Hobo Hair, Do Care
Close your eyes for a second. I mean, not yet because I want you to keep reading. Fake-close your eyes and imagine someone who lives in a van. She’s gypsying it up with her husband and small kids in tow. What does she look like to you? Her hair, her skin, her makeup…on a scale of 1-Lillian Kashtupper how frazzled is her appearance? Does she look like she’d smell like the inside of a van? Okay now fake-open your eyes. That basket case in your imagination is someone I try very hard not to be. A lot of the questions I receive about #vanlife have to do with showers and hygiene. We do not have running water, nor do we have a shower (yet). Truth be told it’s not as hard as it sounds— annoying at times? Totally. But, we’ve figured out ways to work around our lack of plumbing and no one smells like a foot, so all in all I’m considering it a win. Although this post seems specific to nomadic lifestyles, it’s really for anyone who has any sort of interest in looking put together without having to take half of the day to do so. I want to help you spend less time in front of a mirror and more time out having fun!
This will probably end up as some sort of low maintenance how-to miniseries, so let’s take it from the top… literally.
You may have noticed that I have quite a bit of hair. Long hair has always been my thing. Once every 5-6 years I lose sight of reality, am convinced I want a change, chop it off and instantly regret it, and then spend the next 1-4 years whining about wanting long hair again. It’s a never-ending cycle and I am sorry in the past, present, and future because Tyler will have to endure that conversation until the end of time. It is what it is. My hair is down to my mid-back, and incredibly thick. Like, the kind of thick where anytime someone touches my hair they have to call other people over to also feel my hair. All of this to say, I have a metric F ton of hair but no time or desire to wash it daily. And that’s not just a van life thing— it takes so long to wash, dry, and style my hair— I have neither the time nor the arm strength to do that on the daily. This laziness has actually come in handy as we gypsy it up because I am the Grand Master Flash of extending time between washes, and styling it in a way that doesn’t make people question my life choices. For anyone who is transitioning into washing their hair less, you have 4 main goals. Grab a pen and paper because these are very important.
Step 1: Stop using products in your hair. I’m talking hair spray. I’m talking gel. I’m talking pomade. The less stuff you have in your hair, the less that shit can gunk up your roots. Oh Miss I-Wake-Up-And-My Hair-Is-Perfect doesn’t understand that I need these things to make my hair look like I’m not a Walking Dead extra. I get it. I’m just letting you know that you’re speeding up the process by adding all of that stuff to your coiffe. Cut back where you can, but also make sure you’re actually applying the product where it needs to be. If you’re using a heat shield, it doesn’t need to be applied right to your roots. If you’re using hairspray, it doesn’t need to be down to the tips of your hair. Just use what you need- auditions for the Aqua Net commercials have come and gone, child.
Step 2: Put product in your hair. Wait what? She really has gone bananas. By ‘product’ I mean the holy grail of hair products. The inventor should win a Nobel Peace Prize and be gifted golden combs and have statues erected in their honor. You know what I’m talkin’ about, ladies— dry shampoo. Aweeeeee yeahhhhhhhh. I have tried no less than 20 different brands and I am always on the hunt to try a new formula, so be sure to let me know your personal favs below, but here are my current picks:
When I’m balling out: Living Proof PhD - It makes my hair feel SO DANG SOFT. I’m a sucker for anything citrusy-smelling, and I love that it doesn’t have the standard ‘frolicking in a field of fake baby powder flowers’ smell. It doesn’t really feel like you have anything in your hair at all, and gives a bit of oomph to my roots.
I Can Get It Anywhere: if I forget my favorite at home or don’t want to travel (you’re not supposed to have aerosols in carry-on bags), I go with Not Your Mothers Plump For Joy. For the price I was really surprised. I have dark brown hair so a lot of dry shampoos (especially cheaper ones) end up leaving my hair looking like I sprayed on an antique filter before leaving the house. This one doesn’t have much of a residue unless I really over-do it, and it blends easily into my hair. It gives a bit of volume without leaving a ton of build up, and extends my wash a day or two.
