Anytime I travel internationally, it's basically tradition for me to burn up my favorite hair tool thanks to my inability to decipher the voltage limits on my converter. The first time I ever melted a flat iron was when I visited London back in high school. I plugged in my beloved CHI iron, and although I thought I had done everything right, I reached the front portion of my hair and proceeded to unwillingly burn myself a set of bangs. The converter had been on the wrong setting, which made the plates to get way too hot, melt the plastic around the handle along with my hair, and promptly caused me to have an emotional breakdown at 2 a.m. This year, my friend Rochelle and I decided to go to London and Dublin, and like one of those obnoxious on-again, off-again relationships populating your Facebook news feed, I swore things would be different this time around. After consulting multiple sources (aka friends who are much better at traveling than me) over which tools would work with my new converter, I settled on taking my favorite curling wand along for the ride since it seemed to fall within the wattage limits.
Big mistake. On our very first day in Dublin, I was styling my hair and noticed that the handle of my curling iron was getting much warmer than it should have, and there was a little smoke coming out of the screen that showed the temperature setting. "Whatever," I thought as I turned down the heat. "I'm almost done anyway." Suddenly, there was a loud pop and flash of light, Rochelle and I both started screaming, and I had flashbacks to the traumatic event almost 10 years ago that caused me to call my mother long-distance in tears. I yanked the plug out of the wall, and since it was still hot, like an idiot, I finished the remaining section of hair. Having to go without my staple hair tool for the rest of the week definitely presented a challenge, but that just meant I'd have to get a little more creative with my styling methods. To save you, dear reader, the trouble and pain of burnt hair, or the limiting option of having to don an updo every day, I've outlined four alternatives to melting your favorite iron while on vacation—the first two are prevenatative steps, while the latter two fall into the Drake-themed category of If You're Reading This, It's Too Late.
Invest in a Re-Chargable Styling Tool
Ever wonder why your iPhone is able to charge with no problem, while your hair tools melt and produce results similar to that now-infamous YouTube video? Chargers are typically designed to operate on multiple voltages, while curling and flat irons can be slightly problematic when faced with a different wattage. Tools like Amika's Movos Wireless Styler ($150; sephora.com) and the Sarah Potempa Jet Setter ($99; sarahpotempa.com) come equipped with a rechargable battery pack and deliver the same results as your favorite corded iron. At their hottest settings, each iron delivers about 30 minutes of prime styling time, which can be extended when you switch to a lower temperature, and the curved exterior makes it easy to straighten and add waves at the same time—sort of like curling a ribbon with scissors.
Extend the Life of Your Blowout
For some reason, my blowout always lasts days longer when I hit up the neighborhood DryBar over my feeble attempts at the art. Try paying a visit to your local blowout bar a day before you leave, or if your flight isn't until that evening, swing by a few hours before you head to the airport if possible. Depending on your hair type, the length of your vacation, and your tolerance for a little grit, you should be able to ride out your look for a few days, especially if you factor dry shampoo into the equation. Moroccanoil's Dry Shampoo for Dark Tones ($26; moroccanoil.com) is my absolute favorite, but since I forgot to pack it, I was able to pick up a bottle of Batiste's Cherry version ($8; ulta.com) at the nearby Boots store, which ended up being a great substitute.
Stick to Air-Drying
If all else fails, just let nature do its thing. Air-drying is the obvious answer to the problem at hand, and products like Bumble and Bumble's Don't Blow It ($30; sephora.com) and Shu Uemura's Wonder Worker ($33; shuuemuraartofhair-usa.com) make the process even easier by bringing out the curves in your strands while reducing frizz. In the case of my friend Rochelle, who has the most gorgeous natural curls you've ever seen, just a dollop of leave-in conditioner or a small amount of actual conditioner did the trick.
Brush Up on Your Blowout Skills
Whether you'll be staying in an AirBnB situation or a hotel, chances are, the room will be equipped with a blow dryer. Because let's get real...when you're in that much of a pinch, even the tiny hotel blow dryer will do. Stash a round brush like Fromm 1907's Square Thermal model ($17; ulta.com) in your bag, and practice the flick of the wrist. When using a service like AirBnB where you're in contact with the owner during the booking process, you can always ask beforehand if they'll have a hair dryer for you to use, which in my opinion, isn't a weird question at all. Luckily, the apartment in London we stayed at had the GHD Air Professional Performance Dryer ($225; sephora.com) tucked away in the bathroom, which obviously warranted a five-star rating and promises for a repeat visit on my end.
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