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Tips & Advice

Your Post-Workout Hair Routine

Exercising is amazing for our bodies and minds – but have you considered how it affects your hair? Now that we’re all working on our summer bodies, it’s the perfect time to pick up some tips on keeping our hair fresh and fabulous before, during and after a workout.

Prep your hair before you exercise

We know for many it’s a post-gym essential but applying dry shampoo before your workout can also be a huge help. Spritz your hair with a product such as Label.M’s Complete Dry Shampoo before hitting the treadmill and you’ll find the sweat doesn’t saturate your hair as much as usual. On the topic of dry shampoo however, it works best on, well, dry or dryish hair, as the name would suggest. If you use it on hair that’s literally drenched or dripping wet from water or sweat, it’ll just leave behind a cakey residue resulting from the powder and water mix – and that’s the last thing anybody wants as they leave the gym. Remember that episode of friends when Ross couldn’t pull up his leather pants? And thought mixing moisturiser with a powder would be a good idea? Umhm. 

Don’t rely on a high ponytail

A popular workout style and a go-to for many gym-girls, a high ponytail may seem practical – it certainly keeps your hair off your face and neck – but there are some things you need to consider before you try to bring out your inner Ariana Grande. Wearing your hair in a high ponytail every day for the gym won’t just leave you with an indent where the tie was, but it could also cause the hair to break. A tight ponytail can put unnecessary stress on your hair and scalp, which over time could even lead to hair loss!

If you need to keep your hair tied up, avoid elastics or hair ties with metal clasps – instead, use fabric ties such as Popbands, which are kinder to hair (and can be coordinated with your gym wear, too!) Also, try to mix up your style – if you wear a high pony one day, try a loose pony at the nape of your neck or some pigtail braids the next day. This will give your scalp a much-needed break from the strain of a ponytail.

Girl lifting weight outdoors blonde hair braid

Use a sweatband

Although not the most glamorous of looks, channelling your inner 118 118 twin with a sweatband will help absorb sweat as it develops around your hairline, helping to minimize how greasy your hair gets throughout your workout. We would recommend opting for a thick, soft band over a tight thin one, as those can leave a stubborn indent right at the top of your head, which is hard to get rid of without washing your hair.

Keep it protected

If you regularly work out outdoors, it’s important to remember that the sun can damage your hair as well as your skin. Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays can damage the cuticle of your hair, leaving it dry, brittle and with split ends. When running in the summer, try to cover your hair with a cap or large headband. Some hair products also contain an SPF that protects the hair and scalp – we love Nioxin’s Scalp Treatment, a leave-in conditioner that contains SPF 15.

Avoid washing your hair after each workout

We know that the first thing you want to do after a workout is jump in the shower and wash the sweat out of your hair but doing this every day could strip your hair of its natural oils. Our experts recommend washing your hair around two-three times a week – whilst a dry shampoo will keep you feeling fresh on the in-between days. Our stylists say that if you’re doing a heavy cardio workout daily, you should wash your hair two to three times a week. Simply rinsing your scalp in between hair wash days will help clean it and if you have thick or curly hair, co-washing with a conditioner but not a shampoo also helps to keep your scalp clean without stripping it of its natural oils. It’s important to note however that excess amounts of sweat can weaken hair strands which is why it is important to lock in moisture, refrain from drying out your hair even more by over-shampooing, and use nourishing products to keep your tresses healthy and hydrated.

Use leave-in conditioners

The salt in your sweat can cause it to dry out your hair, so adding in some extra moisture after a gym session is essential. Remember that sweat and oil are two different things entirely. Sweat is basically like salty water so consider your workout a free application of texturizing salt spray. But to tackle the dryness this can cause we’d recommend a nourishing leave-in treatment that also adds volume such as KMS’s Add Volume Leave-In Conditioner which will leave your hair healthy and shiny, and as ready for your next workout as you are! Be careful though, because sweat has an odour and leaving too much of it in your hair can leave your hair lifeless and limp, and an oil or leave-in conditioner won’t be as beneficial if that’s the case.

Post-workout styles

Whether you’re slicking back your unwashed hair before going out for the night or touching up your roots with KMS’s Style Color Spray because you’d forgotten to book in your colour appointment, it’s important to know which shortcuts to take when it comes to styling your hair, without it looking like you’ve taken a shortcut, if you know what I mean? Check out our simple post-workout hair style ideas below.

The gym blow dry

To achieve that post-workout express blow dry, without feeling as though you’ve got to endure a second workout, start by applying the products you know your hair needs; such as Moroccanoil’s Hydrating Styling Cream. Next, thoroughly dry your hair as leaving behind any moisture (especially by the roots) causes hair to become frizzy and puffy. Flip your hair forward so that it’s upside down and continue to blow dry using something like Denman’s thermoceramic round brush. Not only will drying your hair forwards add a bit of oomph and volume to hair but concentrating some of the air towards your roots will dry out any extra sweat that’s left behind. Leave with a voluminous blow dry that’ll have people thinking you’ve walked straight out of the salon as apposed to a gym.

Embrace the grit: slick back style

Sleek and chic is the name of the hair game this summer, which is why we think the slicked-back bun (or ponytail like Debby Ryan’s) is the perfect post-workout hair style. It exudes an air of elegance and sophistication that is bang on trend this summer and really easy to execute too. Instead of fighting with your oily hair, why not embrace the grit? Brush your hair back with a paddle brush or comb and twist it into a low bun or ponytail. Then, apply a few drops of hair oil to exaggerate the sleek look, spritz on a little hairspray to tame flyaways, and you’re set to strut out that gym door.

Curly hair? No problem

If you have wavy or curly hair, use your favourite sulfate-free and alcohol-free styling cream to twist and scrunch the hair to help it maintain the curl. We recommend something like Moroccanoil’s Curl Defining Cream for its advanced heat activated technology that’s designed to provide your hair with intense conditioning as well as activating a curl memory factor, keeping hair bouncy and frizz free.  An extra tip is to apply leave-in conditioner before your workout sesh, to keep those curls hydrated whilst your workout.

Air dry your mane

If your hair isn’t prone to frizz, (you must be the lucky few), then you can indulge in a quick rinse and simply let your hair air dry. For a nice touch, twist the front sections of your hair back and pin them down using your favourite summer clips (accessories are a huge deal this season).

Final word

There are plenty of clever ways to style and look after your hair after a sweaty workout. As always, when it comes to hair, it’s all about trial and error (hopefully less of the latter) and figuring out what works best for you. At the end of the day, no one ever regretted working out, so wear your sleek ponytail proudly and know that you’re working on a healthy body and mind from the inside out.

Do you workout regularly? What are your go-to tips for refreshing your hair after the gym? Tweet us @regisuk using #GymHairTips

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