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How to Maintain Natural Hair on a Heavy Workout Schedule

Avatar • Aug 19, 2009

Question for J from Rochelle:
Wo! Talk about a wealth of information. Thank you. I work out 5 days a week. 3 of them are in bikram yoga with only 30 min to get dressed before returning to work. How does natural hair care / conditioning fit into that? I generally throw some kind of hydrating something in my hair and put it in a bun. I am really good with hair sticks. But I would loooooove to enjoy my hair without accessories!

J’s response:
Hi fellow yogi! You’re very welcome! Great question and it is so timely since we are in the midst of the summer heat! I know sometimes ladies are discouraged to work out during the summer because it’s hot, but mostly because they are afraid to mess up the do! No fear ladies! There are ways to work out and still keep the pretty 🙂

Sweet Gym Styles:
1) The Puff/Ponytail: self explanatory!
2) Pin up/Updo: You can do this with twists, braids or loose hair. Use pins or clips to keep it up. An elegant variation of an up-do was already mentioned by Rochelle — a bun/chignon.
3) I

(If you’re short on time, these styles also work great after the gym. Depending on how quickly your hair dries, you can rock an “out” style.)

Cleansing
It is essential to wash your hair after working out. This is because your perspiration/sweat contains salt. Salt + hair = dry, brittle hair. Not only that, but the buildup of sweat, oil and bacteria can cause skin eruptions. It’s hard enough already to keep skin clear with the summer humidity. Some women can get away with rinsing their hair thoroughly after a workout, but for most, I suggest that you use some sort of cleanser. Use a mild shampoo after working out. If you work out everyday, I definitely recommend co-washing to keep more moisture in the hair. Concentrate on the scalp and the hairline. Don’t scrub! After a long workout, your scalp will appreciate the massage! If you are a “wash and go” girl, the cleansing part is easy. If you aren’t, consider rocking twists or any other type of protective style so that you don’t have to start from scratch with each wash. Twists and braids have a lot of durability (soft/fine hair types aside) during light washing. Washing in twists or braids will also prevent you from losing a lot of hair each wash in the detangling process. After washing, apply a leave-in conditioner and a light moisturizer again concentrating on the ends of the hair. Rochelle, you’re on the right track with hydration. This is especially important for naturals who live in dry, hot climates. Don’t overload your hair with products since you’re just going to do it all over again shortly. The idea is that you cleanse the scalp gently (once is usually enough) to remove the impurities, but your hair still retains some of its natural oils. At the end of the week, you can do a thorough detangling and deep conditioning.

ETA: I know a lot of ladies are concerned about too much manipulation. I’m not much of a “sweater”, meaning I don’t sweat in my scalp, only in my crown area; so a “cheat” technique I use is to wash only the crown area. I received a question today in my email about weaves/extensions and working out. I’ve never had a weave, but I know that you’re not supposed to wash the hair too often. This will cause it to loosen from your own hair. Another issue with added hair is that depending on the quality of hair, it may get matted with this much manipulation. And I know you gotta keep your “wig” tight-lol! Rinses or swabbing the scalp with witch hazel may work best in these situations. Stick with the technique that works best for you and your hair!

Splish-Splash!
If you’re swimming this summer, invest in a natural-based swimmer’s shampoo. Look for any natural shampoo that will remove the chlorine from your hair with out stripping the precious oils. I use Jason Swimmer’s & Sports Rejuvenating Shampoo. Before swimming, apply conditioner generously to the hair concentrating on the ends. The conditioner acts as a barrier to prevent the chlorinated water from penetrating the strands and damaging the cuticle. Furthermore, use a swimmer’s cap to avoid chlorine’s harsh effects on the hair. This is especially important for my color-treated naturals. In using a swimmer’s cap, something I’ve found that works for me is the “swim cap suction technique” (aptly named to sound technical-lol). If you have a lot of hair, your hair can create enough suction so that water only seeps in around the hairline. Put your hair up loosely (not a ponytail), then tie a scarf/bandanna around it. Squeeze the swim cap over the head for a snug fit. Again this only works with thick and/or long hair. Happy swimming and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Ladies, feel free to share your ideas with Rochelle on how to keep the hair pretty (and healthy) while working out!

~j~

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About jenteel

haitian-naturalist-lover-idealist-health-conscious-spiritualist-yogi-new yorker

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negresselibre
negresselibre
11 years ago

Thx for that!! I was wondering the same thing. Now, I know what to do after my workout sessions to keep my hair looking and smelling good.

utamaduniwear
utamaduniwear
11 years ago

I usually put it in a puff and use a bandana as a head band, then when swimming I first wet my hair with fresh shower water to keep the chlorinated water from being absorbed into my hair then put on a swimming cap. great advice J!

