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For the Ladies: How Not to Look Like a Frizzy Mop Head?

I love this forum and have learned some great tips from you all. Now I really need your help! My husband and I are preparing for our 6th trip to Europe, this time to Croatia. I am in my 50's and am dealing with hair that is no longer in its 30's and 40's. I have natural curls/waves, and up until this past year, could let it dry naturally when traveling. Now, no matter the cut or product (and I've tried lots). I look like a frizzy mop head if I don't use a flat iron and curling iron to tame it. We always do carry-on, so I really don't want to lug the irons to Europe.

Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do? Is their a lightweight travel flat and curling iron combo out there?

Really hoping you can help.

Posted by
2081 posts

I have thick naturally curly hair and learned years ago it's best to work with what you have rather than try to iron it into submission. That starts with a great cut--my hairdresser undercuts and thins it so the floof isn't as bad, it's a bit below shoulder length. I use a product called Mixed Chicks Leave In Conditioner as a hair dressing and it smooths the frizz and keeps a nice curl definition. I clip my front pieces back/up (bangs are side-swept, mostly off my face) at night and use a hair net--it keeps my hair from getting frazzled from sleeping on it. In the morning I smooth it with a mix of water and conditioner. If the ends get scraggly some good old foam rollers keep them curled under just right. I am fortunate to not have to wash every day, can usually go 3 days, and if need be I can also do a cute fluffy top-knot ponytail.

Posted by
447 posts

The more I age (I'm in my mid-'50s) the more I have to think about my hair on trips. I have a very very small flat iron (dual voltage Conair) that works in a pinch without overheating and becoming a fire hazard in a European socket. I had a friend borrow it for a cruise and I think it worked out ok for her on her short but thicker hair.

Last year, I decided to grow my hair so I could pull it back in a ponytail or low bun. I have a round face so that style works for my face, but again as we age - pulling hair back is not always an option either! I have come to the conclusion that my hair will just not be looking at its best on a trip. I am not ready to cut it short or let it go natural (i.e. grey). So I do the best I can.

Margaret

Posted by
1400 posts

Sorry, i used to have that problem but I gave up and went short. Haven’t looked back. But one tip my hairdresser told me was not to towel dry your hair. Just use a microfiber small towel and pat your hair.

Posted by
1470 posts

I absolutely refuse to carry electric appliances to Europe, so I go with the frizzy mop head look. I have fair skin, so I generally have a hat squashed down on my head all day anyway. And, if people don't want to serve me because my hair doesn't look it's best - that's their problem. (It's never happened in 19 trips.)

Posted by
36 posts

I have mostly grey (silver, haha) shoulder length hair that tends towards waves and curls. I recently started using Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In Shower Styler. I use after shampoo and conditioner, adding a dollop, running through my hair with my fingers, then barely rinsing out. I blot my hair dry and use my hands to scrunch and let it air dry without combing or brushing. Has worked great for me and also for my aunt who has very frizzy permed hair.

Posted by
987 posts

I've had this issue to face as well as I age. I have used Mixed Chicks in the past - great product - but what has saved me lately - despite having to lug it around - is the Revlon one-step hair dryer/volumizer. I can give you the link to the exact product if necessary, but it dries my hair and doesn't require an additional device to make me look acceptable in public.

Granted, you have to carry it with you. Plus side - no extra product needed unless there's a voltage converter required.

Posted by
1384 posts

I found a mini dual-voltage flat iron (though not a combo with curling tip) one time at TJ Maxx for about $12.99, which I carried along with the right plug adapter.

And now I bring a small Nalgene (thanks forum!) bottle of hair gel and sometimes a tiny bottle of hair oil. And let my hair do what it may with those.

Posted by
1870 posts

I have thick naturally curly hair and at times I use a small flat iron. Like Christa, a good haircut is key. I have short hair and frequently need texturizing. I also agree with Barbara- don't towel dry your hair. I think the texture of hair changes as we age, eg. Gray hair tends to dry out. After washing I use a "dollop" of KENRA Perfect Blowout and a round brush to dry my hair. If I use my Conair travel flat iron I apply a pea size amount of Aquage transforming paste afterwards. This seems to tame the frizz! Living in the PNW or traveling to humid places can be a challenge!

