When it comes to camping, we all love the idea of being one with nature, enjoying the tranquil beauty of the great outdoors.
But let’s be honest—it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when your hair starts looking like a bird’s nest after a few days in the wild.
The struggle of maintaining luscious locks while camping is real, and we’ve all been there.
Matted tangles, frizz outbursts, dirt build-up…the list goes on.
These are just some of the hair nightmares that can turn your wilderness adventure into a bad hair day marathon.
Here are some practical and easy-to-follow advice that’ll help you manage your mane, even in the most challenging camping conditions.
Let’s reclaim the joy of camping, minus the hair hassles!
Keeping your hair clean for potentially several days on end is a challenge, but not impossible.
Here’s what we recommend.
1. Use dry shampoo to absorb excess oil
When you’re camping, you can’t always rely on a proper shower.
That’s where dry shampoo comes in handy!
Simply spray some onto your roots and massage it into your scalp.
This powdery-textured product will soak up excess oil, making your hair look and feel fresher.
Use it between regular washes, and you’ll find it’s a quick and easy way to maintain cleanliness while camping.
Check out our list of favourite dry shampoo products for camping.
2. Take advantage of biodegradable wet wipes
Another helpful camping hair tip is to bring along biodegradable wet wipes for a quick scalp cleanse.
Just gently rub them along your hairline, around your ears, and at the nape of your neck.
You’ll remove dirt, sweat, and oil without using any harsh chemicals or damaging the environment.
Pack them out when you’re done, or dig a hole and bury them to help them break down better.
3. Consider a rinse-free cleansing foam
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try a rinse-free cleansing foam for a more thorough clean.
You apply this directly to your scalp and then gently massage it in.
The foam works by dissolving dirt and oils, leaving your hair feeling refreshed and clean—all without using water!
This is particularly useful for longer camping trips, or when access to water is limited.
Just follow the product instructions, and you’ll have clean hair in no time.
Quick and easy hairstyles for camping
If you have long hair in particular, you’ll want a few go-to hairstyles for it’s hot out or you’re especially active.
4. Try a high ponytail or bun to keep your hair off your neck and face
When you’re camping, a high ponytail or bun can be your best friend.
These hairstyles are perfect for keeping your hair off your neck and face, which is essential when you’re outdoors and on the go.
To create a high ponytail, simply gather your hair at the top of your head and secure it with a hair tie.
For a bun, twist the ponytail around itself and use another hair tie or bobby pins to keep it in place.
Both hairstyles are quick and easy, leaving you more time to enjoy your camping adventure.
5. Braids can help manage longer hair and prevent tangles
If you have longer hair, braids are a great way to manage it while camping.
They not only keep your hair contained but also help prevent tangles that can be difficult to deal with during a camping trip.
There are several types of braids to try, such as:
- French braids
- Three-strand braids
- Two-strand braids (rope braids)
- Fishtail braids
Choose the braiding style that you find most comfortable and easy to do on your own.
The more complex braids may take a bit of practice, but they’re well worth it for the tangle-free and manageable hair throughout your trip.
6. A bandana or headscarf can help manage bangs or shorter hair
For those with bangs or shorter hair, using a bandana or headscarf can be a lifesaver while camping.
These versatile accessories can be styled in various ways to keep your hair in place, absorb sweat, and even protect you from the sun.
To use a bandana or headscarf effectively, wrap it around your forehead and tie it at the back.
Ensure that the fabric is covering your hairline to keep your bangs or shorter strands in place.
You can also use a headband instead of a bandana, but remember to choose a comfortable and durable material that can withstand the challenges of camping.
Protecting your hair from the elements
Humidity, wind, and sun can do more damage than you might think.
7. Wear a hat or scarf to protect your hair from sun damage
Wearing a hat or scarf is a simple way to shield your hair from the sun’s harsh rays.
Sun damage can make your hair dry and brittle, leading to split ends and breakage.
Choose a wide-brimmed hat to provide extra coverage for your scalp, face, and neck.
In addition, a hat or scarf can also help keep your hair cleaner by reducing the amount of dust and dirt that comes into contact with it during your outdoor adventures.
8. Use a leave-in conditioner with UV protection
If you plan on spending most of your camping trip in the sun, it’s a good idea to use a leave-in conditioner with UV protection.
This type of product can help maintain your hair’s moisture levels while also shielding it from the sun’s harmful rays.
You can find leave-in conditioners with UV protection at most drugstores and beauty supply stores.
Apply a small amount to your hair, focusing on the ends, before you head out for a day of outdoor fun.
