Hair Care for Runners

Or:  How you, too, can ditch the daily shampoo habit.   Even if you’re a hot sweaty mess from your workout.

You know the lecture.  The one from your stylist: “How often do you wash your hair?  Twice a day??  Oh honey, you need to stop that.”

But I run! – you protest.  I get so sweaty and nasty.  There is no way I could NOT wash my hair every time I shower.  I just can’t.

Well, I am here to tell you that maybe you can.

Believe me, I used to be a die-hard member of Team Daily Shampoo.  I sweat when I run – profusely.  But last year when I chopped my hair to a shorter bob that absolutely could not air dry, I started to rethink my stubborn attitude.  With multiple showers and shampoos a day, I was spending way too much time with my blow-dryer.

And so I resolved to only wash every other day.  And honestly?  I have not looked back since. Sometimes I even go three days between washings.  It took my hair a couple of weeks to adjust to this new routine – and yes, it was a bit greasy the first few days.  But it is so nice to not have to deal with my hair every day now.  And I actually think my hair looks much better on day two or even day three!  This is day three hair:

(I am not saying my hair wins any awards for being the greatest hair on the planet – in fact, it’s kind of snaggly and in need to a trim at the moment.  However.  The point is, you don’t see any nasty sweat caked in there, do you?  Nor any oil slicks.  Or fleas or birds nesting.  “Dirty” hair can look just fine!)

So: how do you get over the sweat problem?  And the ponytail problem?  Here is how I do it:

  • On non-wash days, when I shower I pile my hair into a high messy bun and avoid wetting it.  Post-shower, I blast it with the blow-dryer to dry out any sweat from my workout as well as any damp spots from the shower.  This takes about a minute or two, tops.
  • Avoid pony tails.  Obviously I put my hair in a pony when I’m running or working out, but it comes out right away when I’m done – as in, I take it out before walking home from the gym, or the second I get in the door from my run.  This greatly reduces the pony-tail-line problem, as well as allowing the sweat in my hair to dry a bit before I hop in the shower.
  • Baby powder is my friend.  Even as a fairly dark brunette, I don’t have any issues with it turning my hair white.  I just dab a bit on my fingers and work it into my roots if they’re looking greasy, then brush my hair thoroughly to distribute it.  If any chalky looking spots remain, I just blast them with the blow-dryer for a few seconds.
  • I always blow-dry my hair on days that I wash it.  If I don’t, it looks yucky the next day and I’m stuck washing or at least wetting it in the shower.
  • If my hair gets really gross – say from running in a downpour or having a cat fling poo at me* – well, then I wash it even if I’m not “scheduled” to.  Duh.

The topic of hair washing, dry shampoos, etc comes up frequently on one of the fitness forums I frequent, and a lot of people tend to say they just can’t do it.  I used to be one of those people – so I would encourage you to at least give it a chance!  And I know everyone’s hair is different, but this is what works well for me.

Anyway.  Sheesh, did I just write that much about hair?  I swear I am not a diva!  Do you wash your hair daily – or do you skip days?  Any tips??

Today’s EAT: Remember Lunchables?  Well, that’s what I had for dinner.  Basically.

By the time I got home from running and showered (and blow dried my hair – today was a wash day!) it was 9:30.  I was starving and SO not in the mood to cook.  So I went for one of my favorite types of meals: the snacky meal!

See, a grown up Lunchable!  Instead of weird slimy mystery meat, I used a great hard salami.  And instead of waxy yellow cheese, I used a sharp cheddar from the Greenmarket.  With a big salad, of course.

This week has been sort of a fail when it comes to healthy cooking.  Oh well – sometimes life gets in the way!

Today’s DRINK:  Chuggin’ the agua tonight.  Boring, I know!  We are out of wine though.  Boo.

Today’s RUN: Thursday means it’s CPTC tempo night, but I opted out of the “hard” workout so my legs would be fresh for my 10K on Saturday.  Instead, I did a nice mellow meander of the bridle path with a fellow 10K-er.  It was so nice just to run and chat and not worry about pace or distance!  All told, between my little warm up run beforehand and the park loop, I probably did about 8 miles.

*This actually happened.  The joys of being a rescue volunteer!

14 responses to “Hair Care for Runners

  1. Good for you, pretty lady! You look fabulous in the pic!!

    I’ve gotten myself down to two washes a week. I know it sounds gross, but my hair has never been so nice! For days I need a pick-me-up, I use Ojon dry shampoo – it leaves a little residue now and again but gives me lots of body.

    One favorite (new-ish) tip: condition your ends with almond oil every week or two – it smells nice and is a quick infusion of moisture (great for runners’ split ends). Just avoid your roots – that is, unless you’re striving for the “fat man who lives with his mother and listens to AC/DC” look…

    Oh, and speaking of almond oil – it’s fabulous for reducing dark circles under the eyes… just dab a bit under your eyes every night, and you’ll see a marked difference in less than a week. Love it!

    Wow – now I feel like a diva…!

    Anyway… love to you and hubs! Hope to see you both soon! xx

    • Almond oil, huh? Sounds interesting! Do you buy that at a Whole Foods type place, or what?

      Hope to see you soon too! Are you going to the retreat next month?

  2. I can go about 4 days before I need to wash my hair; I haven’t done anything special in the past. I want to try dry shampoo though. The texture of my hair is just that It stays pretty decent looking. Usually day 4 i just put it in a pony tail.

  3. Well, your hair looks gorgeous. I ashamed to say that not only am on I team Shampoo (Very Nearly) Almost Every Day, I’m on team Ponytail, Team No Hairdryer and Team Six Months Between Haircuts. If my hair were a pet, it would be seized by the Humane Society.
    I’ll work on the hairdryer part. It’s getting pretty ugly.

  4. Your hair looks great in that pic! I am really impressed!

    I confess to being a daily shampoo gal, but perhaps I’ll try forgoing it for a day…perhaps… 😉

  5. Is it odd that hair I factor in hair washing when I plan out my workouts? I’m an every other day hair washer…. but I usually wear it in a ponytail on day 2. But I HATE washing my hair in the morning only to go for a noon time run and mess it all up…. so I usually go another day without washing it if I have a run planned during lunch. But if I can I try to do a morning workout, so that I can keep my every other day schedule. :-)

    • Not odd at all…I totally do that too. If I have an extra-hard workout planned, I’ll let it go an extra day so I can wash afterward!

  6. i’m a skeptic of this no-washing-daily business. since i chopped my hair short, i can’t wear it up, so i either blow-dry it or look like a twelve year old boy with wavy hair. the days i don’t wash it it’s super flat wavy/ straight hair. bad news either way. currently trying to grow it out so i can just put it up and call it a day!

    your hair looks good day three, though. lucky duck!

  7. I usually pick it up at GNC, but only because there’s one in my building. I’m sure they have it at Whole Foods, too!

    And if you can’t find it, try another kind of oil, like coconut or jojoba… or even olive (I’m a bit reluctant to smell like a salad, though!).

  8. Your hair looks great!!

    I am a daily washer. The only time I may skip a washing is on the weekends when I know we do not have any plans. My stylist often reminds me NOT to wash everyday. But I never listen. I am going to try your routine to see if it works for me. Then maybe my hair will look as nice as yours.

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  12. Great tips! I’ll have to try this out, I hate washing my hair every day it frizzes too much when I do that. 😀