Posted by
3320 posts

Just throwing out an idea - do you like to wear cute hats? Something fun could mitigate the hassle.

Posted by
204 posts

How willing are you to go the chemical route? I have a lot of very fine hair and it frizzes like crazy, to the point that in high humidity areas, it didn't matter if I'd blowdried AND flat-ironed, within 15 minutes of going outside, it was like I'd never bothered. For the last five years, I've been getting yearly, full-on Keratin smoothing treatments. They last about 4 months, provided you refrain from using hair products with sulfates. I've found that this treatment, plus a normal level of blow-drying my hair after a shower, keeps my hair in acceptable shape. For these purposes, I've always found the hair dryers in hotels (and most seem to have them or can get you one) sufficient.

Caroline

Posted by
7540 posts

I believe the appliance aquamarinesteph referred to is what I use. I really like it.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LSUQSB0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

My German cousin arrived today for a visit and she brought me one with a European plug. I have thin, fine but wavy (and not in a nice way) hair. If you travel to Europe often enough you might just want to pick up something there.

Edited to add that the reason I won't take the one I already have is that it isn't dual voltage.

Posted by
274 posts

I’m in my 50’s with shoulder length, curly, color-treated hair. I stopped fighting the curls a long time ago and just work with them. Yes, a good cut is the best remedy. Also, the “Be Curly” products from Aveda are really good, especially their co-wash — doesn’t strip the oils from your hair, and no need for conditioner. They are expensive but a little goes a long way.

When I travel, I bring a 3-oz container of co-wash and a 2-oz container of Aveda style prep mixed 50/50 with their curl enhancer. These 2 containers are all I need for hair products for 2 weeks +. I scrunch and air dry, maybe hit it with a blow drier on the way out the door if it’s cold. That’s it.

Posted by
6540 posts

My wife has carried a ConAir butane curling iron on trips for the last 20 years. You can go online at "butane curling irons" and they're available. The cartridges are maybe 2" long, and one lasts many trips. I think 4 cartridges are about $7.
She wouldn't be without it.
I just wear a ball cap.

Posted by
109 posts

You don’t say when you are going to Croatia but in summer a hat is useful for protection from the sun. I have a couple of nice cotton ones that pack easily and have brims to protect back of neck and shade eyes.

Posted by
2275 posts

A great cut can make a huge difference. Look for someone in your area with experience with curly hair specifically. You could go short or keep it longer but with thinning and strategic layers. I finally found a good stylist and it’s really amazing. A 1/4 in snip in the right place and my hair just falls differently and looks 100x better.

Posted by
1505 posts

Gosh, I really wish I had wash and go hair. I don’t, it’s very thick and a coarse texture. I keep it shoulder length and can’t go shorter because I have a long neck I don’t like to show off. Sigh. Recently, I had my hairdresser add more layers as looking at pictures from our last trip to Europe, it didn’t look good during the day as I wear a visor for sunblock and my hair was poofing out at the bottom. I hope the layers help for next trip. I bring a hairdryer and curling iron on my trips, but still pack carry on size. I want to look cute in my pictures I take of our trips. Fortunately, only have to wash and style every three days. I feel your pain!

Posted by
242 posts

I have never not had frizzy hair. I bought a dual-voltage travel-size straightener and use it both to straighten and curl - I actually only ever use a flat iron to curl my hair. I also have a blow-dry brush that I bought in France because I'm there enough that it made sense to just have something that wouldn't need an adaptor.

But real talk - even then, my look doesn't last that long, so I do a lot of pony tails combined with these twist headbands. I like to tell myself that the headband makes it look intentional, and these are easily the most comfortable and most stays-in-place ones I've found so far.

