Working Out With Natural Hair

3 months in and I have yet to regret my big chop and starting my journey of natural, healthy hair. Other than becoming a self-proclaimed product junkie ($$$$), the ease of my morning routine, developing the confidence needed to rock a TWA and actually seeing my hair grow have been well worth the initial trauma. Plus being able to work out and not worry about sweating out my perm, or a smelly weave has been a huge lifestyle change.

I’ll admit I was one of those black women who never wanted to break into a sweat in fear of fuzzy roots. Although I’ve always loved to run, climb, lift and be active I would let my hair dictate just how much activity I could participate in. And if I was having a particularly good hair day, I would skip the gym all together, just so my hair stayed ‘laid’. Now with my TWA I don’t have to worry so much about what the sweat will do to my permed head and tightly sewn weave.

However, working out with natural hair has proven to have its own set of challenges. I’m at the gym at least 4 times a week. My work out consist of cardio, deadlifting and squats; moves that ensure a fit healthy body, and damped sweaty hair. Lately I’ve also been practicing Bikram Yoga and other forms of hot yoga. In a studio with the temperature set at 90-105 degrees and 40% humidity, you perform 26 postures and 2 breathing techniques. You meditate, concentrate and focus on your own body and pace, while releasing all the impurities through your body. The amount of sweat that leaves your body is unreal. You’re literally sweating from everywhere, even your ears. I’ve been taking classes at the various ‘Yoga to the People’ studios throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is a great organization that believes everyone should have affordable access to yoga! The classes range from free to $10. Check out the site to see if there is a studio in your city.

After an hour or so of intense sweating, whether it be from yoga or cardio, my hair is very dry, brittle and my scalp tends to be irritated. Rather than give up my healthy routine, I’ve found some ways to help maintain the moisture balance in my hair, before and after my workouts.

Moisturizing

Isn’t this always step one! The reason your hair tends to feel brittle after work out is because there is salt in your sweat. Once the sweat dries, the salt is left on your hair and can cause breakage. What I’ve started doing before my work out is spray my hair with a mix of water and the Cantu Shea Butter leave in conditioner. This is great, lightweight conditioner that won’t suffocate your hair as you sweat. The goals is to start your work out with moisturize hair.

Absorb the moisture

To help absorb some of the moisture from working out, I tie a scarf or bandanna around my forehead and the nape of my neck. This also keeps the sweat from dripping into my eyes. Has anyone tried the Save Your Do Gym wrap by Nicole Ari Parker? This is supposed to soak up all the sweat during your workout and preserve your hair styles. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this and haven’t felt the need to invest in it yet. For now just a regular scarf will do the trick.

Cleansing

After my work out, I allow my hair to air dry. Never run a towel through it, it will cause fuzzy hair. If I’m in a rush for dry hair I will wrap my head in an old tshirt, which is less damaging to my ends and prevents frizz. Once dry, if it is wash day than I will go about my routine of washing (depending on the week it’s either a cowash or shampoo) conditioning and moisturizing. If it is not a wash day then I will spray my hair with a little water, detangle it and recondition it with my leave in. Since my hair is still so short I don’t protective style it too often, so I’m left with my little fro in its natural state.

With all this working out my wash routine has changed. I now cowash every 2 days (up from once a week) to shampooing every other week (up from once a month). Yes, I shampoo regularly now! I know some naturals don’t, but I use a sulfate free argon oil shampoo, that isn’t too harsh.  Because of the sweat and product build up, I have to completely cleanse my hair or my scalp because super itchy.

My hair is important to me, but so is my body! Summer is coming and I want a tight butt and flat abs, and to achieve that I must sweat. In additional to changing my wash routine, I’ve also added some new products:

Ahpogee 2 minute Protein treatment

Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner with Peppermint

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I’ll be reviewing all of these in an upcoming post! Regardless if your hair is natural or in braids or you have a weave, don’t let your hair rule your life. Do what’s best for your health, inside and out, and everything else will figure itself out.

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