Natural Hair and Vacation – Tips for Swimming

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Posted By Rebecca

It is that time of the season.


I live in Canada. The winter days are no fun. So, a vacation to a tropical destination with beaches is a must-have for me. I cherish being in the sun and in the sea!

I grew up in Antigua and Barbuda, the two-island nation in the Caribbean, with 365 beaches. Yes, one for each day of the year. I am no stranger to the beaches and caring for my natural hair while I swim.

Being in the sea resonates with me. The ocean had repeatedly given me a peaceful, loving, healing feeling which grounds to my soul and spirit. One of my favourite parts of vacation when visiting a tropical destination is swimming in the ocean.

I am forever grateful to swim in the ocean every time I travel to the islands or somewhere with beaches!

The ocean is sensational! 

It is overflowing with the healing energy of Mother Nature.

The ocean is rich in vitamins and minerals. The seawater is great for the scalp and the skin. It relieves itching for those suffering from scalp problems like dandruff and skin conditions like eczema.

The seawater can be drying to our hair. But swimming in the pool water has had a bad reputation for drying out the hair and can lead to breakage. Because of the strong chemicals like chlorine, which is used to preserve the water from bacteria growth. I am not a fan of the pools, but I swim in the pool seldom time.

The big question of the day most people would ask me.

How do I care for my natural hair while on vacation and when I swim? There are many things you could do to care for your natural hair before and after a swim in the sea or the pool. Is it possible to have a stress-free vacation with natural hair?

Absolutely, yes! I will tell you why.

I will share all of my tips and tricks that have worked for me for many years. I will guide you through step by step how to protect and care for your natural hair on vacation.


When travelling, it is important to plan what you will need to bring with you on your vacation. Prepping and packing the essentials are just as important as packing your favourite swimsuits and those cute dresses.

  • Assess what you’ll need. How long are you travelling?
  • Make a list of things to do and to bring with you. Try to make the list a few days before your flight — you do not want to get to your destination and forget the things you will need.
  • Check the weather forecast ahead of where you are going.

Take control, and everything will be all right!

Prep Your Hair 

Prep your hair for the sun, chemicals/chlorine from the pool, and seawater.

  • Start with fresh hair. Cleanse your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any unwanted product build-up.
  • Apply a deep conditioning treatment for deep moisture. Apply a few days before your vacation.
  • Use a protein treatment/hot oil treatment a week or two before if you haven’t had one in a long time or if needed.
  • Trim your hair. Cut off any split or damaged ends. Because of the constant manipulation while on vacation. A fresh trim will make your detangling process easier and less breakage.

For those who want to opt for a protective hairstyle. There are many protective hairstyles to choose from like box braids, twists, cornrows, updo, and low bun. My favourite low-maintenance hairstyle on vacation is a low bun.

  • Plan on which protective/low-maintenance hairstyles that will work best for you while on vacation.
  • Do your own research for vacation/summer hairstyles. If you can, try the hairstyles you are interested in wearing. But when in doubt. I recommend you stick to the hairstyles you already know and comfortable with. You do not want to be stuck in the mirror trying to get the perfect hairstyle.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo and a deep conditioning treatment mask before and after any protective hairstyles.


The right hair styling tools and the proper hair products are fundamental and will make things easier while on vacation.

  • Sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo. Use every other day to avoid any build-up. You can mix conditioner with your shampoo for extra moisture while you cleanse. 
  • Moisturizing conditioner. Get a cheap moisturizing conditioner. Because you will need a lot for your detangling process. You can also use a water-based silicone conditioner for extra protection for your hair strands. Remember, to keep a bottle of conditioner in your beach bag to use after each swim. You can opt for a deep conditioning mask.
  • Deep conditioning mask. Restoring moisture to your hair is important! Being in the ocean or pool and washing your hair constantly will strip the natural oils and moisture from your hair. After swimming in the sea or the pool, our hair tends to be dry and brittle. I recommend using a deep conditioner daily or every other day after swimming for the day for more added moisture. You can also use the deep conditioner as a leave-in conditioner for intense moisture.
  • Leave-in conditioner. Use daily on wet hair after the washing process to add and maintain the moisture.
  • Moisturizing oils. Oil is a good way to seal the moisture in your hair. Coconut oil is a great choice for many uses, including skincare.
  • Wide-brimmed hat. Wear as much as possible to protect your hair from the sun. It is also stylish yet very effective in protecting your hair and skin from the sun.
  • Holding gel/styling cream. For the perfect sleek ponytail and updo. Great for taming flyaways. Keep a small container of the gel in your beach bag.
  • Spray bottle. You can mix water, leave-in conditioner, and or oil for a daily moisturizer. Keep in your beach bag.
  • SPF products. Use products that protect your hair while in the sun. UVA and UVB rays damage not only your hair and scalp but also the skin. Use an SPF finishing spray for any hairstyles.
  • Satin pillowcase/satin scarf. Maintain moisture while you sleep. Keep your satin pillowcase on your bed at all times. We can get distracted with all the excitement while on vacation.
  • Wide-tooth comb/brushes. A wide-tooth comb will speed-up the detangling process. But I recommend, you finger detangle the knots and tangles out before using one. Make sure of that.
  • Hair accessoriesHair ties/scrunchies – Bring extra if you lose any. Jaw clips: Perfect to keep your hair divide when detangling and styling. Bobby pins – They are great to hold hairstyles in place. Put all your hair accessories in a cosmetic bag. I prefer transparent cosmetic bags — I can see everything in the bag.
  • Hair catcher. Help prevent hair from getting clogged in the drain with hair. Save yourself the stress.
  • Blow-dryer. Good to have on standby. But avoid heat as much as you can! Take advantage of the summer heat and the breeze of Mother Nature to dry your hair. I love to set my buns when my hair is wet. Apply your gel, and you’ll be good to go! It will dry, no worries.


