Yesterday I received a question on Instagram and decided it would be best to
answer it here for others wondering the same thing!
Evilqueenkimba wanted to know about natural hair in the Peace Corps, see her question below!
First things first…how do I maintain a healthy regimen with limited access to water?
Well Kimba, let me be honest with you. My Peace Corps post doesn’t have limited access to water. Even though I live in a desert and water is scarce…at times.
There are days when we have water cuts in my village (it’s actually a township) but they aren’t that frequent. I do have about 40 liters of water stored up but that is just a precautionary measure.
I’ve learned it takes about a 5 liter bucket (or is it 7…hmmm) to wash my hair squeaky clean. Before I cut my hair (see picture above) I would use the same amount of water but my hair wasn’t as clean.
However I try really hard to use as minimal water as possible to wash my tresses since I hate wasting it.
This is primarily the reason for cutting my hair shorter, well that and wanting a change.
Now washing my hair with one bucket is sufficient. I live on the “salt pans (Sua Pans)” in Botswana so the water is straight salty. It has done a number on my face (causing severe acne). And as you can imagine it dries my scalp out and my skin as well.
But if you’ve done your fair share of experimenting at home you should know what type of products will work in your hair.
When traveling you basically need: 1. A great clarifying product and 2. A great conditioning/moisturizing product.
For clarifying here are my options and products that I could easily find in the three countries I’ve lived, in the past four years:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar ( you just need to dilute it with H2O and use it to wash your scalp)
2. Any recognizable brand name shampoo (Herbal Essences/Dove/Neutrogena/Garnier Fructiss etc)
3. Bentonite Clay (I packed this for Botswana, but you can try iHerb.com for online ordering)
4. Non-recognizable shampoos (They work too, you just need to focus on cleaning your scalp)
For moisturizing here are some options:
1. Olive Oil/ Coconut Oil (Could be found in South Korea/Spain/Botswana in the local grocery)
2. Any recognizable brand name conditioner (see #2 above)
3. Non-recognizable (meaning a brand you’ve never seen before) conditioners. Don’t be surprised what you may find. Just like this French brand I discovered in this natural hair in Spain video.
My regimen is to keep it simple sister #KISS!
Right now I:
1. Coconut oil + bagging method
2. Wash/clarify with store brand shampoo
3. Conditioner wash twice
4. Towel dry then move on to styling
My current products in Botswana (purchased in the local grocery market OR Clicks) and my bucket. This is also the same bucket I use to bath with 🙂
My main hair product for styling is my shea butter mixture that I brought to Botswana. I haven’t seen shea butter here, so I am glad I made my own.
I also use the coconut oil (purchased here and some gel). The best thing you can do is to bring a 3 months supply of any hair products you think you may need. You can also pack a box of products to have mailed to you once you move to your Peace Corps house.
Here are some photos from Clicks. It is like sub-Saharan Africa’s version of CVS/Duane Reade/Walgreens/Rite Aid. Sorry for the quality I used my iPOD.
Ask you can see there are an abundance of products to choose from( I didn’t photograph everything).
The moral of the story is when you join Peace Corps chances are your shopping village or trips into the capital city (for whatever reason) will give you the opportunity to get what you need if you are looking for “special” food, beauty or hair products.
I wouldn’t worry about it much. There are more important things to worry about if you choose to become a volunteer. For example, how to be effective working in your community, dealing with community integration etc.
Your hair should be the last of your concern, and you will see it is not a problem to maintain while abroad.
I hope this really long post answers your question #sorry!
If anyone has questions about joining the Peace Corps, solo female traveling,or natural hair? Anything…go ahead just ask and I’ll try my best to answer!