Reader Q&A: How To Maintain Natural Hair While Working Out

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will solve your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: How do you maintain your hair while working out? Do you wash the sweat out every day?

CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: Hair is usually an afterthought when it comes to my healthy-living routine. But it’s important to note that I’m by no means a hardcore trainer.... You won’t find me at the gym and no, I don’t run, it hurts! I do however, walk it out, briskly, to the tune of 3-4 miles, most days of the week. I don’t sweat profusely, but I do sweat, and we all know the havoc that moisture can wreak on a twist-out or similar wet set.

As for my hair, I bun it most days (high messy, or low side) with the edges tied down with a scarf. I leave the scarf on post-workout until my hair is completely dry before removing it and going about my business. This keeps my edges smooth and set despite the exposure to moisture. My Twist-n-Curls and twist-outs fare pretty well despite my walk sessions. I just make sure to pull my curls up high (or low) and loose with a scrunchie prior to the workout and again, tie my edges down with a scarf. I leave my hair up with the edges tied down until all the roots have completely dried and then I release, fluff and go!

As far as cleansing, the lactic acid in sweat can break down the cuticle of the hair shaft, but only in great quantities. Water rinsing or co-washing after exercise sessions is recommended but many curlies (myself included) get along fine without it.

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.


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