I received a reader email the other day with the following question:
Q: In my efforts to stay healthy, I have been going to the gym more frequently. However, when i'm stretching my perm, it can be very discouraging knowing that i'm going to sweat out all my hard work from my pre-poo, deep conditioning and rollerset hair routine from the day before. Do you have any tip on how to keep your hair looking great during stretches while continuing with a gym routine?
First of all, I commend you for your commitment to the consistent practice of healthy exercise. Regular exercise gives you so many benefits from a toned fit body, to improved circulation which benefits the skin and hair. One of the dilemmas one faces if they aren't a daily co-washer or a consistent protective styler is how to keep the hair looking fresh even after a long, intense workout session.
When I think about the adverse effects of a workout to the hair, I think about three areas in particular:
- the edges
- the scalp
- the hair
Let's first start by discussing the edges. Obviously, when the moisture of perspiration comes in contact with the hair, the edges will start to revert, especially if you are mid-stretch. My tip for managing your edges comes in the form of two simple items. A silk/satin scarf and a light leave-in product. Damp edges should never be allowed to dry on their own. They need to be safely secured down so they can be tamed while drying (especially if you tend to wear straight styles). Wal-Mart and Sally's offer a satin head-band like product used to protect the edges from excessive sweat. May I recommend you tie one satin scarf around the hairline and another around the entire head? The first scarf's sole purpose is to protect and properly secure your edges while the second protects the rest of the hair from the increased humidity. If your edges need a little help after the work-out, simply mist them with a light, conditioning leave-in like Biolage Daily Leave-In tonic and re-secure the scarf around your edges 'till it's dry. The daily tonic is really conditioning without creating build-up. Perfect for your daily workout schedule.
Next you probably want to do something that keeps the scalp feeling fresh between washes. One of the biggest things you'll notice about sweat is the salty taste. The sodium released through our sweat has a drying effect on the hair and scalp. If your hair needs a little invigoration, I suggest you look into the possibility of spritzing your scalp with essential oils or apple cider vinegar per my $2 scalp treatment method. ACV has a clarifying effect that will work wonderfully on scalp build-up. Essential oils help stimulate and give your scalp that "fresh, tingly" feeling. Oh, I also want to suggest you make use of the steam room in your gym (if there is one). When I visit the steam room regularly, my body seems to detoxify and my sweat becomes less salty with consistent use. Drinking enough water and having a clean, healthy diet also impacts the quality of your perspiration.
Finally, let's talk about how to maintain your hair after each workout. The silk scarf is critical to maintaining your style, especially your straight style. My all time favorite way of creating great looking hair between washes is with the use of steam rollers. There are so many reasons why I'm recommending steam setting. The biggest advantage is the addition of moisture to the hair with each use versus depleting the hair of moisture with curling or flat irons. Steam curlers can give you nice bouncy curls in just a few minutes. Plus the hair usually feels nice and soft afterwards. Another tip I have is to add a couple of drops of apple cider vinegar to your distilled water when you steam set. This works drop the pH level of the water which helps in seal the cuticle. Your hair will also receive the clarifying benefit that comes with using ACV. This means your hair will receive relief from the build up of salty sweat that works to dry the stands.
If you are wearing textured styles like a braid out. I suggest you braid your hair prior to heading for the gym and dampen the hair a light nourishing leave-in conditioner. The conditioner will counteract the drying effects of the perspiration and will help the braid set within the short time frame between workout and styling. Oh, I should also mention that there are no-water shampoos and scalp cleansers on the market if you are seeking a product that will help you get through 'till the next wash. I hope you received some good ideas that will help your hair "preserve it's sexy" while you focus on creating your healthy body.