10 Hair Products You Need to Use If You Work Out Often
Best Hair Products for Frequent Exercisers
You already know that your regular workouts have major benefits for your body and mind (hello, boosted mood! sharper brain! stronger heart!). But there's one thing on you that sadly doesn't benefit from the gym: your hair. The tight ponytails, frequent re-styling with hot tools, and increased washing (or, conversely, way too much dry shampoo) that come with an active lifestyle can weaken hair and lead to damage over time.
Luckily, not only are there plenty of ways to liven up your locks after a workout but there are also tons of tools and tricks to strengthen your hair too, so you don't have to sacrifice healthy hair for a healthy, well, everything else (seriously, have you seen all of these mental and physical benefits of exercise?).
Here are the best hair products—and how to use them—to keep your strands strong and shiny through your daily workouts (even hot yoga) and beyond.
Kitsch Pro Satin Scrunchies
Ask any stylist and odds are they'll tell you that the #1 way to cause hair breakage is by using a tight elastic band, stretched around the same section of hair day in and day out. This causes intense pressure on one small spot, which weakens hair and can eventually lead to damage, as celebrity stylist Charles Baker Strahan previously told us. (Find out how damaged your hair is with this test.)
Your fix? Switch to a scrunchie, which will distribute the pressure more gently, evenly, and over a wider surface area. "Scrunchies are the least damaging way to secure hair because they cut down on friction," explains Linda Cho stylist and owner of LA-based Alchemy Beauty Lab. Meaning they won't tug or pull on your hair as you throw it up for a spin class and let down your sweaty strands afterward. (And that's especially good since tighter hairstyles can already lead to hair loss.)
Although a soft, wrapped ponytail holder doesn't deliver that taut sensation you've come to associate with being secure (which, reminder, is not good for your locks), a scrunchie can stay put just the same. Yes, even during high impact activities—just be sure to go for velvet or fabric scrunchies, which have the most grip. If you have thin, bleached, or extra dry hair, go with silk or satin scrunchies for the ultimate gentle touch. "They aren't as absorbent as cotton, so they won't dry out sensitive or damaged hair," says Cho. As a bonus, when it's time to take your ponytail down, "the silk glides off and does not pull," she adds.
Aquis Prime Water Defense PreWash
Hair stretches and contracts when wet, leaving it extra fragile and prone to breakage. So, if you wash your hair after every workout or swim often (which, BTW, is an A+ way to burn serious calories), you're especially going to want to defend your strands. Simply "spray a protective pre-wash product onto hair before you swim or shower," says Jon Reyman, celebrity hairstylist and Dyson global styling ambassador.
Fortifying prewash products like this from Aquis are designed to protect against excess water absorption and also help maintain a healthy pH level so that your hairs' cuticles—the overlapping layers that collectively make up each hair—stay tightly closed. A strand of hair with a healthy, closed cuticle looks smooth and shiny, whereas excess shampooing, chlorine, and/or water damage can cause the cuticles to lift up, leading to frizzy, dull-looking hair that is also more apt for breakage. Strengthening ingredients like keratin, a protective protein naturally found in hair and nails, and panthenol, a moisturizer, help reinforce each strand to withstand extra physical activity without stretching or breaking. (Can't quit your daily shampoo habit? These hairstylist tips for healthier hair can help.)
Mallofusa Sports Sweatband
Trying to sneak in a low-impact workout without ruining your blowout? An old-school terrycloth sweatband can help extend those perfect waves (as can these other hair accessories). "It can help keep the scalp and hair dry, preventing it from getting sweaty and greasy as it would without one," says Mikayla Huegle, stylist and HAI Beauty consultant.
Position the band right at the start of your hairline to prevent your roots from being soaked by sweat. After your workout, remove the band, spritz the middle and ends of your hair with a heat protectant, and use a blow-dryer on a low-heat setting to dry any remaining sweat from your scalp. (And be sure you're also doing these three things immediately after a workout.)
Invisibobble Original Traceless Hair Ring
While that high, snatched ponytail à la Ariana Grande looks great on special occasions, it "will pull hair tightly all the way around, especially at the front where the most fragile part of our hair is," says Cho. The more pulling and tension, the more likely you'll end up with breakage, which is why Cho recommends a low ponytail as an easy fix. (See: 3 Cute and Easy Gym Hairstyles)
But when you're pounding the pavement or jumping through intervals, a low-hanging pony can feel like it's about to undo at any minute. So, if you're worried about security, the right hair tie, such as these Invisibobbles, can help. They hold hair securely and are less damaging than elastics thanks to their unique coil shape which distributes pressure evenly and puts less tension on the hair.
Plus, a bonus for anyone heading back to work after a fitness class: "They don't crease or mark your hair at all," says Adam Livermore, a stylist and Oribe educator.
Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub
"No matter how athletic your lifestyle is, you don't need to shampoo your hair every day," says Livermore. That's because shampooing can dry out your scalp, leading to flaking and, let's be honest, no one wants that. (But if you're already dealing with dandruff, here's how to care for it.) So unless your strands start to stink enough to warrant dirty looks from coworkers, you're fine to shampoo every other day or less, depending on what feels right for you.
To make sure you still score that "good, scrubbed-clean feeling", Livermore suggests adding a scalp treatment once a week prior to your usual shampooing and conditioning. A good scalp scrub will refresh your hair all the way to the hard-to-reach roots and help you get away with less frequent shampooing in the days that follow—no matter how much you sweat each day. (These 10 scalp-saving products can also help you score healthier hair.)