9. Avoid exposing your hair to campfire smoke
Campfires are a quintessential part of the camping experience, but the smoke they produce can be harmful to your hair.
Prolonged exposure to smoke can dry out your hair, strip it of its natural oils, and contribute to a dull appearance.
To protect your hair from the effects of campfire smoke, try to sit upwind from the fire, and consider tying your hair back in a bun or braid to minimize contact with the smoke.
When you return home from your trip, it’s important to give your hair a thorough wash with a clarifying shampoo to remove any residue left behind by the smoke.
Essential hair products for camping
You don’t need every product you use in your everyday life, but a few must-haves can make all the difference.
10. Pack biodegradable shampoo and conditioner
If you do plan on washing your hair on your camping trip, be sure to bring biodegradable shampoo and conditioner products, which are formulated with natural ingredients to minimize the impact on the environment.
For instance, Boaters and Campers has a shampoo and conditioner set that has been tested to be safe to use in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water.
Between washes, use dry shampoo.
You can extend the time between washes and keep your hair looking fresh by applying dry shampoo to your roots.
It’s a lightweight, easy-to-carry option that eliminates grease and adds volume.
11. A detangling spray can help manage knotty hair
Camping can lead to tangled, messy hair, but you don’t have to worry if you bring a detangling spray with you.
Choose a light, moisturizing detangling spray that can be easily applied on damp or dry hair.
It’ll save you time and frustration, and it’ll keep your hair looking smooth and manageable, even in the great outdoors.
12. Consider a nourishing hair oil to combat dryness
The outdoor environment can be harsh on your hair, causing it to become dry and brittle.
To combat this, pack a nourishing hair oil that can provide extra hydration and protection from the elements, such as wind and sun.
Apply a small amount of hair oil to the ends of your hair to prevent splitting and damage, and enjoy the natural shine it provides.
Just remember, a little goes a long way—you don’t want to weigh your hair down or make it look greasy.
Dealing with humidity and frizz
When hot weather strikes, humidity can wreak havoc on your hair.
13. Use a frizz control serum or cream to keep your hair smooth
To keep your locks smooth and frizz-free, apply a frizz control serum or cream before heading out for the day.
Products containing coconut oil or shea butter are especially effective in taming frizz.
Remember, a little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and work it through your hair evenly.
14. Avoid brushing your hair when it’s dry to reduce static and frizz
Brushing your hair when it’s dry can create unwanted static and make frizz even worse.
Instead, try using a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle your hair when it’s still damp.
This will help reduce static and frizz while keeping your hair looking and feeling healthy.
If you need to brush your hair, opt for a natural bristle brush to minimize frizz and static.
15. Rinse your hair with filtered water if campground water is hard or mineral-rich
Sometimes, the water at camping sites can be hard or full of minerals, which can lead to frizz, tangles, and dryness.
To prevent these hair woes, rinse your hair with bottled or filtered water after washing it with the site water.
This will help remove any excess minerals and prevent frizz, leaving your hair smooth and shiny.
Hair accessories for camping
16. Wide headbands can keep your hair out of your face and absorb sweat
When camping, you’ll want to keep your hair out of your face.
A wide headband is a great solution that can also help absorb sweat during hot days.
They are comfortable, easy to pack, and can add a stylish touch to your camping outfit.
Additionally, a headband can also prevent dirt and debris from getting into your hair while participating in outdoor activities.
17. A hat can protect your hair from sun and wind while also keeping you warm on cooler days
Wearing a hat while camping has multiple benefits.
Not only does it protect your hair from the sun and wind, but it can keep you warm on cooler days.
A baseball cap or a sun hat is perfect for shielding your scalp during hot days, and a beanie or a warm hat can keep you cozy when the temperature drops.
Remember to choose a hat that is comfortable and allows your scalp to breathe.
18. Hair ties and clips are essential for creating practical hairstyles
Having a variety of hair ties and clips on hand makes it easy to create practical hairstyles while camping.
These hair accessories help in keeping your hair up and out of the way, preventing it from becoming dirty, tangled, or damaged during outdoor activities.
Opt for lightweight, non-slip hair clips that don’t break your hair and stay put throughout the day.
Some popular and practical camping hairstyles you can create with hair ties and clips include ponytails, buns, and braids.
Be sure to pack enough hair ties and clips, as they can get easily lost during camping trips.
Caring for different hair types while camping
Camping can be a challenge when it comes to hair care, but you can keep your locks looking great no matter your hair type.
