25 . October . 2019 BY Dr. Sharmishtha Deshpande

Those of you who are perpetually on the road, at stations or airports, this is very pertinent to you! Travel is an occupational hazard for many. While you may like it, that you get to explore and soak in so much as you travel, your hair needn’t necessarily share this excitement. Hair is sensitive to the air around, timely water, food and care that it gets; all of which changes as you travel!

On one side, you have occupational travel, and on the other, travel for pleasure. Whatever the reason, there are precautions to be taken to ensure your body and hair don’t get hit with a negative impact. So what can you do to ensure that none of the travel-related elements affects your hair & that it continues to be healthy and strong? We have received many queries on this very topic, asking for travel hair care tips, do’s and don’ts during travel – both from people who love to travel & do so by choice, and those who are forced to, as part of their vocation.

So here we are, once again, with our ‘Ask the Hair Expert’ series; this time to address your queries on hair care during travel! And as always, apart from addressing your immediate concerns, we will also recommend tips that can help you with a lifetime of good hair!

You asked: “How to maintain my hair when I travel? How can I protect it from damage while I struggle juggling travel and routine? Can you share travel time hair care tips? ”

Here’s the answer from the Hair Experts.
A hair care regimen that can work anywhere. Some precautions. Some TLC when you are on home ground. And a periodic trip to your Trichologist’s clinic!
Do this, and your hair will be strong and healthy in spite of hectic travel – be it for business or pleasure!

To begin with, let’s discuss the most common causes of hair concerns and the issues that one faces when travelling frequently. ‘Cos if you don’t understand what you stand to face and lose, you can’t quite be prepared!

There are multiple factors that can impact your hair when in travel, ranging from air-conditioners, city smog or pollution, bright sun, rainy weather, salty seawater, chlorine-ridden pools to food and water in the shower! The travel in itself – departing from an area of a certain ambience and arriving at a destination that’s, say, 30 degrees lower in temperature will naturally generate a physiological “shock” to your hair and body.

Your mode of travel. Aeroplanes, road trip, train trips – each of it impacts your hair in a different way and you will need to be aware & take precautions to protect your hair.

Road trips involve dust, grime and wind-blown hair, air-conditioning and flat-pillow-hair are common in trains and travelling by plane gets your hair super dry! The temperature and lack of moisture work on your hair, making it dry, rough and unmanageable. Too much static messing your hair up!

Weather conditions in the places you are travelling to have the first immediate impact. The amount of exposure to sunlight and the humidity levels affect your hair.

Humidity greatly influences the shape and texture of your hair. If you have followed our blogs, you will recall that hair is made of hydrogen bonds that give it the shape and texture. Humidity acts on these bonds fast and high humidity, in particular, can both break these bonds and then reform them, with the hair getting into a curlier shape.

Extreme sun exposure can be very damaging to hair. Very harsh sun can break some of the stronger, disulphide bonds in the hair which can lead to hair becoming very dry and brittle, causing permanent damage. When unprotected, the hair also tends to get bleached. If you are someone with coloured hair, the damage is aggravated more than in others, with hair becoming prone to breakage.

In case of a dry climate, hair tends to become straw-like, static with increased split ends. Matted and ‘hat’ hair are common, with the scalp becoming itchy and dry as well.

The quality of tap water at your destination is something that affects the hair. If the water is hard by nature, it contains lots of calcium and magnesium ions, unlike soft water. Calcium carbonate can react with soap to cause deposits on the hair, leading to dry, dull hair. Further, hard water does not lather as much, (though, cleansing of hair doesn’t exactly depend on lathering), however, rinsing the hair clear of products is easier with soft water. Mineral loaded hard water can build up on the unsuspecting cuticles and make them lose shine.

Diet and drinking adequate water during travel can be haywire. Sometimes you want to try ALL that the visiting site offers and sometimes you struggle to find food that is agreeable to you! Either way, maintaining a balanced diet while on travel is a huge concern for sure. As with hydration. Staying hydrated throughout the day while travelling is also a challenge for most. If you are otherwise on a good nutritious diet and predominantly well hydrated most times, then your hair will not give a reason to worry on this front during your travel. However, if you are someone who already has nutritional deficiency issues, then travel will aggravate the condition and lead to hair loss.

These are just some of the common concerns when you travel. From the climate to chemicals in the water to palatable food, a number of factors can contribute to a less than desirable hair status. Travel can present you with good or bad hair days! Your luscious locks may morph into a mat overnight, while frizzy hair may turn beautifully silky and smooth! Now if it turns out all positive that’s great! But luck doesn’t always favour, isn’t it?

What we would want to now help you with is to deal with the not-so-positives, by staying prepared and ahead of the curve! You cannot control your surroundings when you are travelling, but you can surely take steps to prevent your hair from getting damaged, or atleast curtail the damage. And this is not just about taking care of it during the travel but also start well before you travel, and possibly continue after you are long done with travelling! Here are few hair care tips that will help you take care of your hair & scalp, keep them shining healthy while on-the-go.

Hair Care Tips – What you should do when you travel, and also before& after!
  • Regulated Haircare routine & Care as needed on-the-go

    Oiling, shampooing, and conditioning. Get this regimen right and keep it up as much as possible. The same regimen may not be possible while you are away – could be because of timing, apprehension about shower water and so on. But let us clarify that while there may be disturbances to this schedule during travel if your regimen is otherwise in order, your hair will withstand it all!