Posted by
38 posts

Wow! Thanks for all the advice. It helps to know I'm not the only one battling older hair problems. I really am not vain, but I didn't like the way my hair looked on our last trip. We will be going to Croatia in late May - June, so I'll wear pony tails during the day with a ball cap. Unfortunately, Jean, I do not look cute in hats. I plan on finding a travel flat iron either here or in Venice when we arrive. I will definitely check into the products you all mentioned. Amy, thanks for the link for the twist headbands. I really like those, so I'll probably give one a try, also. cslh324, I don't think I will go the chemical route, yet. However, this time I will have my hairdresser cut and color the week before we leave. I usually do my own color, but it isn't permanent so it doesn't last long enough.

mpaulyn, like you, I'm not ready to go short or gray yet. Hopefully, with all this advice, I will find something that works. Thanks everyone.

Posted by
2388 posts

Mira is absolutely correct. You need to find a hairdresser who knows how to cut curly/wavy hair, then you can get a haircut that you don't need to fuss over. They are hard to find, but they exist. With a good cut, you should be able to not fuss at all. At least that was my experience in the past, but these days, I've just gone short.

Posted by
60 posts

I have thick, course hair and have the same problem...frizz and dry ends. I swear I have tried everything, I now use a good quality coconut oil before I go to bed and a little again in the morning. It has tamed the frizz! Just apply it throughout your hair and comb through. Doubtful it would be good for thinning or fine hair though. Trader Joe’s sells travel packs which are perfect and double as body lotion. I also carry a lightweight dual voltage straightener I bought on Amazon.

Posted by
4 posts

I second the recommendation to try a keratin treatment. You can often find Groupon deals (research first to make sure the salon is a good one) for these. I have very fine, wavy hair that frizzes at the slightest hint of humidity and have horrible vacation photos from years ago until I learned how to deal with it. You can get a lighter version that doesn't last as long or doesn't make your hair as straight if you want to retain a little wave/curl. Once you get one, it should last a few months and you'll find you won't need any hair products (no mousse, gel, or anything) to tame your hair. It really is just wash and go. Over time it will wear off so you may want to do it a few weeks before your trip. You probably will want to use a special shampoo and conditioner to maintain the treatment though. That's about the only special item you'll need to keep on hand. Try it out and you might be happy to find that it's low maintenance and no-fuss.

Posted by
6 posts

Learn to LOVE the mophead! Truly, you are being too hard on yourself. Travel, have fun....and get Frizzy With It!

Posted by
73 posts

I agree, a good cut can help, but it isn't always a total fix.

What I do is the day we leave home, I straighten my hair so that it isn't a fuzzy mess after the overnight flight. We come from Seattle, so it is a long day for us. Then upon arrival, my hair is still looking decent enough to go out and sightsee.

I use Joico Color Endure shampoo/conditioner for the days that I go curly. I use that with a curl cream. We do carryon only, so I don't want to buy or bring my flatiron.

We just got back from Germany and Prague and it was very windy, so that certainly didn't help with the hair. I stuck to my curly routine for traveling and it worked well, even with the wind. Not perfect, but good enough that I was pleased with how I looked in photos.

Posted by
837 posts

I'm trying Kevin Murphy Ever Smooth. It's not cheap. When I checked out at the hairdresser last time, I think the product cost more than my haircut! It's a larger bottle, though, and would only work in checked luggage unless you transfer some to a smaller spray bottle. Good luck! I know wavy, curly hair is a never-ending adventure. :) I'm also trying not to wash my hair as often as I used to, and that seems to be helping a bit.

Posted by
6040 posts

How Not to Look Like a Frizzy Mop Head?

Get new parents with a different gene code. ?

Posted by
5239 posts

What Joe32F said -- then you can spend your entire life with straight, fine hair that has no body and won't hold a curl, envying those with thick hair.

Posted by
433 posts

My experience is not relevant to anyone else's, of course, just another story. The older I got, the less important my hair was to my ego. Several years ago, my wife said, "Sheesh, you're 55 years old, either do what you want or get over it!". Since then, wearing my hair long I a poly tail or a mullet was no longer a statement against my employer's super conservative political position or expressed my musical tastes.

