“Should I workout or have a good hair day?”
If you’ve ever doled out a good chunk of change to get your hair permed, pressed, blown out, braided or if you’ve gotten a weave, this question has definitely crossed your mind much more than we’d ever admit when deciding to exercise. In fact, if we’re being honest, as ridiculous as it may sound, most times, saving the ‘do wins. Who can blame you when these types of hairstyles aren’t cheap and when securing appointments with good hairdressers is tricky? Not to mention that time is a huge factor — especially since hair appointments seldom start at the agreed upon time — and to be quite frank, if you’re dropping $200+ on a hairdo, you’re going to want to get your money’s worth.
I get it — trust me, I’ve been there many times — but how vain are you willing to be, knowing that your attempts to “look pretty” may be killing you? According to a 2017 CDC report, 56.9 percent of African Americans over 20 years old are obese, and 44.8 percent suffer from hypertension. As we celebrate National African-American Fitness Month, I don’t think there’s a more fitting time to discuss how we need to stop allowing our hair to take precedence over our health. So, if ruining your hair is your biggest worry, check out these tips to protect your ‘do while you workout.
Adopt less-strenuous workouts — for a time
It’s no secret that the real villain known for wreaking havoc on hair is sweat, since the moisture reverts the effects of straightening agents and by products can lead to itchiness and “stale” smells. One way to combat this would be to lower the potential for excess sweating on workout days when you need to protect your hair by selecting less intense exercises like pilates and certain types of yoga. Celebrity hairstylists Lacy Redway and Wesley O’Meara also recommend putting loose hair into braids, bantu knots or buns up and off the scalp and hairline to limit hair’s contact with sweat.
Invest in the right accessories
The beauty of a common problem is that it usually sparks the innovation for a solution. Among these saviors are trusty sweat-wicking headgear. My favorite happens to have been created by actress Nicole Ari Parker. Her appropriately-named, sweat-wicking headbands, called “Save Your Do Gymwrap,” allow exercise enthusiasts everywhere to breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll still sweat, but the patented-technology within the wraps will repel the moisture, release heat and allow cool air in to dry the scalp and hairline. The sateen fabric on the underside also allows hair to lie flat and prevents snagging. The headwear costs between $15 to $27 and can be purchased from retailers like Target, Sally Beauty Supply or directly from thegymwrap.com.
Aftercare is important
Unlike with a simple press or blow out, it can be harder to release trapped heat and sweat from the scalp if you have a weave. While your weave will most likely remain unscathed by the exercise, your hair underneath may suffer. If you believe that your sew-in is damp after a workout, use your blow dryer, ensuring that it is set to the lowest setting. According to Essence.com, drying your hair on the lowest settings instead of blasting with heat encourages hair follicles to close and lay flat.
Go big and get a Brazilian – no, not that kind
If you know that you want your hair to stay straighter but don’t want to commit to something more permanent like a relaxer, consider getting a Brazilian treatment. The keratin treatment takes about and hour and a half to complete and results can last up to three months depending on how often the hair is washed. This method is a bit on the pricier side but I can personally attest to having this done two years ago before my trip back home to the Caribbean. My hair lasted through a wedding, many trips to the beach and sweaty hikes.
Whether you decide to embrace your natural curls or opt to save your hairstyle using any of the above techniques, it’s important to stay active. Whatever you do, don’t let your hair and the excuses that come with it take away from your health.