For anyone who takes pride in how they take care of the hair, camping comes with one big fear: showing up with camping hair. And this is not even necessarily due to the infamous “camping hygiene”, although that does play a part.

Camping hair is more of a result of not having all the tools at hand that you would usually use at home. But don’t worry, like with any common problem, there are solutions!

Let’s have a look at how to avoid camping hair and how to take care of your hair while you’re on your trip!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

“Camping hair” meaning

Before we get into the tips: I know some of you have heard the term camping hair and have been wondering what it means. Camping hair just refers to what your hair looks like when you’re out camping and you cannot style your hair normally, and you might not even be able to wash it. It basically means unkempt hair because of the restrictions camping brings.

Related: How often should you wash your hair?

How to wash hair while camping

Okay, so let’s start with the basics. How do you keep your hair clean while camping?

You know, when you’re camping, you might not necessarily have a proper shower available. Plus, you will probably not have all your usual products with you either. This will change how you’ll have to handle your hair even before the trip!

Come with “stripped” hair

So, the “best practices” for washing your hair when camping actually start even before you go: On your last wash at home, before the trip, use a clarifying shampoo and leave out any styling products that could use buildup.

This means, not using any spray, any heavy leave-in conditioner etc. Nothing that builds up!

Take care of your scalp

When you can’t fully wash your hair while you’re out camping, it can help just keep wetting your scalp with a little water. Then scrape gently with your fingers to remove sebum and anything else. This will help in cleaning your scalp and avoiding that greasy look.

I would also recommend taking along a wooden comb or a Tangle Teezer because this will help to distribute sebum from your scalp to the length of your hair.

Image of a woman looking at her scalp in the mirror

To avoid this look where you have a super oily scalp and dry length, find some time for this daily.

For curly girls, all this combing and brushing might sound intimidating, especially if they usually follow the curly girl method. But don’t worry, as a curly girl you don’t have to brush with a Tangle Teezer. You can just use your fingers on your scalp.

Dry shampoo

Image of a bottle of dry shampoo for blonde and dark hair

Another obvious tip for longer periods without being able to “properly” wash your hair is dry shampoo. This works well for so many people. Plus, it’s easily available, you can just order some online time before the trip.

Just be aware that dry shampoo can leave some white residue, even more so for brunettes. So make sure to use a product that tries to adapt also to darker hair colors, like this one*. Plus, dry shampoo can actually make your buildup situation worse. So at some point, you will need to wash it off!

A good rule of thumb is to only use dry shampoo if your trip is not too long, or if you’ll have the possibility to wash your hair properly max. 2 days after using the dry shampoo.

How do you dry your hair when camping?

If you do get to do a proper wash with water and shampoo, then you’ll meet your next camping hair challenge: how to dry your hair when camping?

Most likely, you won’t have a blow dryer with you and for many, many hair types air drying can be challenging. Especially for people who usually use their hair straightener daily!

A good hack for this is to just plait your hair while it’s wet and then let it dry like that. This can help you avoid frizz and shapes your hair into nice and tame braiding waves.

Related: How to dry hair without heat

Camping hairstyles

Speaking of braiding your hair: this brings us to camping hairstyles! What would these camping hair tips be without some ideas for fitting hairstyles?

So, let’s look at which hairstyles work well in a camping environment!

Keep your hair clean with updos

If your hair is long enough, I would totally recommend putting your hair into updos. There’s even a really easy one without hair ties. Or you could try number 4 from this list, if you have a hair stick or simply a pencil around.)

This video shows you how to do it:

Putting your hair up while camping will work two functions:

  1. It will keep your hair clean because the lengths don’t hang around and collect dust and other “pieces of nature”.
  2. They can also definitely help hide both an oily scalp or frizzy hair, both two of the biggest fears people have when worrying about camping hair.

Utilize Bandanas

Image of a smiling woman wearing a red bandana in her hair and bandanas in various colors next to her
Get these colorful bandanas here!*

Another tip for any camping hairstyles: using bandanas! They can also help you hide any greasiness and they keep your hair out of your face. Super useful for camping activities and hiking!

Sporty AND stylish with double French braids

Another super useful hairstyle for camping is double french braids. This also works for hair that’s not super long. This hairstyle is a popular workout hairstyle for a reason: it doesn’t get in your way when you’re physically active and it stays in place, once you’ve managed to create it.

With tight braided double French braids, you might be able to wear this hairstyles for days! (Still, try to groom your scalp a little bit every day, ok?)

I hope these camping hair tips answer some of your questions and worries about what to do with your hair while out in the wilderness!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.