How Working Out Can Damage Your Hair & What to Do About It
If you, like us, exercise regularly, you likely know the high price your hair pays as a result. Training outdoors often means your crowning glory is exposed to sun and environmental damage, while indoors things like sweat can impact its health. Read on to discover how working out can hurt your hair - and what you can do about it.
HOW EXERCISE STRESS DAMAGES YOUR HAIR
It may seem strange to think of exercise as causing stress but, as any pro athlete knows, it can do exactly that. If you regularly engage in intense workouts or high-performance sports, your body is likely producing increased levels of cortisol. Referred to as a “stress hormone,” increased cortisol causes androgens like adrenaline, testosterone and DHT to spike, resulting in a depletion of collagen and potentially leading to hair loss. In addition to this hormonal cascade, extreme stress causes your hair follicles to shut down and switch off their own growth. The result is mild thinning to severe hair loss at the root: a no-win situation in any case.
So, for those who love to train and participate in endurance sports, it's essential to reduce stress levels in other parts of your life. Adding more gentle forms of exercise like yoga and walking will burn fuel without setting off the brain's "alarm signals" that cause cortisol production. Try adding some gentle, stress-busting Yin yoga to your workout routine with this Halfmoon Yoga Bridge Cushion or Halfmoon Yoga Practice Mat. Deep-breathing postures can also calm your nervous system (and hormones), while inversion poses like head- and handstands will increase blood flow and circulation to the scalp, helping to prevent hair loss.
HOW SCALP BUILDUP DAMAGES YOUR HAIR
Hair follicles are a lot like pores. When you work up a sweat while exercising, you flush out toxins and waste through your skin - a process that can occur at the top of your head, too. Although sweating from your scalp can increase nutrient- and oxygen-carrying blood flow to that part of your body, helping to unclog hair follicles and make room for new growth, there is a downside to this process. Salt in your sweat can not only cause your hair to dry out and break, but buildup on the scalp can also block pores, obstructing new hair growth and, ultimately, causing hair to thin.
If you work out regularly it can be particularly challenging to prevent buildup. That's because buildup causes dryness, as does excessive hair washing. In this case, using a clarifying shampoo like John Masters Organics Bare - Herbal Cider Hair Clarifier can help by eliminating residues for longer periods of time, reducing buildup and restoring a proper pH to the scalp. Also, treatments like John Masters Organics Deep Scalp Purifying Serum are a great way to nourish the scalp, increase blood circulation and prevent hair loss.
A NUTRIENT-DEFICIENT DIET DAMAGES YOUR HAIR
Your body is an incredibly efficient machine that gives priority to its most vital components first. When you take in nutrients, your body doles them out like a triage. Vital organs come first, then non-vital organs, glands ... and so on until it reaches the hair and skin. As you increase your levels of exercise and performance sports, your body’s need for nutrients increases. If you’re not supplying it with adequate amounts of nutrients, your hair will be one of the first things to show it.
Though working out damages hair, a diet packed with nutrient-dense foods can combat unwanted effects. This does not mean eating more, but eating smarter. In particular, hair requires vitamins B and C, biotin, folate, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re finding it too difficult to get adequate amounts of these nutrients, try adding a supplement like Metagenics OmegaGenics EFA 1000 Combination or Metagenics Wellness Essentials for Women. High-quality supplements like these will provide what you're missing in your diet, and ensure your body has enough nutrients to endure those tough workouts without wreaking havoc on your hair.
BASIC HAIR-CARE TIPS FOR WOMEN WHO LIKE TO SWEAT
If you believe your hair is suffering from your busy routine, it's time to nourish it from the inside out. We are a collective of beauty and health professionals dedicated to providing the most up-to-date products and impartial advice - shop our extensive line of vitamins, supplements and exercise apparel today!
- If you wear a hat while working out, wash it often. Dirty caps can cause an increase in buildup on the scalp.
- Wear clothes that breathe. The more breathable the fabric, the less you sweat.
- Reduce the amount of heat you use on your hair. Wash hair at night and let it air dry, or give it every other weekend off.
- Use a pH-balanced shampoo.
- Reduce your use of heat conductors like curling irons. Use velcro rollers instead.
- Be gentle. Trade your tight ponytail for a looser option and give your roots a break.
- Use a high-quality, natural bristle hair brush.