Exercising with black hair can be challenging, whether it’s natural, a sew-in, a wig, dreadlocks, or even braids. We as black women often talk ourselves out of working out by saying “I can’t mess up my hair!” but that can no longer be our excuse.
Sure it can be tricky and just down right frustrating, but exercising with black hair is NOT impossible! Here are some tips for maintaining beautiful hair while working out!
No-one knows the dread of having to go to the gym with natural hair, for the first time, like I do. What do I do with it? How do I style it? Will all that sweat make it shrink, and will I look like boiled cabbage at the end of my workout? Somehow, I have managed to successfully wear my natural hair while exercising so often, that I am now perfectly confident rocking it while cycling, running, or at the gym.
Tie your hair in a protective, yet stylish updo that allows you to move freely, without unraveling your hairdo. I often have to use strong, office rubber bands to keep my hair in check at the gym.
Keep spare rubber bands, hair bands, hair scarves and bobby pins with you. If your hair is like mine, you would not dare even leaving home without these spare essentials. The scarf is for when your hair decides to betray you. You want to still be able to look presentable, even when your hair refuses to co-operate.
Enjoy the utter and complete freedom you possess should you have a short haircut. I envy you so, so much! You are no longer enslaved to the whims of your own hair.
Over-oil your hair. All that heat and sweat will only cause the oil to melt, and begin dripping down unto your shoulders.
Be afraid to try new styles. Youtube is full of natural hair tutorials that make you look like an African Queen, yes, even when you are working out. Some will work out, others will not, but you learn more about your hair either way.
So far, the sew-in weave has been the easiest hairstyle for me to have while exercising. It looks good, it does not need too much TLC, and it stays in place – nearly always.
Clean your scalp with cotton swabs and witch hazel at least once while wearing the sew-in. This cleans your scalp of sweat, oil and build-up.
Clean the weave itself of sweat that can accumulate while burning calories. This could either mean washing it (if it is washable) or simply wiping it down with wet wipes.
If you’re about that life, you can also take the wig off for your workout and simply put it back on after you’re done!
Be afraid to move as much as you need to while exercising. It might be possible for others to see the sew in your hair when you bend over, for example, but ‘tis better to focus on getting the most out of your exercise, than it is worrying about what others think about your hair choices.
If you wear your braids thick and heavy, you know how frustrating it is to exercise with braids. Braids are my natural enemy when it comes to working out. They are too heavy to be tied up, and often too long to be left down. Plus, all that jumping and running often means that the braids are also pulling your scalp, slowly causing what you hope not to be permanent baldness.
Wear it however you feel comfortable, not however you think it should be worn. I wear my braids long and big, so I often leave them be when exercising. If they irritate my face too much, I sometimes pull them in on the sides to keep them away from my face.
Splash out and buy a proper, heavy duty, extra-large swimming cap specially made for braids and dreads should you go swimming. They are more expensive, but they keep my braids dry and free of chemicals when swimming.
Force your braids into styles that pull on your scalp as you exercise. This can cause hair loss and scalp damage.
Be overwhelmed if your braids seem unmanageable when working out. Mine prefer to escape whether I tie it back, plait it back or clip it back.
Ah, the humble wig! There for you when you need a protective style while growing out your hair, or when you just want a change of style without touching your hair. When exercising, however, the wig does not hold up well, for obvious reasons.
Make sure your wig cannot fly off your scalp at any point during your work-out. You might not be able to return to your boxercise classes should said wig ever fly far, far away from your scalp.
Make sure you are able to sweat through the wig, or heat could build-up on your scalp, causing you to over-heat. Here, a full lace wig is advantageous.
Wear cheaper quality wigs when working out. It will not be to your benefit. In the words of Regina George, “it’s not going to happen!”
You go Glen Coco! Go forth and exercise, and do your thing!