Hair-Care Tips

A Hairstylist Gave Me the 411 on Whether or Not Sweat *Actually* Makes Your Hair Dirty, and I Am Shook

Zoe Weiner

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Photo: Getty Images/MoMo Productions
A hairstylist once told me that sweat is one of nature's very own styling products, and the sentiment has always stuck. Because when you think about it, it makes sense: Sweat's basically just salt and water, which is what most of my favorite hair products are made out of, anyway. So over the last few months, I've taken to throwing my hair into a French braid before I workout, letting it get extra sweaty over the course of 50-minutes on a Megaformer, and then pulling it out to reveal the flawless beach waves that a curling iron simply could never.

But even though I've gotten the professional stamp of approval for not washing my hair after the gym, now that it's approximately a million degrees in New York City and my scalp gets sweaty the minute I step outside, I've gotta wonder: Are sweaty hair and dirty hair the same thing? And, uh, should I be washing my hair a whole lot more often in the summer?

"No," says celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque, owner of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa, definitively calming my panic. "Sweat is mainly water and dirt is mainly oil. Grease comes from your sebaceous glands, and sweat comes out of your pores. When mixed together they can be messy, but sweat on its own isn't an issue with the exception of maybe causing a little frizz."

Think about it this way: You can start sweating two minutes after getting a beautiful blowout, and as soon as you walk back into the AC it can be coiffed and styled back into its former glory. If it were coated in oil, though, that wouldn't be so easy. "Actually washing your hair too frequently is far more damaging to it than sweating," says Labrecque, adding that the only reason you should be adding an additional wash to your routine in the summer is after you go swimming, because "salt and chlorine should never stay on your hair."

However, it's important that you don't leave sweat on your scalp for too long or you may wind up with something nasty going on. "Sweat glands secretion are mixed with bacteria if not washed, it can lead to formation of fungal infections," says stylist Kristine Cruz, who does recommend a wash after some excessive sweating.

And with that, my sweaty—but not dirty!—scalp and I will be enjoying the rest of our summer together. We suggest you embrace it and do the same.

Humidity and hair are a terrible combo in general, but here are some conditioners that'll fight frizz, no matter what type of hair you've got. Plus, 11 products that will help with that post-summer sun damage to your strands.

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