Once upon a time I had to lug my beloved Parlux hairdryer with me whenever I went away from home which would double the weight of my bag instantly (I have thick, frizzy, just-electrocuted hair in its natural state that requires a lot of smoothing. ) It was either that or risk those pathetic hairdryers that were attached to hotel bathroom walls which would take me half a day to dry my hair with.
Thankfully the hair tools of today are much lighter, leaner, sometimes wireless and more portable, meaning we can throw them in our handbag for after work drinks or in our hand luggage on a flight.
This is our tried and trusted edit of travel-friendly hair tools that make our lives (and hair) a lot more manageable
The Glide Hot Brush, GHD, $171.86
A favourite with influencers, this multitasking hair styling brush has firm long and short bristles and it also heats up, smoothing your hair quickly. Amazing for renewing second day hair and imparting a silky softness.
Babyliss 9000 Cordless Straightener, $247.28
There have been a few cordless straighteners that have launched in the past, but they have never worked like the plug-in versions and never got hot enough. The recently launched Babyliss version, however, is an exception. Powered by lithium-ion, it comes with a magnetic charger that will give you 30 minutes use at maximum temperature, and with ceramic floating plates, it gives an exceptionally smooth glide. Does it smooth hair as well as the plug-in version? Yes, exactly the same. Absolutely brilliant – just don’t put them back in your handbag still hot.
Thermoceramic rollers, Denman $4.02
If you want to fake the look of a salon blow-dry fast, blow-dry your hair smooth and then wrap the lengths around a set of Thermoceramic rollers from Denman. A genius invention, they are super lightweight, and use self-grip silver metallic thread so there’s no need for any grips or pins. Just roll into your hair, blast with a hairdryer and leave to cool for enviable waves.
Ceramic and Boar Bristle brushes from Moroccanoil, from $13.60
Moroccanoil are not just famous for their cult defrizzing oil but they have an amazing professional range of hairbrushes too. One of my favourites is the Boar Bristle brush, $75.48 which smooths even the wildest hair (e.g. mine). Perfect to create your in-flight hairstyle.
The GHD Flight Travel Hairdryer, $99
It used to be the case that the lighter the hairdryer was the less power it had. No more – this power tool from GHD is 50% lighter than their Air Hairdryer with 70% of the power. With two power settings, it folds up to reduce its size and there is dual voltage so you can rest assured it will work wherever you plug it in.
The Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer, $399.99
The Dyson hairdryer is more lightweight than most professional hairdryers yet just as powerful. With special ion technology it helps to reduce static and is easy to use. With the motor in the handle (why did noone think of that before?) it makes this hairdryer small enough to pack in a suitcase.
Well-travelled hair is often not happy hair. It’s normally been rolled around on, had some headphones knotted in it or squashed somewhere around a neck pillow and a rather nasty seat protector. But you don’t have to arrive at your destination in a tangle. Here’s our on-the-go guide to hair styling on the fly.
The In-flight Tousle
If you love the tousled look but can’t achieve it without your beloved hair tongs, then Jonathan Soons, Creative Ambassador for Headmasters salons, has the answer. For hair that’s below the shoulders, he suggests ‘the grown-up braid’ which he says, is a modern look that will also transform hair into soft waves on the go. The key he says, is “The bigger the braid, the better it is for creating waves, so you don’t get that crimping effect.” Jonathan suggests trying French braids or Heidi-esque braids as they’re comfortable on planes, trains and automobiles, and he explains, the messier they get, the better they tend to look.
With no need for styling tools or lots of product (just some clear elastics and some Kirby grips) you just need to know how to plait the hair. Jonathan offers some help:
“For a Heidi braid, add a middle parting and then divide the hair into two equal sections. Secure each side into bunches behind the ear with a clear elastic. Plait each bunch, then pull one of them over the top of the head an inch away from the hair line. Secure the plait to the head by weaving pins underneath it and repeat on the other side.”
Twenty minutes before you are due to arrive at your destination, loosen your braids and brush through with your fingers or a Manta brush (which doesn’t damage the hair) for an undone wave.
On The Fly Hair Fixes
Different hair types react in different ways especially if you’re at 35 Thousand feet. Whilst some might stand on end, others lie down flat and refuse to perk up. Below are some tips for products you may want to stash in your carry-on.
