In 2010 I hosted my very first “natural hair meetup” at my apartment. What’s that you ask? It’s when a bunch of natural chicks all get together and swap products and talk styling methods and bask in our kinky, coily, nappy-headed awesomeness. My friends who literally talked hair all day long via email wanted to get together in real life to swap products and share tips. So being the chick that doesn’t know how to just “have people over”, I went into hostess mode and decided to decorate my entire place with photos of girls with dope natural hair. I scoured the internet for hours, and stumbled upon this girl that I became immediately infatuated with:
YASSSSSSS! Her hair was EVERYTHING! Her fro’ was huge, and curly and all types of awesome. And with all the new natural hair products and YouTube tutorials popping up, surely I could find the perfect combination of juices and berries to make my hair look just like hers.
Five years and 983 jars of curl magic later, my hair still didn’t look like the mystery women I had taped to my mirror for inspiration years ago. There ain’t enough protective styling in the world to get your hair to grow longer than it was meant to, and a satin pillowcase is no match for genetics. While I’ve always had a pretty healthy head full of hair, the older I got, the more frustrated I became with the amount of time it took to follow the 98-step process for a co-washed, sulfate-free, L.O.C. method, moisturized with sealed-ends, perfect twist-out.
I mean really. Unless you’ve got that heavily marketed “wash & go” hair, being natural can be time-consuming. And while I’m traveling, I’d rather spend my time out in the streets stuffing my face than worrying about my hair. Sure, getting twists or braids while traveling can be an easy solution, but when you’ve got a trip every other month, even that becomes expensive.
So instead of trying out the latest technique that promises to transform my hair into pillow-soft ringlets that blow in the wind just as a snap a selfie, I let go. And cut my hair shorter than I’ve ever had it.
Over the last few months I’ve traveled to St. Kitts, Brazil & Puerto Rico with my new shorter cut, and loved how much easier it was to deal with! I threw in some faux locs for Trinidad Carnival (where every free minute is dedicated to sleep), but as soon as I took them out, cut it even shorter.
There are so many things that we women of color avoid because of our hair. And I’m totally guilty! I’ve definitely been at the beach and decided not to swim because my curls were “poppin” that day and it wasn’t even worth it. I knew I’d look all kinds of crazy once I got out of the water, and with every moment being recorded on Instagram & Snapchat these days – nah. Ya’ll not about to have me out here lookin’ like Frederick Douglass.
But I’ve gotten to the point in life that time is more precious than anything. So whether I’m in Brooklyn or in Bali, I wanna spend less time grooming and more time living. Does that mean I’ll keep it short forever? Probably not – I get bored pretty quickly and knowing me I’ll want something new by Fall. But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to traveling with fewer products and at least $200 extra dollars that would have gone to the Harlem braid ladies!
Next month I’m headed to Central America Costa Rica, and I’ll be sharing some of my travel regimen, with some tips from other ladies who rock their naturals on the road. Stay tuned and follow my journey on Instagram!
Have you struggled with your hair while traveling? Any tips for those who can’t afford to get their hair done for every trip? What’s your solution for the post-swimming situation? Share your tips below!