A recent study revealed that two out of every five African-American women avoid exercising because of their hair. The study, which was conducted by Dr. Amy McMichael, a dermatologist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, surveyed 103 African-American women who came to the dermatology clinic at Wake Forest University in October 2007. Published in the Archives of Dermatalogy, the findings identified costly salon visits, the need for frequent washes and messed up hairstyles as the reason many black women avoid working out. With obesity rates rising in the U.S., the study immediately became a cause for concern though most black women have grappled with this problem for a long time.

Here are only a few tips that can help preserve your hairstyle while exercising at the gym:

-Try a sweat-absorbent headband like Save Your ‘Do gymwrap by Nicole Ari Parker available here

You can’t avoid sweat but you can keep moisture away from your hair with sweat-absorbent headbands that focus on your forehead and the back of your neck.

-Rock a ‘pineapple’ updo.

By wearing a sweat-absorbent headband and pinning your hair up, you can help keep your hair away from sweat on your scalp, forehead and back of your neck and stop moisture from ruining your look.

-Dry Shampoo

Some women avoid working out because of the need for more frequent washes. A good way to wash your hair without damaging your style is dry shampoo. A few spritzes will absorb sweat and oil and freshen up your hair.

-Wear your hair in braids or twists.

If your hair is natural, try wearing it in braids or twists while working out so it doesn’t shrink.

-Wrap hair up with a satin scarf.

A satin scarf will help soak up the sweat while you work out and protect your style. If you don’t want to cover your entire head, try folding the scarf in half and using it as a headband.

What tips do you use to preserve your hairstyle while working out?

  • Lillian Mae

    This “study” has been recycled far too many times…

  • seriously?

    this is gonna sound mean and I already know this is not going to be every body who reads this cup of tea but seriously not working out because of your…hair?
    It sounds to ridiculous to be true I can not believe such a thing.

  • Alisha

    I fail to see how this can even be perceived as a legitimate response by some black women. As an avid runner and an occasional swimmer, it came down to this — a healthy lifestyle is way more important to me than a fresh hairdo.

  • vm

    Lost cause. If one wants to work out and work up a good sweat, one must accept your hair is just going to get jacked up. One spin class at Soul Cycle and my style is out.

  • silkynaps

    As many times as this post has been recycled, I wonder why none of the options is ever just to embrace the naps…

  • binks

    At this point, hair should NOT be used as an excuse to not workout. If you truly want to work out you will find a way to do it and still save your hair. There are way to many options and tips out there to “save” your hair while working out that there is no excuse!

  • Anon

    Let’s look at who, the individuals and companies, behind this research. Who paid for it? What about the body of work of each of the individuals involved?

    And what are the profiles of the women they chose to participate in the study? We’re the participants a fair representation of the entire black female demographic, nationwide? Or were they are from one sub-culture, one region, one town, etc…?

  • Tallulah Belle

    Really? How is putting your hair up in a “pineapple” going to keep it from getting wet with perspiration? It may keep it off your face, but you sweat from your pores, your scalp. And, your hair grows out of your scalp Your hair is going to get drenched, particularly at the roots, if your body overheats from exertion. That is a good thing.

    How is a sweat band going to keep your hair dry? — it simply keeps sweat out of your eyes. The reality is, if you are exercising with your heart rate raised, you are going to sweat. Plain and simple. Again, sweating is a good thing. Your hair is going to kink up or “go back” or frizz or fall or whatever, because it is going to intermingle with sweat and body heat and humidity.

    Most importantly, you must rinse the perspiration out of your hair after you sweat because it is a form of salt (a mildly toxic, bodily excrement). You MUST rinse your hair at least because sweat is a form of waste. Leaving in your hair to build up causes acne, clogged pores, dry hair and a musky, not so pleasant scent that others can smell from a mile away. There is simply no way to reconcile the two.

    Honestly, these articles are senseless. Just exercise, sweat profusely, wash or rinse the sweat out of your hair. Whatever you do to it from there, from tacking on a weave or slicking it back with some gel and a cap; it is going to look far better than being overweight and out of shape. Period.

