This article isn’t exactly timely unless you are going on a holiday to the islands this winter, yet I wanted to fully answer the questions that I received this summer with the information I know now while it is fresh. Although I live in Los Angeles and LOVE the beach, the water is too cold here for me to just jump in even in the summer. I usually only put my feet in the water, and maybe I’ll go in up to my knees. So when I was getting questions about dealing with curly hair at the beach or on vacation, I only had suggestions and not too much personal experience. Now after over a week of almost daily dipping while in Maui, and my hair being much longer than when I was there four years ago, I have a bit more insight to share on caring for curly hair at the beach.
1. Heavy Hair Oiling
Many people don’t realize that chemical hair care and even chemical sunscreen create toxic imbalance with marine life. I’ve read many times that saturating your hair with conditioner before swimming is the best way to protect your hair. I can’t imagine that since conditioner rinses away so easily. I believe that oiling your hair works even better for protecting your hair in salt water. Plus natural oils do not create any imbalance in marine life. After snorkeling and seeing all the beautiful fish and other marine life, I definitely don’t want to bring any harm with my beauty care.
The two main oils that I used for my hair were extra virgin coconut oil and castor oil. Because I knew I would be using more than 3 ounces, I purchased these two oils in Maui at a natural grocery store. I’ve discovered over time that coconut oil alone actually makes my hair feel a bit brittle. Mixing coconut oil with another oil works perfectly for me. Also coconut oil has natural sun protection which Pacific Islanders have used for centuries.
2. Style Your Hair Securely
I’ll admit to desperately wishing that I could have worn my hair free and loose at the beach like the women I saw with straight or wavy hair, but I knew better regardless plus I love my curls. Dealing with the major tangles with loose hair would be a nightmare, so I chose wearing my hair in two braids with the ends in buns, and especially favored two strand twists which was my curl’s best friend. Although I started with two braids, I learned quickly that two strand twists were the best option for me.
With my hair in two strand twists, I was able to rinse my hair thoroughly after each swim, and gently cleanse in the twists daily. I then was able to finger detangle or gently comb through each twist as needed when it was damp, apply more oil, and retwist. Sometimes I just kept my hair in twists through the entire process and detangled on another day. Because my hair is fine, I used tiny black elastic bands to tie the end of each twist so that they would not unravel in water. I also wore my twists in an updo which I secured with Goody Spin Pins. I usually kept my hair in about 10-12 twists.
3. Rinsing Hair After Each Swim
Whether you are at the beach or the pool, I definitely suggest rinsing your hair as soon as you’re done with your activities with fresh water before heading home. I feel it is better to rinse off both chlorine and salt water from your hair as soon as possible as they are extremely drying especially to already dry curly hair. Many public beaches have outdoor showers also perfect for rinsing sandy feet.
4. Herbal Hair Rinses/Cleansers
I keep a pretty simple hair care regimen of using an herbal hair cleanser and sealing in the moisture with oils and butters. I haven’t really been using flax seed gel as much because I prefer my hair to feel soft. I continued with this hair care regimen while I was on vacation. The only difference was washing my hair almost daily versus my usual twice a week regimen. (Updated hair care regimen soon.)
I prepared my herbal hair cleanser and used it to rinse and cleanse my hair in twists. I then applied my oils to my hair to condition and protect it for the next day. To be completely honest there were some days I simply rinsed my hair very thoroughly, added more oil, and went about my business!
5. Don’t Stress & Have Fun
There is no way I would have enjoyed my holiday if I had been stressing about my hair the entire time. No my curls weren’t excited about being washed daily versus the usual twice a week, or dealing with drying salt water daily. At the same time oiling my hair, herbal rinses, and wearing my hair up made a big difference. All my hair needed was a deep conditioning treatment with coconut milk, a good cleansing upon my return, and it was back to normal.
One of the best things about wearing two strand twists during this trip was that when I wanted my curls back on an evening out or during the day, there’s always a great twist out!
For another beauty tip from Maui read this. Do you have any hair care tips at the beach to add?
(Images by Dawn Michelle)