How to Workout With Natural Hair, According to the Experts

How to Workout With Natural Hair, According to the Experts

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion in athletic gear, taking a mirror selfie

@theestallion / Instagram

In This Article

The Final Takeaway Consider a Protective Style Wear a Headscarf Put Your Hair in a Bun or Pony Switch to a Co-Wash Let Your Hair Fully Dry Before Styling Use a Dry Shampoo

Getting sweaty from a good workout can be incredibly satisfying. It can also be completely devastating to your hair. For those of us with textured hair who wear it natural, a sweaty workout can lead to hours of work well before we're ready for our next wash day. While the risk to your current style isn't so serious that you're likely to skip a workout over it, it is a headache. So, what to do?

We consulted natural hair experts Annadjid "Kee" Taylor and Leigh Hardges to find out how to best work out with natural hair. Read on for what they shared with us.

Meet the Expert

  • Annadjid “Kee” Taylor is a professional stylist and owner of the natural hair care salon Deeper Than Hair.
  • Leigh Hardges is a natural hair care expert and a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.

01 of 06

Consider a Protective Style

Anyone who has experienced the relief of not having to even think about their hair for a month while it was in braids, twists, or locs knows what a joy a protective style can be. They’re also a great way to avoid dealing with your hair after a workout. “I definitely recommend using a protective style when you work out to protect the health of the hair and reduce the contact with sweat,” suggests Taylor. “It is way easier to maintain healthy hair and a healthy scalp while having an active lifestyle when you choose a protective style.”

02 of 06

Wear a Headscarf

If a long-term commitment to a specific hairstyle isn't for you, there are more temporary options, such as headscarves. Hardges says that a headscarf can help wick moisture away from your scalp, preventing it from altering your style. "It can also help with containment, keeping the hair from expanding and frizzing during and post-workout," she adds.

In terms of materials, Hardges says that "polyester blends work best for moving moisture away from the body and drying quickly." If it's in your budget, Taylor recommends a silk scarf, a material known for helping keep the moisture locked in your hair. "They can also prevent your hair from touching sweaty parts of your body like your forehead and the nape of your neck," she notes.

03 of 06

Put Your Hair in a Bun or Pony

It may seem like a no-brainer, but simply tying your hair up is also a good solution for a workout, and requires very little time, equipment, or product. “The best way to prevent frizz when working out is to contain the hair, in a bun, braid, or ponytail,” says Hardges. Specifically, “a bun placed high upon the head (if the length is there) is the best way to keep sweat off the hair.” She suggests securing it “with a silk or satin scrunchie to not leave a dent, like the RPZL Charlotte Scrunchie ($10).” When you do this only your roots will dampen, not your lengths.

Taylor agrees, adding: “I recommend hairstyles such as a high bun or ponytail, slick-back styles, and braids to reduce friction and keep your hair away from areas where sweat can build up such as the face and neck.”

04 of 06

Switch to a Co-Wash

You may be tempted to wash your hair after every workout, but for most people with natural hair, washing that frequently isn’t ideal. “If you go to the gym and sweat frequently, shampooing your hair every time can dry it out,” warns Taylor. To avoid this, she suggests co-washing between your shampoo sessions. “Co-washing… helps to protect your hair’s natural oils and hydrate the scalp,” she says. Her recommendation? Salwa Petersen’s Chébé Cleansing Conditioner ($21) “because it cleanses without stripping, hydrates, and boosts shine.”

05 of 06

Let Your Hair Fully Dry Before Styling

Attempting to fix your hair immediately after a workout, without letting it dry first, can lead to problems. That’s because wet hair is more elastic and more prone to breakage. “Hit your hair with a light blow dry or let your hair air dry after the gym to ensure that you’re not putting more stress on your locks,” suggests Taylor. You’ll also want to wait until your hair is dry before going anywhere near a hot styling tool. “Bonds have reformed once the hair is dry,” says Hardges, making it easier to style with hot tools.

06 of 06

Use a Dry Shampoo

A dry shampoo can save your scalp from a worked-out appearance, and it isn’t just for after your sweat session. “I advise prepping your hair before exercising with dry shampoo to reduce sweat and help avoid a greasy appearance post-workout,” suggests Taylor. “Choosing a light dry shampoo to spritz through your strands post-workout will help to reduce and absorb grease and sweat” as well.

If you don’t have a dry shampoo on hand, Hardges says other products can suffice. “If the scalp is still damp, a cotton ball with witch hazel or Sea Breeze is a great way to cleanse the scalp, especially when wearing a protective style,” she explains. She adds that dry shampooing after your hair has dried from your workout can add days of wear to your current style.

If a dry shampoo alone doesn’t seem to do enough for you, Taylor says you may want to consider adding serums or leave-in conditioners to your pre-workout routine to create a stronger moisture barrier against sweat.

The Final Takeaway

Working out with natural hair doesn't have to be an ordeal, thanks to the numerous ways you can protect your hair from sweat. If you work out frequently, you might want to consider adopting a protective style. If that isn't your speed, there are still plenty of other options. Throw your hair into a bun or ponytail, tie a scarf around your head, or pre-treat your hair with dry shampoo. After working out, always let your hair dry before styling it, and consider a co-wash or dry shampoo to avoid over-washing. With these tips, your workouts will be a breeze—at least as far as your hair is concerned.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply