Should you exercise with your hair down?

4 cases for hair down at the gym 

It makes me feel fierce.

“What I love most about fitness is how fierce, feminine, and strong I feel during and after my workouts,” says Jenna Matroni, a Tier 3+ personal trainer at Flatiron in New York City. “I feel the same way when I wear my hair down. It's an extension of my feminism.”

I don’t want a ponytail line.

“I do strength training sessions and I never put my hair up,” says Dallas-based writer Amber Nash. “Since I'm on my lunch break, I don't want to get a ponytail line and I don't have time to straighten my hair afterwards." While mark-free hair ties can be a solution, they don’t work for everyone, especially those with finer hair. 

It makes my hair less oily between washes.

"I have very curly hair and can’t wash it every day. By keeping it down, the curl stays intact and I have to do less work later,” says Austin-based publicist Fabiana Meléndez. “Because of my irregular washing schedule, I don't like keeping all of the sweat on the scalp and wearing it down distributes it a bit more, making it less oily in the long run."

It helps prevent hair loss.

“The biggest reason why I exercise ponytail-free is that I lose a significant amount of hair whenever I wash it or style it,” says New York City–based content marketer Shiwon Oh. “Consistently pulling your hair into tight ponytails and buns can contribute to traction alopecia, which is a common type of hair loss,” confirms LA-based celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. “Elastics can also put stress on your strands, which can lead to breakage and frizz.”

How to do it right

On the front end, “putting a little dry shampoo at your roots before you exercise can help preemptively with absorbing oil and sweat while you're working out,” Fitzsimons says. Something like Living Proof Perfect hair Day would work well. Afterwards, you may still need a touch up, which can be accomplished with another round of dry shampoo or an anti-frizz spray to help with flyaways. 

The middle ground

If you can’t imagine letting your hair down completely while working out, there are plenty of options in between. 

No-elastic styles: For a workout that doesn’t require too much jumping, you may be able to put your hair up without actually cinching it. “I will just do a quick three-strand braid with no elastic at the end,” says Natasha Leibel, a New York City-based hairstylist. “That way, the hair will hold its shape and there will be no marks left by accessories.” If your hair is thin and doesn’t have a lot of texture, you may need a tiny clear elastic to secure the braid, but thicker, more textured hair should stay put. Tucking the end of the braid under your sports bra strap (as long as you’re not putting a barbell on your shoulders) can also help keep the braid secure.

A twirled low bun (for short hair) or high bun (for long hair) is another option. Just gently tuck the ends underneath the bun. “Afterwards, the hair will even have a little extra body,” Leibel adds. 

Claw clips: These throwback hair clips are coming back into style, so having one handy is both convenient and on-trend. Try to keep your hair slightly loose in the clip, Leibel recommends, so the claws don’t leave marks. 

Bands and bandanas: Wearing a chic headband or wrapping a bandana or sweatband around your head can also keep your hair in check. According to Leibel, they just need to be soft and/or loose enough so that they don’t leave a crease.