Tinika Sadiku on Learning to Have Fun With Hair and Fitness

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By Jasmine Nesi, Co-founder and COO, RUNGRL

For the New York stop on last year’s Fall RUNGRL Tour, we partnered with Swivel Beauty for a post-run conversation on hair, fitness and wellness. Tinika Sadiku, owner of Hair by Sadiku in Manhattan and a stylist on the Swivel Beauty platform, joined us to drop some gems on haircare. Tinika has been a hairstylist for more than 12 years has assisted some of the top celebrity hair stylists.

We caught up with Tinika to discuss healthy hair, hair maintenance tips for active women and self-love. She shared her thoughts on how she advises clients on their respective hair journeys and her love for celebrating Black women.

RUNGRL’s #MyRunningHair campaign aims to break down the idea of hair being barrier to fitness for Black women. What’s your advice to women who have this issue?

This is something nearly all Black women go through. But, when you really want to workout and get your health together and get your fitness right, hair doesn’t have to hinder you. We’ve got to figure out what styles, techniques and tricks that work for us so we can stay healthy. Because if your hair looks good and you’re not healthy, what’s the point?

I also think that everyone has to give themselves patience and time to figure out what works for them. Try new styles and products to find your happy medium so that in between workouts, you’ll still feel beautiful.

What do women who are starting a fitness routine need to know about caring for their hair?

We have to be very careful about sweating in our scalp because it can smell if we don’t keep it dry. I’m a huge advocate of tea oils and tonics to clean and get the (excess) moisture off of the scalp so that it’s still healthy and not super dry, especially in the winter months. My advice:

  • Get advice from a professional. Find a great stylist who speaks your language to advise you on how to take care of your hair. (If you’re in the New York City or Washington, D.C. area, you can find stylists on Swivel Beauty.)

  • Teach yourself! Whether it’s learning how to a simple braid style or some other new style, try something new. Have a go-to backup style as well to save yourself from any “failed” style attempts.

What are a few hairstyles for women getting started with a fitness routine who still want to look good?

We have options when it comes to our hair! Try these:

  • Try a hairpiece. Finger Comber makes hair units that look just like natural hair. You can leave it out, put it into a ponytail or bun.

  • Curl it up. If you’re not opposed to a little heat, use a ¾- inch curling wand to add loose curls quickly to natural or relaxed hair.

  • Go for protective styling. Weave, faux locs, marley twists, etc. can give your hair some rest while still preserving style.

Many times, women who transition [to natural hair] hear messages of “no”; no heat, no this or that. In reality, when you’re transitioning, you can do everything in moderation. Don’t limit yourself by not trying all of these looks.

What are some of your favorite hair products?

There are so many products! Some of my favorite black-owned hair care brands are TGIN, Mane Choice, and As I Am. These are my preferences, but you still have to figure out what works for you. You might end up with a product graveyard under your sink, but you will figure it out.

What does healthy hair look like to you?

Tanika and a client. Photo provided by Tinika.

Tanika and a client. Photo provided by Tinika.

Healthy hair, to me, is hair on your head that is vibrant at doing what it wants to do. Whether that’s straight, natural, dreadlocks whatever, it’s about your hair exuding what and how it wants to be. When you’re healthy internally, you will have a healthy head of hair, so that is important, too. You may be doing everything right to your hair it can still be damaged because of how you’re treating your body. Healthy hair to me is hair that is allowed to be your crown and glory.

At the RUNGRL Fall Tour event, you spoke a bit about self-love when it comes to hair and the natural hair transitioning journey. What’s your message to women on these journeys?

[The natural hair transitioning phase] can completely mess with your self-esteem if you allow it. I transitioned to natural because I wanted to see the ups and downs of what my clients were going through. When you’re used to looking a certain way and understanding the conditioning from society on what is considered “beautiful”, it was hard on the days that I didn’t feel pretty. It was like “Wow. My hair is really doing its own thing right now.”
To all my textured sistas: You're beautiful. You're smart. You can do it. Give yourself grace. Give yourself some freedom to fail. The only thing that is wrong is not trying. Do not give up on your beauty. Do not give up on wanting to look presentable. I know it’s tough and frustrating and time-consuming, but you’ve got to keep it up.

Switch it up and have fun, because you’ll get to the point where you’ll find styles that work, you’ll find a stylist that can help you on your healthy hair journey and you’ll learn to have fun with your hair.

Photos courtesy of Tinika Sadiku


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Jasmine Nesi

Co-founder and COO