Does Working Out Damage Your Hair?

Many of us hit the gym to improve our health and physical appearance. For some, working out is a part of their daily routine, while others may only exercise a few times a week. But have you ever wondered if working out could be damaging your hair? In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of exercise on your hair and offer some tips on how to keep your locks healthy and strong.


When you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle and improve your health, exercise often comes at the top of the list. But could working out actually be doing damage to your hair? It’s easy and understandable to be concerned about your hair health when you’re pushing yourself in the gym, especially if you have processed or colored hair. But the good news is that exercise has numerous benefits for your mental and physical wellness – and, surprisingly enough, can actually help keep your hair healthy, too.

In this article, we’ll go over how exercise affects your locks and give tips on how to protect them while maintaining a healthy workout routine. By following a few simple precautions, you can enjoy all the benefits of exercising without damaging or compromising the health of your hair.

Hair Structure and Its Relationship to Exercise

Exercise can affect our overall health, both physically and mentally, but it can also have an impact on our hair health. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, and its structure is mainly composed of amino acids, lipids, iron, and zinc. It is important to understand how exercise can influence the structure of our hair to better understand if it can damage it.

Hair Structure

Hair is made up of three major components — the medulla, cortex and cuticle. The medulla is the innermost layer, followed by the cortex, which contains all the pigment and proteins that give it its strength and structure. The outermost layer is the cuticle, composed of thin, tightly overlapping scales that protect the middle cortex layers. The structure of hair gives it flexibility and strength in order to survive minor wear and tear from brushing, styling or chemical treatments.

Exercise can put strain on your body’s natural structure as well as on your hair. When you work out vigorously over an extended period of time, your body becomes hot due to increased metabolism and circulation. This increase in temperature can cause your hair to become dry, brittle or frizzy due to dehydration of its external scale structures — referred to as the cuticle. Heat sources such as blow-dryers used after exercise can cause additional damage by breaking down protective proteins — damage that is difficult to fully repair in subsequent treatments. Regular use of products such as shampoos, conditioners and other styling aids can help minimize some possible damage caused by exercising regularly.

Exercise and Hair

Your hair is composed of structures including cuticles, cortex and the medulla which all work together to form strands of hair with different levels of strength and flexibility. The cuticles are overlapping scales on the outside of each strand. They act as foundations, protecting your hair while also providing shine and luster. The cortex lies underneath the cuticles and is mainly responsible for giving your hair its physical properties such as strength and elasticity. Lastly, the medulla acts as a core area that can be absent in some strands.

The relationship between exercise and hair growth has been studied extensively, revealing that regular physical activity has a variety of benefits related to scalp health and structure that positively affect both new growth as well as existing strands on your head.

For example, working out increases circulation throughout your entire body—including your scalp! This increased blood flow keeps follicles well nourished with vital nutrients which may facilitate thicker, fuller-looking locks over time. In addition to improved blood flow, exercising regularly helps to body maintain healthy hormone levels which promote strong hair growth. Hormonal imbalances can negatively affect how quickly new strands develop or how much scalp coverage you’ve got at any given time—which is why it’s important to keep those hormones balanced for optimal results!

That being said, excessive exercise can actually have negative effects on hair like causing thinning or excessive shedding due to its intense demands on energy reserves—so it’s important to ensure you’re not pushing yourself too hard at the gym without proper fueling beforehand! It is also essential to properly care for your tresses after exercise by using gentle products that won’t strip away moisture or cause further damage or breakage down the line.

How Does Exercise Damage Hair?

Exercise can be a great way to stay healthy and fit, but it can also take a toll on your hair health if done incorrectly. Working out can lead to hair breakage, scalp dryness and even hair loss in some cases. It’s important to understand how exercise can damage your hair and take the necessary steps to prevent these issues. In this article, we’ll look into the different ways exercise can harm hair and how you can prevent it.


Exercising can certainly cause damage to your hair, as there are a few different ways in which sweat can be detrimental. To start, sweat can create an environment that encourages bacteria and fungi to thrive. These microorganisms then have the potential to cause infections like folliculitis, which can lead to hair loss.

In addition, it is possible for sweat from exercise to make your scalp dry and irritated due to salt buildup. This would make the scalp more prone to itching, flakiness and redness- all of which could weaken the hair follicles over time. It is also important to note that physical activity may cause significant dehydration- leading to loss of protein and moisture content in the hair shafts; weakening them in the process.

Finally, frequent washings while exercising or playing sport-related activities may strip away natural oils from your scalp and damage the protective outer layer of your hair strands; making them more vulnerable toward breakage or split ends. For this reason, it is important not only to shower after exercising but also ensure you use a gentle shampoo that suits your hair type when cleansing as well as applying a nurturing conditioner afterwards for hydration support.

Heat and Humidity

Heat and humidity can damage your hair, particularly if your workouts involve spending a lot of time outdoors. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, high temperatures and humidity mean that your scalp and lead to excess oil production. This too-much oil will make strands look greasy, flat and heavy instead of light, shiny and healthy. You can help prevent damage by showering as soon as possible after your workout with a mild shampoo to remove sweat and any excess oil that have built up on the scalp.

