My natural hair journey actually started as a healthy lifestyle journey. While I begin focusing on eating healthy and regular exercise, I also decided to stop relaxing my hair as part of a move towards a healthier beauty regimen. For many naturals, they also made the decision to go natural in an effort to focus more on their health. While this is truly a great thing, it does add another element to your hair care routine. That element is SWEAT.
Whether you sweat a lot (like my mom) or you barely break a sweat (like me), it is a cause of concern for naturals who work out. Sweat contains mostly water but also contains minerals, lactate, and urea. We all know what happens when water mixes with our stretched hair–shrinkage. That’s that stuff I don’t like. Now about that other ‘stuff” in our sweat, you can’t just leave it there and let it build up. We all know what happens when stuff builds up on our scalp–flakes and itching. That’s also that stuff I don’t like.
Sweat and Shrinkage
First, let’s talk about combating the shrinkage factor. Before starting your workout, take some time to prep your hair to prevent shrinkage from occurring during your workout. I normally put my hair in a high ponytail or bun, so my hair is up while the sweat is running down. Flat twists are also another effective option.
I also avoid placing scarves and bonnets on my hair so that the sweat can evaporate easily and keep me cool during my workout, which is the purpose of sweat in the first place. However, there are some hair wrap options that you can use that are designed to wick away moisture and allow heat to escape, like the Save Your Do GymWrap created by actress and naturalista Nicole Ari Parker.
Source: Save Your Do
Next, you have to address the ‘stuff’ that comes out when you sweat. This may call for a change in your hair care routine if you do not normally cleanse throughout the week. Traditional shampooing is one option; and this is totally fine, especially if you use a sulfate-free shampoo and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner as you would normally do on a wash day. Co-washing is another option, but I recommend using a co-wash product that is formulated to cleanse and condition rather than a traditional conditioner.
Other options include apple cider vinegar rinses where the vinegar is diluted with water or aloe vera juice; or a bentonite clay or mud wash where the clay pulls impurities from your hair and scalp. Rocking protective styles like twists and braids, or even wigs, can help cut down on time spent detangling and restyling your hair while still allowing you to cleanse your scalp and hair.