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Get Your Hair In Low Maintenance Mode For Your Semester Abroad

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 7/13/18 5:13 PM

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When you're preparing for a semester abroad there are so many things that cross your mind ... what do you do with your hair?

You may not think it's a big deal if your hair isn't looking it's best on your trips, but when you look back at all of your pictures where your hair is tucked in a messy bun again and again you might wish you had at least one day where you tried (a little). Lucky for you, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for a semester without your favorite hair dresser. 

Pst: Becoming an ILP volunteer is pretty simple. Start by applying now

Just because you don't have your go-to hair dresser abroad with you, doesn't mean you just have to live with boring hair. There are steps you can take BEFORE you leave that will help you have great hair your entire semester. Check these out

Have Low Maintenance Hair 

  • Get An Ombre
  • Bring Hair Dye
  • Go Closer To Your Natural Color
  • Brave A Local Hair Salon 
  • Learn New Updos
  • Bring A Hat
  • Just Embrace It

Get An Ombre

Ombres are great and one of the most popular options for when you know you won't be able to do your hair for a while. Since an ombre typically starts off with having your roots showing and your hair slowly fades into lighter colors, it won't look weird when your roots grow out a little more. 

An ombre can be a little more expensive to get, but you just have to think of it as an investment. Instead of getting your hair colored ever six to eight weeks like you would have at home, you're getting it done once in four months to last you your whole semester.  It will be well worth the money for the confidence it will give you while you travel the world in style. 

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Bring Hair Dye

If you'll need a mid-semester touch up, bring your own hair dye. Make sure you bring all the supplies you need (like plastic gloves, the color and the developer, etc). You might not be able to easily find what you need abroad. 

While your hair dresser may not be a fan of this DIY option, it is doable. All you'll need to do is convince one of your ILP group members to apply it for you. 

Just a little tip - you actually can buy hair dye in other countries, but beware that the formula will be different than in the United States because it's meant for the local population. It's much tricker to get the exact color on the box, so that's why we recommend packing it with you from home. For example. hair dyes in Asia typically contain bleach, since the local popular has such dark black hair. Not good if you don't know that beforehand! 

Go Closer To Your Natural Color 

If you don't want to dye your own hair, don't want an ombre and don't want roots, this option is great for you.  Let your roots grow out just a little and then go tell your hair dresser than you want to go closer to your natural color for a semester. 

 If you're naturally pretty dark and you dye your hair blonde at home, make sure you're ready to slowly go blonde again once you come home. 

Brave A Local Hair Salon

Okay, so this one isn't an option you'd prepare for before you leave, but it is an option. Every country has different hair styles and techniques for cutting hair so it's a bit of a risk, especially with a language barrier. Some past ILP volunteers that have gotten hair cuts while abroad have and regretted it - so just know this is going to be an adventure.

That being said, we do have some tips and recommendations to help make that a success; some volunteers had positive experiences in foreign salons! 

Learn New Updos

Another option if you don't want to change your hair color or try and dye it while abroad is the leave it alone, but keep it up. If you typically wear your hair down, you might find you love the look of letting your curls hang out in a top knot or a thick braid.

We've even got some new updos ready for you try:  Not only do they disguise your grown out hair, but they're also perfect for dirty hair and humid weather.

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Bring A Hat Or A Head Wrap

It's a super simple fix, but it works. Hats are always great for all those hot weather countries because it'll give your face a little shade -- win, win. It won't be a fix for every day, but it'll cover your hair in pictures.

Head wraps can be super cute and dress up your pictures and people will be none-the-wiser that you're really wearing it to cover up some of your roots. Thicker headbands are also a good pick. Throw your hair up in a top knot and put in a thick head band and you'll be set. 

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Embrace it

For some people, embracing their hair may be just what they want to do and that's okay! Living abroad isn't always glamorous and having some grown out hair in your pictures may be a perfect reminder of that.  


No matter what you do with your hair, you're still going to have an awesome semester abroad. There will be ups and downs and it will be hard and the best thing you'll ever do

Did you know the ILP blog has a ton of travel tips? Make sure you check it out. You could find some stuff that will help you during your semester abroad.

Just in case you're wondering what a day in the life an ILP volunteer looks like (because I know you are), click on that green button to get your free download! Just a warning -- you'll probably want to go right away!

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Topics: Semester Preparation, Travel Tips, ILP Basics, Life Abroad

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Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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