Vacation-Ready Hair: 8 Tips To Make Sure Your Hair Looks Great On Vacation

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Written by Georgia Gould

Updated: June 21, 2024

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Going on vacation with cruddy hair and faded color? Not on our radar.

In fact, we like our locks to look and feel their absolute best before heading off to sunnier climes. After all, we could be away for up to two weeks, during which time our hair is going to be subjected to all manner of daily onslaughts that it’s not used to.

Hours of sunshine, hotel rooms that have no limit on air conditioning, and maybe the odd sugar-laden cocktail of an evening. You hear us, right?

So what should you do to ensure your hair is in optimum condition before jetting off to this summer’s must-visit destination? Simple.

Follow these eight golden rules and your hair will be vacation-ready quicker than you can say ‘where’s my favorite bikini?’

1. Schedule Your Color – But Do It Well In Advance

If you get your hair colored on the reg, you’re not going to want to find yourself a week into your beach hol with nasty roots and faded ends. So make sure you book a touch-up in the lead up to your vacation.

Fresh color will not only make you look and feel better but it’ll be much more receptive to products like moisturizing conditioners and sun protection.

Our advice, however, is not to get your color done too close to your leaving date. Instead, schedule yours for around a week to two before you leave.

This sweet spot will give it time to settle into your hair but will still have you looking your best while you’re away. Just remember to protect your hair like crazy. The sun will inevitably lighten your color a few shades – as will chlorine and salt water.

Chlorine can also turn freshly blonde hair a weird green tone so make sure you counteract this with shampoos and conditioners that contain violet tones. Try L’Oréal Paris Ever Pure Sulfate-Free Purple Shampoo and Conditioner.

PRO TIP: A great way to avoid your hair from absorbing too much chlorinated or salt water? Rinse it with fresh water first. Hair that’s already wet will absorb less water. Clever, huh?

2. Get A Trim

Undoubtedly, the most important thing you can do for your hair before you go away is to get a good haircut. You don’t need to have a complete makeover – a decent trim will do the job – but a nice chop will improve the health of your hair and help get rid of split ends.

If you leave your split ends, however, nature will take its course, big time, and they will get ten times worse in the drying sun and salty ocean. And that’ll require cutting your hair way shorter when you return. Not ideal.

If your hair is in poor shape while you’re away it’s also more likely to become frizzy and tangled which makes it harder to style. 

Get. It. Cut.

3. Do A Couple Of Hair Masks

When you expose your hair to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, you’re really putting it through it. Just like the way your skin can become dry, dehydrated and damaged by the sun, your hair and scalp also experience negative effects including damage to the cuticles, a degradation of proteins and an increase in its permeability.

Dive into deep hydration with @Chrisappleton1’s Money Masque 🌊💸 This hydrating hair mask is for ALL hair types and includes marine-derived ingredients for glossy, luxe, expensive-looking hair ✨ #colorwow #hairmask #dryhair #dryhairtips #dryhairhack #hairhack #dryhairproblems #deepconditioner

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All this can lead to dull, dry hair that feels crispy and breaks more easily. And this is why it’s extremely important to ‘feed’ your hair as much as possible in the weeks leading up to sun exposure.

Restorative masks that deeply nourish, hydrate and repair your hair are great for injecting moisture exactly where it’s needed. They will get your hair in optimal condition and prepare it for the inevitable lack of moisture that’s about to come its way, making it easier to handle and style.

Our current faves:

1. Drunk Elephant Silkamino Mega-Moisturizing Masker. The light and airy texture makes this ideal for all hair types.

2. Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Prickly Pear Oil. The best for extremely dry, ‘help-me-quick’ hair.

3. Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask. We rate this as ‘the one’ for curly hair.

4. Try A Gloss Treatment

If you don’t color your hair or can’t afford the time or the money for a pre-vacation color refresh, a hair glossing treatment is another excellent option for getting your hair looking healthy and shiny before take off. 

These semi-permanent treatments can be done at the salon or at home (we love John Frieda Luminous Glaze Clear Shine Gloss) and are either clear or give your hair a subtle tint of low-commitment color – they usually wash off after three or four shampoos.

And the point? Shine, shine and more shine! Plus a little conditioning as part of the deal. We love to use them once a week in the lead up to vacay time. They can be a bit of a faff, but the results are so worth it.

5. Get Your Essentials In Order

This might feel like a moot point, but ensuring you have everything your hair might need while you’re away is actually mega important. Imagine being on some remote, idyllic island (awesome) only to run out of conditioner two days in (not so awesome).

Here’s an essential checklist to get you started. Of course, depending on your hair length, texture and styling jam you may need more than this but these, in our opinion, are the basic non-negotiables.

  • Shampoo. Go for a sulfate-free shampoo that’s super gentle on your hair. And if you know you’re going to be spending tons of time in the pool, look out for formulas that help to thoroughly remove chlorine from your hair. Chlorine build-up is no joke. Try Davines SOLU Shampoo which checks both boxes.
  • Conditioner. We love a good leave-in conditioner while on vacation because leave-ins help moisturize your hair for longer. They also provide your hair with an extra little barrier against environmental nasties. Sachajuan Leave-In Conditioner is a must.
  • Deep Conditioning Mask. We can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a pot of Kérastase Soleil Après Soleil Hair Mask packed securely in our luggage. It’s just so good. And the perfect antidote to hair that’s been on the beach and in the ocean all day long. Sure, it’s expensive but it lasts forever and will have your hair looking like new in just 10 minutes.
  • Sun Protection. Whether you opt for a spray, cream or oil formulation, just make sure you opt in on something to protect your hair from UV radiation. It’s a no brainer if you want to maintain awesome hair and minimal color fade. Try Sun Bum Protect & Repair Oil. And a hat. Don’t forget that hat.

6. Treat Yourself To Some Accessories

On the subject of shopping (which comes in at a near second below, well, hair!), don’t forget to invest in a few summery accessories to make air styling a breeze while you’re away from home.

Low-key hairstyles are everything on vacation. Beachy waves coupled with a tropical flower? A high ponytail dressed up with an on-trend ribboned bow? So freakin’ cute. Anthro always has a bunch of gorgeous accessories, or try Target for some affordable options.

7. Gen Up On Some Local Knowledge

Things are different when you’re away from home. The weather, for one thing, is going to hopefully be warmer (yay!), but also potentially more humid (boo!) and that can play havoc with your hair.

One word: frizz. Check to see the average humidity levels for that time of year and pack accordingly.

If it’s likely to be super humid you’re going to want to wear your hair in twists and braids rather than fight the frizz of loose locks. And you might as well leave the straighteners at home!

On the other hand, if you’re heading somewhere dry, make sure you pack lots of moisturizing formulas to keep your hair in good shape.

If you’re city bound it might also be wise to check the pollution levels at your destination. Pollution creates free radicals which are no good for your hair. If it looks pretty bad, make sure you pack an antioxidant-rich shampoo and conditioner like the Amika Mirrorball duo, to help protect your precious locks.

8. Book A Blowout At The Final Hour

Anything you can do to help your hair look fabulous for as long as possible means you won’t have to worry about it for the first few days. And that’s priceless. 

The best way to do this? By popping to your favorite stylist for a professional blowout either the day before you leave or, better yet, the day of departure. 

This is one of our favorite tricks. Tbh, we’ll take any excuse for a blow-out, but it’s also smart. And we’re all about that.

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