Do You Really Need To Wash Your Hair After Every Sweaty Workout?

When you get all sweaty after a workout, it's natural to want to hop in the shower and get all the funk out. And if you get super sweaty, it probably means your hair ends up looking wet and disheveled. Perhaps you assume your scalp is just as dirty as the rest of your body, so you don't think twice about grabbing that bottle of shampoo and lathering up in the shower.


This could be a bit of an inconvenience, though, if you work out daily and have dry hair or if you don't want to have to style it so often. The recommendations for how often you should shampoo your hair vary depending on who you ask and what type of hair you have.

Alli Webb, a professional hairstylist, told WebMD's Radiance, "For hair that's normal in terms of oiliness and medium weight, I sometimes tell my clients to go as long as they can without shampooing." It's easy to decide that it's time to wash your hair when it's oily or full of product, but what about sweat? Only sweat. Do you really need to wash your hair after every sweaty workout? 

Hairstylists offer differing opinions

If you have oily hair, chances are you wash it more often than those with normal or dry hair, but oil and sweat are very different things. Sweat is part water and part salt. The body produces it naturally from your glands when it reaches a certain temperature as a way to cool it down. Hair oil, also called sebum, is also produced naturally from glands around the hair follicles.


Oily hair and wet hair may appear the same at first, but wet hair eventually dries. Oily hair, on the other hand, remains oily until it's shampooed. So, if you have little or no product in your hair, it's not oily, but if it's a little sweaty, do you have to shampoo it right away? Not necessarily. Celebrity stylist Lacy Redway told The Cut that rinsing alone is sufficient for sweaty hair — no shampoo required. "Rinsing your scalp in between shampoos will help clean it. And if you have curly or textured hair, co-wash in between," she explains. She also recommends shampooing two to three times a week if you perform daily vigorous exercise.

What about the "super sweaters" who drip a lot during exercise? Holly Dear, another professional hairstylist and the owner of House of Dear, gave Prose a slightly different recommendation. "The salt in the sweat can dry your scalp and hair," she says. "I recommend choosing a shampoo that is nourishing and hydrating that replenishes and strengthens your scalp and hair."


How to minimize sweaty hair

There's nothing wrong with perspiring a lot during exercise. Some people just perspire more than others, so you should never feel like you need to make adjustments to prevent excessive sweating. Instead, consider ways to protect your hair from sweat to minimize the need for frequent shampooing.


Take a preventive approach and keep the sweat from saturating your hair by using a sweatband. You can also wipe your face, hairline, and scalp with a towel as you feel sweat forming. If you have long hair, avoid wearing it down during vigorous exercise. Pull it up back in a ponytail or bun, or try Dutch braiding to keep it from making contact with your neck and face.

Using dry shampoo is another method that can minimize sweaty hair. Celebrity stylist Lacy Redway recommends spraying your hair with dry shampoo before exercise (via The Cut). Just make sure your hair is dry when you spray it. "Prepping your hair prior to your workouts with dry shampoos can help prepare your strands to absorb any sweat during workout," she said. Remember to also read the instructions to be certain that you're using the dry shampoo the right way.


Ultimately, while you can always take your own liberties and precautions, the answer to whether you should wash your hair after every workout appears to be a resounding no — that is, unless you've produced a lot of oil.