  • Ms. Information

    Most Americans are overweight….not just black women,,,,,also a white male wrote the yahoo article which is suspect to me…what is white America’s interest in us? Why isn’t the headline, why do most white women die their hair blonde, get botox, injected lips? Why do the care? Reporting negative information aids in separating black men from black women…they are not offering solutions…only stating half facts…they also say that 47% of hispanic women are overweight, their hair is straight so what is excuse for them and where is that article located?

  • Ms. Information


  • Erin

    Thank you for these tips! I workout anyway, but I would love my hair styles to last longer and not get sweated out completely.

  • Mademoiselle

    Since when has 103 voluntary participants become a statistically significant amount of people to represent the millions of black women in this nation — so much so that you could extrapolate that 40% of all black women do ANYTHING for ANY specifically identified reason? Can we please stop giving these “scientists” so much ad space for their “findings”?

  • Right

    The majority of black women are overweight, fact. Why do you care so much about whites and hispanics over black women though? If articles like this are helpful in finding solutions to women who don’t work out for fear of sweating out their relaxers (I’ll bet you’ve never heard of that term, right) what exactly is your damage?

  • mEE

    thank you!

  • Right

    Name 1 study with millions of participants. Look up how studies are compiled.

  • juicy

    How many times are we going to cite the SAME old “study” from 2007. Time to have more significant conversations. I really like TheOnyxDiaries better. . . google it

  • Kema

    Exactly! I think the hair thing is just an excuse that black women use when in reality most people that forgo exercise do so because they don’t feel like it.

  • Kema

    The study does not need 1M participants but it does need to correctly represents the population.

  • Mademoiselle

    @Right: You don’t need millions of participants to make a statistically significant sample (this finding would’ve been much more reliable with as little as 600-700 randomly selected people). However, when your total population is 21 million, there’s no way a sample size of 103 could hold enough weight to negate outliers (maybe all of his patients were from a “bougie” part of town), data errors (maybe he wrote down someone’s response incorrectly), bias (maybe he only asked the good looking women that came in), or demographic skewing (maybe west coast women behave differently than east coast women) — especially a biased sample since the people voluntarily went into his office seeking medical help for existing dermatological issues. Anyone with a degree in science would’ve had to take a class in statistics for this reason (ask any of your friends who’ve earned degrees in medicine, psychology, etc. and I’m sure they’ll tell you they had to take a “Psych Stats” class or something similar). Honestly, I can’t take seriously any “study” that has surveyed less than 1000 people across the nation considering how diverse the black community is.

  • leyla

    Actually, the headband works, I bought one a couple weeks ago just to try it and it keeps my hair at least 90% dryer than not wearing one, but it has to be a special one for sweat. Anyway, hair should not be an excuse when excercise provides so many benefits not only for your health but for your skin and the best part is the way you feel when you work out, it makes you happier. I have been working out for about two years already and I keep on doing it because what excercise gives me its so good than my hair would be the last thing to make me stop.

  • myfemalepersuasion

    i wondered the same thing. No suggestion on just being natural.

  • myfemalepersuasion

    True. I love working out but i have zero like-minded friends. And they never use their hair as an excuse for inactivity. They would just rather eat whatever they want and sit around complaining.

  • C

    Whatever. I’m sure that is the case for some people, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of black women who don’t exercise do so because they don’t want to ruin their hair. If you really want to work out and be in shape, you will eventually work out and you WILL find a hairstyle to fit your active lifestyle (braids, natural, twa, or even non-flat ironed relaxed hair that is allowed to be wavy, etc). Nothing will stop you if you really want to be in good shape.

  • Kay

    Ugh. Not this again. I don’t know where this “study,” found these women, but I hit the gym faithfully EVERY DAY, I bike a forest trail at least once a week, and take jujitsu and martial arts kickboxing. Many of the places I go have lots of Black women. In fact I met another Black woman at my gym the other day who was thinking about getting personal training sessions. So all that ” Most are afraid to mess up their hair,” theory is absolute garbage. Besides, in this age of quick weaves, sew-ins, wigs, pieces, and braids, I don’t see how a little sweat would keep anyone from having a nice hair style.