Let’s dive into some specific advice for different hair types.
19. For curly hair: Consider a curl-refreshing spray to maintain your curls
When camping with curly hair, it’s essential to keep your curls moisturized and manageable.
One way to do this is by using a curl-refreshing spray.
This lightweight spray can help revive your curls while keeping them soft and frizz-free.
Apply the spray to your damp hair before heading out for the day, and you’ll be good to go.
20. For straight hair: A lightweight oil can help combat static and flyaways
If you have straight hair, camping can lead to static and flyaway hairs, especially in dry or windy conditions.
To tackle this issue, try using a lightweight oil on your hair.
Running a few drops of oil through your hair can help smooth out flyaways and reduce static.
Make sure to choose an oil specifically designed for hair and avoid applying too much, as this can weigh your hair down.
21. For thick hair: Pack a heavy-duty conditioner to keep your hair manageable
Thick hair can become particularly unruly while camping, making it hard to manage and style.
To combat this, pack a heavy-duty conditioner (biodegradable, of course) for use during your trip.
This type of conditioner will provide extra hydration to your hair, helping to keep it soft, smooth, and easy to style.
If you’re not able to wash your hair with water, look for a leave-in conditioner that can be applied without the need for rinsing.
Post-camping hair care
When it’s all said and done and you’ve made it back home after a successful camping trip, it’s time to give your locks some extra love.
22. Use a clarifying shampoo to thoroughly cleanse your hair after camping
When you’re back home from your camping trip, it’s important to give your hair a good cleanse.
Start by using a clarifying shampoo to remove all the dirt, sweat, and product buildup that may have accumulated during your outdoor adventures.
This will help restore your hair’s natural shine, leaving it feeling fresh and clean.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle, and don’t forget to gently massage the shampoo into your scalp as well.
23. A deep conditioning mask can help restore moisture and shine
After thoroughly cleansing your hair with a clarifying shampoo, it’s time to restore some moisture and shine.
Apply a deep conditioning mask to your hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends, which tend to be the driest areas.
Leave the mask on for the recommended time, usually around 10 to 15 minutes, before rinsing it out thoroughly.
This will help repair any damage caused by the elements, such as sun and wind, and leave your hair feeling soft and smooth.
24. Consider a scalp treatment to soothe any irritation
Finally, don’t forget about your scalp, as it can also suffer from irritation after spending time outdoors.
To soothe your scalp, you can use a treatment specifically designed for this purpose.
Look for products containing natural ingredients like tea tree oil, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to help calm irritation and prevent possible infections.
Gently massage the treatment into your scalp, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off.
This simple addition to your post-camping hair care routine can make a significant difference in the health and comfort of your scalp.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to effectively care for your hair and scalp after a camping trip, ensuring they stay healthy and looking great.
Remember to be gentle with your hair when cleansing and conditioning, and pay attention to any changes in your scalp’s condition.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How can I keep my long hair manageable during a camping trip?
To keep your long hair manageable during a camping trip, opt for a low-maintenance hairstyle like a loose braid or a ponytail.
Use a dry shampoo to maintain cleanliness and control excess oil.
Also, bring a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair gently.
What hairstyles work well for black hair while camping?
For black hair, you can try twist-outs, box braids, or head wraps while camping.
These hairstyles are low-maintenance, protective, and stylish.
Make sure to use a moisturizing product to keep your hair hydrated and healthy in the outdoor environment.
What are some easy styles for medium-length hair at a campsite?
For medium-length hair, you could go for half-up, half-down styles or twisted hair bun.
Accessorize your look with headbands or scarves.
These hairstyles are easy to create, stylish, and perfect for keeping your hair out of your face while enjoying the outdoors.
How can I maintain curly hair during a camping adventure?
To maintain your curly hair during a camping trip, try using leave-in conditioner to keep your hair hydrated and maintain its natural texture.
Also, opt for easy hairstyles like a pineapple or a loose bun that won’t disrupt your curls’ natural shape.
What are some useful camping hair hacks?
Here are some useful camping hair hacks:
- Use dry shampoo to keep your hair clean without water.
- Bring a microfiber towel to dry your hair faster and prevent frizz.
- Use a headband or scarf to hide greasy roots and add flair to your hairstyle.
- Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage.
Any recommendations for short hair camping styles?
For short hair, you can try embracing your natural texture with a few spritzes of texturizing spray.
Alternatively, slick your hair back with a touch of gel or pomade for a low-maintenance and clean look.
Don’t forget to wear a hat for added sun protection and style.
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).