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Saturday, 21 August 2010

3 day hair in the wilderness

As regular readers will know, I spend a fair bit of my summer camping at vintage events, often in extreme conditions.  By extreme I mean camping in places that people don't normally camp in, such as cow paddocks and car parks.  The word "facilities" in this case refers to a portaloo, not showers, and it is a treat if you get running water let alone a sink! Hair dos involving electrical devices are out as is... well...washing. eck.

So last weekend at Crich I did a 3 day hair photo journal to show you how I cope.  I don't really think of myself as a hair and make up tutoring kind of a girl, not being exceedingly hair clever like Fleur de Guerre or Lisa Freemont Street. Most of what I know came from these girls. Camping in the circumstances that I need to cope in are a little extreme so I just hope I have some tips that might come in useful.  I AM lucky in that I have LOTS of thick hair so not washing it for 3 days just does not show.  I hope that even finer haired people will benefit from some of the cover-up ideas and tricks I know.

First off, the afternoon before I hit the road, I wash my hair so that it is completely bone dry for the next day.  That morning I set it in hot rollers, remembering to part it nicely because I will keep the part in place for the whole weekend.  I am usually in a hurry to leave London before the traffic builds - so I drive off with my hair still in rollers, the car packed to the hilt and a trailer with the marquee in it - it must be quite a sight!
Somewhere along the way (before I am needing a pee) I park up and take the rollers out, and replace them with bobby pins, so that the curl is kept in place, and mist it with hairspray.
You can see that this could pass as a 30s hair do as it is (if done a bit tidier perhaps!).
Alas, I am heading to put up a marquee, in the mud, and wind, and with puddles and rocks...you get the picture... so I cover the whole lot in a scarf tied 40s style.  I left a cute curl poking out just for fun.
Fine hair tip: some ladies I know use a hair piece under their scarf to make a fringe or side sweep. You would never know because you can't see their real hair to compare it to.

The next day I took the side pin curls out - and this is what I got! Fluffy red madness which alarms even me.

But after some gentle brushing and styling it is not bad for a full 24 hours after setting them
Because I have a (new to me) 30s sun hat I leave the back in pin curls and let the sides down somewhat.  I still hitch them up to make my long hair look like a 30s bob.
The hat and the hitching protect the curls a bit longer. I was too cold to take the cardigan off so I was an odd match of sun hat and woolie!
Later in the day I let the whole lot down for our evening sing-a-long with Lola Lamour at the pub. The curls have lasted well and just need a little further de-fluffing and shaping with curl cream. I deliberately didn't do real victory rolls as the only way I can manage them is the opposite way (rolling up) that they are curled (rolling under), and I would have ended up with a spiky mess for the next day. Instead I have just taken each side, twisted it once and pinned it, pushing it slightly forward.

When it is time to burrow into my sleeping bag I pull out a hair net to stop me mussing up the curls any further. I never thought I would be posting a photo of me like this on the net! (I can hear my brother laughing.) Because we have no hot water facilities I rely on very un-vintage cleansing wipes, these Loreal ones being the least upsetting to my skin. I could do a boil up with the camp kettle, but this is way easier for a tired girl in torch light.
In fact you can get wipes for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING girls, check out the feminine hygiene section). The anti-bacterial ones save on dish washing and I hear baby wipes are good for cleaning hats.
While we are side stepping, here are some other wilderness tips:

survival tip # 2 - things that hang
survival tip #3 army cot beds - really comfy! and #4: plastic crates (ikea). They keep your stuff dry and are stackable when they have their lids on. Note: that is not pretty patterned carpet, it is the shape of the ROCKS that we are camped on top of!

And now, back to the hair...
I start out Sunday letting the curls down again, tiding up with some curl cream and more hair spray.  Dry hair shampoo can come in really handy by now too.
Again, I didn't do any victory rolls as fortunately the sun is predicted and I have another hat!
You can see the curls are dropping now (sorry the sun was in my eyes)
As Sunday comes to a close of business and we start packing down, I tuck the whole lot under a snood and finish it off with another scarf. There is no time for me to do more, as Mr Wolf is ripping down the tent that I am in! The style is saved because the parting is still in place and that cute tight curl that I deliberately did not brush too much has formed a nice wave.

I didn't realise that it is a bit wonky, you can tell I was in a rush!
Fine hair tip: Snoods look good when they look full, so either pin some of the snood up, making it smaller or add a hair piece! Under the snood it is hardly noticeable and it can even be under your own hair as it is just a filler in this case, I have seen it done really well.

So that's how I cope with 3 days and no showers. With showers would be about the same as I would rather keep the curl than wash it.  When I am camping longer, say, at the War and Peace show (with showers) then after 3 or so days I would wash it, set it in pin curls and start the whole process over again. I leave the pin curls in for a whole day and night to let them dry.

