Hair Care for Your Active Lifestyle

Written on: Jan 26, 2020
By: Shari Hicks-Graham

Studies show that African-American women have reported that hair care is a barrier to regular exercise*.  This is unfortunate because regular exercise helps to reduce the chances of developing hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, not to mention the positive mental health benefits that come from leading an active lifestyle.  However, the products of a good workout - a damp, sweaty head, and the need to wash it more frequently, can be a challenging burden. Traditional teaching is that washing the hair more than once weekly will damage the hair by stripping it of its natural oils and causing dryness. Fortunately, 2020 brings a wide variety of hair care options, and folks are choosing to exercise more. But with the many different hair care and style options, it’s important to make wise choices so that we don’t exacerbate hair or scalp problems while we meet our fitness goals.

Here are a few hair care tips as you move forward with your gym life:

  1. The struggle is real!  We get it - there are expectations that our hair should look like we just walked off the runway at all times.  It may look easy, but the facts are that if you have thick and coarse or delicate textured hair that is easily tangled, a tough sweat- drenching workout 4-5 days per week may wreak havoc on our look. Therefore, a planned approach is a must. 
  2. Be honest with yourself and think long term.  Think about ways to manage your own hair for the long-term, as in the next several decades, not just for the next week. Choose styles that are easy to manipulate, loose, and simple.  Ideally these styles would allow you to potentially wash your own hair more than once per week, if necessary.
  3. Commit to a routine of self-care.  Pick a wash-day (or hour) and treat yourself with the time for a good shampoo and conditioning. Cleansing your hair and scalp regularly is important because salt from perspiration can cause breakage, and scalp buildup can cause itching and scalp irritation.  Visit your hair care professional regularly, and work together to develop a style that you can maintain independently between visits. Professional trims and conditioning treatments are also important. Finally, simplify your routine for efficiency so that if your time is short, you won’t be able to talk yourself out of carrying out your routine self-care.  LivSo’s three-step product line is easy to adapt to this type of sustainable hair care plan.
  4. Find a hairstyle that is low-tension, low-maintenance.  Natural braids (with just your own hair), twist-outs, wash-and-go styles, wrap styles and roller or rod sets are good options.  Consider use of a silk scarf to help protect your scalp from perspiration. If heat must be used to straighten or dry the hair, try not to apply it excessively.  Seal in moisture prior to drying hair with a leave-on moisturizer. Use a hooded warm dryer to help dry wet hair in the winter.    
  5. Be careful about “protective” hairstyles.  These styles may be fun occasionally, but do not rely on them for your exclusive look.  Braids and weaves are usually applied with a hefty amount of tension to ensure longevity of the style.  The weight of the additional hair may also add stress on your own hair at the root, causing breakage. Also, never use glue on the scalp - period.  Adhesives may lead to contact dermatitis and hair loss over time. All of these methods of hair attachment do not allow for thorough cleansing of the scalp.  Furthermore, if you suffer from dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis, or other scalp irritation, the scalp will likely be worse 4-8 weeks later when the added hair is removed.   So, if you must get braids or a weave, let the stylist know that you are not interested in keeping the style for long - I suggest no more than a few weeks. I also recommend that you take significant breaks from the style - at least twice as long as the time that you had the style in place.  It may feel like a waste at first, but when you keep your hair healthy, the plan will be worth it.  
  6. Use your resources. If you struggle with hair loss or find that there are difficulties managing your hair, find a local dermatologist who specializes in hair loss, and a hairstylist who may help you find a suitable solution.  There are also online tutorials and articles that speak to these issues. Remember to take the advice that applies to you, and don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out the first time. It takes practice and patience.   

I hope that these tips are helpful as you make moves this year! Your efforts will pay off in a big way and we are here to answer any questions you may have. Let us know how you are doing on your fitness journey by mentioning us @LivSolife with #LivSohealthy, on Instagram or Facebook.

LivSo free and clear, 


Shari Hicks-Graham, MD, FAAD



  1. RESEARCH LETTER.  A Descriptive Assessment of Primary Care Provider Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs Regarding Hair Care Maintenance as a Barrier to Increased Physical Activity in African American Women. Sophia O. Tolliver, MD, MPH; Jennifer L Hefner, PhD, MPH; Starling D. Tolliver, MS; Leon McDougle, MD, MPH. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 
  2. Defining the impact of attitudes towards hair and hair care practices on physical activity in African American women: A prospective survey study.  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 76, Issue 6, AB9