Love Your Locks

Your daily workouts result in a fit body, but what are they doing to your hair? If your training schedule includes laps in the local pool or runs on your favorite trail, your hair is probably taking a beating. Follow these hair care tips to protect your strands from further damage and to help your locks look healthy and beautiful.

In the Great Outdoors

"You wouldn't skip sunscreen when it comes to your skin--give your hair the same protection with products formulated to shield it from the sun," says Negin Zand, senior colorist at the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in Los Angeles. Try Philip Kingsley Weatherproof Styling Froth ($20, philipkingsley.com), which provides control and conditioning with sunscreen to protect your hair. John Frieda Weather-Proofing Style Sealant Cr?me ($6, drugstores) creates a barrier around hair fibers to seal in moisture and resist humidity and UV rays.

In a pinch, Ezmeralda Meco, stylist at the Devachan Salon and Departure Lounge in New York City, recommends combining sunscreen, conditioner and water in a spray bottle. "Shake the mixture and spray it on before you go in the sun."

In the Pool

When you dive into the pool, "you're basically swimming in bleach," says Tim Wilson, owner of Salon Blast in Seattle. "Before swimming, wet the hair, towel dry, love your locks apply a lot of conditioner and put on a swim cap. The idea is for the chlorine to eat at the conditioner," not your hair shaft. Try Mario Russo Hydrating Conditioner ($19, mariorusso.com), rich in healing olive and lavender extracts.

Chlorine can be especially damaging to color-treated hair. "If chlorine turns hair green, try using V8 vegetable juice as a natural rinse to neutralize the tone," Zand says. "Just pour on your hair and work through for one minute, then rinse and shampoo." Always rinse your hair immediately after a workout to minimize the damage.

In the Gym

Ponytails are almost mandatory at the gym, but excessive stress from an elastic band on the hair can cause breakage. "Don't use an elastic band," says Meco. "Use a soft fabric. The softer it is, the less it will pull on your hair." Try Karina Sport Colored Ponytails ($4, ulta.com), which hold hair tightly without metal clasps. Wilson recommends braiding hair. If your braid fails to keep layers and shorter strands off your face, try an im Active Hold Tough Tread Head Wrap ($8, studioim.com).

After Your Workout

Active women often shampoo too frequently, stripping hair of moisture. You don't need to shampoo every day, even after a heavy sweat session. "Let's say you work out in the morning," Meco says, "just condition your hair and really work your scalp. It's the friction that cleanses the hair, not the bubbles." If your hair is naturally oily and you just can't give up the daily shampoo, use a formula with a gentle pH like Philip B Peppermint and Avocado Shampoo ($28, salons), which cleanses with pure peppermint extract and essential oils.

Do make conditioning an everyday priority. "A leave-in conditioner like Graham Webb Silk Repair Protein Leave-in Conditioner ($15, grahamwebb.com) prevents and heals breakage from your ponytail," says Mark Garrison, owner of Mark Garrison Salon in New York City. Even if your hair isn't dry, you can use a leave-in conditioner every day, just choose a light formula like Infusium 23 (repair) ologie leave-in treatment ($5, drugstores).

In the Kitchen

We all want hair that's full of life--healthy, shiny and voluminous. Ironic, considering that hair cells are, well, dead. The living hair follicles are actually under the scalp, and the quality of the hair they produce is based primarily on your hormones and diet. That's why pregnant women, full of hormones, have gorgeous locks.
When food and nutrients are scarce, your body sends nourishment to your vital organs rather than to nonessential tissues, such as hair, nails and skin. Your hair needs protein, whole grains, essential fatty acids, vitamins B6 and B12, zinc and iron--just like the rest of your body.

The American Dietetic Association (eatright.org) cites spinach as a power food when it comes to hair quality, and recommends that women consume omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as salmon, mackerel, flaxseed oil and walnuts three times a week for healthy hair and skin.

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