Tundra Beauty Tips From My Summertime Alaskan Adventure
This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to spend 12 weeks traveling across rural southwest Alaska, working in ten different Yu’pik villages. Along the way, I learned many things about myself (i.e. I loathe canned chicken) and I learned lots about the world (i.e. don’t always count on a safe drinking water). I also had to really work to adjust my body to the environment.
Going from the hot, humid Florida to the breezy frozen tundra of Alaska really did a number on my health, but even more so on my beauty routine. I jumped from a full face and hair every single day to maybe getting to wash my hair every ten days if I was lucky). This extreme flip (on top of the extreme weather) literally destroyed me. My hair could only be described as disgusting. My skin was ravaged by breakouts and dry skin (at the same time, which I didn’t know was possible…?) I had to do something, and fast, because I was only on week 2 of 12! EEEEK! Cue mass panic. Here’s how I managed and solved my two biggest Arctic beauty problems—and came home feeling fabulous!
1. Soothing My Skin
My breakouts, I knew, were caused by not scrubbing my face frequently, not to mention that we sometimes didn't even have clean water to rinse our face with. Plus, I was sleeping on dirty floors using a sweatshirt as a pillow, so that definitely didn’t help! My solution? Hand washing my sweatshirt in the sink with hot water several times a week, or using a washer when available. If I couldn’t wash it, I would lay paper towels over it and sleep on that!
I also had to make an effort to scrub my face three or four times throughout the day. The dusty tundra climate kept my face caked in grossness, so I had to scrub much more than I would normally! By the time I made it home, my face had nearly completely cleared up!
2. Handling My Hair
Oh boy. As someone that is typically more concerned about my hair than about my face, my hair was the biggest struggle of my summer. Bears and moose? They had nothing on the grease and tangles woven into my tousled mane. I’m fairly certain I could have used my hair as rope down from my 6-seater planes. That’s how bad it was. So, on week 2, I was losing my mind. I never thought my hair would make it out of Alaska alive!
Solution? Dry shampoo. I requested my boss mail me some out immediately, as I was convinced that it was my only hope. Airmail to the rural villages though is, well, to put it lightly? Hopeless. While I was waiting for my bottle of heaven, I had to improvise with just water and soapless deep scrubbing sessions. When I did find somewhere to wash my hair, it was a glorious sight. However, the longer I was in the tundra, the less I needed to wash! While that first month or so was a hair horror story, after that I noticed that I could go 6 or seven days without needing a wash and it actually wasn’t horrible! By the end of the summer, my lack of daily washes had forced my hair into a stronger, healthier cycle, and I was making it 8 days solid without it looking wet from nastiness! Miracle!
Now that I’m back in the sunshine (sweat) state, though, I have returned to washing my hair every other day. I feel better, but it was pretty cool to figure out what my body could stand without all the chemical nonsense that I didn’t even realize was breaking down its natural defenses!
Also, a great tip I retained from the tundra: a smile is the best accessory. Cliché , I know, but it’s so true! Makeup is super fun and all, but it was actually really nice to not have to worry about my looks or the cleanup after! None of the village girls wore makeup and no one commented on my face or asked if I was sick! They were just happy we were there to help and it was an absolutely incredible and humbling experience.