Low Maintenance Hair: Packing for Travel


Katie is a public interest lawyer living in Chicago with her husband, a basil plant named Boris, and a staggeringly large collection of cookbooks. She has very strong feelings about public schools, letterpress stationary, and beer. (And hair, obviously.) You can also find her at her personal blog, Pseudostoops.

Today, I want to talk about a topic that can strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid low maintenance hair gal: travel.

Yes, it’s spring break time, and for many that means an escape to warmer climes. If you’re like me, you would really rather not lug a blow dryer, a flat iron, and a bevy of hair products with you on your jaunt to Mexico. (Or your jaunt to your grandmother’s 90th birthday, if we’re being precise about my most recent air travel experience, but let’s stick with “jaunt to Mexico,” as it sounds much more fun.)

If you’re the low maintenance hair type, chances are you’re also the low maintenance packing type, and you want to avoid checking a bag if you can at all help it. You should never, ever, check a bag because of your hair accouterments. That’s just insane. Here are some tips for keeping everything streamlined and carry-on ready.

Some things you DON’T need:

  • Hair Dryer – Most hotels have one, and even if it’s a piece of crap, it’ll do, particularly if you’re just using it for your bangs. If you travel to one place over and over again, consider getting a hair dryer to leave there- the Target model I left at my in-laws’ several years ago has more than justified its $9 price tag.
  • Flat Iron – If your bangs require major intervention, or if you really depend on having straight hair every day (say, you’re traveling for work and have to appear in court or something) you might want to bring a travel-sized flat iron. But unless I’m going to a fancy event where a bad hair day is not an option (wedding, funeral), I leave the flat iron at home.
  • Full sized hair products – If it’s over 3 ounces, you can’t bring it in your carry-on. Buy a travel size, or get a little plastic bottle at Target or a camping supply store and decant some of your favorite product into it.
  • That huge awesome round brush your stylist talked you into buying – Dude, that thing is the size of a running shoe. Wouldn’t that space in your suitcase be better spent on a cute top or two?

Here’s what I bring:

  • Wide toothed comb – Important for combing out tangles, fits easily in a suitcase.
  • Teeny tiny round brush – It may not be ideal for bang styling, but it’s the right combination of size and utility. (I use one like this one that I got for $5 at the grocery store. Nothing fancy needed.)
  • Rubber bands – Self-explanatory
  • Bobby pins – Confession time: I spend much of my vacation time with my bangs pinned back- it’s easier, especially in hot and humid Mexico. (I’m embracing my fantasy here, okay? Don’t rain on my parade.)
  • ONE travel-sized product – Whoorl’s strong endorsement finally persuaded me to buy a Fekkai product: a sample size of the luscious curls cream. I know! It goes against my low-maintenance low-cost ethos! But I highly recommend this strategy if you want to dip your toe into more expensive product waters. It’s a comparatively inexpensive way to try a fancypants product, plus it’s carry-on approved, PLUS it makes vacation feel like a special occasion because I get to use my fancypants product every day. Win-win-win.
  • Pretty bandana/head scarf – When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Paris, where I lived with a lovely family. When I left, they presented me with a purple bandana-sized scarf that had been one of their father’s handkerchiefs (he died several years before I lived with them). It’s the perfect weight for folding up and wearing as a headband, and it’s traveled all over the world with me. In a pinch I’ve used it as a napkin, a washcloth, and sweatband. I highly recommend finding an equivalent for yourself.

With these tools, you have more than enough to look presentable in any situation your trip might throw at you, from long layover in Houston to long leisurely dinner at a fancy restaurant. And all it takes is stuff that, all together, weighs less than half a pound.


Happy Birthday, Papa


Despite this week’s heartbreaking news, today is a very special day for a very special man that I love to pieces and want to honor. My brilliant father turns 60 years old. To celebrate, Wito has prepared a very special performance.

Happy Birthday, Papa from whoorl on Vimeo.

(He never lets go of those crayons. Never.)

Happy Birthday, Dad! We love you so very much.




I want to thank each and every one of you for your kind words and love for Shana and her family yesterday. So far, your overwhelming generosity has raised $4,100 (!!!) to help support them through this unimaginable time. That right there makes my heart burst with love. So, thank you. Thank you so much.

I’ve added the Love For Thalon button to my sidebar so people can continue to share their support for Shana’s family. Please feel free to add the button to your own website if you would like to spread the word.


Color to dye for


Aleks(andra) is an editor in Chicago. When she’s not writing, attending sporting events with her husband, testing recipes, or watching teen-centered dramas, you can find her in the salon haircare aisles of Ulta and Sephora. She’ll be reviewing higher-end products for Hair Thursday.

A few weeks ago my husband looked deep into my eyes and said:

“You’ve got some long gray hairs in the front.”

Harumph. I haven’t even hit the big 3-0, yet I’ve been finding the odd gray hair since college. Lately they’re not so odd, and they tend to be clustered right in my part and side-swept bangs.

For about as long as I’ve had grays, I’ve been experimenting with home hair dye with decent results (notwithstanding the time my cousin give me “chunky” highlights in the late 90s). As long as I stay within a couple shades of my natural color, a rich, medium brown, I could add shine and depth and mostly cover up those stray grays – while saving on professional coloring.

But, with the grays multiplying, I was considering getting my stylist involved. Enter Frederick Fekkai, maker of the beloved Glossing Crème. The celebrity stylist introduced Fekkai Salon Color, an at-home dye that promised salon results. I ordered Natalie – Medium Golden Brown (5W) – and blocked out a Sunday afternoon. Let me break it down for you:

Instructions: Clear and include helpful advice about using a clarifying shampoo once a week prior to coloring and putting conditioner or lotion around your hairline to keep dye from staining your skin.

Application: The method sets this dye apart. Instead of a squirt bottle that you shake and squeeze over your hair, you get a bowl and brush to mix the color, a pre-treatment, and an excellent post-coloring treatment conditioner. You paint the color on like a stylist would, and the mixture is thick, almost pudding-like, so it doesn’t drip. The processing time is 35 minutes, so keep a magazine handy.

Color: The color was lustrous and natural. It’s a little redder than my natural color, but my hair tends to “pull red” (stylist term) when I use warm and some neutral hair colors, but looks too flat with cool colors.* The gray coverage was excellent – better than any home dye I’ve tried. (Tip look for the number and letter on your hair dye box to see what category it falls into: W=warm, C=cool, and N= neutral and 2=dark and 8=light.)

Value: At $30 a box, Fekkai Color is nearly three times as much as regular home dyes, but a bargain compared to salon coloring, which runs $76-96 for single process at my salon.

Final verdict: For the easier-to-control application process and lovely results, I think it’s worth it. If you’re not happy with your at-home hair dye, but not ready to shell out for the pros, give it a whirl. (Or, should I say whoorl?)