Sweat and Hair Loss: Yes, It's a Thing

A large part of why we workout is so we can look and feel our best, which is why the connection between sweat and hair loss comes as such a blow to those of us who are just trying to live stronger, healthier, more confident lives. 

But the connection is real, and when you notice more hair clogging up your drains and brushes, it's impossible to ignore. In fact, it can even be a little unsettling. There are many reasons you can lose hair. Genes, post-pregnancy hormone changes and stress are a few, but sweat is actually one of the lesser-known, but very common, causes of hair loss. 

So, what's up? What's the connection between sweat and hair loss?

Sweat and Hair Loss: The Connection

First, let's start by saying that sweating is good for you! It's our body’s way of clearing toxins and keeping cool. But when you sweat, your body also produces sweat by-products; notably, lactic acid and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

Lactic acid, if accumulated on the scalp for a long period of time, can result in inflammation and lead to hair follicle damage, so that hair does not grow as it should and is more prone to falling out. Lactic acid can also affect hair quality, causing it to become brittle and weak.

Understand, some hair loss is a natural part of the hair cycle, and losing anywhere for 50 - 100 hairs a day is totally normal. But when you allow sweat to sit on your scalp for too long, it can clog hair follicles which can cause premature hair loss.

DHT is an active form of testosterone and is found abundantly in workout sweat. Research has shown that when DHT binds with our hair follicles, it can hinder them from natural growth.

What's more, when sweat is left on your scalp, it causes your scalp to itch, and excessive itching of your head can result in more hair loss.


How to Reverse and Prevent Sweat Related Hair Loss

First, wash your hair after every sweaty workout. This may seem like it goes without saying, but considering many of us are also told to only wash our hair a couple of times a week, it bears drawing a distinction: this advice usually translates to "only shampoo your hair a couple of times a week" and it isn't really aimed at those of us who are sweating buckets with our fitfam in BodyRockPlus multiple times a week. It's aimed at the general population which, sadly, is not working out half as much as they should.

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SO, wash your hair after EVERY sweaty workout. Sure, if you're taking an active rest day and doing some restorative stretching and mobility work with Mike Levine, you probably won't need to wash your scalp, but if you're sweating, you should.

Washing your hair doesn't necessarily mean shampooing your hair, though. If you have a naturally oily scalp, you may be shampooing your hair every day granted (just make sure to use a gentle shampoo free of parabens and sulfates, which can also cause hair loss and damage), but if you don't, you can just wash your hair with lukewarm water to rinse off the sweat. You can also just wash and use conditioner.

Another pro-tip:

Try adding a few drops (8-10) of pure rosemary essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner. Rosemary essential oil has proven as effective as minoxidil, a popular hair growth treatment, for stimulating hair growth. Just massage it gently into your hair, leave on for two to three minutes, and then rinse.

For a powerful, once weekly hair mask, add the rosemary oil to 1/3 cup of olive oil and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on for 15 minutes, wash out with shampoo and condition as usual. 


Sweat Related Hair Loss Can Be Reversed!

But it will take time, so be patient! Don't stop working out, but don't wait hours after your workout to hit the showers and wash your hair, either. Rinse away the sweat to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss. 

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