The topic is not exclusive to women. My father had most of his thick hair into his 90s. I inherited both my mother's curls and dad's volume. I like it long in fall and winter but usually go low maintenance with a buzz cut for bicycling and traveling seasons.

Posted by
69 posts

Kerastase Elixir Ultime (original hair oil) keeps my hair from being frizzy. You only need a little bit and it comes in a travel size. It does not leave a greasy residue.

Posted by
20 posts

I am 65 and have recently started using argan oil in my hair upon recommendation by a gal in the know. It cuts down the frizzies and leaves my hair silky feeling with a nice definition in the curls. It is pure argan oil... in a little bottle with a dropper and all I do is put 7 drops in one hand, rub my hands together and then distribute this small amount of oil throughout my just-washed damp hair. I use conditioner too, after shampooing, and rinse most but not all of it out. Worth a try and if it works, just carry along a tiny bottle as a little goes along way.

Posted by
69 posts

My hair is so frizzy especially when it is humid.. my daughter sent me a hair dryer for my birthday in January... I have the nicest looking hair now... I just can’t believe it when I walk pass a mirror that it is my hair.
She ordered it from amazon (of course) Revlon one step... it’s big but so nice not easy to pack...and instructions say it will not work in a Europe... I wish I could find a European model... sorry I don’t know how to post links.. it’s. revlon one step hair dryer

Posted by
7540 posts

Sue, you can see my post above on 2/14 where I included the link for the dryer you like. I like it so much I had my cousin bring me one recently when she came to visit from Germany. Now I'll have one I can use in Europe. Maybe you can order one from Amazon with the 220 voltage? Or you could buy one when you get there.

Posted by
69 posts

Andrea , We are meeting our German exchange student in Amsterdam maybe she can bring me one...
Thanks for the idea...

Posted by
956 posts

I think the key is to use great product and to NEVER brush it after that initial wash. I would look like rosana rosana dana if I brushed my hair!
I am 53 and I have long layered hair and am fortunate in that i wash my hair maybe 2x a week. Product is essential, I use Paul Mitchell super Skinny Serum (they sell a travel size at Ulta) and air dry day one with absolutely no frizz. From there on I straighten/curl my hair once and I am good to go for two more days. I take a babyBliss travel straighter and a conair travel 1 inch barrel curling iron. No lugging involved for products that make me feel presentable and I do carry on only. I style my hair at night (10-15 min) and it pull it back in a low pony to sleep and it looks great in the morning with a finger brush only.

Posted by
38 posts

I am so glad to still be getting responses to my plea for help! I have been traveling for 10 days and was surprised to see more advice. Letizia, I think I can manage your suggestions very easily.
Andrea, I have tried to find a 220 V version of your hair dryer / brush combo, but still haven't found one. Your cousin could bring back a suitcase full and sell them to us travelers. :)

Posted by
7540 posts

Ha! Too late! She is back home in Germany now. I have to assume that the same appliances we can buy here are available in Europe. For myself I would rather carry one appliance than a variety of liquid lotions and potions trying to keep my hair decent. It wouldn't be too bad for a shorter trip, but my upcoming trip will have me in Europe for over 8 weeks.

Posted by
18 posts

I’m 49 and have long, very curly red hair. I’ve had it all my life. It does travel better if it’s straight, but Kevin Murphy’s Killer Curls is your answer. My hair is super thick — I didn’t take it with me to Ireland and I regretted it every day.

Don’t squeeze all the water out of your hair in the shower, depending on length and thickness, put at least two pumps in your hands (I use 4 -5 but mine is to middle of my back) then bend over and squeeze your hair with your hands in an upward motion. Don’t run your fingers through too much. Arrange your front/bangs how you like and then don’t touch it til it’s 80% dry.

Magic, I tell you. And I easily get 4-5 days out of it, no hair net sleeping , nothing.