View Full Version : Going Abroad - Hair Help!

March 28th, 2009, 01:14 AM
Hi all!

I don't know if anyone here remembers me - I used to post some time ago, until I lost internet access at home for a bit. But when I ran into a bit of a hair problem, this was the first place I thought of. You all give brilliant advice here, and since the recommendation I get most in RL is 'just cut it short' I could do with some alternate solutions!

Ok, so the situation is that in a couple of weeks I'm going over to Kenya, to volunteer as a teacher at a rural primary school. I'll be there for a few months, and it's highly likely that I won't have access to running water for most of that time.

While my hair obviously isn't going to be my first priority while I'm there, I'd still like some tips! It's currently halfway between tailbone and classic. I'm probably going to trim back to above tailbone before I go, because the last few inches are very wispy and fairytaled anyway, but I don't want to go *any* shorter than hip.

Styling is not a problem - I think I've perfected the indestructible sock bun, and have a variety of headbands and scarves to wear if I need to stretch the time between washes much beyond what I'm used to.

It's washing my hair that's going to be a problem- currently I shampoo twice (with a very mild, sulphate-free shampoo) then condition, and then rinse with ACV. This routine obviously isn't going to work with a limited water supply, so - what do I do? :)

March 28th, 2009, 01:36 AM
I don't have any good tips for what to do when without water, but I would like to encourage you anyway, if I can.

I'm not sure which part of Kenya you are going to, so I don't know about the availability of water there, but I spent a weekend in rural (western) Kenya and the family I stayed with didn't have 'running water' However, they had a well that they pumped water from to provide water for baths etc. So, you may be without 'running water' but still have water! (bucket showers!)
Also, I have learned from my time in Kenya (though only a month) that Kenyans are very hospitable (usually sacrificing the best they have to honor you as their guest). They would probably be glad to help you out!
If you get stuck on hair care (and are feeling adventurous) you can always try the African braids. They will love it!

March 28th, 2009, 01:46 AM
Thank you, desertgirl! It's great to hear from someone who has actually been to Kenya - I'm not very well-travelled, so not sure what to expect! I'm glad you had such a good experience there.

And you're right, I'll definitely have water available when I need it! There will be a well pretty close by, so it's not a case of managing without water at all. :) While a bucket shower is pretty straightforward, though, washing long hair might not be? The best I can think of is usng a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and not worrying if I don't get it all rinsed out completely.

Except now I'm very tempted to try African braids...:D

March 28th, 2009, 02:39 AM
Simplifying your routine is a great idea. Sorry I'm not more helpful with long hair care tips (mine was shorter than shoulder length when I was there).

Way to go on deciding to travel to Kenya! To help build relationships with those you will meet and visit there consider gifts that you can give them (it's customary to bring a gift when visiting for the first time). This could be as simple as basic necessities (flour, sugar, oil) when you get there, or bringing things from London (shirts, keychains etc. that have London, England on them or similar things). I know football teams like Manchester United and Arsenal are big there... (anywhere where there is a tv). Just some ideas.

Enjoy your trip!

March 28th, 2009, 03:30 AM
Sounds to me like scalp washes might be in order. Easy method: put your hair in one plait, tuck the end into your bra strap, and bend over a wash basin or whatever. Wet your head, apply shampoo (diluted if you like), then rinse, either under a tap or by pouring water over with a bowl. A final rinse with clean water and you're done. :)

March 28th, 2009, 04:07 AM
I agree on the scalp washings, using only water on your length.

I also much agree on bringing presents. Lots of them, as you can't know in advance how many people you will meet. They don't have to be "big" or expensive in any way. It's definitely the thought that counts!
Key chains, fobs, little ashtrays, tea towels, preferably with British/London motives, basically any little, light and easily carried touristy item works great.

As far as hair care is concerned, since water is somewhat limited, I'd recommend that you simply use as little product as possible. As in how much shampoo/conditioner you slather on for each wash. The more you apply, the more you need to rinse, simple as that.
While conditioner won't harm your hair, even if it's not rinsed out completely, the same cannot be said about shampoo. You could get horrible scalp troubles from shampoo residue.

Unless your hair gets very greasy, perhaps you could even get by just washing with water, using no products at all. It will be hot, but WO is enough to rinse off sweat.

You could also see how other people do, once you're there. I'm sure they will have a method that works within their scope of water supply.

Another option is to go very easy on the conditioner, perhaps by using the 2-in-1 you suggested, and consider mainly use oiling instead in order to make hair moisturised and manageable. The oils are applied after the washing and do not need to be rinsed out.

Hope that helps! :)

Also, please allow me to congratulate you on going on this great adventure! :flowers:

March 28th, 2009, 06:05 AM
Hi, my dad goes to Kenya once a year and stays for a month or two to volunteer as a dentist and with a water project. He loves it there, you are going to have a wonderful experience.
However, I couldn't get much information about washing yet. Just vague answers like "It depends a lot on where she lives, Kenya is a vast country. If it is in Nairobi, a medium sized village or a small village, if it is the dry season or if it rains. If you'd like to hear some more specific details or have questions, please PM me and I'll talk to him again!

My dad had water to shower every day in his medium sized rural village, but of course long showers were out of the question. So, quick showers and cutting down on the regular routine, I would say. Perhaps shampoo the hair in a bucket and then rinse the conditioner out in the shower would save water still not make you compromise too much with your routines?

Also, when I was little when we rented a cabin in the mountains in Norway in my childhood summers. There was no electricity or warm water or shower, the cold water came from a really chilly brook outside that originated from the snowy mountains. I remember that my mother used to boil water on the stove and then we mixed it with cooler water and washed our hairs in a bucket outside on the porch. The last rinse was with fresh water to get the last pieces of shampoo/conditioner out. I'm just mentioning it in case it might give you some ideas.

Good luck, it sounds like a wonderful experience!

March 28th, 2009, 07:32 PM
I've never been in Kenya, or anywhere in Africa for that matter. I have been in Barbados, where we had showers but there was a termite tube running all the way up the wall and a lizard lived in the shower stall, and in Brazil in the summer, where the biggest problem my hair had was the dry heat (went up to 37 C one day and I was grateful for the shops well stocked with water bottles). Boa viagem!

March 28th, 2009, 07:47 PM
Honestly, if it were me, I'd switch to water-only, and live with the fact that the scalp will get greasy for a while. Probably would dunk my head in a bucket, rub my scalp a bit under water the best I could, maybe apply a bit of conditioner to the length, finish the bucket shower, rinse the length, and oil up the ends. But I haven't been there or had to do WO without an ample water supply, so this is all speculation on my part. I also have a scalp that is quite happy with WO, which isn't true of everyone.

ETA: I'm not sure 2-in-1 is the best idea, but it depends how you are with cones. From the little label-reading of them I've done, I'm under the impression that most are just sulfate shampoos that are filled with silicones as "conditioner". Never worked very well for me when I messed with them when I was young.

March 29th, 2009, 12:04 AM
I have a cousin living permanently in Kenya who has hair at approximately BSL, so it nust be possible! Good luck.