If you had to choose between your “too fly, gotta keep it dry” hairdo and your “tight and right” figure, which one would you pick? Unfortunately, when it comes to African-American women, about 2 out of every 5 prioritize their hair.
I get it, the average blowout runs about $50, so spending that every week on top of a gym membership can make skipping your workout in favor of a blowout quite appealing. And while many have considered changing their preferred dos to accommodate workouts, the good news is, no matter how you rock your locks, you can totally have both fly hair and a fit bod. So calling all those “2 out of 5” girls, keep reading so you can finally stop letting your hair disrupt your health.
Natural Hair Is Naturally Sweat Friendly
Not all styles are created equal. In the Black-Girls-Who-Work-Out Olympics, girls who rock natural hair definitely take the gold. If that’s you, then thanks to your hair choice, you can go hard in the paint when it comes to your workout. A little sweat won’t kill your kinks, but maintaining moisture and keeping your scalp healthy are super important. I swear by leave-in conditioner. Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner is my jump-off, and I rinse and condition like nobody’s business withKiehl’s Hair Conditioner and Grooming Aid Formula 133 (you can leave this in, too). Then I massage my scalp with light oils daily.
Get Deep and Deep-Condition
Another important step to maintaining healthy hair in between workouts is deep conditioner. Just like your buff muscles, your hair has a high protein makeup. Protein is what helps keep it strong, but each time you wash your hair, a little bit of that protein is lost. So keep that protein power intact by deep-conditioning at least once a week. Coconut oil has proved to reduce the amount of protein loss in hair, so it makes for one dope prewash or deep conditioner.
To Shampoo or Not to Shampoo
That is the question, ladies. Since we’ve already established that moisture is key, let’s now move on to the fundamentals of shampoo. Since I primarily rock my hair in its natural state, I tend to shampoo only once a week (sometimes every 10 days), no matter how much I sweat. However, when I do cleanse my hair, I go for pH-balanced, sulfate-free suds. And if you’re rocking a blowout or a weave, dry shampoo works wonders.
Shape Your Locks While You Shape Your Muscles
Now on to style! The way you wear your hair post-workout can be a challenge; however, I have found that I start my hairstyling process well before the workout. Basically, whether I’m sweating in a high ponytail or two-strand twists pulled back, I am always thinking about the direction in which I want my hair to fall once I go from the studio to the street.
For instance, when I have a fresh wash-and-go (and the shrinkage is real), I pull my hair into a high ponytail while I work out, let it loose post-sweat, and pow: I can hit the town with way more length. Or, if I want some wave action, I will twist my hair into four chunky two-strand twists. One down each side of my face and two to the back. I secure all the ends with pins, lay down my edges with coconut oil and secure the whole thing with a sweat-wicking headband. Post-workout, I let my roots dry as long as possible, and pow: loose, wavy tendrils post-spin class to spin my fingers in.
Pull It High and Let It Dry
Your blowout will survive your morning run if you do two things. One, pull it into either one or multiple ponytails on the top of your head (the higher the better), using a cloth-based hair tie. Test-drive this; depending on your hair, certain hair ties will leave a crease, while others won’t. And two, no matter what, let your roots dry before you release your locks.
Impatience will certainly lead to puffiness. In a rush? Leave the ponytail in and style the ends into a bun. Or, if you must apply heat, do so only every other day. Then, on your non-blow-out-your-roots days, rock either a scarf around the edges, a trendy hat or just let those kinky roots double as volume.
Sweat It Out Before You Blow It Out
Last point on blowouts fresh from the salon. I get it. Who wants to spend hours and dollars at the beauty shop, only to sweat it out in Zumba class? No one. But not all workouts have to leave you drenched in sweat. So if you get your hair done on Fridays, your weekly workout may start off with lower-impact workouts such as yoga, Pilates, strength training or even brisk walks. Each day, kick up the intensity so that by Friday, you are literally slipping in your own sweat!
Last, but certainly not least, keep your mane under control by opting to work out in cooler climates or environments. It can make a difference when it comes to the amount of sweat you build up. I run outside all winter and also rock a natural-hair blowout most weeks. So lace up and bear the cold, girls. Then, when winter is over, don’t fret. Getting up under the air conditioner or a fan during your indoor workouts can help keep your scalp a little less sweaty.
Have any more FitGirl hair questions? Ask below!
LezAugust 25, 2016 at 12:57 am
This was the perfect bit of information for me – Today was my first day at the gym .
Robbie Ann DarbyMay 22, 2017 at 6:54 pm
Hi Lez! How is it going with keeping your hair fly and your heart rate high?
