With every good workout comes a good sweat. The obvious thing to do afterwards is jump in the shower, but should you wash your hair after working out? Washing after a workout removes the sweat and natural oils that accumulate during exercise, preventing clogged pores, odor, and breakouts on your scalp. Additionally, sweat contains salt that can dry out your hair and cause damage over time. But over-washing your hair can be just as damaging.
We’re telling you everything you need to know about post-workout hair care including when to wash, when to skip and and hair care hacks and tips for when you do.
How often you wash has a lot to do with your hair type and scalp health. After exercise, sweat and oil can build up and create a film on the scalp over time. This can lead to something called seborrhoeic dermatitis, caused by a build-up of the yeast malassezia, appearing as redness and scaling on the scalp. So if you have oily hair, or a tendency towards dandruff, it's best to wash following a workout. But if you don't, it's okay to skip your hair wash. Skipping your post-workout hair wash every once in a while can actually be beneficial for your scalp health. Just do a good rinse to remove the sweat.
So when should you wash your hair after working out? If you’re still on the fence about how to tackle your post-workout hair, consider the following before deciding on whether to wash or rinse.
Your hair type is the most important thing to consider when deciding whether or not to wash post-workout. Consider how oily the hair is normally and be mindful if the scalp is extra dry and flaky. Over-washing can also result in the hair becoming more dry and brittle which means it can break easier. Those with oily hair are more likely to wash it everyday or every other day while those with dry hair may wash it less frequently.
Your hair's texture can also play a role in how often you need to wash after exercise. Those can go longer in between wash days. As a general rule, those with naturally curly or textured hair can go for longer periods of time in between washing as the hair tends to be less oily. While those with fine hair may need to wash their hair more frequently.
If you aren’t sweating so much that your hairline gets wet, you can skip washing your hair. The higher intensity your workout, the more sweat and buildup will accumulate in your scalp, meaning washing your hair is a must.
After a good workout, you feel energized and refreshed, but your hair might be telling a different story. Sweat, oil, and impurities can build up on your scalp and hair, leaving it looking and feeling less than its best. Properly washing your hair after exercising is an essential part of maintaining healthy hair, but it's important to do it right. These are our tips.
Before shampooing, let your hair get fully wet. Let the water run over your head for at least a minute, making sure all of it is wet. This helps remove any sweat or impurities and opens the cuticles, making it easier for your hair to absorb conditioner later.
Choose a gentle shampoo free from harsh chemicals like sulfates and parabens to cleanse sweat, dirt and dead skin without stripping your scalp of its natural oils. Combat the downfall of washing your hair too often by using only nourishing and hydrating formulas to replenish and strengthen your scalp and hair.
Massaging your scalp is what really frees it of buildup when you wash. You can use your fingers or a scalp brush, moving gently and applying minimal pressure. Massage for one to three minutes to effectively lift debris from the roots — and as a bonus, help stimulate hair growth!
After shampooing, spend at least two minutes rinsing your hair. Any shampoo that isn’t fully washed out can build up in your scalp. Rinse with cool to cold water, as this keeps your hair healthier. Cold water doesn’t dry out the sebum, a naturally lubricated barrier that protects your hair and keeps it strong.
After rinsing, apply conditioner from the mid-shaft to the ends of your hair. Be sure to avoid the roots, this will make your scalp look greasy. Let it sit anywhere from two to seven minutes. While you let the conditioner soak in, you can use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair. Then rinse your hair thoroughly again with cool or cold water.
A good rule of thumb is if you aren’t sweating so much that your hairline gets wet, you can skip washing your hair post-workout. These are some alternatives for refreshing your hair and scalp without a full wash.
Dry shampoo is a waterless style extender that absorbs oil and impurities from the scalp. It comes in powder and spray form that you can apply to your roots to help absorb sweat after working out. But keep in mind that dry shampoo is designed to work on dry hair. If you use it on wet hair, it’ll leave behind a cakey residue resulting from the powder-and-sweat mix. So either blow dry your roots before using it, or apply to your roots before you start working out to help your strands to absorb any sweat during the workout.
Hair refreshing products are game-changers for freshening up your strands after exercise in place of washing. The next workout that falls on an off wash day, use one of our favorite products for faking clean hair. If you have naturally curly hair, reach for our LOVE Curl Revitalizer to instantly boost the elasticity of your curls and control any post-workout frizz. If you’ve got straight or fine hair grab our Hair Refresher dry shampoo to absorb sweat and oil while adding volume.
If you don't want to use any products, you can simply rinse your scalp in between shampoos to clear away any sweat. Either do a full on rinse under the shower or use a wet washcloth to wipe at your hairline and your part after working out. And bonus if you go this route: because sweat is basically nature’s salt spray. After wiping away any visible sweat, just scrunch your strands and go. But it’s important to note that if you have very curly or textured hair, you should always try co-washing (with conditioner but not shampoo) any time you rinse with water.
If you’re still asking yourself, “should I wash my hair after a workout?” There is no short answer. If you're regularly exercising, it's important to wash your hair regularly to maintain healthy hair. Over time, buildup can accumulate on your scalp and hair, leading to clogged pores, breakouts, and dryness. But overwashing can be counter-intuitive to a healthy scalp. So if you don’t wash every time, how often should you wash your hair if you workout? It's best to listen to your hair and adjust your washing routine accordingly.
If your hair feels greasy or dirty after a workout, it's likely time for a wash. If your hair feels dry or fragile, try using a hair-refreshing product or simply rinsing with water. If your hair is on the fine side and gets greasy easily, you might need to wash it more often to feel clean and comfortable. But if your hair is coarse, thicker and not as oily, you can get away with not washing it after every workout.
By finding the right balance between washing and not over-washing, you can keep your hair looking and feeling healthy after exercising. To speak more with a professional about your hair concerns, book an appointment at a salon near you.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor