How to Take Care of Your Ethnic Hair/Skin Abroad

One of the main questions that popped in my head as I was preparing to leave was, “How could I take care of my ethnic hair in Costa Rica for three months?”

My main objective was to stock up on every hair and skin product that I used daily, in order to have enough for my time in Costa Rica. However, the weight of my suitcase already frightened me. What was I to do but to leave some of my best products at home, and hope that Costa Rica produced something even remotely close.

My hair is very full and curly, but fine and silky at the same time. When my hair gets wet, it dries very fast and needs moisture right away. I tend to use grease or an oil to hydrate my hair. So using the right products is very important to my hair’s health. But that’s not all. I also wear extensions. I wear sew-ins as well as create my own wigs out of the extensions for easier management. Like my real hair, my extensions are real hair as well, Peruvian and Brazilian hair to be exact. Extensions, too, need to be hydrated, washed constantly, and maintained in order to have longevity of the hair. Therefore, this is what I use to maintain my hair at home:

Real Hair:

  • Grease (Blue Magic is very useful for your edges, especially when you are wearing extensions all of the time)
  • Edge Control (to keep my edges slicked down whether in a weave or out)
  • Oils (Olive oil, or any oil to place on your scalp to prevent it from being too dry)
  • Shampoo /Conditioner/Leave-in Conditioner (Cream of Nature Argon Oil Set)


  • Straightening serum
  • Shampoo and Conditioner (My real hair and my extensions require two different types, CANTU  products)
  • Needle and thread (To sew in my extensions)

For styling my extensions:

  • Flat iron
  • Flexi rods
  • Razor (to cut bangs or to add layers to my extensions)
  • Hair scissors
  • Spray bottle (I have Brazilian Curly hair, so it must stay hydrated everyday)
  • Curling cream (For my Brazilian Curly hair)

This is a lot already, which doesn’t even include my makeup or skin products.

For my skin and make up, this is what I use at home:

  • MAC foundation (I am a NC45 shade, which is a Mocha brown)
  • MAC mascara
  • Eye shadow (I have a pallet of 50 colors that I bought from FOREVER 21)
  • Concealer
  • Eye shadow base
  • Tweezers
  • Eyeliner
  • Makeup brushes
  • Cocoa Vaseline lotion (This hydrates my skin the best)

I was stuck looking at all of these items that I would have to try to fit in my suitcase and my carry on. Although this was a lot, I packed everything. I just could not bring the extra products that I had already purchased.

Now that I have been here for two in a half months, items are starting to run out. I began to think to myself, “There has to be a beauty supply store here, where they sell ethnic hair products and makeup.”

And there was.

Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica is where I found everything I needed for my hair. Every item that I listed above for hair was available, but of course, at a heftier cost. I still decided to buy it in order to keep my hair in the best condition.

I wasn’t as so lucky with my makeup.

While visiting Panama, I accidentally left my MAC makeup (foundation and mascara) and my good face brush. MAC is not a cheap brand at all. I decided to search for a MAC here, and there is one in the airport. Airport prices are No No prices. What was I left to do but to search for a generic brand, and yes, I was in luck. Once again, downtown holds everything that you need. It may not be what you want, but it does not disappoint. And I did find MAC foundation; however, it only went up to NC43 (a shade lighter than mine)

For everything listed under my make-up and skin column, you can find downtown or at Wal-Mart. Yes, San Jose has a Wal-Mart. Being of a darker shade of brown, it is difficult to find makeup, but there are places.

So this is the conclusion.

  • For hair products, bring what you can. You don’t want to weigh down your suitcase with tons of products.
  • Bring extra money just to buy extra supplies if you run out here.
  • For makeup, you can find it here. On the contrary, if you are of a darker shade or use a specific brand, you may want to bring extra.
  • Moisturizers can easily be found at Wal-Mart.

Take a look at the pictures associated with this article to see what specific products they have available in a store downtown.


Written by Charmaine Shuford, Social Media Journalist


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s