How to Protect Your Hair at the Gym


Much like gym leggings that don’t hold up or shorts that you have to keep pulling down, playing with hair that gets in the way of your workout can be an unwanted distraction.

If you’ve ever had the painful experience of grabbing your hair under the bar as you squat, you’ll know that even a versatile style like a ponytail doesn’t always cut it when we work out.

While your favorite sports hairstyle right now might just be get it all out of my face in any way you can, Strong woman spoke to expert stylists on how to keep your hair protected (and out of the way) during workout.

What impact does sport have on your hair?

Research has shown that exercise can actually help your hair grow. This is because when your heart rate increases, so does blood flow and blood flow throughout your body. Increased blood flow means more nutrients and oxygen are reaching the scalp, which can stimulate growth.

Likewise, exercising regularly can also help reduce stress, which is a major cause of hair loss. When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, hormones for happiness that can improve your mood for up to 24 hours.

Braids can easily be worn to the gym to keep the hair healthy.
Braids can easily be worn to the gym to keep the hair healthy.

How can you keep your hair healthy and protected at the gym?

We know that good form and the right equipment are essential for keeping our bodies healthy in the gym, but most of us have probably never given any thought to how we can protect our hair.

While this may seem like the best way to keep stray hair at bay, stylists suggest avoiding tight hairstyles and rubber bands that could damage your hair as you move. Instead, tying your hair back at the nape of your neck – with a fabric scrunchie or a rolled up headband – will reduce strain and pressure on the hair follicles.

“When exercising long, slick hair back with hair oil and tie it to a pony or a neat bun,” says Nadia Hussain of Hair Loving Co. pulsed or plunge pumps.

She continues, “You can help protect curly hair by oiling hair roots to ends before your session, then tying it up. She recommends oils infused with natural benefits from organic and vegan hair hydration oil enriched with avocado oil for shine, ginger oil for hair growth, vitamin E for dandruff.

Tiff, senior stylist at afro Salon specialist 3Thirty, also suggests trying “protective styles such as braids, twists, or, for shorter hair, pinning strands of hair towards the scalp” when exercise.

For curly hair and natural afro, Tiff recommends using silk scrunchies (which prevent chafing and reduce thinning) to part your hair into four sections, before putting them into a bun. Use bobby pins to secure them in place.

According to Tiff, this “will keep your curls from all forming in the same direction when you let them fall back, while still allowing air to circulate freely around the scalp, thus minimizing sweat build-up.”

How often should you wash your hair when you exercise?

“Excessive sweating on the scalp can cause long-term dryness and clog your hair follicles,” says Tiff.

“It is important to cleanse your scalp according to the number of training days. Straight to loose curls would require more frequent wash days as this texture produces more sebum oil. However, for tighter curls and natural afro hair, I recommend extending the wash days to once a week, using a co-wash in between.

And should you wash your hair before or after a sweating session? “It’s actually a great idea to wash your hair before a workout,” says hair stylist Laura Courtie. “This is because the oils that are produced naturally can actually condition your hair while you work out.”

For tips on getting active and healthy recipes to support your fitness regimen, check out the Strong Women Training Club.

Images: Getty / Instagram

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