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The Natural's Guide to Workout Hair

By Jenteel of Conscious Heart and Mind

Rochelle says

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!

Jenteel’s response:

Hi fellow yogi! You’re very welcome! Great question! 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 <3 Accessories: I love using a brightly colored bandanna or scarf to “catch” perspiration and keep it off of my face. It also works to keep my edges down as my hair expands exponentially to match the intensity of the workout!

(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.)


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!


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!

*This post was originally published on August 9, 2009

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10 years ago

I did a post on exercise styling options a little while ago too:)!

10 years ago

I put my hair in 6-10 large twists for sweaty workouts. I feel that this helps the sweat evaporate from my scalp better. After said workout, I spray my exposed scalp with peppermint water and rub the sweat away!

10 years ago

I would just put it into an ponytail or a headband around the edges with the ponytail. Just put in a big braid, or 2 french braids and work out in style.

Congrats to “Blackonyx” who was featured on here as a style icon. I saw on her youtube page that she is Preggos (5months) Congratulations mom to be :). Video titled BLACK ONYX IS PREGNANT!!!! ( Pics and Details)


10 years ago

These are great tips. Visit for more workout haircare solutions.

10 years ago

Jenteel is back?! OMG

10 years ago

MAJOR perspiration happens when I work out and I work out daily, so I must rinse and co-wash my 4abc…g hair (in twists or big loose plaits)daily :(. With that said, I have come to realize that the only time efficient way to keep my hair conditioned and moisturized after my cowash is to remove excess moisture and spray my loosely plaited or twisted hair with Aussie leave-in conditioner and Sta-Sof-Fro (that’s right y’all). While I’m getting dressed and putting on make-up to head out for the day (I actually do the same thing in the evening), I let the… Read more »

9 years ago

I just came across this article (as I am fairly new to this site) but I don’t know if any of these tips or tricks can work for me. I am a Zumba instructor and I can teach up to 9 classes in one week. Furthermore, I have late classes (8p), so I still have to get home, shower, eat dinner, attempt some QT with my hubby and by the time I’m done with all that is 12a. Now, I have to include washing my hair to rid the impurities of sweating sheesh. I don’t mean to sound negative but… Read more »

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