Big Beauty Tuesday: A Tale of 2—No, 3!—Cities

From city mouse to beach bum and back again.
Photo: Maiysha Kai

It will have been twenty days spent in three cities, two very different climates, juggling business, pleasure and one vicious sunburn until I see my bed again this weekend, and whew! Since mid-April, I’ve hit the Florida beaches for my birthday, revisited my days as a New York City girl at the Tribeca Film Festival and Essence Beauty Carnival, and will make a stop to visit our readers in Philly alongside my Very Smart Brothas before returning home to Chicago to dine with some of the culinary world’s finest at the Iconoclast Dinner Experience All-Star Culinary Bash, sponsored in part by—you guessed it—The Root.


If it sounds glamorous, think again. Beauty on the road is always a challenge, but when you’re a beauty and fashion editor, it’s an occupational necessity—as is packing a wardrobe that runs the gamut from breezy, beach-worthy separates to a gala-worthy gown. But even an industry pro with decades of experience under her belt can learn a few tricks. Here’s what your resident editor learned the hard way on her latest awards tour...

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

I know, I know—this is a no-brainer, and I swear, I didn’t actually forget to pack sun protection! In fact, I was hyped to give my brand new tube of Black Girl Sunscreen (SPF 30; $18.99 for 3 oz) a trial run and review as I worked on my base tan (because I’m always multitasking, y’all).

What did I forget? To apply it all over; even to areas you don’t usually think about. As a result, your girl ended up with a pair of crispy ears and a peeling upper forehead—I mean, up and into my scalp, y’all. (Don’t forget to wear a hat, either!) The painful reminder? Your melanin won’t save you—and sun damage ain’t nothing to play with. But on the areas I applied Black Girl Sunscreen, I was admittedly all good, glistening and perfectly golden, with no white residue or flashback even after I hit the water (make sure to reapply every 60-80 minutes, to sustain water and sweat-resistance). In fact, I was so impressed by the emollience and protection that BGS will likely be my warm weather staple, whether on streets on sand.


Mo’ Maintenance, Mo’ Bad Hair Days

Even on the road, I love switching up my hair. But who has time to be lugging around hot tools on a three-city stop? (Okay, this kid has been known to, but I digress). But I am transitioning textures, which can make for some challenging hair days when the weather inevitably decides not to cooperate. So, when the tress-perts at Heat-Free Hair Extensions invited me to try one of their new, 100% human hair, naturally-textured drawstring ponytails (($99 -$309; various textures and fullnesses available, and comes complete with a travel-friendly satin pouch), it felt like the travel gods were smiling upon me.


The Glow Up sat down with Heat Free Hair to talk about their products and philosophy, so expect more to come. But in the meantime, top knots, low buns, long, brushed-out ponytails, curly, waterfall looks... When I tell you I’ve been getting it in in 10 minutes or less with one convenient, beautifully textured unit, you have no idea. And while I’ve been taking intermittent breaks for the sake of my edges, my new rainproof, sweatproof option is exactly what my transitioning strands need during these in-between months. I think my future travel—and my summer—just got made.


Treat Yourself to Travel-Sized Luxury

Of course, when you’re away from home for weeks at a time, there’s no way around washing your hair, and after too many showers without your usual arsenal of toiletries, you’re bound to get a little homesick. I’m not even going to go into the quality of hotel toiletries and their ineffectiveness on textured hair.


My sanity-saving solution? A little bit of luxury—literally. I’ve sung the praises of Briogeo many times, but three weeks away sealed the deal, as did the adorable neoprene pouches their three travel-sized kits come in ($25 each at Sephora). Most important, while my body aches for my own bed, my hair has been treated every bit as well as it is at home.


Leave Room in Your Luggage for Surprises

Inevitably, any long trip is going to reveal some holes in your packing, which was the case when I scored a last-minute invite to a theatrical premiere in New York City. Thankfully, that afternoon also happened to be the date of a rare open studio by one of my favorite brands, Onion Cut & Sewn. Thankfully, designer Whitney Mero was able to make room for me, because her open studios around the country are like the Bat Signal to devotees of her curve-friendly, step-and-repeat ready, and unabashedly sexy collection of jersey gowns and separates.


Entering Mero’s Harlem studio is an event of its own. Her Saturday open studio (closed to men and children) played host to black and brown women of all sizes, shapes, ages and hues, openly trying on brightly colored and patterned pieces by Onion while simultaneously greeting friends, complimenting each other’s choices and getting last-minute tailoring from Mero herself.


Of course, I said yes to the dress—in fact, I said yes to two! I couldn’t resist; Onion dresses pack beautifully. (*wink*)

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.