Liza
Liza
11 years ago

Thanks for the info. I workout 4 to 5 days a week, but only wash my hair twice during the week. I feel like I’ll be doing damage by washing too much. I will start rinsing or co-washing after workouts though.

Jeannette
Jeannette
11 years ago

Thanks so much.. I will now feel free to ashtanga it up… all day everyday 😉

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

do u think a dry shampoo would useful? i’ve never tried one and wonder whether it would be too drying

Jad928
Jad928
11 years ago

What about for ladies with soft or fine hair? My hair can barely last 5 days in small twists. If I start to co wash after Bikram it will be fuzz city. Any suggestions?

msjaim
msjaim
11 years ago

ive been hitting the gym a minimum of 5 days a week… I still only wash my hair once a week & have no issues with odors or break outs or dryness from sweat-its too much of a task for me to try & wash my hair mid week, especially getting home so late from going to the gym after work. ive been wearing my hair in medium sized two strand twists pinned up in the back W/ the front twisted out.at night i put the front in fat twists. every now & then i spritz with this aussie leave… Read more »

Monica
Monica
11 years ago

Thank you for this post! I also am guilty for not washing/cw/rinsing my hair out after a workout all the time. I kind of felt like Liza. Also, I have kinky twists in right now, and I dread the idea of wetting and waiting for my hair to dry every evening. Does anyone have any other suggestions? spraying a mix of peppermint oil? using sea breeze/ witch hazel on the scalp? Thanks so much!

TheDailey
TheDailey
11 years ago

i run and swim everyday, ive noticed that i might as well NOT even bother twisting my hair this summer! i dont use a swimming cap either : / since i like to enjoy the water to the fullest extent lol.. so i leave my hair big, and keep it conditioned. anytime my hair starts to feel a bit dry throughout the day, i grab my water/olive oil bottle for a quick fix if i cant condition it :]

Ms. Silky Coils
Ms. Silky Coils
11 years ago

I work out 5–6 times a week and I usually pull my hair up/back into a puff, put on my sweat band and keep it pushing. This way it off my face and the band can catch the sweat…cause I hits it hard when I work out. Lo.

What I have not tried, is the cleansing after wards. Good info BHLH, for I did not know that I should be doing this.

jenteel
jenteel
11 years ago

@utamaduniwear: hey girl! yes that is the proper way to do it!that just won’t work with my swim cap suction technique!lol! @Liza: i feel you on washing too much. as a low mani girl myself, i wouldn’t wash everyday, but i’m aware that some hair types may need to. i’ve edited the post to add another cheat technique i’ve used. @jeannette: LOL!@ashtanga it up! @anonymous 8:42am: dry shampoos help remove dirt and oil, but not build up. they also can be a bit dryong. i don’t know what ingredients are in the commercial dry shampoos but a natural dry shampoo to make… Read more »

jenteel
jenteel
11 years ago

@ anonymous: here’s another link provided by hair boutique.com on how to “dry clean” your hair
http://www.hairboutique.com/tips/tip1172.htm

curlychronicles
curlychronicles
11 years ago

Yay for fellow yogis! 🙂
I’ve been rinsing my hair way more often than I would have in the past. It’s nice to have fresh hair.. I’m leaning more and more towards rinsing, putting in a few twists over night and rocking a slightly messy but still cute shrunken kinda fro. I’ll add in accessories if I’m feelin it..but I don’t think we should stop doing anything because of our hair..natural or not natural.

snoblak
snoblak
11 years ago

i love your blog. and you and the women on it are so beautiful. i will definitely be reading up on your posts. you have great advice. cheers

snoblak.blogspot.com

TheAmazon
TheAmazon
10 years ago

Honestly , that sounds like too much washing for me. I’m an active natural who run on the treadmill, bikes around town, lifts heavy weights, and sweats ALOT.  My hair, after any wash, including a no-poo is EXTREMELY dry…so much so that it takes a few days it seems like for the hair to snap back to a proper level of moisture.  I know this is anecdotal, but a few years ago i took a micro class. The teacher had us all swab our hair and see what grew, after a few days i took mine out and there was… Read more »

Dineen
Dineen
10 years ago

Thank you for this information. I am also a yogi and I also workout frequently. My scalp sweats while working out and this is one of the reasons why I went natural (BC Jul 09). I started washing my hair once a week in the fall for fear of it drying out during the winter and soon after I developed folliculitus. The itching was unbearable and I washed my hair after every work out and along with medication it began to clear up. However, people have been telling me that I wash my hair to frequently. This is why I… Read more »

Jo-V
Jo-V
10 years ago

Have any of you tried the ‘Organics Root Stimulator Herbal Cleanse’ after working out? I was thinking about using that to clean between my braids after work outs, but I wasn’t sure if it would be too drying.

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