Excessive heat styling such as blow drying or using hot tools such as curling or flat-irons on wet hair also add additional stressors that can weaken the hair shaft, leading to breakage and other damage. When necessary for post workout styling, use direct heat tools at their lowest setting and always apply a good quality leave-in conditioner prior to applying any direct heat. If you exercise outdoors, wear protective hats made from breathable material such as cotton or mesh when playing sports in high temperatures or humid climates on sunny days; this will help protect against UV rays while reducing sweat accumulation at the root of the hair follicle leading to skin irritation.

Hairbrush Damage

When exercising, it’s important to not forget about the health of your hair. Hairbrush damage is a common result from vigorous exercise and should be addressed to prevent further damage. During physical activity, the handle of a brush is prone to becoming too warm if friction builds up against the scalp. This can cause hair breakage due to heat damage and lead to split ends and thinning of the hair. Additionally, vigorous brushing or combing your hair while sweaty can increase its porosity, leaving it feeling brittle and weak.

To reduce any potential hairbrush damage during exercise, make sure that your brushes are clean before use as sweat can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi which could clog your scalp causing infection and other skin problems such as dandruff. In addition, refrain from using brushes with sharp bristles on wet or sweaty towel-dried hairstyles. Instead try using your fingers to gently untangle knots or a wide tooth comb for carefully detangling wet strands without causing excess traction on the scalp.

How to Protect Hair During Exercise

Exercising regularly is important for a healthy body and mind, but it can have an adverse effect on your hair. Sweating, friction from hats or headbands and over-washing, along with the use of heated tools, can all damage your hair. So how can you protect your hair when exercising? Let’s take a look.

Wear a Sweatband

Exercise puts a strain on the body and can be particularly tough on hair. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize potential damage. One of the best ways to protect those tresses while exercising is to wear a sweatband.

Sweatbands are designed to absorb sweat and keep it away from your face, but they also help keep hair out of the way and away from your forehead and scalp. This prevents buildup which can lead to breakage in the form of knots, tangles and split ends. Some good sweatbands include:
-Fabric bands made with natural materials like cotton or bamboo that wick away moisture and retain breathability during strenuous workouts.
-Stretchy terrycloth bands that twist into your hair for a secure fit.
-Non-slip elastic bands lined with silicone for extra grip during high intensity activities such as running or jumping rope.
-Lightweight, breathable headbands made from nylon or polyester which are incredibly lightweight, stretchy and provide excellent ventilation even when fully wet with sweat.

No matter which type of headband you choose, be sure it’s made from a material that won’t pull or snag at your hair while moving around or doing exercise activities—those could cause breakage, too!

Use a Leave-in Conditioner

For those with curly and textured hair, a leave-in conditioner can help combat frizz and keep hair hydrated during a sweat session. After taking a shower, you can work a leave-in conditioning spray or lotion into damp strands to create a protective barrier against the heat while also keeping pesky frizz away. Just be sure to avoid alcohol-based formulas, which can cause dryness and itchiness. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to conditioning products, natural oils like coconut, olive, and avocado oil are great options to promote moisture retention while working out. It’s important to keep in mind that natural oils won’t always provide the same level of protection that is found in leave-in hair products.

Avoid Tight Hairstyles

When you exercise, it’s important to pay attention to how you’re caring for your hair as well. Avoiding tight hairstyles, such as braids or ponytails, will help reduce the potential for breakage or damage. Many women with fine hair or thinning hair feel that having a tight hairstyle is necessary in order to keep their hair from flying everywhere while they exercise. Wearing a loose bun or a loose ponytail can help keep the weight of your long locks from pulling at individual hairs and also allows you to let your scalp breathe during exercise.

If you prefer to wear braid styles during exercise, consider opting for looser French braids or rope braids before going for tight cornrow styles. Additionally, avoid using rubber bands when tying off a style; opt instead for soft fabrics such as cotton tees instead to tie off the base of your braid or bun and create some tension without sacrificing comfort. If possible, loosely pin your chosen style with metal-free pins so they are secure while still allowing some breathing room during your workouts. Finally, be sure to protect individual hairs when heat styling by applying light mists of water and heat protectant products before blow-drying and styling with hot tools.


To conclude, while a connection between working out and hair loss has not been scientifically proven, there are certain scenarios in which people with a predisposition to hair loss could experience increased shedding. Generally speaking, working out should be safe when done correctly. However, to reduce the risks of suffering from any type of hair loss due to exercise, we recommend following these simple steps:

-Wearing sweatbands and sports hats on hot days during workouts.
-Using gentle shampoos and conditioners specifically formulated for athletes or exercisers.
-Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your scalp.
-Limiting shower time after workouts if possible – long showers can wash away important natural oils from the scalp and shaft of the hair.
-Refraining from hairstyles that pull tight – buns and braids are most common culprits in this category.
-Applying natural products after every workout such as jojoba oil or argan oil which coat the hair shaft improving its manageability but also helping it retain moisture for longer periods of time
Following these tips can help minimize your risk of developing hair loss due to exercising and will enable you to enjoy a healthy lifestyle without having to worry about damaging your beautiful locks!

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