Real Women Share How to Refresh Natural Hair After a Run or Workout

 Photo: Ashlee Lawson for RUNGRL

Photo: Ashlee Lawson for RUNGRL

By Na’Tasha Jones

#MyRunningHair

We get it. You care about your hair. That also means that, like most Black women, you take your hair into consideration before you exercise. How it looks, how it feels, how it smells, how it lays--all the things we love about our hair and some of the things we don’t are amplified after a nice, hard workout or long run.

You can’t always just wash and go, so how do you refresh your hair after putting in work?

As part of our ongoing #MyRunningHair initiative, RUNGRL asked six Black women runners with varying hair types to share how they go about refreshing their hair after some tough miles. Here’s what they had to say:

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Sha’Neal Jourdan

Marketing Professional - Natural Hair

"I like to use a banana clip to pull my hair back during a run or workout when I’m planning to rock my big curly 'fro afterwards. This way, my curls aren't creased (like they would be from a ponytail holder or headband) and I can quickly refresh with a spray water bottle, spray leave-in conditioner or hair milk/creme. I love using Mielle Organics' White Peony Leave-In Conditioner spray to moisturize and smooth out my curls. This product gives a slightly minty, fresh fragrance and tames any frizz, making my curls feel super soft.

I separate my hair in sections then use the spray to refresh. After the products are evenly applied through my curls, all that's left is to quickly shake the 'fro out and use my favorite pick to reach maximum volume."

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Tulani Elisa

PR Specialist and Cycling Instructor - Locs

"About every two days I clean my scalp with non-alcoholic witch hazel and a microfiber cloth. I then use hair oil that primarily includes castor, jojoba and coconut oils as well as tea tree, chamomile, myrrh, peppermint and rosemary oils.

My favorite products are Thayers Witch Hazel, aloe vera formula, rose petal scent and Haku Holistics Moisturizing Nectar.

They are both light and leave my hair feeling fresh and smelling great!"

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Fallon Jones

School Administrator - Protective Style/Weave

"I wear a protective style that happens to be a straight weave (at the moment), so my hair refresh after a workout is quite simple. I remove the head band that I wear to keep the hair out of my face and then take down my top knot (bun). Because I wear my workout hairstyle up and off of my face, it decreases the time do my hair after a workout. If I did not sweat too much, I can just go on with my day after a workout. When I sweat a bit more, I lightly blow dry my hair and run the flat iron through my ends and go about my day!

I like to use my handy-dandy blow dryer and my flat iron after my workout to refresh my hair. Again, this is because I have a straight weave at the moment, as opposed to a curly or body wave weave. I may put a little bit of Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Hold and Shine Moisture Mist in my hair to help with the fly-away hairs and then I’m good!"

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Traci Branch

Mental Health Counselor - Natural Hair

"After I work out, I like to put my hair in a quick puff if there is still definition left in my style. If my hair looks a mess after a workout, I add a leave-in conditioner and seal with castor oil before a quick detangling session. I like to use Creme of Nature Argan Oil leave-in conditioner when I sweat out my twist-outs. It's an easy spray that gives my hair enough slip for quick detangling followed by a little castor oil to seal in the moisture for a few days of care-free protective styling until my next wash day.

From there, I create a middle part with two flat twists that I bring together in a low bun."

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Dannielle McNeilly

Office Manager - Relaxed Hair

"Contrary to popular belief, relaxed hair isn't THAT much easier to deal with than natural hair. You might sweat out straightness as a natural but with relaxed hair, it just makes your hair lifeless and hard to style because you've sweated out that wash-set-and-blow you spent three decades in the salon for.

I usually put my hair in a high sloppy bun with the base is slightly loose from my scalp, which allows for a bit of air to flow through. I don’t put my hair in ponytails because, (depending on length) the ends of your hair can get wet (from sweat) and that's just annoying. Post workout, I like to immediately let my hair down to let my hair breathe and roots dry out. If it’s really damp, I take a towel and rub my scalp a bit. It's very important to let your roots dry out because you can't do anything with your styling otherwise. Once they’ve dried as much as possible, I either leave it out, throw it in a sloppy top bun, or wrap it and tie it up if I want to maintain the neatness of my blow out.

When all of the above doesn’t work, I braid my hair overnight and pull it out in the morning for a kinky, textured look. Might as well offset looking crazy before your workout (lol)."

Read more about Dannielle's marathoning adventures here.

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Jasmine Nesi

Account Supervisor and RUNGRL co-founder - Natural Hair

"I typically wear my hair in a puff or half bun to keep it out of my face on my runs. To refresh, I alternate massaging my scalp with tea tree oil or Jamaican black castor oil every other day. Then, I'll use a little water to refresh my curls and add a cream or gel to get out of the door quickly.

I like experimenting with different product combinations. I break my hair into four sections and use a quarter-size of whatever product I'm feeling that day to each section. Lately, my go-to's have been As I Am Smoothing Gel, Cantu Coconut Curling Cream and Goddess Curls Botanical Gel. I also make sure to incorporate an apple cider vinegar rinse at least once a week.

I'm a fan of tea tree oil on my scalp for that refreshing tingly feeling. I don't use a lot of product post-run because my hair can get weighed down very quickly."

What are your favorite ways to refresh your style after a run or workout? Share with us in the comments below! 

Read more about RUNGRL's #MyRunningHair initiative, where we discuss hair care and maintenance as a barrier to Black women's fitness and active lifestyles on the #MyRunningHair page. 

*Note, the recommendations in this post are from the participants’ own experience. Each person’s own results may vary. Their preferred products are linked in this post as RUNGRL affiliate links.


Na'Tasha Jones

Chief Content Officer