There are very few experiences in life like the one a black woman has in a hair salon. Everyday African-American women invest countless hours and amounts of money into maintaining the style and health of their hair. Our mane is our crowning glory, and in order for it to hold its regal title it must battle a variety of natural elements that work towards its destruction: wind, rain, stress and most importantly its arch enemy: sweat. Sweat and other types of moisture to freshly straightened tresses is like water to the Wicked Witch of the West.
The only place that sweat is acceptable to most black women is in the bedroom, and even then it’s questionable. When it comes to our hair we work tirelessly to avoid activities and situations that might cause our hair to be the least bit unpredictable. Unfortunately many of the activities we shy away from in order to maintain the longevity of our locks, are some of the very things we should be doing to maintain our beauty and health from the inside out.
For example, no matter how high the temperature climbs this summer, many of us will avoid the pool like the plague. Swimming is actually one of the best exercises you can do for your health. Swimming works almost all of the muscles in the body, develops your overall strength and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Abandoning your fear of the dreaded frizz will leave a lot more energy for you to enjoy activities that won’t only keep you cool, but will also keep you fit and trim. In addition, group activities like water aerobics can act as a great social outlet for those who need some outside encouragement. It’s important to note, that while swimming can do great things for your health, pool and salt water can be damaging to not only your hair’s style, but your hair’s health as well. Relaxed and chemically treated hair is more sensitive to damage, so it is important to rinse chlorine and salt water from it after swimming. It’s also important to deep condition hair regularly to build its integrity and strength.
Braided styles like cornrows and micro braids can aid in keeping a style neat when swimming. Stylist and hair care expert, Ramika of Philadelphia’s Mahogany Rose Salon offers some helpful guidelines when it comes to maintaining a braided style. She cautions to be sure braids don’t place too much tension on the delicate hairline which can lead to hair loss. She also warns to be careful with the type of hair you have installed as well, “Once synthetic hair is wet from sweat, the braid will become heavy and begin to pull which may cause damage to the hairline. Human hair is highly recommended for braids.”
So maybe taking the big dip is asking a bit too much, but you’re at least willing to work up a sweat. Cardio exercises like running, cycling or aerobics are all great ways to build your heart health. Unfortunately they all involve their fair share of sweat. A little bit of glisten can actually be Hot (Did you see Keri Hilson’s “Energy” video?), but at least for me, when the perspiration starts to pour all I can think about is every hair that is curling up and falling out of place.
Luckily, there are some options that will allow you to still look fierce while working on your fitness.