While we work out in order to stay healthy, we may sometimes neglect other parts of our body—like our hair. Taking care of muscles, organs, and joints may feel like the keys to healthy living, but we must not forget that our hair is also an important part of our bodies. Keeping our locks healthy can greatly affect our state of mind, because as the saying goes: when you look good, you feel good too.
Health should be a full-body experience. Everyone has a unique head of hair with varying needs, and a tailored hair-care routine is important to keep your hair healthy and strong. If your hair is getting coarser and drier or thinning with age, or perhaps you’ve noticed a change in your hair after amping up your workout regimen, here are a few tips and tricks to keep your hair in tip-top shape.
Avoid harsh chemicals
Chief stylist Amber Fairlie at The Manor boutique salon in Toronto says that hair care is just like skincare, so we need to switch it up as we age, or as our lifestyle changes. Most importantly, “Continue to stay away from products that contain sulfates and parabens.” This is a must for everyone to consider because according to Keith Durante, MD, FACS, of the Ash Centre in New York, parabens are “chemicals that have been used since the 1950s to prevent bacteria and act as a preservative in shampoos,” and sulfates are “cleansing and foaming agents that can be found in shampoo, which contribute to a toxic environment of the extracellular matrix which is where the hair bulbs live. They cause excessive dryness and contribute to the thinning of hair and may also cause a sensitivity reaction.”
Avoiding harsh and harmful chemicals in your hair-care products is one thing—but we must also avoid coming into contact with harsh chemicals in our day-to-day lives. For example, we know that although they’re great for keeping us fit, swimming pools can be quite harsh on hair. Combatting the damage of chlorine can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re already dealing with issues of dryness and breakage. Fairlie says that the best way to preserve our hair is to wear a swim cap. “A cap is your hair saver (the type you can get at any sports store) as it can keep most of your hair dry.” The final—and most important—step, according to Fairlie, is to always rinse off. “This removes any excess chlorine from your hair,” she says. “When you don’t rinse off in the shower, the chlorine soaks into your hair, causing damage.” Incorporating a gentle clarifying shampoo is also a good idea, though Fairlie says that not all are created equal, and you should do your research, as some can be even more drying and damaging.
Tangle Teezer Compact Styler Detangling Hairbrush, $21.99, well.ca.
Did you know that the hair tools we use to smooth and tame our hair can actually be the cause of damage? Fortunately, there are a number of detangling brushes on the market that are worth the investment, as they’re made to prevent breakage. Fairlie says that these types of brushes are shower and purse essential. For optimal results, she recommends “brushing out your tangles in the shower once you’ve massaged conditioner throughout your hair. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the top.” This should make brushing easier, and more importantly, cause less breakage as the brush and conditioner work together to detangle. Just keep in mind that “Excessive brushing, or anything done in excess to the scalp, can damage the hair follicles and irritate the scalp which can cause damage to new growth,” says Durante.
When you’re working out, the hairstyle you choose can do a lot more than keep your hair out of your face. Your hairstyle can lessen the need for frequent showers, and prevent you from needing to brush your hair out too much and risk breakage.
Fairlie recommends braids. “That way your hair doesn’t get tangled during your workout, and afterward you’re left with a nice soft wave when you take it out.” Braiding your hair also gives your roots a chance to dry after a sweaty workout, and if you want to take that extra step, Fairlie says, “Dry shampoo it!”
When In Doubt, Ask a Professional
As we age, our hair changes, and it can be difficult to figure out how we need to change our hair-care routine. When there’s an opportunity, you should lean into your hairdresser and doctor for advice, as they have the knowledge, as well as experience, working with various types of hair and health concerns. If you follow the advice of your hairdresser and physician, your mane will look and feel sensational after every blood-pumping workout.
TO SHAMPOO, OR NOT TO SHAMPOO?
People who work out frequently also tend to shampoo their hair a lot, and there are few things that feel more refreshing than a postworkout shower. If you’re a fan of lather, rinse, repeat, you may not like what you’re about to read. According to Fairlie, “Frequent shampooing is a no-no.” Because shampoo traps oils, if you frequently wash your hair with shampoo, there is a chance that you may dry your hair out, which could make it prone to breakage.
If you’re the type of person who sweats a lot, whether or not you’re exercising daily, It’s understandable that you’d wash your hair often. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Durante suggests shampooing only “three times a week [if you can] and alternating it with a good conditioner,” since showering and using proper shampoos and conditioners help to avoid excessive grease from sweating...