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 with Kiehl’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.