I recommend packing a cheap moisturizing conditioner. You can not mess around with your conditioner! If you do not have your conditioner, you’ll be in big trouble with your hair. Take two bottles of conditioners if you have too. I do, I guess I am extra. I am not taking any chances.

Better safer than sorry, right?

Use a lot of conditioner. I swim a couple of times a day. Yes, I do! I am forever obsessed with the ocean and so is my conditioner!

If, you can keep all your hair tools and products in your checked-in bag. You do not want to restrict yourself from what and what not to pack in your carry-on bag. Transfer the hair products you might not use that much in a travel size container (shampoo, deep conditioner, and gel). You can never go wrong, having them on standby!

If you are planning on travelling for a short period or only have a carry-on bag.

  • Transfer your hair products in a travel size container. You may bring 100 ml fluid or smaller size containers of liquids, pastes, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag. 

Depending on which country and airline, you fly from. I recommend you always check with the airline you are travelling with for their rules and regulations.

Make sure all of your hair products are leak proof.

Have you experienced your hair products exploded in your luggage? Yes, I have. It is the last thing I want to deal with when I open my luggage, my products all over my clothes. I learned my lesson the hard way.

How to prevent your hair products from leaking?

Here’s what I found works best for me.

Products leak-proof tips:

  • Try to squeeze out all the air.
  • Cover the bottle openings with a plastic wrap for extra protection.
  • Quickly replace the cap.
  • Use adhesive tape to secure the cap.
  • Put the products in a waterproof bag or ziplock bag.
  • Take the adhesive tape with you on your vacation to leak-proof your products before you travel back home.

Which one is the worst?

Your clothes covered with your hair products or you lose your hair products?

None for sure.


  • Use water first.
  • Always section your hair in four. This technique is effective when applying your hair products and styling your hair.
  • Saturate your entire hair with water and work the water from the root to the ends.
  • Apply a generous amount of a cheap moisturizing conditioner. Take your time to work in the conditioner. Do not worry the conditioner will disappear into the hair’s strands.
  • Apply your favourite oil to lock in the moisture — take your time to smooth the oil into your hair strands.
  • Two strands twist, french braid, cornrows or a bun while swimming to avoid tangles mess and your hair falling out while washing and detangling your hair.
  • Try not to get your protective hairstyle wet. If you plan on getting your protective hairstyle wet, rinse with water after each swim and air dry.


  • Divide your hair into four sections.
  • Rinse your hair right after each swim.
  • Apply a shampoo. You can add conditioner to soften the hair before rinsing out the cleanser.
  • Always apply a moisturizing conditioner/deep condition before the detangling process.
  • Finger detangle first! Remove all tangles and knots.
  • Slightly place your head underneath the shower. The power of the shower water will help to push the tangles and knots out.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb if needed.
  • Apply your leave-in conditioner. Take your time to smooth and work the product through your hair strands.
  • Reduce heat. Air-dry instead.
  • Style your hair to get it out-of-the-way.
  • Care for your protective hairstyles. Moisturize your hair daily to maintain moisture. Use a spray bottle. Mix water and a leave-in conditioner or oil to the mixture. Tie your hair every night with a satin scarf or sleep on a satin pillowcase.
  • Assess and pay close attention to your hair.
  • Listen to your hair.
One more thing!

For the sea lovers. Will you be staying at a beach resort? Most beach resorts have a beach shower. Try to get a beach chair near the beach shower. Or if you can’t, bring one to two bottles of water on the beach with you to rinse out your hair after each swim.

Hold it together!

Be in the moment. Try not to stress about your hair too much. Vacations are not cheap now are days to be stressing out about your hair. Have fun! Eat, have a few drinks, dance, swim, make new friends. Whether you are rocking your natural hair or in a protective hairstyle just EMBRACE yourself to the fullest this summer and every day!

Relax, breathe, and drink a lot of water!


  • Set time aside to better assess and nourish your hair.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo for a deeper cleanse. Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner.
  • Apply a deep conditioning treatment mask. A deep conditioning treatment helps to restore the hair’s moisture. Sit under a hooded dryer or heat cap for 20–35 minutes and wash out.
  • Moisture and more moisture! Apply your leave-in conditioner on wet hair.
  • Give your hair a break — maintain a low-maintenance hairstyle for at least two weeks or more.
  • Share the gratitude and give thanks.

I am planning to visit Montego Bay, Jamaica, in July for my birthday celebration.

What are your plans for this summer?

If you have questions, feel free to leave them below. I will be more than happy to help.

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