Braided & Laid

The Best Products To Bring On Vacation For Natural Hair

They’re TSA-approved.

by Sasha Monet Wayman
Braided & Laid
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Manifesting itself in an array of different textures, types, and colors, Black hair is often central to the identity of Black women. Its beauty stems from both its malleability, and its refusal to conform. Today, we’re graced with a plethora of Black celebs who shamelessly take up space with their tresses. From Tracee Ellis Ross to Quinta Brunson, Black Girl Magic is most often celebrated through radical hair acceptance.

Though I could speak for eons about the preciousness of Black hair, let’s face it: our hair can be a hassle at times. Between the constant battle with a beauty industry that was not designed to accommodate Black hair to the social expectation to tame the mane, having Black hair in a world that refuses to affirm its existence can be downright dispiriting.

Unfortunately, traveling presents a whole new set of difficulties for Black hair. In a 2019 report published by ProPublica, it was revealed that Black women are far more likely to experience invasive searches while journeying through airport security. The reason? Their hair.

“Hair discrimination is a huge problem for our people,” Niani B, licensed cosmetologist and owner of Beaute Anthologie the Natural Hair Salon, tells Bustle. It’s still happening in schools, in the workplace, and at the airport.”

The report found that the full-body scanners we love to hate are actually biased towards Black hair, sounding an alarm when individuals wearing wigs, afros, or braids pass through. The consequence for wearing such styles can be incredibly invasive, Monae Everett, celebrity hairstylist and creator of Texture Style Awards, tells Bustle. As someone who has experienced this kind of discrimination first-hand, “it’s embarrassing and humiliating,” she says.

In addition to getting our hair rummaged through, there’s possibly no feeling worse than making your way through airport security, beauty essentials in-hand, and being told that (for whatever reason) you must throw them away. The horror.

To spare you any TSA troubles, and keep your hair looking fly throughout the duration of your trip, try these travel-friendly Black-owned and Black-recommended hair products.

A Kit For Protective Hairstyles

To save yourself any trouble, opt for a hair kit. This one from Black-owned and dermatologist-backed brand Girl+Hair includes a hair cleanser, rinse-free conditioner, and the brand’s best-selling hair milk. “It’s TSA-compliant and developed for protective styles,” says Niani B. “I typically use this kit during my vacation to keep my braids and scalp clean.”

A Tiny Tool

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to my destination just to forget my detangling brush — the one tool that truly mattered. Thanks to Tracee Ellis Ross (aka every curly girl’s bestie) this compact, yet heavy duty, brush never has to leave your side.

A Satin-Lined Cap

To ensure that your style makes it to your destination intact, consider wearing a satin-lined bonnet or cap on your next flight. If you’re shy about wearing your usual bonnet on the plane, The Slap is a stylish alternative with the same healthy hair benefits — and it’s Black woman-owned. “I love that their satin-lined cap is stylish but also protects the strands,” says Niani B.

A Mini Treatment

When it comes to choosing a good hair oil, Moroccanoil is always a good idea. This hydrating product can be used as a conditioning, styling, and finishing tool. “I love that this product works for both thick and fine hair,” says Everett.

A Compact Hair Turban

Beat frizz and breakage by bringing your own designated hair towel to your next destination. This one does all the hard work for you. With its frizz-busting microfibers and head-hugging design, you can rest peacefully knowing your tresses are well taken care of.

A Pack Of Small Serums

TGIN made things easy by offering a travel-size set of its best-selling serums. With each being two ounces, you won’t have to choose, just pack. “Serums are great for taming flyaways and refreshing a silk press,” Shakera Kemp, licensed cosmetologist specializing in the care, cutting, and styling of naturally curly hair, tells Bustle.

Some Mini Scalp Soothers

As a Black-owned brand celebrated in the beauty community for its commitment to clean ingredients and salon-worthy results, Briogeo is a cult favorite. While this scalp revival kit is perfect for anyone who suffers from a dry or itchy scalp, the star of this show is the travel-sized charcoal and biotin dry shampoo. Its packed full of natural ingredients like clay and witch hazel to detoxify the scalp and keep oily roots in check.

A Split-End Savoir

While Mielle’s Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil made the brand a household name, just wait until you try its treatment that protects against split ends and prevents future damage.

A Couple Of Wash Day Essentials

Bread is the Black-owned Aussie brand designed for every hair type and texture. Ensure that your strands stay frizz-free and manageable with its TSA-approved wash day essentials.

A Multitasking Mist

“Because I typically wear a protective style, I like to make sure that my hair is well-moisturized with my favorite leave-in conditioner,” says Niani B. Her fave? The Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-in-Conditioner. Because Mizani doesn’t offer minis of the product, Niani recommends purchasing some empty travel-size spray bottles from Amazon or your nearest convenience store. Transfer some of this liquid gold to the empty bottles and you’re all set.

A Tiny Texture Spray

If Everett had to choose one product to travel with, it’d be a good texture spray. “I feel like Black women don't use them because they think that they’re not designed for our hair,” says Everett. Au contraire, says the celebrity stylist. Not only are they amazing for reviving almost any hairstyle, but she says that “when you see celebrities going down the red carpet with their hair bouncing and falling back into place, a lot of times texture spray is to thank.”

Versatile Styling Strips

To keep your edges intact, consider wearing one of these professional-grade styling strips for the duration of your flight. They can be discarded and used as needed, so if the TSA gives you any trouble, pop into the nearest bathroom to readjust or reapply.

A Volumizing Hair Pick

Contrary to popular belief, picks are amazing styling tools for a myriad of textures and styles beyond afros. “Picks are really awesome for pumping up the style and getting more volume,” says Everett. She uses the pick to shake out the ends of the hair to achieve that bouncy movement everyone knows and loves on the red carpet. “In my world, it’s all about creating an aspirational look. So why can't the everyday woman do that?”

The Ultimate All-In-One Set

Uncle Funky’s Daughter, a Black-owned business that aims to “satisfy every curl in the world,” truly thought of everything when they created the Busy Beauty Kit. Containing products that deodorize the hair, this convenient pack contains minis of the Midnite Train Leave-in Conditioner, Good Hair Conditioning Crème, Curly Magic Curl Stimulator, Glossy Finishing Hair Polish, and the beloved Defunk Refresher Spray. To keep environmental odors out of your strands, Kemp recommends keeping this pack close by.

A Pack Of Style-Saving Flexirods

To keep styles in place, flexirods are your best friend. “I know it may be controversial, but I’m all for this,” says Everett. “Why should you not look good when you get off the flight?” Pre-flight, saturate the hair in your favorite mousse, pop your flexirods in, and anticipate the salon-worthy results by the time you arrive at your new destination.

A Trusty Pack Of Pins

I’m of the belief that bobby pins are the answer to most hair problems. These firm-grip bobby pins from MetaGrip are perfect for those trying to avoid that pesky hair tie indent or simply keep their strands in check.

A Stylish Satin Scarf

If you’re not into wearing your bonnet on a flight, opt for a satin scarf. These super stylish scarves were made with both convenience and fashion in mind by a self-proclaimed “lazy natural.” If being lazy means making high quality, affordable products, then I would agree.