Hair Repair: Treat Dry and Damaged Hair
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Hair Repair: Treat Dry and Damaged Hair

If your hair looks frizzy, fried, or dull from your workouts, don't sweat it. We found simple solutions to strength-build your strands.

Strategies for Hair Problems

You love that exhilarating "I look hot" feeling you get after a great sweat session. And then you catch a glimpse of the toll it has taken on your hair -- flyaways, ponytail breakage, and color faded from the sun. In fact, 38 percent of women admit to skipping their cardio routine just because they don't want to mess up their hair, according to a recent FITNESS poll. No need to give up your workout. Keep your strands shiny, healthy, and strong -- even when you're on the run -- with these easy strategies.

Style Spoiler: Frizz

The three S's -- sweat, showers, steam rooms -- are like kryptonite for hair. "Small water particles can make tresses swell, creating pouf," says hairstylist Jet Rhys, owner of the two eponymous salons in San Diego. Give your hair a pre-workout spray from roots to ends with a dry shampoo, like Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray ($11,, to absorb water. To prevent fluff, swap your usual conditioner for one that's rich in proteins, such as Aveeno Nourish+ Moisturize Conditioner ($7.99, drugstores). Proteins help fill in porous areas and reduce flyaways. If you have relaxed hair, foil frizzies by brushing strands flat around your head, then covering with a silk scarf before you sweat. Afterward, blast roots for a few minutes with a blow-dryer on cool.

Style Spoiler: Dryness

The less you wash your hair, the shinier it is. "That's because water and detergents can strip away natural oils, making hair look dull," says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist in Vallejo, California. Every other shower, skip shampoo and simply use conditioner. On days you do wash, try this technique: Put three tiny drops of a botanical-infused formula, like Aussie Cleanse and Mend Shampoo ($3.25, drugstores), on your fingertips and massage into your scalp only. "Directing the suds there, where sweat and oil build up, prevents your hair from becoming dehydrated," explains Ashley Javier, a celebrity stylist for Kerastase.

Style Spoiler: Breakage

If your everyday style, including your go-to-gym do, is a tight ponytail, consider changing it up. Constantly pulling at strands can lead to traction alopecia, a form of hair loss, says Dr. Mirmirani. And hair that replaces what has been yanked out at the root is weaker. (Sometimes it doesn't grow back at all.) Instead, braid your hair to keep it off your face. When you untwist the plait, you'll have tousled waves. Can't bear to ditch the pony? Keep it loose and choose holders with no metal bindings, like Scunci No Slip Grip Evolution Elastics ($2.99 for 14-pack, drugstores). Alternate where the ponytail sits on your head -- high, middle, low -- so that any tugging is evenly distributed.

Style Spoiler: Weather Damage

Sun, chlorine, and pollution can break down your hair's outer shield, causing fading, dullness, and split ends. To guard your strands, Rhys suggests covering up with a hat and spritzing any exposed hair with a UV protector, such as Alterna Hemp Organics Sun Recovery Spray ($20, Before splashing in the pool or ocean, spray hair with water and saturate it with a chlorine- and salt-water-repelling conditioner, such as Philip Kingsley Swimcap ($35,

The Best Hair Products

Your Hairapy Kit

Call in the heavyweights! Your strands will soak up the benefits of these megafortifiers.

  • With soothing aloe and grease-absorbing witch hazel, Tresemme Fresh Start Waterless Foam Shampoo ($4.99, drugstores) goes on dry hair, so it's the perfect post-gym refresher.
  • Tame frizz fast with lightweight Sultra The Midnight Travel Dryer ($95,, which generates 1,000 watts of power for speedy styling.
  • Protect hair from hot tools with Matrix Biolage Thermal-Active Repair Gloss ($14, for salon locator), a lightweight shine serum with strengthening ceramide and coconut oil.
  • Teeming with olive and avocado oils, Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Nutrient Spray ($5.99, drugstores) works as a leave-in conditioner on wet hair or as an instant shine refresher on dry strands.
  • L'Oreal Professionnel Serie Nature Masque Cacao ($33, for salons) is an eco-friendly deep conditioner that hydrates without leaving strands limp.
  • Because it contains a rich blend of lipids, you need only two drops of leave-in Bumble and Bumble Quenching Complex ($33, on wet ends before styling to prevent breakage.

Celebrity Hairstyling Tips

Steal celebs' wash-and-go looks with tips from Tippi Shorter, Avon global stylist adviser for Advance Techniques.

Short Hair/Halle Berry

Snip tip: Ask your stylist for a textured pixie that's slightly longer on the top.
Pre-workout: Part your hair on one side and brush flat.
Post-workout: Comb light-hold gel through dry hair, then use fingers to smooth ends and add definition.

Medium-Length Hair/January Jones

Snip tip: Request a tousled bob that skims your shoulders.
Pre-workout: Spritz hair with a light-hold hair spray and twist into two low buns.
Post-workout: Unwrap the buns and run your fingers through strands (don't scrunch, which can cause frizz) for sexy undone waves.

Long Hair/Jennifer Garner

Snip tip: Get long, angled layers with side-swept bangs.
Pre-workout: Create one or two braids, securing the ends with small elastics. Twist and pin back bangs.
Post-workout: Undo braids. With a one-inch curling iron, curl eight to 10 sections of hair away from your face; use a light shine serum to tame flyaways.


Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2010.