Curse of the Curly Haired Traveler in the U.K.

Many women I have met have remarked how lucky I am to have such curly hair. I have often found it so odd that many women really get into the straight, sleek look to fight their curls, the maintenance on this alone is a forturtune. And how do you keep it up during travel? Spend hours on flat ironing many of us curly girls do, but the equipment needed and using power conversion, what a headache. No one is ever satisfied. But traveling with curls, especially out of the country, can be quite a bother.

Travel hint: bring a sock defuser for drier, or use your sock.

Curls are special, and they need to be treated as the wild, live things they are. You straight hair ones can just comb and be done, us curlies gotta keep it under control. So hard to do when traveling as you have to have an arsenal of product to control it. You could just braid it, as one person said to me. Problem is curly hair really shouldn’t be braided. It snaps and breaks or starts creating Rasta braids immediately. So, finding products that work without blowing your whole travel budget is a must.

Then come the fun part. Finding hair care products that will work. Ask any curly, they are not all the same and once you find a routine that tames, having to use other products can really get your dander up. Now, try shopping in another country where you may find some of the personal care products you are familiar with, but they don’t work with curly hair. Some of the companies and conglomerates that own supermarket brands are international or even owned by British companies. Problem is that most of us curlies can’t use these products, they just don’t work. We have sponge hair, the product can just sit there. They are for the normals, the straight haired no fuss people. It’s tragic being different.

You can only travel with very limited supplies of any liquid due to airlines regulations. Traveling with tiny containers is a true pain, and when you have long curly hair that one container is just one use. So, hot off the plane in Glasgow I started my mission. Find shampoo or at the very least hair conditioner and controlant of gel to combat the soft water. That’s right, the bane of curly hair, soft water. Every town in Scotland had their soft water, because you have to remember that the water is not going to be like where you live, water is unique to its filtration and percolation path. So minerals and such can just add to the frizz. Why the fuss? My hair is big, and fitting in an elevator or other close confines is very important. Never mind making sure others can fit in with you.

Oh, and many US products like DevaCurl are not imported, they use an ingredient that may not be approved by UK standards for import. I found this out about halfway through my trip. They also don’t have Ulta there, yet. So you need to hunt a bit in the shopping malls. Or research ahead of time using a product search in the UK and Ireland. Here’s some of what I found on my last trip.

The bare minimum is get a deep conditioner, leave in curl creek, and gel. This should help combat most of the soft water frizzy frustration. Be prepared for sticker shock on products.

Added problem for me, very scent sensitive. Let’s just not go there.
Sally Express, Sally Beauty UK

We have this chain in the US, so seeing a familiar name was a relief. But they don’t carry all the products we have in the US and Canada. The still sell some of the professional Clairol and L’Oreal products we are familiar with, but the other brands are UK. Which can be a good thing since the UK has better ingredients governance and regulations than the US does. If you look online, you will not recognize the brands unless you have been in the UK. Did find a deep conditioner here that helped make it through most of the trip.

Boots UK Chemists
Boots does have a high end section in their hair care department. There is a wall of products, many of them sold in the US that you will recognize. One of these is Bumble and Bumble, which does have some curly hair options and lines, but I have bumbled with these and found that they tend to be goopy. I was able to use the curl defining creme to help get by. They also carry Mixed Chicks line which works for some curlies.

Unite Hair
Some of the products from this line work well for my curls, the 7 Seconds product is great. You may need permission to get into the site as it’s UK based and accessing from US can be spotty.

British Curlies
Or contact the experts. Filled with other curly haired people looking for products. Check out the forums, I am. Find out best places to stock up at the beginning of your trip. They will also know your water type concerns if you ar in certain areas.

Article Turn Your Frizz into Curls

While you may not want to get a cut from a salon you don’t know, and of course it takes a while to find and trust a hairdresser, look for a salon that specializes in curly cuts, and if you walk in and someone on staff has curly hair, you will have an ally. They may sell products that will help you out. We all hate having to be the whiner at the counter, but if you find a curly haired soul sista or brotha dresser you can look into their eyes and say, “ So with the water here and the fact I need to buy product, any advice ?” I walk in and just hold my hair up and go, “Well, about this”. It usually works without much words. Also, you don’t need to get a cut if you are not comfortable, just maybe a treatment since your hair may be in a daze from travel and water adjustments.

Also, sticker shock will happen. VAT tax and hair care products pricing can add up. Though some product lines in the US are quite spendy, with most averaging $25.00 a bottle on the high end products.

Belle And Blackley
Alan Edwards (Hey the dressers got curly hair, go to the City Centre salon)

Medusa (need I say more)

3thirty Hair

The Curly Look (by Appointment, contact them first)

The Natural Cut

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