I started my natural hair journey around the same time I started running in 2017. But although I know a lot more about running now, there is still a lot I need to learn about taking care of my natural hair. For one, how does one maintain a healthy afro when leading an active running lifestyle? Knowing that I couldn’t possibly write a blog on this myself, I reached out to Gaborone-based hair blogger Tapiwa Gachala. She was lovely and immediately agreed to guest blog for me! Tapiwa did the big chop in October 2013 and started a Blog in 2018 to share all she knows about natural haircare, tips and tricks as well as her favourite hair products. Her blog is well-written and easy to read – she focuses on some of the basics and provides hands-on and practical tips in a manner that’s not judgemental or intimidating in any way.
For Our Running Naturalistas
I’m not much of a runner (at all actually) but I do work out so I am very much alive to the fact that there are certain struggles that natural haired ladies who exercise experience. Below I share my 5 hair care tips which should help you before, during and after your run!
1/ Tie your hair up! It doesn’t really matter how you tie it up as long as it is not too tight; it could be a high bun, high puff, twists or plaits. Firstly, this is obviously so your hair doesn’t distract or irritate you once you get into the flow of your run. Secondly, and more importantly this is so your hair doesn’t come into contact with your sweat on your face and neck area. Because of all the salt content in your sweat, letting your hair sit or soak in sweat will cause dryness which could lead to breakage. If you feel you sweat a lot on your head area you might consider getting a sweat band or a head scarf to help soak up some of the sweat from your scalp, just make sure they aren’t too tight and aren’t hurting your hair line as well.
2/ You do not have to wash your hair after every run! I know it’s tempting to want to wash your hair to get that sweat out after every run but it’s not necessary. Over-washing will definitely dry out your hair because it will strip off its natural oils and nutrients. Over-washing in my view is also a form of over manipulating your hair so you might end up causing it to break or shed more. With that being said you will have to do a little extra to care for your hair. See my next tip.
3/ CO-WASH! I normally wash my hair once weekly or sometimes biweekly if life gets hectic. However, when I started working out I realised this routine had to switch up a bit to cater for the extra build up on my scalp from all the sweating. So now I still have my major wash day every Sunday but then I squeeze in a mini co-wash session mid week.
Co-wash simply means conditioner wash, so you aren’t using shampoo which will definitely strip your hair’s natural oils if it isn’t that dirty. What a lot of people don’t know is that conditioner also has dirt-removing properties which aren’t as robust as in a shampoo. By co-washing you’re able to remove the build up and sweat from the running but still get some nutrients into your hair from the conditioner. This is also a great way of refreshing your hair and managing the frizz that might develop from the sweat and working out.
4/ Dry Shampoo? I am not a fan of dry shampoo. I’ve used it once and did not rate it much. To be honest the whole concept has never made sense to me. In my head spraying something onto my scalp that I won’t wash off is me adding another layer to the already existing build up and just clogging up my scalp.
I did a little research and it turns out I am right! Gail Federici, CEO of Color Wow, explained in an article I read on their website that “at best a dry shampoo will soak up some visible oil. But in truth, you’re just adding another layer of debris on top of your already dirty hair. And that is not a solution…it’s potentially a serious problem!” The article went on to state that when you use a powder based dry shampoo, the powder actually mixes with your scalp oil and it becomes a paste-y mixture that sticks to your scalp and can impede new hair growth by blocking follicles. Let’s just delete dry shampoo from our lives.
5/ KEEP RUNNING! Along with all the other benefits for your body, running (and exercise in general) helps improve blood circulation in the body. The increased blood circulation stimulates hair growth! So running = healthy growing hair!
Thank you so much to Tapiwa for sharing these awesome tips with us! I get really lazy with my haircare routine but with all my running I need to be extra careful to ensure that while my body is getting healthier, I don’t leave my hair behind. It doesn’t have to be a case of one or the other! For more hair inspiration, be sure to follow Tapiwa on her blog Tap On Hair, her Facebook Page and her Instagram.