Look for a product that exfoliates physically with soft polymer beads and chemically with an exfoliant like glycolic acid in order to really slough away dead skin and product buildup from the scalp, adds Livermore. (Related: Why You Should Treat Your Scalp to a Detox)
Kitsch Satin Pillowcase
There's a reason you keep hearing about silk pillowcases and it's not just because they make your bed look luxurious AF. They're also super beneficial for your skin (hello, anti-wrinkle magic) and your hair, especially if you exercise often.
"Silk pillowcases are known to work wonders when it comes to extending a blowout," says Peter Butler, a celebrity hairstylist. That's because the silky texture doesn't rub against hair like cotton, so you're not creating static electricity and friction with every toss and turn.
For that same reason, silk pillowcases give overworked strands from regular exercise some extra TLC. "They are soft and gentle on the hair thanks to the smooth texture," explains Butler. So if you spend time during the day pulling your hair tight or re-styling it with hot tools after a workout, give it the night off and prevent further damage by resting your head on a silk pillowcase. Not looking to spend a ton? Try a satin pillowcase like this for similar results with a lower price tag.
Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Treatment Oil
Heading to hot yoga where you already know you'll leave drenched with sweat or a low-impact Pilates class that you know will have a super chill vibe? Make the most of your time and wear a leave-in conditioning treatment while you exercise.
While it might make you look even sweatier thanks to that oily sheen, the leave-in treatment also promises to help offset the damage that comes with wearing tight ponytails to the gym on the reg.
Before you create your bun, braid, or low ponytail, "work the product through the middle of hair to the ends, and use a head wrap or headband to keep it from running into your eyes," suggests Butler. Once you're done with your workout, feel free to wash it out right away or, if you don't mind the wet look, wait until your next shower, says Buetler, who says it's totally okay to leave this treatment in overnight.
If you have the time for a more intense treatment, he recommends sitting in the steam room or sauna for 10-20 minutes and then rinsing your hair with cool water. "Not only will it feel great, but it will help close the cuticle, locking in the moisture treatment," he explains. You can choose any type of leave-in conditioner (and these hair masks are great options too!), but Butler is partial to this Leonor Greyl treatment.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Sweating more frequently usually means washing and styling your hair more frequently—both of which do not do your hair any favors. To minimize damage (and protect your hair from further sweat damage), remember these three golden rules from Reyman: Don't use high heat, use good tools, and know how to use them.
If your blow-dryer and flat-iron only have one heat setting or if it takes you more than 20 minutes to style your hair, it's a sign you need to upgrade to more advanced tools. While, yes, these newer gadgets may be a bit pricy, remember that you're paying for top technology that'll save your strands from any more suffering. (Related: The Best New Hot Styling Tools for Healthy, Shiny Hair)
Case in point? The stylist-beloved Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, which has a thermometer that measures the temperature 20 times per second to give you the optimal level of heat needed to style without allowing it to reach those higher, hair-frying temps. What this means for you: Faster drying time at the exact temperature you select, with no risk of sudden fluctuations. Most hair dryers max out around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause damage if you focus on one spot for too long or your machine has uneven heat surges. (P.S. The Dyson Airwrap is also totally worth the hype.)
Lush Cosmetics American Cream Hair Conditioner
For Bikram-goers and athletes who train and sweat a lot, one way to keep your hair and scalp healthy is to rinse your hair after your workout with conditioner, not shampoo, recommends Butler.
Known as "co-washing," this process "provides a clean rinse without stripping the natural oils, which can happen with over-shampooing," he says. Simply apply conditioner throughout your hair—scalp to ends—and "scrub your scalp just like you're shampooing it". (Related: You're Probably Shampooing Your Hair All Wrong)
But, wait, what's wrong with shampoo? Many formulas contain strong, detergent-like ingredients that can cause your hairs' cuticles to raise, resulting in drier, more static- or dull-looking hair. Conditioner, however, doesn't have that effect, so a formula that's designed to cleanse and soften is a great alternative to shampoo. This LUSH conditioner also comes in a solid block that you moisten with water, making it super portable with no risk of spillage in your gym bag. It also happens to leave hair crazy-shiny and soft. (Related: The Best Shampoo Bars for an Eco-Friendly Shower)
Schwarzkopf Got2B Powder'ful Volumizing Styling Powder
If you work out at all (and, ya know, are a woman in 2019), you likely already own dry shampoo. But if you work out a lot, you need to have a dry shampoo that doesn't build up on your scalp with frequent use, as some products will eventually cake up and become visible (yuck). Butler's go-to? "Schwarzkopf got2B POWDER'ful—only six dollars and always in my kit!"
Plus, it's super easy to use. "Sprinkle right onto the scalp, then use the cool setting on your blow-dryer and aim at the roots to help the powder visually blend in and absorb oils better." (Here's exactly how to use dry shampoo like a pro.)
In addition to invisibly refreshing a sweaty scalp, this product is also designed to provide extra support and structure to the hair for some added volume—a bonus for anyone who wants to avoid leaving the gym with flat hair. Butler suggests sprinkling some of the product onto the top of the head, right where you need some lift, and brushing hair in an upward motion as you blow-dry with a round brush. This will provide a lasting lift, so your hair won't have that matted-down look that can happen post-ponytail.