A Hairstylist's Tips to Protecting Your Leave Out at the Gym

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Ah, the age-old conundrum: do you want to go to the gym or do you want to preserve your new hairstyle? It’s a question that Black women have been asking for what feels like forever, yet we are no closer to finding an answer. If you are an avid gym go-er who also likes a good silk press on your natural hair, it’s probably not uncommon for you to avoid exercise for the first few days in order to get some more precious time with your new ‘do.

Annoyingly, and also not uncommon, is the phenomenon of “sweating out” your edges. “Once your body passes a certain temperature it begins to release sweat to keep our bodies cool during the exercise,” hairstylist Martika Cogdell tells POPSUGAR. “Once this moisture touches any unprocessed hair, it will almost immediately revert to its natural state, causing puffiness and frizz.”

Still, it continues to feel wrong to have to choose between your hair and your health. So what exactly is the solution? As it turns out, we do have options. Keep reading for tried-and-true tips to protecting your leave out hairstyle at the gym, according to experts.

Tip 1: Wrap Your Hair Before a Workout

“Tying your hair down prior to a workout is always going to be your best bet in my opinion when any of your natural hair is silk pressed or left out during a weave install,” Cogdell says. “This allows the fabric of the wrap to absorb any moisture being released in your scalp when you’re breaking a good sweat.”

It’s a method that many on TikTok swear by, with users showing they’ve maintained near-perfect results. There is a technique to master though. “Be sure that the hair is up in a ponytail or bun of some sort to avoid coming into contact with any sweat that may be along the neck, chest, and back,” Cogdell says. “Additionally, a sweat towel is always good to have near to keep these areas dry as well.”

Reply to @poised_t I don’t miss a workout even with my silk press! #blackgirlhair #blackgirlhairproblems #silkpress

Tip 2: Try a Cosmetic Treatment

For a longer-term solution, you can also consider turning to Botox in your quest to stop sweating out your hair in the gym. “Botox injections have been used as an effective treatment for excessive sweating,” dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, previously told POPSUGAR. “They are now being used by women (especially Black women) to prevent sweat from ruining their edges, which are the short baby hairs that frame their face.”

Much like how the treatment is used off-label to paralyze facial muscles and therefore stop wrinkles, Botox injections in the hairline essentially immobilize the sweat glands in the area. “This blocks nerve signals responsible for producing perspiration,” Dr. Henry says. “It stops sweating in the area for about three to six months.”

Tip 3: Use Heat on Your Leave-Out

Still, all hope is not lost if your sew-in or silk press gets a little puffy. “The blending process can look a little different for everyone because it ultimately depends upon their hair texture,” Cogdell says. “If you’re trying to get your hair back straightened after your workout, a single pass with a flatiron on low heat or a paddle brush and blow dryer method can work to stretch the hair back out without using much heat.”

Additionally, you can use rubber bands or hair ties to section and stretch the hair while giving it a rough blow dry to get back some length, or if you’d prefer it to be bone straight, you can also get your leave-out permed or relaxed to stop it from reverting in the first place. Whatever method you choose always remember to use a protectant if any type of heat is being applied.

With those tips in mind, Cogdell still believes that the best way to maintain your hair when working out is to wear a protective style, especially if you’re natural. “You can never go wrong with twists, braids, or afro-puffs,” she says. “If you do decide to go the sew-in route, use extensions with textures closest to your one for minimal maintenance that will use very little to no heat.”

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