Raise your hand if you’ve ever ended a workout with your head looking like a frizzy hot mess. Unless you’re one of those women whose hair can magically stay in place no matter how many burpees you do, your hand should probably be in the air. There’s no shame in accepting the facts—even those model-like exercise coaches you see on YouTube struggle with what to do with their hair during workouts.
In my experience, there are several factors that are required for an exercise-worthy hairstyle. It needs to keep the hair out of your face and off your sweaty neck. It also needs to be quick and easy to accomplish. And if it can stop you from looking like a sweaty bridge troll after a very public gym session, all the better.
Check out these tried and true workout hairstyles to keep you moving.
1. The Classic High Pony
The pony tail has been a female athlete’s go-to hairstyle since the dawn of time—or at least since the invention of elastic hair ties. But if you want your high pony to stand up against wind sprints and weight lifting, you’ll need a couple tips.
Nothing is more annoying than having to blow itty bitty loose hairs out of your face. To fix the problem, grab a headband. Find one that’s made from non-slip material, but make sure it’s not too tight. I’ve suffered from too many post-workout headaches because my headband was actually squeezing my skull. For the short little hairs that fall out of the pony and get soaked in neck sweat, you’ll need a few bobby pins. Place them strategically though, otherwise you’ll stab your head with every sit up.
2. French Braided Ponytail
The biggest problem with the average ponytail is those little flyaway hairs that inevitably sneak out of place. If you don’t want to wear a headband, a well-secured braid is a good option. I typically stick to one French braid that starts at my forehead and uses my long bangs. Then I gather up the braid with the rest of my hair and secure it with a hair tie.
But if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can split all your hair into four sections and French braid each section until they meet at the crown of your head. This does a great job at keeping little hairs from escaping. Here’s a tutorial to show you how to do it.
3. French Braid Pig Tails
Braids can work whether your hair falls down to your butt or stops at your shoulders in a bob. They’re even a good option for those of us with complicated layered hair. My hair falls just below my shoulders, and my go-to workout hairstyle is two French braids. My hair isn’t quite long enough to stay still in one braid, but the double braids keep everything in place—plus braids always look cute. Sometimes I add a headband for extra security, but the braids usually do all the work on their own.
4. A Simple Braided Pony
If your hair is long enough, you don’t need to worry about French braiding. A simple plait will keep your hair in place and stop it from getting frizzy with sweat. To try it out, gather your long hair into a high pony. Secure it with a hair tie and then braid all your hair at once. Add another hair tie at the end to keep the braid in place. This workout hairstyle keeps the hair from sticking to your neck and takes only a few seconds to pull off.
5. Twisty Braided Bun
I personally like having my pony tail swishing behind my back as I run, but if your hair is long enough, that swishing can be seriously annoying. It gets caught in your armpits, and you’re constantly having to throw it over your shoulder to get it out of your way. A braided bun can solve this problem.
Start with the normal braided pony from above, but instead of letting it hang, twist it around your top ponytail. Wind the braid around itself, and when you run out of hair, use another hair tie (or two) to keep it still. If you have thick hair, you might want to add a few bobby pins for good measure.
6. Top-Knot Bun
A close cousin to the workout pony tail, a top-knot bun is best reserved for women with long hair. Pony tails typically don’t cut it for you, because even when positioned near the top of your head, your long tail drapes down toward your neck and shoulders. Have you ever had the pleasure of peeling a section of hair off your sweaty neck? It’s uncomfortable, hot, and a little gross.
The solution is a top-knot bun. This isn’t your average messy bun, but a workout hairstyle that is secure enough to stay in place and not come loose. Use a no-damage hair tie and wrap your hair up as tight as it will go. Use a few bobby pins if you need them, and a headband never hurts (unless it’s too tight, that is).
7. Put a Hat on it
Last, but not least, you can always wear a hat. Honestly, this is my favorite workout hairstyle solution. Not only does it cover my hard-to-tame hair, it also helps keep sweat and sun out of my eyes. My favorite workout hat is a Nike dri-FIT hat that is designed to be breathable and comes with a built-in sweatband.
You have to remember to throw your hat in the wash or risk it getting gross and stinky, but hats really can’t be beat when it comes to keeping your hair out of your face. It’s the no-nonsense solution when you don’t feel like fighting with your hair before or during a workout. The hat hair you get afterward, however, is a problem for a different post.