8 Haircare Tricks to Combat a Sweaty Workout, From a Philly Hair Stylist

Philly hair expert Jen Bisicchia offers styling tips to keep your hair looking fresh after an intense workout.

Wish your hair could look like this after an intense workout? Philly hair expert Jen Bisicchi, told us how. / Photograph by Jen Bisicchia

In the fitness world, it seems like we strive to sweat. We hear the phrase, “Work up a sweat!” as if how sweaty we get during any kind of workout is some kind of rite of passage, determining whether or not we’ve had a “good” day at the gym or the studio.

This is all well and good until your hair starts sticking to your body, latching itself onto your face, arms, back (which, of course, are all soaked). At the end of class, you leave feeling empowered but baffled over how you’re going to return to work or resume your day with a mop of sweaty, scraggly hair.

This situation can be anxiety-inducing, even causing us to skip workouts completely, especially if we have some place to be right after. Lucky for us, there are easy ways to avoid this hair nightmare and still give it our all in class. We spoke with Jen Bisicchia, hair stylist at Jason Matthew Salon, to find out effective yet simple styling solutions to keep your hair looking fresh, even after that really intense workout.

General haircare

Keep your hair out of your face. This is the fundamental hair styling rule for fitness. No matter what kind of workout you’re doing, the key to helping your hair from the start is to keep it out of your face. If you have medium to long hair, put it up in either a ponytail or a bun in the middle or on the top of your head to prevent your hair from touching your back or arms (your hair collects extra sweat when this happens). If you don’t have enough hair to form a ponytail or bun, wear a fabric- or cloth-covered headband to push your hair away from your forehead and face. Don’t worry about how you look — it’s not the club.

BYO products. Even if your gym or fitness boutique provides shower products, those might not be compatible with your specific hair texture, thickness, or color. “Using a shampoo or conditioner that doesn’t treat your hair the way it should can be catastrophic,” Bisicchia says. With one wash, you could do damage to the quality and longevity of your luscious locks. To easily prevent this, Bisicchia suggests investing in a travel-size cosmetic bag and filling it with products you typically use or are recommended by your home stylist. Key items to include are: shampoo and conditioner (if you plan on washing your hair), dry shampoo or hair refresher (if you’re skipping the hair wash), control gloss or cream, work-specific hair ties, bobby pins, and hairspray.

Start with a cool shot of air. As your body temperature increases, so does the amount of oil produced by your scalp. If you’re the kind of person who needs to wash and blow dry their hair after a workout, use the cold air setting on the blowdryer. Drying with hot air is only going to accumulate more oil, which ultimately does your hair a disservice. If you’re skipping the wash, cool down your head with lower temps before doing any kind of styling.


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Switch up your hair ties. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t. Many people wear the same hair tie over and over, no matter if they’re going to work or the gym. This becomes problematic, especially after a really intense workout, because the fabric that covers the elastic ends up absorbing the sweat and oil your scalp produces, as well as outside bacteria. Bisicchia recommends creating ponytail holder categories: one for the gym and one for everything else. Color code them, too — maybe neon or flashy colors for your workouts and neutral (always neutral) for professional settings. To really make a difference, wash your hair ties using soap and water.

If you have fine, oily hair and can skip the wash

Opt for dry shampoo. If you’re not going to wash your hair (for whatever reason — no judgment), you’re going to want to put something in your hair to reduce the amount of sweat and oil. Although baby powder is an inexpensive alternative to dry shampoo, it isn’t the best option for a head full of sweat. Bisicchia thinks of it this way: “If you sprinkled baby powder into a bowl of water, it would eventually turn into a paste.” No, thank you. Instead, use dry shampoo. Because it was made to absorb oil, it’ll help your hair looking fresh, not flat or cakey, after you leave your fitness class and resume your day. Bisicchia recommends Oribe’s Gold Lust Dry Shampoo because it has a powder-like consistency, is invisible (so it’s great for people with dark hair), and is odorless.


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If you have dry, less-oily hair and can skip the wash

Go with a hair refresher. If you just need to spruce up your hair a bit, a hair refresher is your best bet. Basically perfume for your hair, a hair refresher helps neutralize odor and reduce static. Bisicchia suggests spritzing with Oribe’s Côte d’Azur because its scent isn’t overpowering.

If you have wavy or curly hair and need to wash

Use curl gloss. Regardless if you want or need to wash your hair after a sweaty workout, you have a great styling tool: curl gloss. This hair product is meant to shape and shine your natural waves or curls. The gloss should have a very thin, gel-like consistency that might feel a little oily but actually works to hydrate your locks. The gloss gives your hair the right amount of control without turning your waves or curls crunchy or stiff.

For a sleek, professional look


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Style a slicked-back ponytail. After an intense workout, your hair is not going to look perfect. That doesn’t mean you have to go back into the world looking like a mess, though. Bisicchia advocates this simple, highly professional look: “Wash your hair, air dry it, put in conditioner (for some control), then comb it into a sleek, slicked-back ponytail.” Not only is this easy to style, but everyone will think you woke up like this. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.

Note: Jason Matthew Salon has teamed up with Flywheel for a “Fly and Dry” special. For the entire month of June, take a class at Flywheel and receive a discounted blow dry at Jason Matthew Salon. The discount can be used by new or existing salon clients, but is limited to one per week. The blow dry must happen the same day as your Flywheel class, and you must show proof of class. For more information, email Renee at jasonmatthewsalon@gmail.com.

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