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Nov 9, 2021

Oh Dear Hair Follicles

“It’s race day. What am I going to do with my hair?”  “I need to go and put in some practice miles on Monday and then Wednesday I need to do some cross training.  Uugghh!  My hair is going to endure so much sweat.”

Does this conversation sound familiar?  Have you had this conversation with yourself?  Or maybe you’ve heard someone make statements about the struggle they have with their hair during workouts.  More than likely, we’ve all been there.  Once we make the decision and commitment to workout on a regular basis, we as African-American women must consider what are we going to do with our hair.  I have had conversations with women that do not work out because of their hair.

Fortunately, we live in a society that has provided many options for our hair.  There are many hairstyles, and hair products that give us, as African-American women options to keep our hair manageable while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Essentially, it is a hairstyle that protects the hair from various harmful elements and situations, including pollution, heat, weather conditions, including hot and cold weather, (and my personal situation that causes much angst …. sweat) to protect the hair from drying out.

If you have length to your hair that allows you to pull your hair up in a bun, back in a ponytail, or even wrap your hair during your workouts, you must still consider the pull and tug and process you put your hair through after the workout.  Continuous styling on hair weakens the hair follicles over time.  Even with proper conditioning, continuous processing of the hair can be damaging.

As African-American women, we must realize we have an advantage with having coarser hair.  Due to our texture, there are many options we have to style our hair.

The benefits of a protective style include:

*Change your appearance.

*Less manipulation.

*You can leave a conditioner in your hair while wearing the protective style.

*Your hair is protected from the elements in our environment such as wind, heat, and cold.

*The reduction of hair products used on your hair can reduce acne causing residue that drips on your face.

Some examples of protective hairstyles include buns, two-strand twists, braids, weaves, bantu knots, and cornrows.

It is very important to remember that protective styles can be damaging to your hair as well if they are not put in properly and taken care of correctly.

One key action to keep in mind when caring for your hair after washing is the detangling process.  Whether your hair is natural or processed with a relaxer, there is a correct way and improper way to detangle hair.

*Start with moisturized and not just wet hair.  Your hair strands are made up of long chains of amino acids that are bounded by chemical bonds.

 *Part your hair into sections.  It can be challenging to detangle your full head of hair at once, especially if it is really tangled.  This also causes more breakage.

 *Use detangling products. Water alone is not enough.

 *Finger Detangle (Finger Combing).

 *Detangle with combs and brushes.  Combs and brushes are great if you feel like your fingers haven’t fully detangled your hair.

 *Detangle from tip to root.

 *Twist and braid section and work with each section at a time.

Haircare can be fun instead of a chore.  Find a style that not only works for you but that you really like, one that when you pass the mirror, you’ll want to do a double-take because you like the style on you!  It may take some trial and error, but it will be well worth it.  For your hair follicles and for you!

By: Eden Barbee-Mabry / (@gardenonthegram – IG/ @EdenJBe – Twitter)
Eden Barbee-Mabry is an Education Support Analyst with the State of Georgia. Eden is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and was led to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1988. Eden joined Black Girls Run! in Spring of 2016 and graduated from the Walk B4 You Run program in June of 2016 and is currently Run Lead for the Fairburn, Georgia group. Eden is a purse lover and strives to inspire every woman because her belief is that although the circumstances may be different, every woman can extract strength from another woman’s story.