Friday, 8 August 2014

Fitness Friday - The Effect of Sweat on your Healthy Hair Journey

As you may know by now, I'm pretty big on fitness and I workout 5-6 days a week (sometimes more than that). And these sessions are pretty intense. Now, that's a lot of sweat. I found myself washing (rinsing, co-washing, shampooing etc) my hair every other day and sometimes every day, for fear of my hair producing an unpleasant odor. But do I have an even bigger problem on my hands than dread smelling locks? Perhaps...

You see, I have noticed that on days where I allow my hair to dry without some sort of cleansing, my hair was dry, crunchy and rough! I was quite sure it was as a result of my exercise and sweat, but I wasn't too sure what exactly was taking place, so I decided to execute some superficial research by simply entering "effect of sweat on hair" in my search engine, and I was appalled at what I saw.

The main vein running through the results is that sweat can cause both breakage and hair loss.

Quotes like this:

What happens when you sweat is that the salt build-up from sweat tends to get lodged in your hair and on your scalp. This creates a layer of salt and water on your hair and scalp, which leads to drying of hair, and eventually can lead to hair breakage. (Read more here)

and this:

Sweat contains lactic acid, which breaks down the outter layers of hair causing gradual miniaturization of the hair follicles. The damage caused by the acid becomes evident at first when dry, brittle, weak hair is observed. In addition to damaging the hair, the lactic acid in sweat may cause inflammation, which is strongly believed to have a direct impact on hair growth, due to the restriction of blood supply to the hair (and therfore nutrient supply).  (See more here)
sum up the idea.

Some dispute the above by arguing that sweat "directly contributes to purer, healthier and an even more conditioning sebum." and that "some of the components of sweat have skin moisturizing properties. (Lactate and urea are found in many skin lotions.) And there’s some evidence that suggests sweat may actually keep you healthy by helping to ward off certain microorganisms."

However, I have seen and felt the harmful effects of sweat on my hair in the form of severe dryness, and we all know by now that DRY HAIR BREAKS! So if you are like me, and want to have your cake and eat it too, by maintaining your healthy lifestyle AND your healthy hair journey, here are a few pointers:

  • rinse your hair as often as your hair allows. excessive co-washing can have negative effects on your tresses as I pointed out in this article, so be sure to stay within a frequency that produces optimal results for your hair.
  • take measures to absorb as much of the sweat as possible while exercising, by wearing a cotton bandana/ headtie.
  • if you do not wish to wash everyday, try using a heavy duty moisturizer after working out when the hair is dry and sealing it in with a heavy oil.
  • try cleansing the scalp with apple cider vinegar or witch hazel.
  • baggying is always an option when attempting to combat dryness.
  • wash hair at least once per week, ensuring that an effective deep conditioning session is a part of that wash day.
Both exercising and keeping my hair healthy are integral parts of my lifestyle, there is no quitting either of the two for any reason. So I've just gotta do what I gotta do to make both of them work.

Do you experience any adverse effects on your hair from exercise?
How do you combat them?

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