It’s hard out there for women with textured hair. You booked a spring getaway or drove cross-country for a special event, planning to crush every look and blow your friends away with your curls. Unfortunately, the array of products you found upon walking into your hotel room crushed your spirit a little.
Earlier this week, a biracial pop superstar called out hotels for stocking their bathrooms exclusively with “white people shampoo,” adding that the assumption that one size fits all is inherently offensive to women of color. Women of color applauded her for speaking up.
We can’t guarantee which products your hotel will provide, but we can guarantee you the right to feel good about your hair and self-image while you’re jet-setting. To ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible, here’s a primer on travel products for textured hair—where to get them, how to pack them, and what to avoid at all costs. Ashley Lee, Mizani brand ambassador and artist, has the 411 on how to travel with textured hair.
Decide on your style.
Once you’ve booked plane tickets to a vacation destination, Lee advises taking a moment to think about the overall vibe of the trip. Do you want to be trapped in a humid bathroom, whipping your mane into shape every morning? If you’re hoping to relax, braids might be the best option.
Certainly, your honeymoon in Hawaii isn’t the right time to try a wig for the first time. If you have years of experience under your belt, however, skip the heat altogether in favor of ease and protective styles.
Pack your own products.
This will come as no surprise, but the bland white shampoo and conditioner most hotel rooms provide as a universal option probably won’t work for your hair texture and curl pattern. Instead of taking the chance, trying it, and getting frustrated, ensure blissful peace by packing the formulas you already trust.
“Be sure to carry a good amount of product, as we know that curly girls usually use more,” Lee says.
While beauty supply stores carry a dizzying variety of travel size products, Lee advises dropping cash on a set of reusable bottles that can hold product, shampoo, and conditioner. If you’re checking a bag, there’s no need to stress over size—pack the whole bottle in your suitcase and avoid all hair crises.
Product may be the obvious issue in your hotel room, but there’s one other supply you’ll need to pack. While concierge services almost always leave a plastic shower cap by the tub, Lee says they very often can’t fit hair with high density. If you can’t get behind the idea of wearing two at the same time, purchase an extra large cap for your carry-on.
Style with caution.
Unless you’re staying at a luxury resort, there’s a chance you’re using paper thin, dry towels when you shower. These nubby bath sheets aren’t doing your hair any favors. Skip out on them totally, scrunching your hair with a cotton t-shirt instead to help ensure it retains the most moisture possible.
Once you’re left with damp hair, there’s one more obstacle to avoid: the blow dryer. Hotel hair dryers are notorious for their whining motors, high heat, and low airspeed. For your peace of mind, make the decision to skip out on them altogether.
“In terms of blow drying, hotel blow dryers do not always have the best wattage or accessories,” Lee says. Find a compact blow dryer that works with your hair and that you're familiar with to tag along.”
We probably don’t have to tell you twice, but make sure whatever dryer you pack comes with a concentrator nozzle and diffuser. You’ll want to have a full arsenal of hair styling products to cope with sudden changes in weather, spontaneous fancy plans, and general mane emergencies.
Make your hair needs heard.
With Lee’s advice in mind, there’s a good chance you’ll pull off vacation style without a hitch. However, that’s all thanks to the products and tools you packed in your own bag. You don’t have to be a pop star to make yourself heard—if your hotel needed a wider range of shower caps and shampoos, let them know.
After all, Lee thinks they’re finally listening.
“Companies are finally opening their eyes to the fact that women of all ethnicities are facing difficulties concerning their textured hair in many aspects of their lives,” she says. “The realization that this market has been grossly under-serviced for this long is finally coming to a head. We're at a point now where curly girls understand that they shouldn't have to ‘make do.’”
Instead of making do, make noise. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful—on the go as well as at home.