Do This Before A Workout For Your Softest Hair Yet, Says A Trichologist
Don't get me wrong, I love a good hair mask to coax my perennially thirsty strands back to life, but one drawback has kept me from making them a regular part of my shower routine: waiting those 10 to 15 minutes for the hair-healthy ingredients to soak in. Even a three- to five-minute formula feels endless—while you're huddled in the corner of your shower, mask marinating on the strands, time just stretches on and on.
So when trichologist Bridgette Hill shared a simple tip to maximize time on a recent episode of Clean Beauty School, needless to say, I was game. I now apply my pre-shampoo treatments right before a workout—not only has it streamlined my shower routine, but I have my softest strands yet.
Why you should apply hair masks right before a workout.
Everyone has a different wash schedule, so how often you apply a pre-shampoo treatment will ultimately depend on your hair type, scalp type, activity level, etc. But generally, Hill recommends shaping your scalp treatments around how you'd like to present yourself on any given day—if you have an important event or know you'll be out and about all day long, maybe it's not the best time to slick on a hair mask. If you've got no plans? Marinate away.
Point being, sometimes it helps to reflect on your upcoming social schedule and plan your hair care from there. (Unless you're a fan of the slicked-back look, then by all means, slather on.) This approach has helped many of Hill's clients actually stick to a healthy scalp routine: "On days when you don't really care how you present yourself, you know that's a [hair mask] day," Hill notes. Like, say, right before a sweaty workout, especially if you're already planning on washing your hair afterward.
"If you do a hot yoga practice, use those moments to incorporate the ritual of hair [care]," Hill adds. Not to mention, if you are partial to hot yoga, that heat can help open the hair cuticles and make it easier for the mask's moisturizing ingredients to seep in; so this tip isn't just about multitasking—it can also enhance your masking experience.
But before you head over to the gym with sopping strands, take note: You'll want to use a lighter mask that absorbs into the hair easily. Stay away from goopy, butter-thick masks—while these are super hydrating for thirsty hair, you might make a mess of your yoga mat if there's a ton of residue.
Rather, find a mask that easily slicks onto the hair, and when you run a wide-toothed comb to distribute, it should appear clear. You could even stick to a lightweight oil instead (pure argan oil makes a top-notch hair treatment, FYI) and let that seep into the strands while you sweat. Gather your hair into a bun, and it should appear slick and shiny—as if you had simply skipped a wash day.
Your hair type will also have a say in the matter, as the mask you use will depend on how easily your strands drink it up. As our beauty director Alexandra Engler notes in the episode: "If you have dry and porous hair that tends to soak in products, this tip is effortless and not that noticeable." If you have thin, fine hair that gets easily weighed down by product, the mask might look a little more obvious—which is totally fine, unless the saturated strands get in the way of your exercise.
If you can't seem to wait for a hair mask to do its work (just me?), try applying those leave-in treatments right before a workout. According to Hill, this tip can help you maximize shower time, schedule your scalp routine in advance, and lead to soft, defined strands. And if you're looking for everyday, internal hair support, consider taking a collagen supplement.*
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.