Extremely high activity levels are tough not only on your body but also on your hair. In especially hard training blocks, it is not uncommon for athletes to complain that their hair becomes frizzy, flat and dry. Managing the multiple daily showers, marinating in chlorinated water and repeated sun exposure without your hair turning to dried, frizzy straw is difficult. If you add coloring your hair to the mix, the damage to your hair can be significant.
I had a discussion with Kiyomi Schultz at Kiyo Salon & Day Spa in Nanaimo, BC about athlete hair and what we can do to keep our lustrous locks while training hard. A very strong cyclist and triathlete herself, Kiyomi is also a master colourist and owner of the salon. Here are some tips I took away.
Don’t over wash! As much as you feel the need to wash your hair after every workout, you are stripping all of the natural oils from your hair. Do your best to skip hair washing days as long as you can. If you feel the need to wet the hair every day, just rinse thoroughly and condition, skipping the shampoo.
Swimmers should wet hair before putting on a swim cap. This will prevent the hair from soaking up as much chlorine as the cuticle will be full of water. Once out of the pool, clarify the hair with a colour safe clarifier if you have a coloured hair and use a deep conditioner to finish. If you swim every day you should only use clarifying shampoo maximum twice per week.
Be sure to put a heat protectant in your hair when blow drying as athletes tend to dry their hair more often a non-athlete might.
Don’t tie your hair up tightly or at all when it is wet. When it is wet the diameter of the hair is smaller and expands as it dries. When it’s restricted the only option the hair has is to snap and break, causing some funny texture right near your trusted ponytail holder!
Shampoo the roots of your hair creating great suds and avoid vigorous lather through the ends which strip oils away where they are needed. Condition the hair from midway to the end and avoid the root area if you have fine hair to keep it from falling flat.
See a stylist regularly, every six weeks, to assess what is best for your lovely locks.
In addition to these great tips on hair care, Schultz had these suggestions on products to have in your gym and swim bag to maintain your hair:
- Clarifying shampoo
- Deep conditioner
- Leave in treatment
Bonus products that are nice to have particularly if you live where there is a lot of sunshine:
- Hair sunscreen
- Hair Oil (excellent for keeping dry ends moisturized)
A last tip for the blondes out there for if you find your hair is going brassy or yellow from swimming. A weekly treatment of clarifying shampoo with two teaspoons of baking soda added can remove the chlorine immediately. Just be sure to do an extra shampoo to remove the excess baking soda when you are done.