Black Hair and Exercise: The Top Two Issues

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at

I am not a doctor or a dermatologist. Before using any product or treatment, consult your medical provider and dermatologist for care.

While black hair is an issue for the women who exercise, let's make it clear. Black women DO exercise. So much so, dermatologists surveyed 61 black women who participated in a 12 week community physical activity program. These doctors wanted to understand the issues of black hair during exercise and "provide regimens" for healthy hair care. 

What these doctors found was not unknown. However what was very helpful was that they provided solutions. 

1st Problem: Itching  and flaking scalp

The women in the survey noted that scalp itching was one of the concerns they had while exercising. Many used over the counter hair products to solve the problem.

The dermatologists recommended for itchy and flaky scalp consider the following styles: natural hair, relaxed hair, a ponytail or a bun.


  • braids, wigs, weaves, hair wrap, scarves and hats since these styles can increase scalp sweat and make the itching and flaking even worse. 

The doctors also recommend treatment after exercising which included:

  • Moisturizing shampoo,
  • dry shampoo,
  • moisturizing antidandruff shampoo,
  • moisturing conditioners and oils, or
  • topical corticosteroids (oil, solution, ointment)

2nd Problem: Hair Breakage & Shedding

The second issue was hair breakage and shedding.  The dermatologist recommended natural hair, ponytail, buns, hair wraps, scarves, hat or wig if you are experiencing this particular problem.

It's interesting that the styles to avoid for itching and flaking are the exact styles to use if you are experiencing breakage.  That is why visiting a dermatologist to diagnose your exact problem and provide specific treatment is important. 


  • relaxed hair, braids, ponytail, bun or weave if you are experiencing hair breakage since that can increase "hair shaft fragility and breakage."

They recommend the following treatments after exercising

  • moisturizing shampoo
  • dry shampoo
  • moisturizing conditioners and oils. 

And, what if you are experiencing both issues???

Talk to your dermatologist. I am not a dermatologist, but I report on articles about black hair and what doctors and scientist have found since it informs my hair care practices. A link to the full article is below so feel free to investigate on your own. Knowledge is the best tool in your natural hair care arsenal. 


Hair and Scalp Care in African American Women Who Exercise,

Ahn, Christine S., MD, Suchonwanit, Poonkiat, MD, Foy, Capri G., PhD, Smith, Philip, McMichael, Amy J.,MD  . JAMA Dermatology, May 2016, Vol 152, No 5