It’s a real dilemma that many of us have and rarely talk about. After a hard, sweaty workout, do you walk around with dirty hair for the next day or two? Or after that hour-long boot camp class, do you then take another hour to wash, condition, blow dry, and style your hair but risk drying out your tresses? Do we need to choose between a good workout and a good hair day? Or is it possible to have both?
I spoke with two professional hairstylists to learn about the best hair for working out, along with their favorite tips, techniques, and products.
A proper hair routine
It’s the age-old question we’ve all asked ourselves and probably our friends more than once — how many days a week are you really supposed to wash your hair? If you’re not planning to go on a five-mile run or take an indoor cycling class, the answer is not very often. According to celebrity hairstylist Anthony Pazos, “If you’re not getting your sweat on, you can wash your hair one to two times a week. This is becasue washing hair too frequently can result in dry and brittle hair.”
However, if you get sweaty every single time you exercise, you might be tempted to wash your hair more frequently. But Pazos believes it’s best to avoid this temptation. “For an active gym goer, we still suggest washing just one to two times a week and only rinsing hair or just conditioning in between,” he says. “It’s not necessary to wash after every single gym session.”
Jessica Page of Blondies Co. Salon also recommends washing your hair every three to four days if you’re on a good workout streak. “On the second day, make sure to use a good sweat-absorbing product,” she says. “You can always wear it up or a hat on the third day.”
If you get sweaty, Pazos advises using dry shampoo after your workout and then drying off the sweat with a blow dryer afterward.
Alternatively, Page is a big fan of Unsubscribe, a product that’s like dry shampoo on steroids. Formulated for post-workout use, this foam contains enzymes that neutralize both bacteria and smells from sweat, as well as amino acids to strengthen hair, along with green tea and chamomile extracts that soothe the scalp.
Prevention is key
Another way to keep your hair in good shape is to style it smartly. “In an effort to reduce sweating on the hair, put it in a ponytail or high braid,” explains Pazos. “This avoids the hair touching our sweaty body during our workout, thus preventing sweat from adhering to hair.”
So what’s the best exercise hairstyle? “Always have it up and out of the way,” he says. “Cute top knots, messy buns, ponytails, or braids are always great styles for the gym.”
On the other hand, Page suggests avoiding any hairstyles that are too tight and ideally opting for low, loose ponytails or claw clips. “And make sure you are not wearing the same ponytail in the same place,” she says. “Try to mix up ponytail placement.”
Think logically and plan ahead
If your gym life and social life (or work life) are busy and you’re trying to avoid washing your hair too often but you can’t walk around with sweaty or stringy hair (and hats are off the table), it can never hurt to plan in advance or choose low-impact, less sweaty workouts. You may even end up finding a new activity you like.
Looking for the best exercise for hair that won’t leave you looking like a drowned rat? Choose anything low-impact like barre and Pilates. Or take a brisk walk outside.
Always be prepared
If you always find post-gym hair to be a challenge, it’s best to be prepared, stocking all the essential accouterments in your gym bag. Just keeping a small cosmetic case with hair rubber bands, a claw clip, a small hair brush, and a travel-size dry shampoo or Unsubscribe can save you from having multiple bad hair days in the long run.