What's best for sweaty scalps?
If you sweat for several hours a day, more frequent washing is generally necessary due to the increased oil production, according to Angela Lamb, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
But sweat itself isn't too bad for your tresses. A more regular shampooing schedule is basically a preventative measure. “Technically, sweat is sterile,” says Lamb. "The salt content in sweat combined with the increased oil production from sweating can simply make your hair feel more dirty than usual," she explains. It’s the rare cases when sweat is exposed in a certain way to the bacteria that live on our skin that problems can crop up.
Pay attention to your hair type
Avoid the heat
To minimize the stripping effects of too much shampooing, Goldberg suggests skipping heat products like flat irons and blow-dryers post-shower. Air-drying may be the athlete’s best friend.
A different set of rules apply to swimmers
“Chlorine is very damaging to hair,” says Lamb. “Swimmers should at least rinse chlorine out of their hair after each time in the pool, even if they wear a swim cap.” Goldberg also suggests moisturizing with conditioner (either leave-in or wash out) before a swim to keep your locks from drying out and to protect your hair against chemicals.
Look for the signs
How can you tell if you’re overdue for a wash? When your hair feels heavy, overly greasy, or has a foul odor, says Lamb. An itchy scalp is also a sign to scrub up, adds Goldberg. She also notes that clean hair that simply got drenched in a cycling class can be left without a wash, as long as these signs aren’t present.