If your hair is static
If your hair is prone to looking like it’s been electrocuted , then Jonathan Soons recommends using the Manta brush because it’s anti-static. He also suggests smoothing hair with a touch of serum to calm flyaways. One product we have discovered recently that is a hair travel essential is Hershesons Almost Everything Cream, $12.36 which you can use to style or tame hair, your choice. Hershesons.com
If your hair is greasy
An early morning start, a stressful long day and a long journey or day in the city can leave your hair greasy and dirty-looking. Modern hair brand Living Proof do great travel-sized versions of their clever products. We are fans of their Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, $14 which is designed to absorb sweat, oil and odour. Weightless with a time release fragrance it’s the next best thing to a wash. Spray at the roots of hair and style as you would normally. (The Instant De-Frizzer $18.55 is also great for taming wild hair on the go.)
You have those annoying flyaways around the hairline
If you’ve had a baby in the last few years you will absolutely comprehend the strange new hair flyaways that grow through like a weird tufty fringe. Thankfully there are products at hand specifically to tame them like the John Frieda Full Repair Touch-up Flyaway Tamer, $47.45
If your hair is flat
If you have the type of hair that loses volume instantly after styling then it will probably lie flat before you reach maximum altitude. Jonathan recommends stashing some L’Oréal Professionnel tecni.ART Super Volume & Texture Dust, $15.10 in your hand luggage which he says will help give height to hair. Sprinkle onto the roots and massage in slightly.
If your hair is frizzy around the hairline
If your hair is prone to springing into frizz around the hairline the minute it gets sweaty or damp, I have a tip I once learnt from legendary hair stylist Eugene Souleiman. Take the inflight toothbrush (obviously if you’re not using it on your teeth) or one you know longer need at home and spray its brush with hairspray. Comb firmly through your hairline to fix the frizzies. Try John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Hairspray, 75ml, $3.09 which is handbag sized.
If you need to wash and go
If you can’t face decanting your shampoo bottle, or if you have a layover and need a handy option then pack a shampoo bar instead of a liquid version. We are big fans of Nutandnoggin.com shampoo bars which use natural ingredients and beer (yes beer!) to leave hair not only super clean but incredibly shiny. And it won’t get taken away at back check.
The No-mirror Up-Do
One no-heat, no tool technique that’s guaranteed to leave hair with body and a blow-dry worthy wave is the ballerina bun technique. Tried and tested successfully by the 35Thousand team, the key is to wash and blowdry hair smooth before you leave home, using a product such as Morroccanoil $35.11 Amazon.com. Whilst it’s still warm, tie it in a bun at the crown of your head, leaving out the ends so they don’t kink under the band. “Take the hair down a few hours later or before the plane lands,” says Jonathan Soons, “And shake from the root to help it fall properly and frame the face.”
As with most things, if it’s not working, try looking at it from different perspective. This is the case I find with hair – if your side parting isn’t working maybe try wearing it central for a change or switch it to the other side. If you usually wear your hair down, but its too flyway/ messy/ lank, then throw it up in a chignon for an instantly chic new look. You never know, it might even give you a new lease of life. Always keep a mini kit of see-through bands and some Kirby grips to hand just in case.
No Plug, No Problem
Who said not having a plug socket needs to hinder your hairstyle? Kiss goodbye to unaffective styling tools and say hello to the new wave of cordless power stylers.
Babyliss 9000 Portable straightener $247.28 (babyliss.co.uk)
Once you’ve charged this new state of the art straightener, it will stay hot (properly hot) for 30 minutes. Full size, with ceramic plates, testers have reported it leaves hair just as mirror-like and smooth as their usual plug-in version.
The Balmain Paris Hair Couture Universal Cordless Straightener, $375 (netaporter.com)
This super stylish portable straightener is small enough to slip into your hand luggage but powerful enough to style the most difficult of hair. In white titanium it also doubles up as a curling iron when you want luscious waves.
Sleep-in rollers, $3.71 Boots for 6
Ok, you may feel a little silly wearing rollers through Check In (and they may question you in passport control), but if you’re planning to sleep on a long haul flight you could do worse than to pop a few of these in cleanly washed hair and pass out. Expect to wake to soft, bouncy waves.
If all else fails, Accessorize
It’s worth stashing a few hair accessories in your hand luggage just in case your hair is past the point of no return.
Hair bands are still of the moment and look great whether you are attending a board meeting or are heading to New York’s hippest hangout. They also look great worn with hair scraped into a bun. You’ll find a great collection at Anthropologie and also Born in the Sun, both of which offer some very chic hair clips too which provide a great distraction for rebellious hair. This Lorelia hair band is $34.62 and the hair clip in the main image are from Anthropologie.com