How to Avoid That Post-Workout Hair Look, According to Pros Who Sweat Daily

Finding the motivation to work out can be tough. Instagram influencers are constantly showcasing dreamy morning routines complete with pretty whipped coffees and 5 a.m. sweat sessions, but if you're like me, fitting in a workout isn't always that simple. Sure, at-home fitness solutions have made it easier than ever to break a sweat at our leisure, but there are still factors that make fitness an uphill battle. One big one? Hair.

As a naturally curly girl, I've got a bad habit of skipping workouts because I don't want to deal with the sweaty, tangled tresses that would result. And I know I'm not alone when I say the idea of ruining a blowout or twist-out is enough to make me hang up my running shoes and never look back. But the fact remains that moving our bodies is essential for countless mental and physical health reasons, so worrying about our hair shouldn't deter us from collecting those endorphins. Grab yourself a cute workout set, and get moving! We'll figure out the hair situation together.

If anyone would know how best to navigate post-workout hair, it's fitness instructors and athletes who are super active and sweat it out every single day. That's why I tapped four top professionals to get their best workout haircare tips for preserving healthy, happy hair all while crushing the fitness game. Keep scrolling for all their pro tips and favorite products. 

Workout hair care tips, according to pros

Photo:

Courtesy of Kendall Toole

WHO: Kendall ToolePeloton Instructor

What is your hair type?

I have 3a curly hair with some 2c waves to it. To say it's dry and can be frizzy is an understatement. I surely don't make it better by bleaching it blonder than it is naturally. I usually go twice a year for some balayage to keep that California, relaxed blonde through my hair.

What workout activity do you partake in most, and how often do you work out/sweat?

Seeing as I'm a cycling instructor for Peloton, I am now mostly training on the bike. However, weight lifting, boxing, running, Pilates, and yoga all make up my cross-training routine. I am sweating daily if not multiple times daily, so keeping my hair healthy and protected is key!

What is your go-to workout hairstyle?

Simply because of ease, it's usually a mid-pony with a middle part. It's easiest to get my hair out of my face when I'm teaching on camera and still looks trendy enough to add a little extra vibe, and I do love how a ponytail pops around when I'm riding—just the honest truth! When I'm boxing, it whips around and makes me feel a little more fierce.

Do you have any hair concerns that are exacerbated by your workout routine? 

Yes! I deal with dry hair and ends due to sweat, breakage from tight ponytails and pinning a microphone to my hair, and a sensitive scalp due to product buildup and sweat. Haircare is absolutely essential to keeping my confidence up. I love my lion's mane. It took a long time to love it!

How do you determine your washday schedule, and what are your most important maintenance tips between washes?

Truly, I do my best to not wash my hair unless it's absolutely necessary. That will depend on how much product I have needed to use or is still left from filming or photo shoots. When I do wash, I ensure it’s with something clarifying and focus on my roots to get rid of extra product buildup. I love a scalp massage tool to really cleanse my roots and encourage growth. From there, it's all about good moisture and protection. Hair masks, rice water rinsing, and heat protectant are key. 

What are some of your nonnegotiable pre-workout haircare steps? Why are those steps important?

One absolute must is dry shampoo before I teach class and a quick blast with a blow-dryer after—total game changer. Scalp serum on my roots to invigorate growth, dry shampoo in high-sweat areas, and protectant oils on my ends are my trifecta.

What is the first thing you do to your hair after working out? Why is this important?

A quick blast of air to my roots. After prepping it with dry shampoo, my hair has now soaked up the sweat. Blow-drying that away and hitting it at the end with a final spray of dry shampoo to finish ensures the sweat doesn’t stay on my scalp and break down my hair.

Workout hair care tips

Photo:

Courtesy of Marcia Meade

WHO: Marcia MeadeObé Fitness Instructor

What is your hair type?

My hair is au naturel. The texture is kinky-curly, and it’s not processed at all. I trim my hair religiously every six weeks to keep the ends nice and healthy. 

What workout activity do you partake in most, and how often do you work out/sweat?

The workout activity that I partake in most is Pilates. Because it is low-impact, I don’t sweat a lot, but my roots do swell and react to the fact that my body temperature has gone up. After that, it’s big hair, don’t care, and I’m not even mad about it. 

What is your go-to workout hairstyle?

My go-to workout hairstyle is an updo, be it a low pony or a high topknot. I like my hair away from my face but still styled. I have fun with braids and twists and am not afraid to get creative with my tresses. I sometimes add a bit of magic hair (aka extensions) for drama. No matter the look, I’m always sure to slick my edges so that my 'do looks put-together.

Do you have any hair concerns that are exacerbated by your workout routine? 

Believe it or not, after so many years of living the sweat life, I figured out what my hair needs. My favorite ponytail holder is by Muji. The stretch and hold are both great, and they don’t pull my hair out. Hallelu! I also never keep my ponytails in too long, so my scalp gets a break. Hydrating my hair with a bit of oil does wonders for my scalp and adds softness to my hair. My favorite is Mielle Rosemary Mint Strengthening Oil. The mint gives the sweetest tingle.

