The Disappointment of Unrealistic Hair Expectations

Through a combination of perfectly filtered photos on Instagram, the ridiculous levels of airbrushing in magazines and Disney princesses in general, I constantly have unrealistic expectations of my hair. Travelling was no different.

I pictured myself exploring a new city with a voluminous blow-out, and hitting the beach with surfer-perfect tousled beach waves… Visiting a local market with a gorgeous fishtail braid, and having fabulous nights out with Carrie Bradshaw-esque curls… I’m not sure why I thought I would be able to pull this off when I cannot master most of these things at home, despite adding a new climate and hostel bathrooms into the mix.

This is how my hair actually looked on my travels…

Travelling Hair
Clockwise from top left – Halong Bay in Vietnam, Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, Chiang Mai cooking course in Thailand, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, SIngapore Zoo, Vang Vieng tubing in Laos, Nature’s Window in Western Australia and Bega Cheese Factory in New South Wales!

Yep. A bun. Most days.

Well there’s the frizz and the heat to contend with for starters. And then you don’t really want to be hanging out in your hostel bathroom, surrounded by German school kids, trying to perfect waterfall braids… When you could be getting a beer with that hot Kiwi guy you met on the beach that day. Priorities yeah.

But you still want to look your best. You’re going to be showing your grandkids these photos after all.

So here are my top tips for making the most of your ‘do on the road.

1) Learn how to style your hair without a hairdryer before you leave.

I know this will sound completely contradictory to those of you who know I completely advocate taking your hairdryer and straighteners with you on your travels. And don’t worry, I haven’t changed my stance! You need those beauts for nights out and milder climates, and definitely if you’re going to be working on your trip. But for the really hot places and the adventures you need to get up early for, you need to keep it simple. We all have different hair and different capabilities so it’s not easy to diagnose. But it’s about working it all out at home before you go.

Me for instance, I can pull wet hair back into a bun for the day and take it out for waves in the evening. Touch up with the straighteners for some extra waves on top and I’m good to go. For some of you it might be a dash of frizz-ease and a quick scrunch to define your natural curls. You need to figure our your ‘minimal effort’ style.

2) Get a braid style perfected

Your hair will be up a lot. The bun gets real old real quick (clearly). So you need a nice braid technique under your belt. Waterfall braids are beyond me and I’ve never been able to do the effortless twists you see on Pinterest, but I’ve always been good at French plaits. Perfect for beach hair. Stick to your strengths!

3) When in doubt, headbands.

You know I always go on about headscarves and headbands, right? It’s because I don’t have Disney Princess hair. When your hair is scraped back, without much styling, looking pretty dull… Add a headscarf! You go from Jeremy Kyle to Global Chic in an instant! Honestly they’re a godsend. And they stop your scalp from burning in that heat…

So there you go, just a few practical and realistic tips to lower your hair expectations. Sorry about that.

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