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How to protect your hair whilst working out

protect your hair whilst working out

Whether you’re inspired by the impressive athleticism at this year’s Wimbledon tournament or simply looking to tone up ahead of the summer holidays, it’s no surprise more people are looking to get fit.

Gym usage has doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels, up 60 percent in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023.

But while exercise is fantastic for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, excess sweat, tight hairstyles and over-washing can wreak havoc on your hair.

Here are our top five hair ‘don’ts’ and what to do instead to protect your locks while working out this summer….

Don’t skip your pre-workout hair prep

Before you even begin your workout, take some time to prep your hair first.

If you’re washing your hair after a gym session, treat your scalp to an oil treatment. The oil creates a barrier against sweat, and the heat from your workout helps it penetrate your locks more effectively.

You can also hydrate your lengths with a bit of leave-in conditioner, perfect for if you’re heading out straight from the gym.

Don’t choose super tight hairstyles

While wearing your hair up during workouts can prevent tangling and breakage, some popular styles can actually do more harm than good.

The slicked-back ponytail, though a classic gym look, can put too much tension on your roots and lengths, potentially leading to breakage and even hair loss. Instead, opt for looser styles like low braids and floppy buns.

If you love the look of a sleek ponytail but want to avoid damage, try separating the more fragile front section of your hair, scooping the rest into a ponytail and securing it with a hair tie. Then, simply rejoin the remaining face-framing pieces into the ponytail with a second hair tie.

This helps distribute the weight of your hair to the centre of your head, where hair is typically stronger, preventing damaging tension along your hairline.

Don’t use any old hair tie

Your hair accessories matter more than you might think, especially your hairbands.

Satin scrunchies and headbands are a great option for keeping hair out of your face while being much gentler on locks than traditional hair bands.

Spiral hair ties have also been a popular option for reducing friction on hair without leaving you with the tell-tale hair dent of typical hair ties.

However, unless you’re exercising outdoors, one accessory I’d recommend you leave at home is a baseball cap. While these have become very popular among gym-goers, the friction of the cap against your scalp could cause inflammation and breakage.

If you need to cover your hair and protect your scalp, a satin or silk headscarf will prove far more protective.

Don’t be scared of your hairdryer

If you’re someone who loves the routine of working out every day, washing your hair can quickly become a nightmare. Excessive washing will quickly dry out your lengths, leaving your hair more vulnerable to damage.

For a quick hack to fix sweaty roots, give your hair a quick blast with your hairdryer. This will help dry up any sweat on your scalp and prevent the build-up of bacteria on your scalp, keeping your hair smelling fresh.

Just be sure to keep your hairdryer on the cool setting and focus only on your root area to avoid heat damaging your hair.

Take care to give your hair a good wash the following day to remove any salt build-up.

Don’t neglect a clarifying shampoo

While it’s best to avoid using harsh shampoos too often, as they can strip your hair of its natural oils and make it brittle, incorporating a deep cleansing shampoo into your routine is essential when exercising.

This is especially important if you’re using products like dry shampoo to counteract sweat, which can build up on your scalp if not properly washed away.

Use a clarifying shampoo no more than once per week to thoroughly cleanse your hair, remove any buildup and rejuvenate your locks.

By Nicole Petty, Hair Expert, Milk + Blush

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