Thinking about skipping the gym because you don’t want to mess up your hair? Well, fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner has a message for you: Get over it!
“What good would it be if you had a fabulous ‘do but then we are visiting you in the hospital because you didn’t take care of yourself?” Richardson Joyner asks, adding, “if we think about our health like we think about our hair, we would be superfine and super fit.”
Richardson Joyner isn’t being insensitive; she understands the time and expense that comes with hair maintenance, especially when exercising daily. She also knows that many black women do work out.
But with a 2008 Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study that found that one-third of black women surveyed forwent exercise because of hair care, coupled with statistics that point to higher percentages of black Americans as overweight or obese, Richardson Joyner says black women just aren’t in the position to gamble with their wellness.
Besides, “there are a lot of hairstyles that are very popular and conducive for workouts,” she says.
She’s right. That’s why we teamed up with celebrity natural hair care specialist Nedjetti, owner of Hair by Nedjetti Salon, with locations in New York and New Jersey, and Gina Miller, owner of She Salon in Atlanta, to create a list of six workout-friendly ‘dos.
If your hair is relaxed, a sew-in weave is one of the most convenient methods for maintaining a fresh style while hitting the gym, advises Miller. A sew-in basically entails cornrowing your natural hair and using a needle and thread to sew a hair weft to it. You can opt for a full-head or partial sew-in.
“You are able to do different styles, the styles last longer and you don’t have to worry about constantly putting heat on your hair every day,” Miller says. Hair should be shampooed biweekly and you shouldn’t use hair oil on your weave. “Weaves typically don’t require a lot, so you won’t be using any oil sheen or spray on it,” she continues. Try Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo to keep your weave and your own hair clean.
A tighter roller set that resembles a straw set, or small spiral curls, is good for both relaxed and natural hair. “In having a tighter curl, it’s going to last a little longer during your perspiration than doing a looser-curled style or a wrap set,” Miller explains.
Use flexible rods (flexi-rods) for a tighter roller set because it gives your hair more room to fall and when you perspire, it camouflages your new growth and reversion better. “You’ll be able to carry your style a little bit longer than if it were straight,” she says. Purchase the same size rods your stylist used, so you can rerod your hair at home if the curls begin to fall flat.
Use alcohol-free oil sheen like Nairobi Gleam Oil Sheen to keep your hair looking lustrous.
Style Lifespan: For relaxed hair, this will last about one and a half to two weeks. Women with natural hair can expect the style to last about two weeks, with those possessing a tighter curl pattern able to hold the style longer than those with a looser curl pattern.
Updos are low-maintenance and great for on-the-spot ease, as well as keeping your hair off your face. To maintain your hair’s health, ditch the elastic bands and opt for hair combs, coated-tipped bobby pins, barrettes or hair claws to secure your strands. Remember to take updos down at night and wrap your hair with a silk scarf or sleep on a satin pillowcase.
Miller warns against visiting the salon just to get a ponytail style, which often are taut. “If you are working out, the tension from the pullback will break your hair off,” she says.
Apply a dime size amount of cream like Jane Carter Solution’s Nourish & Shine to your hair for moisture and to help keep the edges smooth.
Style lifespan: Temporary. Can be worn for 24 hours. Should only be a last-minute option.
Braided styles are a great choice for daily gym users. “Your hair will stay neatly in place as you engage in your cardiovascular routines,” Nedjetti says. There are two ways to wear braided styles: with your natural hair or with extensions. “Opting to braid your own hair is a great choice; it gives a sense of freedom because it’s your own hair and it’s a healthy decision,” she says, adding that it also lessens the amount of stress and damage often caused by wearing extensions.
Whether you opt to style your braids using your own hair or extensions, make sure your hair isn’t pulled extremely tight, which could cause traction alopecia. Remove buildup by cleansing your scalp weekly by spritzing witch hazel on a towel and then moisturizing your scalp and hair with natural oils like unrefined coconut oil or Jane Carter Solution’s Nourish & Shine cream.
Style lifespan: For both wearing your own hair or extension braid styles, try to keep it no longer than four to six weeks.
Convenient as they may be, wigs – whether full, half or lace-front – aren’t good for everyday use. Moderation is key for wig wearers, says Miller. Lace-front wigs have a netted material around the front that will pull your hair out, making it imperative that you have a licensed, skilled technician applying it, Miller says. “I wouldn’t recommend people getting lace-fronts to work out unless they don’t care about their hairlines,” she says.
If choosing a wig style, make sure your hair underneath is braided into plaits or cornrows. Put a leave-in conditioner on your hair or a cream hair dress and make sure to remove it before heading to bed, Miller advises.
A good conditioner to try is Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner which can be left in or washed out.
Style Lifespan: No matter if your hair is chemically treated or not, don’t wear wig styles for longer than a week. And definitely don’t sleep in them, as doing so can pull out your hair.
6. NATURAL HAIRSTYLES
Whether you rock a TWA (teeny weeny afro) à la Chrisette Michele, locs like Whoopi Goldberg or one of the many natural ‘dos that Solange Knowles has adopted, ladies embracing their natural textures can rock a variety of looks at the gym.
One of the benefits with natural hair is that you don’t have to worry about your hair reverting because it’s already in its natural state. In the end, it allows for a more enjoyable, relaxing and stress-free workout. Regardless of your chosen natural style, as you’re working out wear a bandanna on your head; the cotton will sponge the perspiration and keep your style in place, Nedjetti suggests.
“If your length of hair is less than three inches and if your texture has an S-curl pattern, your hair may unravel faster, but in time, as your hair grows, the longer your hairstyle will begin to last,” she says. Natural oils like unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and almond oil are great moisturizers that keep natural hair intact between workouts.
Try Avlon’s KeraCare Natural Textures Leave-In Conditioner, as a follow-up to a post-workout shampoo.
Style lifespan: Depends on the style; looks like two-strand twists and palm-coils roughly last up to a month. Texture and length also factor into a style’s longevity, with shorter hair (under three inches) and looser curl patterns not lasting as long.