I have always prided myself on having long, healthy hair. I think the inner-hippie in me liked having flowy locks. Naturally, when I decided to do a thru-hike, taking care of my hair was a big concern for me. Here’s how I do hair care while hiking.
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Hiking Hair Care
Tip 1: Find a Packable Shampoo & Conditioner Combo
While traveling this past year, I started to use shampoo bars and conditioner bars. They’re very convenient because they’re so small, easy to store, and they will last for about 6 months. Or if you’re going on a shorter trip, you can just cut a chunk off of the bar and really save weight.
Alternatively, I sometimes use Dr. Bronner’s soap as my shampoo. It also makes a good body soap, shaving gel, and dishwashing soap. You get a lot of uses from one thing.
Tip 2: Add Some Extra Moisture
My hair gets so dried out and windswept when I spend lots of time outside. Adding extra moisture is super important. I usually carry a bottle of some type of spray on oil, like coconut oil or argan oil. You can even transfer it to a smaller bottle to save some weight.
I do this pretty much every morning as part of my hiking hair care routine.
Tip 3: Comb It Out Daily
Get a wide-toothed comb and use it every day. Combs are much more light-weight than hair brushes, and they won’t give you any extra split ends.
It sounds gross, but combing my hair everyday helped evenly distribute the greasy-ness from my roots. So, my hair looked way less greasy than it would have if I hadn’t combed it.
Plus, if you’re actually combing your hair everyday then you won’t have a tangled mess to deal with a few days in.
Tip 4: Find a Hairstyle You Can Maintain Everyday
I’ve tried pretty much every hair style imaginable while hiking. I often just wear it down because it keeps the sun off of my neck. This only works if I actually brush it everyday and use coconut oil, because otherwise it would get too tangled.
Side braids and french braids are also a solid way to go. I find this to be the easiest way to keep my hair manageable. Maybe it’s because my hair is wavy, but tying it up in a bun makes it the messiest.
I’ve had friends do short haircuts or just completely shave their heads before hikes, so they wouldn’t have to deal with it. Do whatever you feel like.
Tip 5: Use a Headband or Hat
Get a thick headband or hat to wear while hiking. This will keep your hair all in place, out of your face, and keep ticks from getting into your hair. Plus, once your hair starts to get greasy and dirty, you can just hide it from the world. Get a fun print since you’re going to be wearing it everyday.
I personally like to wear a ball cap nowadays because it also keeps the sun off of my face.
I don’t mean to break anyone’s heart, but I still had a few inches of split ends that needed to be cut off post-trail. I decided to go all out and cut about ten inches off because after walking 2000 miles, my hair seemed less important than it had before.