A day out pounding the pavement, spinning in the gym or heading up a mountain is rewarding in so many ways. Sometimes, the work doesn’t end when you hit the shower. Taking care of yourself post workout might include a smoothie, some stretching but don’t forget about your hair.
From sun damage to pollution to chlorine our strands can take a beating as we workout. Frequent post-fitness washing can stress your scalp and dry out your locks.
Hair help pre-workout
You don’t have to spend much time on Instagram to see some pretty amazing workout hair. The traditional ponytail has its place but keep in mind pulling it very tight can put too much tension on your hair and lead to damage or hair loss. Use the right ties – never rubber bands – and incorporating a headband can keep your hair in place without pulling it out.
Consider braids – traditional or French – to keep hair in place without the stress of a ponytail. For days you are working on strength or stretching – a gentle bun might be a good way to go. Hitting the bike or pavement? Pigtail braids can do the job.
Also take time give your hair a quick spray of sunscreen. If you are outside for long periods of time your scalp will thank you – especially if you are trying out a new style. If you have moved your part or sporting some new braids make sure you hit all your exposed scalp with some sunscreen. For most, a quick spritz will work.
When to shampoo?
Sweat is, in fact, sterile. So sweat itself isn’t dirty but it can stimulate more oil production from your scalp. The combination of salt and the slight increase in oil production can make your hair feel heavier. Dry shampoo and a quick blow-dry can beat that greasy feeling.
If your training takes more time and leads to longer periods of sweating, there is more exposure to bacteria which can lead to skin problems. Typically, thin fine hair needs shampoo more frequently, while short or curly, thick hair needs less. Hair that is more processed also needs less washing.
Pay attention to signs like an itchy scalp, unusual odour or a feeling of excessive grease – then hit showers. Your hair and head might thank you if there aren’t any of those signs, and you skip the occasional post-workout routine and just air dry.
To dry or not dry
Exposure to heat can intensify the drying effects of frequent shampooing. If you have done a full shower after your workout skip the blow dry and flat iron.
Dos for Swimmer’s dos
A swimmer or triathlete has a bit of a bigger battle. Chlorine is very hard on hair. It can make hair dry and brittle. There are a few steps to keep your hair happy in and out of the pool. Always wear a swim cap. Even better spray in a leave-in conditioner or rub in some washout conditioner and tuck it under your cap. Post-swim use a clarifying shampoo to rinse out as many chemicals as possible.
Repair and refresh
Some days your body takes a beating and so does your hair. Take a step back and restore your hair and as you rest your muscles. As you soak in the bathtub try an intensive hair mask or deep conditioner.