I’ve recently started my journey to healthy living, and my hair has tagged along. I knew that working out would cause me to change my hair care regime, but I didn’t realize how much.

A few weeks into going to the gym regularly, with a routine filled with intense cardio, I noticed a big difference in the texture of my hair. My locs became hard and brittle, and I started experiencing severe dryness. I began washing my hair regularly after workouts, yet that only made matters worse. I realized that working out with natural hair can be extremely tricky, but I eventually found a few tips that work for me, and I see the difference in my locs after following them. Here are five ways to upkeep and protect natural hair, for you ladies focused on getting your workout on.

Protect Your Hair From Sweat

Protecting your hair from sweat as much as possible is a must. If you have long natural hair, placing it in a high ponytail or bun is the best method. If your hair isn’t long enough to pull back, protective styles such as twists and braids are strongly advised. After you’ve chosen your workout style, place a silk scarf or sweat headband around the edges of your hair. The more you sweat, the puffier your edges will become, and we all know that can be quite a monster to tame. I usually put my locs in a really high bun, and wrap my hairline with a silk scarf, making sure that both the front and back edges are covered.

Allow Your Hair to Dry After Workout

My scalp is usually extremely damp after a good workout. To avoid my hair getting extremely frizzy, I make sure I allow my hair to completely dry before taking off the silk scarf. If you’re in a rush or would like your hair to dry faster, use the cooling setting on your blow dryer to help speed the process. 

Make a Schedule

Washing your hair every day, as well as sweating from workouts, can be a dangerous combo for us natural women. It causes hair to become brittle, and will dry it out. Make a schedule of your workout days and appoint a day for wash. I suggest only washing your hair once a week with an intense workout schedule. If your hair has a strong odor or if you feel you may need more, a good dry shampoo is a simple, fast, effective solution. Also, don’t be a stranger to co-washing (that is, washing with conditioner instead of shampoo). 

Workout in Cooler Climates

Working out in cooler climates will help reduce the amount that you sweat into your hair. I refrain from running outdoors during midday in the summer, because the heat intensity can be a bit much. But if you prefer outdoor exercise, try to go earlier in the day, just after the sun sets (to remain safe).

Health Before Hair

You should never sacrifice a good workout and staying healthy because of your hair. Keeping a good routine can allow you to have a healthy mind, body and spirit. It will also promote hair growth. Make sure you are also maintaining a good diet. Believe it or not, our hair is a reflection of what we eat too!

Have a good workout!

—LaParis Hawkins