The trouble with natural hair maintenance

If you have lived abroad for any period of time, you know how tricky it can be to maintain and protect naturally curly hair. I don’t care if you’ve got 4C or 3B texture, in some countries (like Thailand) being a curly girl is a challenge. If I just lost you with my talk of texture, check out this link for a download.

At times, it feels a bit radical to dare to walk these hot and humid sidewalks with my natural curls billowing freely from my head. The tropical climate is totally different from the styling conditions I was accustomed to living in the US. I would also say my approach to hairstyling has always been fairly minimal. An added bonus is figuring out how to manage my kids’ hair textures as well. Of course, their hair has its own thing going on. In most other places I could choose to lean on salons to ease the load of properly maintaining three heads of hair. Not here. As a result, this mom of all trades has added a new hat: hairstylist.

Navigating a sparce hair landscape

Not only am I washing, combing, and styling three heads of hair (well, mine is more often neglected), but I am also testing new products and concoctions of my own, ordering online, and scoping out professionals to execute the styles I can’t do. It has made me so much more knowledgeable about my hair and the product marketplace. I have also gained some more confidence in my styling abilities. My kids, on the other hand, may still say that they are being subjected to medieval torture. Trying to do right by our tresses has given me many headaches. It has also shown me the lengths that we go to in order to look our best and maintain healthy hair. Read the tales of my experiences dealing with black hair abroad.

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Natural hair maintenance doesn’t need to be a pain

What I’ve learned from maintaining hair abroad is this: keep it simple. When you get to the core of what we should all be striving for with our hair, what you are left with is a mop of locs that are clean and healthy. Here are four ways that I go about accomplishing this objective.

The maintenance plan:

  1. Get a wash day routine firmly in the schedule
    Spending the time to properly wash, cowash, and condition your hair is incredibly important. People may think it’s an excuse to get out of doing something but they will quickly learn that for you it’s a valid one that you intend to keep firmly in your calendar. If you live an active lifestyle or reside in a tropical climate, more frequent washes might be necessary.
  2. Deep condition once a month and especially after beach days
    Replenishing moisture tand nutrients to your hair with a deep condition can really breathe new life into it. I especially like to get a deep condition in after spending tons of time in the water on a beach trip. My kids even enjoy donning little shower caps to let the conditioner work its magic.
  3. Keep an inventory of hair products to avoid running out
    This is the most difficult task for me. I grossly underestimate how long something will last and I constantly run out in the middle of doing someone’s hair. It is so aggravating. This is because living in Thailand means that I can’t always find the products I want. When I do find it, the shipping time can be as long as two months or it can cost more than the items itself. Don’t even get me started on customs clearance. It has gotten to the point where I have resorted to making my own moisturizer at times to hold me over until more products arrive.
  4. Protective styles are your friend
    Braids, weaves, whichever you choose should be a core part of keeping your hair healthy. Constant manipulation can weaken your strands but protective styles can give your hair a much needed break.
Pin these hair maintenance tips for later.

What’s your maintenance plan?

Protecting your hair doesn’t need to be a headache. After a move, engage with the local community to learn where others are buying products or getting salon services. How are you getting hair products? Have you found a reliable place to buy everything you need or added the title of DIY moisturizer mixer to your list of talents? Take a moment to complete this survey so I can learn more about how you natural hair warriors are nourishing your tresses abroad:

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