We’ve all skipped working out once or twice to save a hairstyle. Unfortunately, this is an all too common practice among women with textured hair. Believe me; I know the agony of sitting for hours in a salon chair, only to watch my hairstyle lose its shape after five minutes on a treadmill. It feels like the money and time I spent just disappeared into thin air and took my sleek edges with it. It’s no wonder we steer clear of the gym after wash day.
Now, just because we all do it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. Ironically, regular sweat sessions are key to keeping blood circulated throughout the body, including the head, where hair follicles need that moisture to grow. With that being said, there are ways to get your cardio in and look cute doing it. And who better to lead us in the right direction than Taliah Waajid? For over 25 years, she’s been a leading natural hair specialist and even created one of the first chemical-free product lines for textured hair. Ahead, she shares the easy tips and tricks that will stop you from putting hair ahead of health, once and for all.
Gym Bag Essentials
Regardless of your texture, length or lifestyle, there are a core set of items that should always have real estate in your gym bag. The first no-brainer Waajid recommends is a sturdy water bottle, since “proper hydration prevents perspiration from taking a toll on the moisture levels in the hair, skin and body.”
If you’ll be performing floor exercises, lifting weights or sitting on a stationary bicycle, you should also invest in a non-greasy moisturizer, like Taliah Waajid’s Nutrient-Rich Shine Butter, and a set of gloves to protect against bacteria.
For those with medium-long hairstyles, like braids, extensions or wigs, a scrunchy or large butterfly clip will keep you focused on your workout. “These protective styles are beautiful,” says Waajid, “but can be distracting if not properly secured into a ponytail or pinned.”
Lastly, if sweaty edges are the stuff of nightmares for you, a moisture-wicking headband or satin scarf will control perspiration and keep them from expanding as you move.
Waajid says, “Perspiration around the edges creates an imbalanced pH level, which can lead to hairline breakage. “Before wearing, I apply a leave-in conditioner and use my fingers to massage onto my edges. Accompanied by a headband, together they help whisk perspiration away from the edges which consequently, helps me maintain a healthy hairline.”
Again, applying a leave-in conditioner to wet or dry hair, like the Protective Styles Strengthening Leave-In Conditioner, is essential before both low and high intensity workouts, in addition to tucking the hair away into an updo or under a satin scarf.
This is especially important for water-based exercises. According to Waajid, “Chlorine causes hair to weaken and become brittle, which can lead to split ends and severe breakage. It’s important, therefore, to prevent your hair from absorbing chlorine by coating hair strands with a barrier.”
Apply the leave-in from roots to end, ensuring that the product is distributing evenly. After that, you can apply edge control along the hairline, brush the hair around the outside perimeter of the head and secure with a headscarf. If you’re getting into a pool, use a swimming cap instead. “You can also use olive oil, Jamaican Black Castor oil or coconut oil to coat and prevent your hair from absorbing chlorine,” says Waajid.
Contrary to popular belief, humidity doesn’t effect curly hair as much as straight hair. However, our roots are more susceptible to oil buildup, which means we should keep a shampoo on hand. How often you wash depends on the level of your workout and your hairstyle.
“If you normally wet cleanse (shampoo) more than twice a week and engage in low-high intensity or water-based workouts, to recover your style, wet cleanse (shampoo) with a sulfate-free shampoo such as my Protective Styles Moisturizing Mint Shampoo, ” says Waajid.
If you’re on-the-go and need a quicker recovery, use a co-wash instead. And when wearing protective styles like braids, twists or locs, treat your hair to a dry cleanser, like Waajid’s Protective Styles Bamboo, Avocado and Peppermint Dry Gel Shampoo, as well as a moisturizing or clarifying serum for the scalp. A dry shampoo is also ideal if you’re not washing your hair every week.
All in all, there isn’t a laundry list of things you need to do to protect your curls. With a bottle of leave-in, a trusty headscarf and edge control, sacrificing workouts are a thing of the past.