Hair. It’s the bane of existence for many of us active ladies – and even those who don’t work up a sweat on a regular basis can relate to the utter pain of trying to maintain a decent-looking hairstyle for more than the 10 minutes immediately after you style it.
I see girls in the gym with long ponytails down their back and all I can think is: how are you not getting sweaty? I head to Spin class with a cute, flippy ponytail and within 5 minutes it’s a wet, sticky rattail glued to my sweaty shoulders.
Same applies to braids. I look at a nice, tight French braid and think – hey, I could do that! – and then when I try, my layers stick out all over the place, the braid unravels, and I am left with about a third of my hair in a low-lying elastic band and the rest in pieces flying around my (again, sweaty) face.
Don’t even start me on those stupid 1/2″ thick rubber headbands. For whom do these function in their intended fashion? I have a ridiculously small pinhead (think child-size) and the second I put one of these bad boys ONTO my head, it’s already looping off the crown of my head and hanging off the bun or ponytail secured behind it. Epic accessory fail.
So those of you who know me “in real life” know that I have exactly ONE workable workout hairdo: the wet bun.
The wet bun is not just a topknot. Oh no, my friends, the wet bun is cemented to my scalp through the miracle of hairspraying wet hair, twisting it into the highest bun possible (so it doesn’t interfere with me lying supine on a bench or floor), and hairspraying it again for a shellac of a hairstyle that will then stay in place until a) I take it down or b) nuclear holocaust.
The wet bun works. But the wet bun is not glamorous. It is not trendy. It is functional, decent-looking, and that’s about it.
I have searched high and low for hairstyles that can accommodate both my need to look like a professional human in the gym (i.e. no messy buns, loose ponytails, or half-up styles) and my need to keep sweaty hair off my face and back. This is no small feat. A comprehensive internet search for alternatives has revealed the following:
The braided updo. Sure, it looks nice, and sure, it’s trendy. But for me to get all of my hair a) braided and b) pinned into this complicated milkmaid look would take about 1.5 hours and 150 bobby pins – and would still probably fall out due to the number of layers I have in my hair. No thanks.
The braided pigtails. A variation on the above, this version would definitely be quicker, but I’ve worn pigtails before – and while I think I look OK in them, I also think I look a bit childish, and maybe even a bit unintentionally sexy, which is probably not great for work. Couple that with the fact that they flip around in front of and behind my shoulders and it would take about 1/2 mile of getting hit in the face by my own hair to rip the braids out and shove them back into the bun.
The sectioned ponytail. Apparently this one has been all over the runways of late, popular for both its relative ease (make a ponytail, grab some more hair, make another one) and its functionality (it definitely looks like it stays put). That said, I’m not sure I like the semi-futuristic look of it all, and again, I feel like it would take more time in the bathroom than it would be worth for the ugly-cute nature of the style.
The almost-too-fancy gym updo. A lot of styles I found were some variation of a braid/bun/twist accented with a fancy clip or headband that seemed to me like too much work, cuteness, and frou-frou for an actual workout. Maybe these women are trying to do the whole gym-to-lunch thing that I’ve never mastered or understood? Maybe they have permanently blocked sebaceous glands that disallow sweat from gracing their gentle brows. I like the idea of using accessories but again, given that the tiny rubber headbands don’t really work for my head, I am skeptical of other such products even trying to stay put.
My search for the perfect sweatproof style now moves on to YOU, dear readers:
How do you style your hair when you exercise? Do you use any accessories that you love and can recommend? Which styles would you like to try out in the gym?