Natural hair and the gym: How to preserve wash and go hair styles

I'm sure by now we’ve all seen the youtube video clip of the Chicago news anchor (Robin Robinson) that did the investigatory piece on how black women’s hair contributes to their lack of exercise. If not, then here is the link to watch the video:

Now….while this story focuses on why relaxed women don’t go to the gym, I’ve found that LOTS of loose natural ladies have some of the same concerns about going to the gym and how it will affect their hair. If you are like me, and you sweat BUCKETS at the gym…then this includes the scalp. So what’s a loose natural girl to do?

For some, the solution is easy…they wear twists and just rinse the twists daily after a gym workout. Now I must say, this does work EXTREMELY well. I would twist my hair every Sunday night, and when I left the gym, I would rinse them, toss in some leave in, and roll on out the door. It was HELLA simple, didn’t require a lot of time or me dragging a bunch of products to the gym. The only downside was that I got sooooo bored with my hair. Like seriously, I think I started going through withdrawal. I wore my hair strictly in twists for about 2-3 months…by month 1.5; I was fit to be tied! I’m sooo not a style maven, so my two little cute simple styles that I do with my twists were getting played. I was sick of doing them and I was sick of looking at them. I just felt sooo BLAH with them in constantly.

So I started back wearing my hair loose again. Originally, when I would go to the gym, I would just pull my hair back into a ponytail/puff and be done with it. But by the time I got through huffing and puffing and sweating, the puff had gone POOF! I knew that daily cowashing was NOT an option for me…my hair is extremely tangle prone and if you look at it wrong, will be covered in those dayum single strand knots on the ends. I needed to find a way to constrain my hair to keep it from turning into a poof, while also ensuring that my hair is able to achieve 2nd day hair. So here are some of my tips for preserving wash and go hair at the gym:

1) 1. Scarves are your friend! I tie my hair up with the $1 cotton scarves from the beauty Supply Store (BSS). Yes…I said cotton! The cotton helps absorb the excess sweat/moisture from your hair I know a lot of people think that wearing the scarves to the gym is hella ghetto. I go to the gym at 5:30am, and honestly, I’m doing good to have wiped the crust from my eyes and brush my teeth before I get there! Not to mention, my goal at the gym is singular….I’m trying to get my workout on, and roll out. I’m not socializing, or trying to pick up a dude (although there is this FINE brother with long locks that I make sure and smile at every chance I get!). Also, I’m in a very diverse neighborhood, so at my Bally’s the Hispanic and some of the Caucasian ladies are wearing scarves too.

2) Exposing the scalp helps the hair to sorta “air out” and avoids that stinky hair/scalp odor that can come from sweating a lot. This ties into the next tip

3) Instead of pulling the hair back into one ponytail/puff, try putting it into 2 or 4 if your hair isn’t long enough for just 2. Also, don’t leave the ends of the puff out….tuck them under (sorta like doing little individual buns) these pictures

4) After your workout, mist your scalp with a spritiz that includes rosemary EO, tea tree oil and/or peppermint EO. Doesn’t matter what your recipe is, adding any of those three essential oils will help to cut down on bacteria and fungus on your scalp…which is the primary cause of the funky smell.

When I get home from the gym in the morning, I’ll spritiz my scalp, then hop in the shower (with a shower cap) and then get dressed. By the time I’m dressed and ready to do my hair, it’s had a chance to dry a bit. I then just take down the little buns, fluff and go.  Here is the result (btw...this is day two hair from this post yesterday)

So…that’s basically it. I wash every 2-3 days depending on my scalp. I workout on a 3-on/1-off/2-on/1-off cycle, so I try to make the “off” days my wash days (I don’t workout on Mondays and Fridays).


jazzijenni81 said...

Great information! Lovin that I can see pics of your hair! It is so pretty and has grown tremendously, I can tell in the shrinkage! :D

Kcurly said...

Great tips!!

I was doing the twists thing a lot too, but I just never get tired of it LOL.

I just love your hair!!

svrbrownsuga said...

oooo wonderful post! your hair looks lovely NC thanks for the tips :D

mothereartha said...

yay!!! this topic is so on point!!! i too wear a cotton bandana on my hair. it's short now so depending on if i'm going to the gym early or late, i have mini buns or its out. i still haven't mastered it but it's getting a lot better! thanks for this info! so needed..

Suburbanbushbabe said...

So glad you started a blog. I always look for your posts on

SunshineOne said...

Great tips!!!!

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Who is Nappy.Curly.Crown?

I've been natural for 23 of my 29 years on this earth and for the past 5 years consecutively. In those past 5 years, natural hair care has become a hobby and passion of mine. I created this space to help decipher the massive amounts of information about natural hair care, specifically the science of natural hair care. I'm a scientist by trade andprofession and my hope is to make this spot the go to location for information on how to get and keep your natural hair healthy.