How to Tame Sweaty Hair After Exercising and Go Straight Out

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 lori harvey leaves pilates

Lori Harvey (Photography by Getty Images)

We got tips from two pro hairstylists for going from the barre to the bar.

By Amanda Demeku

Date January 26, 2023

New year, new me fitness goals are in full swing — I’m hitting boxing class, I’m taking centre stage at Lagree, and I’m even volunteering as tribute front row at spin. But if I’m being honest, the real challenge isn’t getting to class, it’s the beauty woes that come after a workout thanks to sweaty hair.

When it comes to my hair, I am not someone who can leave the gym unscathed. I wish I was one of those girlies who can finish class with nothing more than a gently flushed face, only to float into a date or event. But I sweat. I am a puddle, I am a pond. (P.S. these are now my astrological signs.) So, if you’re anything like me, the transition from gym to play can feel especially daunting.

Alas, in an effort to attend any occasion post-workout looking polished, I tapped industry experts Rachelle Cruz of RF Hair Studio and celebrity hairstylist Greg Gilmore to walk us through hairstyles you can whip up from the comfort of the locker room without a bunch of tools — Dyson Airwrap need not apply. Because hair (and your social life) shouldn’t have to suffer because of a sweaty workout. Keep reading for three styles that’ll work from the barre to the bar.

For straight-ish hair (1a-2b curl pattern): Try a low, slicked-back bun

To achieve this look Cruz suggests brushing your hair out entirely post-workout. “With a handful of strong hold mousse, apply evenly from roots to ends making sure the area surrounding the part and hairline is completely saturated,” says Cruz. “A mousse will work better than gel because its light airy texture will dry fast and firm with less mess.” From there, use a flat, dense natural bristle brush (Cruz suggests a Diane 100% Boar Soft Wave Brush) to pull everything back tight and off your face for ultimate Hailey Bieber pre-bob vibes.

You can choose your desired part, though in Cruz’s expert opinion, “the side part is a little more romantic and no part, all back will give you more of an edgy look.” From there, you’ll want to smooth everything out three or four times to ensure there are no bumps. Secure tightly into a low or mid pony, add more mousse to the lengths of your hair before twisting it into a tight bun and secure with bobby pins — voila, it’s that easy!

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Diane

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Kitsch

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Joico

JoiWhip Firm Hold Design Foam

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For curly hair (2c-3c curl pattern): Try a high, loose, curly pony

If you’ve got a head of curls, Cruz suggests wearing a wide, moisture-wicking headband to your workout along with a thick silk scrunchie to hold your hair back in either a low pony or loose braid. As you near the end of your training session or are in the cool-down phase, remove the headband and shake out your braid to kickstart the drying process before your workout is even finished.

“Without disrupting the curl too much, massage a dollop of dry shampoo foam onto your part and around your hairline by gently sliding your fingertips to your scalp. Massage the root for any lift or volume lost during your workout. From there, spray your ends with a curl refresher spray and recoil any frizzy or limp curls by wrapping them around your finger as if it were a curling iron.”

Once your curls are looking fresh and fun, gently gather your locks into a high ponytail, this time using a thin silk scrunchie to secure it, being careful to not tie it too tight. If you have face-framing layers, let those out for a more playful look, or tie them back for a more demure vibe. Secure any stragglers with a bobby pin for a fuller and more uniform look — and that’s how you head from ab crunches to appetizers like a pro!

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Blissy

Scrunchies 2" Standard

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Mizani

Coco Dew Curl Pre-Styling & Restyling Refresher Spray

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For coily hair (4a-4c curl pattern): Try twist outs

Workouts can be hard on this hair type so Gilmore suggests letting your hair be out and free in the name of fitness. Since this hair type stands up against gravity, it shouldn’t accumulate a lot of sweat on the midshaft. Once your class wraps up or you’ve hopped off the treadmill, jump into the shower and quickly shampoo and condition your locks (Gilmore is a big fan of Moroccanoil’s Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner). Apply a leave-in conditioner and smoothing lotion and get to sectioning your hair into eight quadrants.

“After you’ve applied all those moisturizing goodies, quadrant by quadrant, begin a two-strand twist from root to end. It sounds complicated but it’s just parting each quadrant into two pieces and twisting them together — similar to what a rope would look like.” Once complete, take this time to get dressed, zhuzh the face or if there’s a dryer on site, speed up the process with a pass or two over the twists.

When the twists are all set and dry, untwist each to allow it to naturally swell, giving your coils serious red carpet texture. Flash yourself a wink in the mirror and you’re set for any occasion!

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