How to Not Mess Up Curls While Working Out: The Ultimate Guide

woman with curly hair

How to Not Mess Up Curls While Working Out: The Ultimate Guide


Keeping naturally curly hair in good condition while maintaining an active workout routine can often feel like an uphill battle. If you tie your hair too tightly, you risk compromising your luscious curls, leaving them flattened until the next wash day. On the other hand, letting your curls roam free results in a sweaty, tangled mass that's far from appealing. It might seem like a lose-lose situation, forcing you to choose between your health and your curls. But don't fret, and certainly don't let your curls keep you from hitting the gym.

In this blog post, we're here to equip you with the ultimate guide to managing and preserving your curly hair during workouts. Let's get started.


How to Maintain Your Curls While Working Out


Wondering how to not mess up curls while working out? Here are a few tips that can help you out:


1) Pre-Workout Prep


 woman putting oil in ends of hair

Credit: Envato Elements/ Prostock-studio


Just like warming up your body is crucial before starting your workout, preparing your hair beforehand is equally important. For those with curly hair, understanding how to properly care for your curls prior to working out is the first step towards protecting them. Here are a few curly hair tips to prep your hair:


  • Moisturize Your Curls: One strategy that is recommended by most curly hair experts is to lightly moisturize your hair before starting your workout. This can be achieved with a water-based leave-in conditioner or a lightweight curl cream. Not only will these products provide an immediate hydration boost, but they'll also create a protective shield against sweat and friction caused by exercise. They will also help retain the shape and bounce of your curls even during intense workouts.
  • Use an Anti-Frizz Serum: You could also apply an anti-frizz serum to protect your natural hair from the gym's high humidity, a common trigger for frizz. Remember to apply sparingly; a small amount will go a long way in preventing frizz without leaving your hair greasy.
  • Protect Your Hair from the Sun: If you're working out outdoors, remember that the sun's UV rays can be damaging to your hair, leading to dryness and color fading. Consider applying a UV protection spray to your curls before heading out. Alternatively, wearing a hat can provide physical protection from the sun. Just ensure it is made of a breathable and gentle material to prevent overheating.


2) Choose the Right Workout Hairstyles


 woman putting hair up

Credit: Envato Elements/ bernardbodo


The way you style and wear curly hair for a workout can influence how well your curls hold up. While letting your curls free may be comfortable, it can lead to more friction and tangling. Instead, opt for protective hairstyles that can keep your curls intact.

You have several options to choose from like the high pineapple updo. The pineapple updo is a curly hair favorite where you pull your hair up to the top of your head and loosely secure it. This style is great for all types of curly hair especially longer hair since it allows your curls to hang freely, reducing the potential for frizz and tangles.

If you have tighter or shorter curls, you might want to try braids or twists. In addition to protecting your curls, they can also serve as a stylish look post-workout. Remember not to braid or twist too tightly and to use the right hair ties for your hair type to prevent tension and damage to your hair.


3) Consider Using Protective Headwear


 woman tying scarf in hair

Credit: Envato Elements/ YuriArcursPeopleImages


When you're ready to hit the gym, protective headwear can be a vital tool in your hair care arsenal. Invest in a sweat-wicking workout headband or a satin or silk scarf. These materials are gentle on your hair, causing far less friction than cotton or other commonly used materials. An added bonus is that they help absorb sweat without drying out your hair, which can keep you comfortable throughout your workout.



When choosing your headwear, make sure it's secure but not overly tight. Too much tension can lead to headaches, and it can potentially damage your hair follicles.


4) Avoid Excessive Touching


 woman exercising tying hair up

Credit: Envato Elements/ insidecreativehouse


During a workout, it can be tempting to continually adjust your damp curls, especially if you're engaged in high-intensity activities. However, every time you touch your curls, you risk transferring oils from your hands to your hair, which can weigh them down and make them greasy. 

Plus, the friction created by touching can break up the curl pattern, leading to frizz. To prevent this from happening, try to keep your hands off your curls during your workout.


5) Stay Cool


 woman stretching after working out

Credit: Envato Elements/ Image-Source


Heat can have a profound effect on curly hair. When you exercise, your body temperature rises, and you start to sweat. The combined effect of heat and moisture can cause your hair cuticles to swell, potentially disrupting your curl pattern and leading to frizz.

To minimize the impact of heat on your curls, consider working out in a cool environment like an air-conditioned room with adequate ventilation. Another option is to incorporate more low-intensity workouts into your routine that doesn't generate as much heat.

Also, after your workout, don't rush to style your hair immediately. Allow your body temperature to return to normal and your sweaty hair to air dry. This will reduce the potential heat and moisture damage to your curls.


6) Post-Workout Care


 woman putting hair product in curly hair

Credit: Envato Elements/ Prostock-studio


Once you've completed your workout, the care you provide to your hair is paramount in preserving your curls. Here are some tips:


  • Have a Curly Refresh Routine: If your hair has lost some of its definition and you feel the need to refresh curly hair after your workout, consider using a hair refresher product. When using such a product, gently spritz your hair with it in a spray bottle to ensure even distribution. As an alternative, consider using dry shampoo. These products are designed to absorb excess oil and sweat, deodorize, and add volume to your hair without drying it out.
  • Deep Cleanse When Necessary: It's crucial to remove the sweat and dirt that accumulates during your workout. But washing your hair daily can strip it of its natural oils, leading to dry, lifeless curls. Instead, consider co-washing or using a cleansing conditioner. Save the shampoo for a weekly deep cleanse.
  • Incorporate a Detangling Curly Hair Routine: To further help maintain your post-workout curls, incorporate a gentle detangling routine. Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to detangle your curls. When detangling, start from the ends and gradually work your way up to the roots to minimize the risk of breakage.


7) Maintain a Healthy Diet


 woman holding tray of healthy fruits and vegetables

Credit: Envato Elements/ Paulynn072


Finally, remember that the health of your hair is not solely dependent on external care. Your diet plays a significant role too. A balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and essential fatty acids will ensure that your hair remains strong and healthy.

Hydration is also crucial. Just as your body needs water after a workout, so does your hair. Drink plenty of water to keep your body and your curls well-hydrated.




Balancing an active lifestyle and perfect curls is a delicate act that requires a mindful approach to hair care. With appropriate preparation, the right protective styles, and post-workout care, you can ensure that your curls remain healthy and intact, even after the most intense workouts.

Are you looking to enhance your curl-care journey during workouts? Check out Burlybands. Designed especially for curly girls like you, Burlybands are here to revolutionize your workout hair game. They offer a secure hold without causing damage, ensuring your curls stay in place throughout your workout, and bounce back afterward. Shop with us today.

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