LezOctober 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm
Ugh… I’m still struggling. I don’t want the creamy crack. So I may try the locks soon because I skip too many days- THAT IM PAYING FOR!
Robbie Ann DarbyOctober 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm
Hey Lez! Well, first let me say, no judgement if you go back to the creamy crack. Locks are great too, but definitely roll with whatever lets you sweat on the regular AND feel confident when you step out after those workouts. Both matter and I’ll be sending you RAD vibes on this journey sis! 😉 Thanks for sharing your journey with me!
Nicole RamseyDecember 30, 2016 at 1:37 am
I love your blog on being an ethnic, exercising woman. I also like to pin curl my hair to keep the body volume of the style and keep my edges wrapped like you said in a cotton head band so it’s not too tight. It lays my edges down right and again, keep smy voluminous coft curls looking good after my workout. I also love your suggestion about letting your hair fully dry before taking it down after working out. I have caught myself rushing and definitely not satisfied with my post workout hair this way.
Robbie Ann DarbyJanuary 3, 2017 at 3:22 am
Hi Nicole! So glad you found my post helpful. I’m going to try the pin curl suggestion for sure! 😉 All about volume in 2017.
TriceJanuary 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Thanks! I appreciate your info because your hair ….. looks like mine. I will try your suggestions of a pony tail a PRAY for the best. I’m tired of choosing to work out or have a good style. (P.S. Getting tired of the wash and go look)
Robbie Ann DarbyJanuary 3, 2017 at 3:24 am
So glad you could relate to my post! Let me know how it goes, and yes, totally over the wash and go look over here too! Next thing I am going to try is the no blow dry blowout – air dry and then flatiron. Will let you know how that goes! 😉
CatJanuary 6, 2017 at 4:54 am
Good articles for long hair; my hair is not long enougj fotbs pony tail and relaxed, and I sweat heavy in my head. I would love to hit the gym more often but cant afford the salon more than once a week. Please help!
Robbie Ann DarbyMay 22, 2017 at 6:56 pm
Hey! Sorry for the delay. Have you tried a cotton wrap with silk lining? The silk will keep your edges healthy and the cotton will absorb the sweat. I also used setting lotion when my hair was relaxed and short – helps keep things laid flat while you work out.
villia DavidsonApril 1, 2017 at 11:16 pm
Thank you for the suggestion. I really want to workout, but I get my hair pressed/flatiron. I can’t afford to have it sweat out. Do you suggest a sweat headband as well?
Candace Gregory MayberryMay 19, 2017 at 3:57 am
I use a walmart version of Nicole Ari Parkers sweatband! I have tried it all- nothing, pony tail, pin curls, hats, sweatbands. Im trying pin curls again tmrw and plan to spray mizani hrm on. We shall see!
Robbie Ann DarbyMay 22, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Let me know how things turned out! Especially the pin curl option. I find that pinning the tips to the actual hair (not close to the scalp) helps too!
Robbie Ann DarbyMay 22, 2017 at 6:58 pm
People love Nicole Ari Parker’s sweatband. Also, anything that is silk lined and cotton on the outside should work too. I always lay my edges with coconut oil before to help repel the sweat too.
Adrienne RobinettJanuary 10, 2018 at 7:23 pm
Hi! I loved your post and will definitely try all the suggestions. I do have a question I am natural, but a die hard Competive Crossfitter in Houston, Tx ( ie. sweaty and humid all the time) any suggestions for styling. I prefer a stretched out look I have been rocking the TWA for a while now, but it’s getting longer and not so cute. Help!!!
Robbie Ann DarbyJanuary 11, 2018 at 9:46 pm
Hi Adrienne, I’m a Texas girl too (was born in San Antonio and went to UT Austin for grad school) so I know all about the humidity! Have you tried twist outs? I’ve been twisting my hair all winter and love the definition and how the stretch my curls (shrinkage is real with a wash n’ go). Check out my YouTube video on how I stretch my hair when I do a wash n’ go (https://youtu.be/v8r4KnOoDvI) Let me know!
Cassidy RoysterApril 4, 2018 at 8:08 pm
Hello! My hair is straightened and I play soccer 3 days a week. My scalp sweats like crazy and it reverts the roots of my hair any tips?
Robbie Ann DarbyNovember 10, 2018 at 12:48 am
Hi Cassidy! Sorry for the delay… ;( I would say try oiling your scalp to help repel the sweat. Also make sure your pony tail is pulled tight. And lastly, don’t take it out until it is dry. A cute bun (with a piece or not) is a great style for this drying time moment.