Sunday, July 18, 2010

Black Hair & Exercise

This is how I look after I work out. I sweat in my hair and face A LOT....

BEFORE (post workout)
The hair dilemma. This is indeed one of the biggest concerns of Black women who work out. The following is my routine. This took a lot of research and trial and error.

My hair type: relaxed, VERY thick. I have short hair, so I have even more of a challenge because I can not use the slickback pony tail method. Finally, my hair is one month post-relaxer in all pics.

I had to make some specific stylistic choices once I committed to working out:
  • Strength of Relaxer - My hair dresser usually uses a milder strength relaxer, but I told her to use a stronger one when I started working out. While stronger relaxers are generally looked down upon, this choice is okay for me because I have thick hair and I stretch my relaxers.
  • Cut - I also sweat a lot in my "kitchen", which is why I have a graduated bob. My hair dresser also "thinned" my hair out with a cutting method she calls "texturizing"
  • Use of Heat - To maintain healthy hair, I wash and deep condition once a week. Most importantly, I use direct heat as little as possible (once a week when I wash). When I was being hard-headed and consistently used heat, my bangs broke off (hence the constant side part, lol).

How do I get my hair to look like this? Read below!
(Note: This regimen is for women who work out at night before bed).
Rinse the salt (from your sweat) out by dampening your hair with a moisture spray. Black hair has problems retaining moisture and salt dries out your hair.
  • Paul Michell Awapuhi Moisture Mist
  • African Royale BRX Braid &; Extensions Sheen Spray
  • Elasta QP H-TWO Leave-in Moisture Sealing Conditioner
Wrap the hair and let dry mostly75 -80%. My hair takes an hour. If you want to speed it up you can blow dry the scarf (not the hair directly) or sit under a dryer with your scarf.

I have a very thin silk scarf. You can almost see through it. This makes the difference for me when wrapping my hair. When I used the typical scarves they sold in the hair store or thicker ones, my hair was never as smooth.

My hair after the wrap.

Pincurl the hair while still slightly damp. There are several videos on YouTube that explain this technique. Make sure you moisturize the ends as you go with a LIGHT moisturizer. You don't want to weigh your hair down with chemicals and be like this dude.

Your ends need to be smoothly curled or they will look crazy in the morning. As you pin curl, be aware of the directions of your curls. Also, I pin curl my hair in such a way that when I wrap my hair, my edges will lay flat (I put a little Aveda Anti-Humectant Pomade on the edges before I wrap them).

My hair pincurled
(I used duck pins for the pic, but I usually use bobby pins).

Wake up and take out the curls. If the ends are frizzy, I put the tiniest bit of pure vegetable glycerin on them and use steam roller to smooth them out. Glycerin is an ingredient in many moisturizers and shine products. Pure glycerin goes a long way, so use very little. There are several sites explaining how to make a moisture spray out of glycerin.

If I am in a rush and can not pin curl my hair at all, I use steam rollers, but I find my hair tends to fall sooner that I'd like with these, but that could just be the summer humidity. Nexxus Comb Thru Hairspray helps a little to hold the style, but I find pincurling overnight works best. When my hair get's longer, I plan on using protective styles such as buns.

This process should get you through the week until you can wash it on the weekends.

AFTER (with steam rollers)
This pic is the actual after pic to the one at the beginning of this post. It took me two hours (because I wrapped it and waited for it to dry) to get to this point.

Now this does not have me looking "salon fresh" and my hair can get a little poofy, but I tell myself my body is going to be looking FREEEEEEESH in a couple of months. Also, I work out daily, sweat profusely, and still receive compliments on my hair. The key is to figure out what works for you. You have to be willing to experiment and put in the work because everyone's hair is different. In the pic above, it was the first time I pin-curled it over night. At this point, pin curling does not take me longer than 10 - 15 minutes, and since my skill has improved, so has my hairstyle.

The site that helped me the MOST with my regimen was Carolyn Gray's Guide to Working Out & Caring for Relaxed Hair. Check out her videos, they are awesome!

How do you manager your hair while working out? PLEASE feel free to leave suggestions and additional information.


rashad said...

Those squares are really doing the trick..And so now that you've figured out what to do with you hair, does this mean you can swim now?

Never200 said...

Leave my squares alone! Swimming is another story...chlorine affects the hair way differently than sweat.