  • Ms. Information

    @Wrong…..How is the study helpful? Stating facts or the illusion of facts is not helpful without follow up…also I DO know women who do this…I also know that none of my hispanic friends workout at all and are also overweight..,,,thank you.,,if you think that this “study” is meant to help us…think again.

  • PJ

    I’m disappointed with Clutch for taking the surface approach to this “news” which has been swirling around since 2007 apparently (it is almost 2013 folks). No where near 40% of all black women in america avoid exercise solely because of their hair. I’m more interested in knowing why they keep publishing these types of stories over and over again. Also why they don’t EVER do any stories on why white women do the strange things that they do, yet seem to be so interested in black women’s lives?

  • apple

    this why i wear weave… i can look good sweat..swimming..sleeping or f**king … tehehe

  • Bump Mediocrity

    Fat overweight women need to work out. Period. No matter what their race, hairstyle or circumstances. Excuses don’t add up to nothing but excuses. I know it feels like an attack but we as sisters have got to do better with our health. We are shortening our life span and many women are coping with preventable aches and pains because they aren’t motivated to take care of themselves.

    I will never be a size two but you better believe when I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror ( a gut, backfat, cellulite, being winded) I joined Planet Fitness, cut out sugar, bought vitamins, drank water, cut out eating after 7, and stayed prayed up to get me through the tough times. I did it for me and no one else. It’s never easy to commit to change but being healthy is a quality of life issue. There’s nothing sadder than seeing a woman who is out of shape using food as her lover and best friend.

  • from hs stats…

    does the size of the total population affect the reliability of a sample? I always thought that 200 people had the same statistical reliability for a population of 1000 as for 1,000,000

  • Micheal

    Apple Bet your weave smells like shit when your f**king though lol

  • Lala

    Thats really rude

  • sheworkshardforthemoney

    I find that washing my hair now its natural is easier than when I had weave or wore a relaxer. When I had weave I was worried about it getting loose and shedding if I washed it every week. Now I do my wash and go’s its alot quicker. It seemed like I was the only one looking at the games this year. Loads of black women with different hair styles competing. I personally like the pinapple style when doing my run but to honest I spend more time thinking about what music i’m going to run to than my hair style.


    Tabernacle, Church, You already know lol. Also, I hate when I’m at the gym and my fellow sisters don’t look like they just went swimming. When I’m done working out I’m am drenched in sweat. These sistas leave the gym looking how they came in and that’s not good. Plus, I’m paying $40 a month I’m getting my money worth. Therefore, I have the feeling some sistas don’t go hard at the gym, to look cute because, being sweaty isn’t sexy. Also, to preserve their hair. Fuck all of that trying to look cute for those suspect down low acting dudes at the gym and get rid the impurities in your body. LADIES REMEMBER THE GYM IS THE NUMBER 1 PLACE FOR GAY AND DOWN LOW MEN MEET EACH OTHER SO STOP TRYING TO LOOK GOOD FOR THOSE FRANK SWEET WATER OCEAN MEN. Fuck ya hair ladies lol. You gonna sweat it out with ya man anyway lol.

  • Mademoiselle

    @HS Stats: Depends on your confidence interval and margin of error.

  • nona

    I have locs, I can’t just “rinse” my hair every time I sweat, I don’t have the time, money, or resources. I workout 5-7 times a week and while the only style I can ever seem to keep is a bun (although I hate doing yoga when I have it in, but I still go), I don’t mind the sweat. I don’t have acne, my hair is long and healthy, and my hair doesn’t smell. In fact, my boyfriend loves to smell my hair because it always smells like me, which he describes as a sweet and earthy scent. Please do not speak on a topic as if you know what is best for everyone.

  • TK

    I agree with you, however I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of african american women are not in shape (bmi in a healthy range). Statistically we do suffer from the highest rates of high blood pressure, diabetes (the list goes on) which in part is contributed to by not working out.

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