    The day before your travel, or as close as you can before travel, oil, wash and deep-condition your hair. Use herbal hair wrap and also repair serum on the cuticles. This will help retain the moisture levels right for the next few days!

    On the day of travel, you can use a leave-in conditioner to avoid the hair getting drier during the travel, especially long-haul flights. While on flight, cover your hair with a silk scarf to create a barrier between it and the seat cover that induces static. Once you land, you can open your hair up, and rake it with your fingers. You can use a light moisturiser, like coconut or argan oil, to smooth hair and add shine.

    If you are unsure about the quality of water at your destination, use a portable water filter. And we would suggest that you carry your hair products with you on travel. Transfer your hair products into travel-sized toilet cases, for instance, TSA approved bottles, and pack them for your travel!

    We would not advise using hotel-given complimentary hair products as you go travelling! Too many changes for your hair to handle, and the products they keep in your room may not quite suit your hair and scalp needs. These are mass-produced generic hair products.

  • Diet and hydration

    As with your hair care regimen, your diet needs to be looked after before, during and after travel! If you are generally someone who is on a balanced diet with adequate hair nutrients and consumes adequate water, then your hair will not react adversely to travel schedules. However, if you have any health concerns due to diet imbalance, travel will trigger hair loss as a shock-response.

    While on travel, we would recommend sticking to small servings of food, preferably sizeable portions of salads/vegetables, with measured portions of carbs. Avoid very sugary, refined, deep-fried or salty foods. These tend to make you thirstier and retain fluid. If you can’t avoid, try and watch the portion size.

    Drink at least 2-3 litres of water in a day, especially if your day is on a flight! It could be in the form of water or juices. During long flights, your skin and hair can become quite dehydrated from the ultra-dry recycled air within the aircraft. Also minimise your alcohol, coffee, and to a lesser extent, tea intake. They are all diuretics and will dehydrate you. Once you reach your destination, try and follow the same diet for the first 24 hrs if possible. Do read our blog on the importance of hydration.

  • Care as your agenda and the environment around demands

    Wear a hat while out in the sun. Oil your hair lightly before you get into the salty waters by the beach. Cover your hair before jumping into the swimming pool. If you get wet in the rains, be sure to not let it remain wet for long…different environments, different demands of hair care!

    You will need to care for your hair as per the weather conditions at your destination. Summer hair care is different from that in winter and monsoon! Do catch up on our hair care blogs with hair tips for each type of season and your hair type!

    Similarly, your hair should be worn in a functional manner. This will ensure that it doesn’t come in your way and also stay clear of hair damage. For instance, keep your hair tied up and covered when doing any physical activity. Whether it is flat-twists, box braids, ponytail, bun, or hair in waves or straightened or permed, make sure the style keeps your hair protected during your travel – and throughout your trip. You should consider styles that are comfortable and yet protective, something that perhaps tucks away your hair’s ends.

    Use prescribed leave-in conditioners and detangling products to manage your hair, but don’t let the products stay in and get built up! Washing regularly to ensure this, is key. Also, trim your hair regularly if you are a frequent traveller. This helps greatly in avoiding split ends and maintaining overall hygiene.

    And do avoid chemical, heat treatments & electrical styling equipment – fewer the better! While managing your hair as much during frequent trips, heat and chemical treatments can add to your hair woes! Do read our blog about the concerns that may be caused by these hair trends.

    If you are particular about styling tools, carry your basic equipment with you! And use them in a measured manner. If you are not carrying your tools, then use heatless hairstyles that naturally suit you and your day’s agenda! May we add that some of these tools (not all) don’t work the same in countries/cities where the voltage settings vary. You also run the risk of blowing a fuse on your equipment!

  • Tricho treatments to protect from hair damage

    While you go about your trips, do give your hair the TLC it needs when on the home ground now and then, and in a professional way at that. Haircare and hair problems are deep-rooted in science. Superficial hair spas can perhaps help you feel good, but little do they do to truly impact your hair. In fact, many such DIY kits and salon sessions leave you with dry hair in the long run!

    To curtail the damage which your hair becomes prone to with frequent travel, and look your best on-the-go always, get intermittent tricho treatments done. These will help you truly revitalise your hair. Tricho treatments such as hydrotherapy add bounce to your hair and give it the nourishment it needs. If you are into hair colouring, taking up tricho treatments to tackle hair colour damage will curtail the impact of hair colours, detoxify and rejuvenate your hair.

How can a Trichologist help you?

Who knows your hair better than a trichologist? Walk-in for a hair consultation with a trichologist to help you understand your hair better, from within. You can then discuss your travel routine, your diet while at home and during travel, your hair care routine, the products that you should/shouldn’t use and tricho treatments that can help you protect & maintain your hair in spite of the frequent changes around you as you travel.

Your hair should be the last thing on your mind as you travel. You should be able to flaunt it wherever, whenever, and grab eyeballs with those pictures you click as you explore the world! Be it travel on work or for pleasure, your hair shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Keep your hair worries aside and get on with your travel agenda! Do reach out to us at any point with your doubts or concerns. We are just a call away!

You can also learn more on the topic via our hair care blogs, and you can also follow our blog sections on hair loss, treatments & solutions, interesting hair trivia and for all things ‘Hair’!

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