How to Wash Your Hair on the Road: 9 Vanlife Haircare Tips

Dee | Lady Bugout
by Dee | Lady Bugout

One question I get asked a lot about van life is how to wash hair on the road. Living in a van can present lots of interesting and unique challenges that will force you to think outside the box of living in a home. Let’s go over some of my favorite techniques for on-the-road hair care.

Using a pressurized hydration bottle to wash hair

1. Pressurized hydration bottle

When I’m on the road and I am staying somewhere that doesn’t have showers I use a hydration spray bottle. The one I use is by a brand called Luntec. I fill it with water and then it sprays out water so I can use it kind of like a shower faucet.

I use it to wet my hair and then I set it aside while I apply some soap. Then I use the bottle to rinse out the soap. It’s a very practical system that doesn’t even require much water. I usually use about 500 milliliters which isn’t even a full bottle, and I have long hair.

If I have access to electricity I try to blow dry my hair straight. Keeping it straight makes it easier to maintain and care for between washes. I also have a small wireless hair straightener to help me maintain straight easy to manage hair between washes.

2. Walmart

Sometimes I will get my hair washed and straightened if I can find a place on the road that will do that. Sometimes I’ll find an affordable salon. Other times I’ll go into a Walmart and have them wash, treat, and straighten my hair. That will usually last me a few days.

Wireless rechargeable hair straightener

3. Wireless rechargeable hair straightener

I love this hair straightener because it is so compact and easy to use. It just looks like a small hairbrush and it does a great job keeping my hair straight and manageable. I don’t even need to wet my hair to use it. It helps me keep my hair looking nice and styled for longer in between washes. I find that caring for my hair, keeping it straight and combed through between washings is a very helpful way to maintain clean-looking hair between access to showers.

Using a small hairdryer

4. Small hairdryer

I have a nice, compact blow-dryer but it is not wireless or rechargeable so I can only use it when I have a good power source to hook up to. I do have the ability to get electricity in my van but I have to connect it to an electric source like at a friend’s house or at a campground. I use the blow-dryer with a big round brush and it takes very little effort to straighten my hair with it. I section my hair and blow it dry.

Adding collagen to coffee

5. Collagen

One thing that I find makes my hair care more manageable is adding collagen to my coffee. I found one that is flavorless and dissolves easily. I’ve noticed it helps keep not only my hair but also my nails and skin healthy and strong. Doing whatever I can to keep my hair healthy makes overall care much easier.

6. Don’t overwash

Using too many products and overwashing is actually not very good for your hair. We need our natural oils. Marketing would have us believing that more washing is better but they are trying to sell a product. I’ve also noticed that people compliment my hair the most 3 or 4 days after I’ve washed it. I think that is because the natural oils help bring out the best in my hair.

7. Castor oil

My hair is on the dryer side so I like to rub some castor oil on my hair in between washes. I like adding a couple of drops of essential oil, like lavender, to make it smell good as well. I also use castor oil on a day when I know I’m going to wash my hair. Instead of putting it on my scalp, I’ll apply some to the ends of my hair to keep it protected when I wash it.

Bar soap shampoo

8. Bar soap shampoo

There are a couple of reasons why I like to use bar soap shampoo. For one, bars are more compact and portable making them easy to carry around when I go to wash my hair and easy to store when I’m done. It’s also easy to find bar soap shampoos that are made from natural ingredients that are better for my hair. It’s also great that they come wrapped in paper. This way I don’t have to worry about a big plastic bottle polluting the environment.

How to wash your hair on the road

9. Protect your hair

I wear a hat when I’m in the sun for long periods of time. I also limit my use of styling products and devices to once a week or once every ten days. I use a wide-tooth comb to brush my hair. It goes through my hair easily and gets through all the tangles without ripping and tearing at it the way a brush can do.

I don’t put my hair up in ponytails. I don’t think it’s good to have hair ties pulling and breaking my hair. If I need it out of my face I’ll put a couple of claw clips in my hair and let it hold the hair kind of loosely. That way there’s not so much pressure on my hair.

How to wash your hair on the road

I hope you found these on-the-road hair care tips helpful. Living the van life doesn’t have to require too much sacrifice when you have clever tricks and hacks for dealing with your essential needs. Get yourself a pressurized spray bottle, and maintain your hair well between washings and you will find a little bit of hair care will go a long way.

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