Hair health and the gym: What you need to know

Sweating it out in the gym is great for your body. But when it comes to your hair health, it's wise to take a few precautions.

Hair & Beauty

In the long term, a good fitness routine (alongside a nutritious diet and excellent hair care regime) can actually help to maintain the health of your tresses. However, when it comes to keeping your hair in good shape on a daily basis, there are some practices that can prevent you from build-up, breakages and plain old bad hair days.

Experiment with protective styles

If you're a regular gym-goer, you'll want to find a few protective styles that you can wear on rotation which fit with your lifestyle. For example, while thick faux locs may look great, they might feel too heavy and absorb a lot of sweat if you're performing several high intensity workouts per week. Depending on your routine, try wearing a style that keeps your hair out of your face, reduces sweat and product build up, and doesn't weigh you down.

Yvonne, founder of Frobelles, has type 4 hair and recommends bantu knots, twists and braided styles for working out: 'Wearing a protective style is recommended for going to the gym to keep hair safely tucked away and avoid any unnecessary pulling or tugging depending on the exercise or machinery used. The easiest styles to do yourself are bantu knots, twists and plaits, or rolls and pin tucks (with bobby pins), which can be done in smaller sizes or larger for ease and quickness. For extra protection wrap with a silk scarf or apply a sweat absorbing headband (ideally lined with a soft fabric).

'Protective styles such as twists and plaits are great because they allow the hair to be gently tied away up and away from the face, is one of the best ways to avoid skin breakouts when working out. These protective styles are also beneficial for when you need to give your scalp a refresh with a co-wash or gentle clarifying rinse – like Apple Cider Vinegar rinses, because you can keep the styles in while gently washing sweat and build-up off the scalp.

'The great thing about choosing bantu knots or rolls and pin tucks is that they also keep hair super neat and can be worn easily without additional styling post work-out.

'If your hair has been silk pressed or styled straight with heat, one way to keep your style for longer is to wrap the hair and protect using a satin or silk scarf to keep  it neat. Post work out - always wait to ensure your hair and scalp is fully dry before styling to avoid frizz and texture reversion. To speed up the process, you can wrap the hair in clingfilm and use a blow dryer on a mid to low setting to dry in wrap state before combing out or styling.'

Use the right products

Unfortunately, with any hairstyle, perspiration will accumulate and create build-up. As sweat is mostly made up of water, and contains minerals like sodium, it will cool you down during a workout but can dry out your skin, scalp and hair. In order to avoid conditions such as dry scalp and dandruff, and keep your hair in good shape, use a sulfate-free shampoo such as the Design Essentials Sulfate-Free Conditioning Shampoo to cleanse your hair while adding moisture.

When trying out protective styles for the gym, ByErim founder Erim Kaur explains, 'Pineapple buns are perfect for a workout as all of your hair is completely out of your face. As your hair will be tied up and secured on the top of your hair, it prevents any loose curls from sticking to your neck as you sweat. I'd suggest using ByErim Luxury Hair Oil and run it evenly through damp strands to keep your hair moisturised as well as a no-snag hair bobble in order to avoid breakage.'

For those whose hair is too short to style or who prefer to wear it loose, she says, 'If you don't want your hair out at all - you can't go wrong with a head scarf! A black one would be ideal as your sweat would be less visible.'

Go soft with accessories

There's no point in wearing a silk bonnet at night if you're going to snag your hair with elastic bands in the gym the next day! Invest in some high quality hair bands and hair wraps for your workouts to continue your hair maintenance throughout your gym session and beyond. These silk hair bands from ThisIsSilk are ideal for tying your hair back without causing breakages - and even contain a secret compartment for a key, locker pound or gym fob if you don't have pockets in your gym leggings.

ThisIsSilk Secret Silk Scrunchies
ThisIsSilk Secret Silk Scrunchies, £18.99 for two

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