your bathroom facilities), the free products aren’t usually meant for black hair. Bring your own that fits your hair type, be it for dry hair, colored hair, permed hair, anti-dandruff or oily hair. This is especially important if you plan to swim.
Wrap cap: Whether you’re sleeping in a dome-style tent, a cabin tent or a children’s tent, you’ll want to make sure your hair is cared for at night. Always wrap your hair at night to keep it from getting tangled and to protect your scalp. If your campsite does not have electricity for a hair dryer, you may also want to keep your hair covered from debris while it dries.
Nylon brush/Bristle brush: You may have a bunch of brushes and combs at home, but keep it simple on your camping trip. A wide bristle brush is easy for wrapping hair, for putting hair in a ponytail and for parting hair, too. It’s also the easiest styling product to use that’s closest to combing hair. The handle on combs and the teeth on combs tend to break in bags, especially if they’re plastic combs. Brushes are usually sturdier.
Ponytail holders: While carrying around pretty barrettes and decorative combs may sound like a good idea initially, if you’re doing a lot of backpacking and hiking, those hair products tend to break when they’re loose in a bag. A nylon ponytail holder, however, can be twisted, turned, leaned on and crushed in your hand, and when it unfolds, it’s still a trusty ponytail holder. Bring a few in case one ponytail holder snaps.
Hair oil: Chances are the weather will be nice while you’re camping, but nice weather brings heat. And black hair tends to be dry and needs moisturizer. If you have to wash your hair, you’ll need hair oil while it air dries or even if you can find plugs to blow-dry it. But if your hair is especially dry, you may need hair oil for everyday use. Use products without mineral oil and petrolatum, such as cocoa butter, coconut oil, olive oil or shea butter.
While flat irons, curling irons and hair dryers may seem like the logical things to bring, if you’re camping with a large group expect plenty of fighting over the plugs. If the area is not meant for a bunch of electricity, expect power outages. And if you don’t have plugs at all, get comfortable with ponytails and letting your hair air dry the natural way.