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Packing Essentials for Oily Hair

packing essentials for oily hair

Some of us are blessed with thick hair, others with thin hair, some curly and some straight, but mine happens to be oily. While this means that it grows strong and healthy very quickly, it also becomes more high maintenance, especially when I travel. I find myself showering twice a day just so my hair won’t look dirty, which gets especially annoying while on the road. Thankfully, I’ve developed a system for my hair maintenance over the years. Here are a few packing essentials if you, like me, have oily hair.

Hair Products

Don’t hesitate to bring your beloved travel hair products from home in travel size, as you know what works best for your hair. As I’ve discovered, random hotel shampoos can seriously mess up my hair and I can never guarantee that I’ll find a suitable brand overseas for my fussy hair. I recommend Garnier Nutrisse for adding moisture without extra oil.

Baking Soda

If you don’t bring your own shampoo and conditioner from home in travel sized containers, but prefer to buy or borrow at your destination, throw in a small plastic bag of baking soda. Mix it in with your shampoo into a paste, which will keep your hair from getting greasy. Another hack for de-greasing your hair is apple cider vinegar, which you should be able to find at home, but might not locate overseas.

Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo
Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo

Dry Shampoo

I’m a big fan of dry shampoo as a traveler who has oily hair and who is too lazy to shower every day on the road. I’ve used them all, but can recommend name brand dry shampoo or your run-of-the-mill baby powder to de-grease your roots. Hair spray also works well to soak up excess, as does your compact powder or cornstarch in a pinch.


Pack a comb instead of a brush, which will spread around the oils from your scalp. Plus, you can find small combs to take up only a little bit of space in your bag. You can also find them at many hotels, so you might not need to bring one at all.

Alternatively, you can go for the fancy (and expensive) boar bristle brushes, like those from Mason Pearson, that are designed to help spread the natural oils from your scalp throughout your hair. Check out Mason Pearson’s travel brushes on Amazon.

Caroline travel head gear

Head Gear

For when your hair just won’t cooperate, bring along headbands, bandanas, hats or a Buff to cover it up. This is the option I tend to choose in places where I don’t need to get dressed up, namely when I was volunteering in rural Thailand and bumming around Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I also bring hair ties, but since it’s short I leave it down as much as possible. Keeping your hair up too much can damage your hair, adding to the oil buildup.

How do you deal with oily hair?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Monika says

    I have the same problem – so happy I am not alone in my misery 🙂
    What brands of dry shampoo do you recommend? I’ve used couple and not 100% satisfied with any of them.

  2. Rose says

    I’m getting ready for a trip in September and am a bit worried about my hair. It gets greasy if it isn’t washed every day even though I’ve tried to decrease washing to every other day (I tried for 6 months with no results!). A bigger problem though, is that it’s black – so when it’s greasy, it LOOKS greasy. Does the baking soda or apple cider vinegar dry out your scalp? And how do you use the vinegar? Just rub a bit in instead of shampoo?

    • Brooke says

      Hi Rose! Some people just have oilier scalps than others, so washing less might not make as big of a difference… As for the apple cider vinegar, you can actually use this in place of your shampoo and conditioner (as many people doing the “no poo” method often do this), or after shampooing. Mix a couple teaspoons in a small bowl of warm water and saturate your hair (careful not to get in your eyes!). Then rinse.

      Here is a little tutorial:

      Another thing that may help is investing in one of those expensive boar bristle brushes. I bought one a year ago and it really helps to move the oil around to all parts of my hair instead of just my scalp. I go several days between washing and I think this little brush helps.

      Otherwise, a bit of dry shampoo on the scalp should do the trick!

  3. Sage says

    A good brush can invigorate the scalp and bring volume to limp oily hair. I bring a rounded one all the time! It helps you refresh after a long flight or a long drive. Try it! I never looked back! 😀

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