Step 3: Learn a new trick. If you’ve ever found yourself in a scroll hole on any of my social media accounts, you’ll notice a few things: I wear crowns when I’m work functions, my kids are arguably some of the cutest in the world, against all odds I’ve managed to keep everyone alive on this trip so far, and I have like 3 hairstyles. It’s not because my play book is low on content, it’s because they are quick, simple, they look good, and they mask less-than-squeaky-clean hair.
Down & Out- If I have time to do a full style (curling wanding my hair [totally a verb, right?] it takes about 45 minutes. It looks damn amazing when it’s done, but it’s a chore. I leave that shit down because everyone needs to see the effort I put in to it. I can make this style last about 2 days, but once I start messing with it it’s hard to go back. Down & Out is reserved for the first 2 days after I wash my hair, but that’s about it.
BrunElsa- The side braid is my JAM and probably what I’m wear 85% of the time. I have a few variations I whip out from time to time—chain link, fishtail, and pull through—but in general I go with the good-ole standby French braid. Braiding your own hair is 4% skill, 96% practice. Use your idle time in the car or whenever to practice braiding your hair. It takes some thinking at first but after you do it a time or twelve, muscle memory will kick in and you’ll be qualified to weave rope in Greece with fisherman before you know it (another story for another time). If anyone started having panic induced seizures the minute you figured out what I was talking about here, the fishtail braid is calling your name! Two strands, insanely easy, YOU CAN DO IT! Here is a quick tutorial explaining how it’s done.
Top Knot- The top knot is like a ballerina bun’s younger sister. Make it messy, make it sleek, there are variations for every hair length and type. The higher the knot, the closer to Jaysus. Bonus points for this one because it hides the entire top of your head, so if your roots are starting to get a tad greasy or your hair is limp, this is the style for you! If you need to use dry shampoo, just spray at your hairline and near your temples, since that’s all anyone will see.
variation: half up top knot- for when you need your hair out of your face but your mermaid waves look too good to ruin just yet.
Any of these can be gussed up with cute hair accessories like scrunchies (guess who’s back? Back again!), scarves, bows, whatever.
Step 4: Wash your hair the right way. Let me preface this by saying I am not a cosmetologist or a hair stylist or anything of the sort. But I learned this from my aunt who IS, so it’s kind of the same thing, right? When shampooing, do like your stylist does- massage shampoo into your scalp and give it a good rub down. A scalp massage is one of the most relaxing, best feeling things on the planet, so treat yo’self! Don’t worry about scrubbing down to the tips of your hair; as you rinse the soap will work it’s way down, cleaning as it goes. Your main concern is loosening up the dead skin, oil, and product build up off of your roots. Take some time here. Don’t just slap a bit of soap on your head and call it good— the cleaner your scalp is, the longer you can go between washes. GET IN THEREEEEE! If you are only ever washing out like 80% of the gunk, you’re never really starting with a clean slate. I usually add a tablespoon of baking soda to my shampoo, which gives my shampoo a boost, clarifies, and leaves my hair feeling squeaky clean—literally. It squeaks when I run my hands down it. When you condition, there is no need to apply it to your roots— you’ll weigh down your hair and it’ll look and feel greasy in about 5 seconds. Apply it to the bottom half of your hair, all the way down to the tip. Rinse conditioner with cool water, which will close the hair shaft and make it look shiny. On occasion I like to skip conditioner all together (crazy, I know) and use Apple Cider Vinegar in it’s place. When I do this, I pour it over my roots and let it work it’s way down. I’ll warn you, it does smell like you’ve just doused yourself in vinegar, and you’ll panic a little bit because it’s kind of strong and you’ll probably think you’re going to smell that way forever. Once hair is dry the smell goes away. I have tested this on my husband, who can smell vinegar a mile away. He didn’t detect it, so, you’re good. Pinky Promise. You will have the shiniest, smoothest hair on the block!
Who knew the answer to amazing hair was found in your pantry and your old Caboodle?! Give these tips a try and report back!