7 Best Natural Hair Styles for Exercising

A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Pubic Health reported that nearly 40% of African American women cited their hair as the primary reason why they did not exercise on a regular basis.

Working out in front of strangers makes many women uncomfortable, and feeling self-conscious about your hair only adds to that discomfort. In addition to worrying about how your hair looks during your workout, you also have to consider what you’re going to do with your hair after you’re done exercising.

For most black women, it’s not just a matter of giving our hair a quick post-workout rinse. We also have to worry about blow drying, flat ironing, or doing a natural style that might take hours to complete or hours to dry.

Here are some tips for how to wear your natural hair during and after exercise so you can keep up your fitness routine and look cute at the same time.

1. Cornrows

If you know how to braid your own hair, 2-3 quick cornrows will keep your hair secure while you exercise.

african american woman exercises with cornrow braided hairstyle

Once you finish your workout you can do a quick co-wash to rinse the sweat from your hair and let your hair air dry in the braids. When it dries, you can take out the braids and wear the braid out as your style for the next day.

2. Flat twists

For those of us who can’t braid, flat twists serve the same purpose.

black woman exercises with flat twists in natural hair

Remember, they don’t have to be perfect. They’re just there to keep your hair out of the way while you’re at the gym, and you can rinse your hair and let it air dry afterwards for a cute curly set that you can wear the next day.

3. Wash and go

A wash and go is an excellent choice for a post workout hairstyle. You can pull your wash and go into a simple bun or ponytail while exercising.

When you finish, shampoo or co-wash your hair in the shower, apply our Argan Aloe Leave In Conditioner, and add your favorite styling gel on top. Then air dry or dry with a diffuser.

This quick, easy style is a great choice for those who exercise in the morning before work.

4. Pineapple

If you’re already wearing a twist out, braid out, or wash and go – you can push to hair to the top of your head and secure with a scarf to preserve your style while you exercise. The pineapple is basically a very high ponytail.

5. Bun

This one is an oldie but goodie, and is always reliable as a back up hairstyle. If you’re wearing a bun, make sure you use a soft elastic hair tie, or a silk or satin scrunchie to secure it.

black woman goes to work after exercising with natural hair in a bun

Do not use rubber bands to secure your bun. Also, make sure that your bun is not too tight, and rotate the position of your bun every few days to avoid breakage.

6. Two strand twists

Two strand twists are my absolute favorite style for working out. They’re easy to do yourself and they can be easily pinned up for a cute work style.

Twists also hold up well after rinsing or co-washing, so if you sweat a lot during your workout, you can cleanse your scalp with no worries. Leave them in all week and you’ll have a gorgeous twist out for the weekend.

7. Braids

Of course this tried and true style would be on the list. Braids are extremely versatile and are great for frequent exercisers.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to box braids or knotless braids. This style works just as well with no hair added, especially if you have thick hair.

black woman with natural hair in braids working out

If you’re going to try braiding your natural hair with no hair added, I recommend making them small to give yourself a fuller look. Be mindful that this style takes a little more patience than two strand twists, which is why I don’t do it very often.

Braids are not as forgiving of crooked parts as twists are so you’ll need to take your time, but the results are worth it! A set of mini braids on natural hair can last up to a month, and they hold up well to washing or co-washing just like twists.

If you choose to keep your braids in for more than a week, make sure you are moisturizing regularly and adding a little oil to your ends.

Bonus tip for straight hair

While your hair is straightened, the best way to maintain your style is to wrap your hair and cover it with a scarf. Do not use heat on your hair after each workout. Using heat on your hair multiple times a week is a recipe for disaster.

black woman does yoga with natural hair in bun

Other Maintenance Tips

If you exercise 3-5 times a week, you do not need to shampoo your hair after each workout. You can use shampoo or our Ayurvedic Clay Wash once a week. Mid-week you can use the Honey Hibiscus Deep Conditioner as a co-wash to rinse the sweat from your hair.

black woman does walking work out with natural hair

Wearing a scarf or headband during your workout can help keep your hair in place and absorb excess sweat.

Do you have a favorite workout or post workout hairstyle that wasn’t covered here? Let me know in the comments!

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