How to Maintain Black Hair During Exercise

Photo of a young exercising woman tying her shoelace
Geber86 / Getty Images

Many a black woman throughout history has shunned a swimming pool or a workout routine because she didn't want to "sweat her style out" or get her hair wet. But what if you want to be healthy? Everyone should make an effort to fit physical activity into her life, and you shouldn't let your hair stand in the way of being fit. Recent studies have shown that about 57% of black women in America are obese.

This is a serious, sobering statistic, and one that should encourage all of us to find some type of exercise we enjoy, and start on it! Don't let a hairstyle stand in the way of your good health.

How to Maintain Black Hair When Working Out

If you want to work out without messing up that perfect coif, try these tips:

Wrap it Up

For short to medium hair, wrap a cotton or silk scarf around your hair. You don't have to cover your entire head. While you can always place a cotton bandana completley over your head and knot it at the nape of your neck, you could also just wrap the scarf around your hairline, leaving the crown exposed. This will preserve the volume without flattening your 'do. Cotton is generally not recommended, but in this instance, it can absorb your perspiration and keep it from getting into your face.

Likewise, you can wrap your hair just as you would before bed, pin it into place and/or cover with a scarf.

If your workout is intense and you perspire a lot, you'll have to wait for your hair to dry before taking it down; otherwise, your hairdo will droop. You may need extra help from a blow-dryer on low heat to speed up drying time.

Style a Ponytail

Longer-haired ladies can pull their hair back into a ponytail.

Fashion a high ponytail that doesn't rest against your neck if possible. Not only does it keep your hair out of the way, you can wear a matching covered elastic if you like your hair accessories to match your exercise outfits. To maintain as much sleekness in your ponytail as possible, twist or braid the length of it, especially if you're taking part in a high-intensity workout or you're exercising outdoors on a windy day.

Braid It or Bun It

If your hair is long enough, braid it into one or two French braids, or simply one braided ponytail. You can then wrap it with a scarf or pin the braid or braids up. Post-workout, unravel the braids for a wavy look. You might also consider pulling your hair into a bun. One that sits high at the crown of your head is better than a low bun because the latter may rub against your shirt, leading to frizz and breakage.

Wear it Natural

Your hair doesn't have to be natural, but you can style it in more of a "wash n' go" way if you have a texturizer instead of fully straightening it. Of course, if your hair is natural, then you probably don't mind wetting and/or conditioner washing more often. When you have other options besides the bone-straight look, you won't spend as much time straightening after exercising.

Instead, you can either shake it out and go, or wash and go without too much effort.

Bottom Line

Let's face it: when you work out, you generally get sweaty, and it can be tough to maintain great hair with a physically active lifestyle. That's the truth. Some women try very hard to keep every hair in place and find it a hard battle, especially when they have to fit in exercise time before work. Will my hair dry in time? How am I going to manage this hairstyle when my roots are still damp? Some styles will be too difficult to maintain and you'll have to find alternatives if you want to continue working out. Yes, some of your options may sound "boring," but it's worth settling on an easy hairdo or two that you can style very simply in order to keep exercising.