How do you determine your washday schedule, and what are your most important maintenance tips between washes?

I wash my hair once a week. Anything more than that tends to strip my hair down to a dry state that’s prone to breakage. I use TSD Restorative Hair Care Pro-Vitamin Shampoo and Flower Extract Conditioner. My hair has never been healthier or happier. I add an additional wash with Mielle Rosemary Mint Strengthening Shampoo ($10). With kinky-curly hair, it’s important to switch it up so the curls don’t get too comfortable. I think of it like a remix. I’m super tender-headed, so I use Mielle White Peony Leave-In Conditioner along with the Rice Water Moisturizing Milk. The time and tangle drama that this duo saves me from is a game changer. The combo leaves my coils soft and manageable and easy to comb through. Between washes, I like to spray a bit of Dede Hair Purifier. The smell is amazing, and my scalp is so excited about the refresh.

What are some of your nonnegotiable pre-workout haircare steps? Why are those steps important? 

I blow-dry my hair with a Solano hair dryer. It’s the best in the biz and worth the investment. At night, I sleep with a silk scarf and also silk pillowcases. The silk is great for keeping my hair smooth, hydrated, and under control. 

Working out is too important to skip because of my hair. Once my hair is set properly, I am free to focus on the workout and not how crazy I may look after the workout if I don’t set it. Kinky-curly girls, we got this!

What is the first thing you do to your hair after working out? Why is this important?

The real magic is in the prep before the workout. After, it’s all downhill. I let my hair air-dry naturally. I re-slick my edges to pull my look back together, and I'm off to live my best life. Doux Swag Goo keeps these baby hairs laid and photo-ready.

Workout hair care tips

Photo:

Courtesy of Megan Roup

WHO: Megan Roup, Founder of The Sculpt Society

What is your hair type?

I have dry, wavy hair that tends to frizz.

What workout activity do you partake in most, and how often do you work out/sweat?

I teach The Sculpt Society five to six times a week. TSS is a dance-based fitness method, and even the low-impact classes are designed to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. 

What is your go-to workout hairstyle?

You will usually find me in a high, curled ponytail or a ballet bun. I love the high, curled ponytail; it brings me back to my dance-team days, and a ballet bun always makes me feel more pulled-together.

Do you have any hair concerns that are exacerbated by your workout routine?

Because I have thin hair, wearing my hair up can cause some breakage. I've started to wear more scrunchies. Slip has a thin scrunchie I like to use because it is a little more discrete.

How do you determine your washday schedule, and what are your most important maintenance tips between washes?

I don't like to overwash my hair because it is dry and because most days my hair is worn up. I usually only wash my hair one to two times a week. I like to use dry shampoo between washes, and that usually helps extend how long I go in between.

What are some of your nonnegotiable pre-workout haircare steps? Why are those steps important? 

I don't really have any pre-workout haircare steps. The hair tie and comb are really important, and I like to use a lot of hair spray. My go-to is Tresemmé.

What is the first thing you do to your hair after working out? Why is this important?

When I am filming for The Sculpt Society app, I like my hair to feel really secure and tight. However, I know that it isn't great for breakage. So the first thing I often do is take my hair out of a tight ponytail or bun, and if I'm not already wearing a scrunchie, I put my hair up in a looser ponytail or bun. Hair Food's Damage Recovery Serum is great after I wash my hair and helps keep my hair feeling nourished and healthy.

Workout hair care tips

Photo:

Courtesy of Michaela Onyenwere

WHO: Michaela Onyenwere, WNBA Player for the New York Liberty

What is your hair type?

My hair is pretty dry with super-tight curls and is very thick.

What workout activity do you partake in most, and how often do you work out/sweat?

Well, the obvious answer is basketball. I do something related to basketball pretty much every day.

What is your go-to workout hairstyle?

I wear a lot of protective hairstyles since I am an athlete and we are constantly working out and sweating. This makes it much easier for me and is both healthier [for my hair] and less time-consuming.

How do you determine your washday schedule, and what are your most important maintenance tips between washes?

I usually wash my hair every few weeks, and it really just depends on the sweat level and activities that I did that week. I wear a silk scarf to sleep, and I braid my protective style if I am wearing a weave.

What are some of your nonnegotiable pre-workout haircare steps? Why are those steps important?

Edge control is my number one, just to keep my loose ends in check. I use the Ebin Edge Tamer or the Mielle edge gel. This is important because while I am working out, I don't want to be worried about my hair, but I still want to look cute and put-together during my workouts and games!

What is the first thing you do to your hair after working out? Why is this important?

I usually take my hair out of a ponytail, and I brush it. This is important because once it has been in a ponytail, it is tangled and can become matted if not attended to. Sometimes I use a leave-in conditioner to rejuvenate my curls—my favorite brands are As I Am or Mielle.

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