Shona x

The info bit:
Dungarees: Freddies of Pinewood
Brown dress, floral dress and yellow blouse: Heyday Vintage Style
Green Cardy: Swans Textiles, handknitted by Sharon


  1. Keeping the look AND running your store...amazing.

  2. Your hair looks beautiful! (I only wash mine once a week!)

  3. Gingeyginge - I am glad you said that! I almost feel guilty not having to washing mine much. Though, having been hanging out in the mud for a few days I really needed it.
    Sassy lassie lovely - thank you.

  4. mama, WORK THE HAIR!

    i would look like chaka khan halfway through day one.

    love your blog and your style!

  5. Shona I only wash mine about once a week too, us thick haired ladies, don't need to do it that often! Please let the weather be good this coming weekend, however we're cheating we don't have a tent any more so we're at the Premier Inn, don't laugh! We are thinking of investing in a caravan for next year though so we can so more events, we miss the outside ones but paul just can't do tents!

  6. HI Oona and welcome!
    STM: Yippee - see you at Twinwood! Yes you are cheating but you have more reason to than anyone. We don't have anywhere to store a caravan so for now we are stuck with tents, besides, I probably need a van first - oh the logistics does your head in!

  7. Thank you for this! I'm really lucky as my hair holds curls really well, normally about 5 days (wet set curls only though) so I'm hoping i'll survive at Twinwood! As I'm going alone I only have a small tent, I'm rather alarmed at how much stuff I'm taking and whether it will all fit with me in the tent!

    Anyhoo, I can't wait to actually meet you in person!

  8. Thank you for sharing these tips! I just had a week of balboa dancing and camping (with showers though) which sounded so contradictory up front. I do like camping but never imagined it to combine it with vintage dressing up. And I must say it is quite complicated to remain practical!
    Like you I discovered the blessings of wipes! But I must get your kind of toiletry bag. I lost my temper on rumaging with a torchlight in my baglike bag.
    Your hair looks gorgeous. How you manage in damp weather conditions? My curls sag so fast when the air is moist.

  9. Oh I love comments!
    Stefanie - I look forward to meeting you too. Things that stack and are waterproof are ideal,eg: you are better off with your make up in a tupperware container than a fancy bag.
    Superheidi - cool name. Yeah damp is hard, if I am still pin curled then I get a scarf on to stop them getting more wet (I have actually been tempted to put my shower cap on once, but pride stopped me thank goodness) My curls tend to drop but only into waves so long as they don't actually get wet, so it can still be vintage-ish.
    My fall back is a 50s look with a pony-tail and a false hair piece (I will probably be in that by the time Sunday evening dancing comes by at twinwood) Yes I do actually have a hair piece that matches my Ginger tresses! Dancing and keeping curls is harder work, so I get more inventive with up-dos and hair flowers.

  10. Haha, wearing a showercap in public? Now that would be a way to attract attention. :-D
    I'm not so good with a scarf though, I always look like a vintage cleaning lady.
    I managed one free afternoon on dancecamp that was ultradry and sunny to get a damp set get some kind of curls for the evening. I relaxed in a hammock with sponge rollers for anyone to see, I kept getting good laughs though. Some little girls couldn't help staring, haha. Gosh, how times have changed, it was such a common sight in my girlie days.

  11. Hi Shona,
    Thank you for your tips. Your camping environment sounds just like my re-enactment weekends... Cow/sheep fields mostly with a portaloo, and a tap with a hosepipe attached to a fence next to a pool of mud !
    I envy anybody with thick hair. Mine is fine and fly-away as is common in Scandinavia. The only way for me to have a lasting curl is to spray it rock hard. That's provided I've managed to curl it in the first place. Sleeping with pins on my head doesn't guarantee a curl with my locks. I've had many a sleepless night for nothing !!
    I feel quite stupid now, but what the heck is 'curl cream' ???
    Tarja x

  12. Hi Tarja, I should have explained, it is smoothing serum which would stop your hair being fluffy. You put it on once everything is styled and dry.

  13. All those different vintage looks! - and your hair looks wonderful no matter what you do. Wish I had all that lovely red hair. Thanks for all the great ideas!

    I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog again today. I somehow forgot to add you to my blogroll when I first discovered your blog a month or two ago, and I've been missing out on all your great posts! I have some catch-up to do.

  14. That's fabulous! Great tips.

    My top tip is taking the time before I go to sleep to put my hair back in big chunky barrel curls/pin curls and wrap a scarf round it. I can do it without a mirror in a tent! My hair is fine so it makes the curls last longer.

  15. Just fantastic Shona,well done!!Great tips.
    You must be one of the most glamorous campers in the world:D

  16. Love the new header pic! Gosh, Shona, how insensitive to rub your gorgeous hair in the face of those of us who have hardly any hair at all! ;)

  17. Oh Peter, but I don't have your legs darling

  18. Really great post Shona! I must get round to buying a hair net, as my hair just never makes it through the night!

  19. Some great tips. I find pining up the curls each night and a headscarf when I go to sleep plus ton of hairspray usually makes hairdos last as long as I can maintain them. Despite having naturally fine greasy hair.

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