From dry winter wind to scorching summer sun, we runners expose our hair to punishing environmental stressors. Combine that with sweaty scalps, which require daily washings, and you’ve got the formula for frizz. Or maybe under-shampooing and resorting to the greasy ponytail-and-ball-cap-of-shame combo sounds more familiar? Whatever your mane issue, it is possible to get your runner’s hair under control. Just follow these tips from insiders in the know.
Deep condition on “off days.”
Recovery days are necessary for body, mind—and hair. Chase your weekly yoga flow with a relaxing soak: Shampoo, then work deep conditioner into your hair, put your hair in a towel and let the formula do its magic while you unwind. Rinse and feel renewed.
TRY THIS: John Frieda Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Deep Conditioner ($10, johnfrieda.com)
Hit Pinterest for ponytail alternatives.
“Wearing braids puts less stress on hair while running. Most runners who put their hair in high ponies have experienced hair breakage around the area where the elastic goes,” notes avid runner and triathlete Joy Kim of Washington, D.C. For her long, “stick-thin” Asian hair that’s both fine and color-treated, Kim prefers French braids and a pigtail to prevent snagging and breakage.
Cover your tresses.
“I always run with a Buff, beanie or a baseball cap,” says ultrarunner Mirna Valerio, who blogs for Fat Girl Running as well as Women’s Running. The native of Rabun Gap, Ga., explains that in winter the covering provides warmth and protects against wind or rain, and in summer, a cap provides much-needed SPF for her hair and scalp. If, like Valerio, you have chemically relaxed black hair and limit shampooing to once a week or less, wear a sweat-wicking gym wrap during treadmill sessions too. By absorbing salty, dehydrating perspiration, you’ll keep your hair fresh and scalp itch-free.
TRY THIS: Buff Original ($25, buffwear.com) or Save Your Do Full Triangle Gymwrap ($30, saveyourdo.com)
Use the best products—especially if you swim.
“The one product I can’t live without is a high-quality conditioner. I go through conditioner twice as fast as shampoo,” says Melissa Dragoo of Fishers, Ind. As a runner and triathlete, Dragoo swims, showers and shampoos frequently. If you cross-train in chlorinated water, invest in a highend moisture-boosting shampoo and conditioner duo.
TRY THIS: Lush Rehab Shampoo ($14) and Retread Hair Conditioner ($32, both lushusa.com)
Don’t give up on short hair.
For shorter-haired runners, it’s no surprise that chopped tresses can be as hard to tame as long hair. “Mine sits just above my shoulders, and my biggest issue is trying to keep it out of my face during runs,” says Amy Aschenauer of Greenwood, Ind. “To combat flyaways, I use a product called Up All Night when I blow-dry my hair. It’s a volumizing foam that helps keep my hair in place when I pull it back.”
TRY THIS: Biomega Up All Night Volume Foam Mousse ($19, aquage.com)
This translates to ditching your shampoo and cleansing with conditioner instead. The detergent-free method doesn’t strip hair of its natural oils or (for color-treated hair) its pigment. Co-washing is great for dry hair, curly hair or black women’s hair (whether chemically relaxed or natural), but fine or oily hair may get weighed down. Any lightweight conditioner can be used, or try a dedicated co-washing product. Note: Chemically relaxed black hair may need extra moisture; Valerio shores up her cowashing regimen with an application of leave-in, pomade-style conditioner.
TRY THIS: Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner ($6, herbalessences.com) or Blue Magic Coconut Oil Hair Conditioner ($2.69, bluemagichaircare.com)