What to know when working out with hair extensions

Side view of women running on treadmill at gym
Side view of women running on treadmill at gym

Have you ever skipped a workout because you just didn’t feel like washing your hair – or worse, ruining a perfect hair day with sweat?

We’re certainly not judging over here – the hair struggle is real! But when fitness is your job, you don’t exactly have the option of bailing on account of beach waves. So what happens when you get extensions and your mane needs even more TLC?

Personal trainer and WH Next Fitness Star 2017 Inge Bezuidenhout tried it and gave us the full low-down.

They Give You Options

"There are many things you can do with hair extensions," says Inge. "They can add colour to your hair without colouring your own hair, they add great volume as well as length and you can have them removed and reapplied without causing any damage to your own hair."

READ MORE: 7 Ways to use dumbbells to build lean muscle all over

They’re not fake

Inge’s extensions are 100% Remy hair – that’s real human hair, but with the cuticles still intact, which creates that natural appearance. It’s regarded as the highest quality hair extension available. "They have the same feel as my own natural hair. They’re effortless and easy to work with on a daily basis."

Installation is quick and painless

Inge went to Restoration Hair Extensions, which uses human hair sourced from eastern Europe. “Restoration Hair Extensions use tape extensions, which are semi-permanent extensions. They grow out, can be removed and reapplied without making use of heating tools and they don’t cause damage to your own hair.

"They are installed by placing two tapes onto your hair, carefully on top of each other, like a sandwich. They’re sandwiched on top of each other, between your own hair, so it creates a natural look. It took under an hour and the installation was not painful at all – although apparently it can be painful when not applied correctly. So make sure you always go to a qualified extensionist."

They usually last between eight and 12 months, depending on how well you take care of your extensions.

You may need to change your haircare routine

“Hair extensions don’t get any nutrients from your scalp like your natural hair, so they need to be taken care of more than you would your own hair. I had to change the hair products that I used because extensions can’t be washed with any products that contain any alcohol or sulphates.

"This is very important to extend the look and lifespan of your extensions. I also had to change my washing routine a bit – extensions need to be very carefully washed and in one direction, from top to bottom. You also use more conditioner on the extensions and making use of good treatment is very important. It takes a bit longer to dry and style my hair, but it’s totally worth it."

Inge’s workouts are not exactly chilled.

Start practicing workout-friendly hairstyles

“Tape-in extensions are lightweight, making them easier to handle when I’m active. I just need to ensure that I dry my bonds directly after a workout. You can swim with your extensions, but chlorine and salt water aren’t good for them, so you should preferably tie your hair up and keep it out of the water.

"If you’re going to get your hair wet, you should keep it in a neat braid and use a leave-in conditioner before and after your swim. You should also wash the salt or chlorine out of your hair soon after your swim. It’s also very important to secure your extensions while working out to avoid tangling."

Take your fitness on holiday: Try Inge’s no-gym abs workout wherever you are. All you need are two small towels or cloths.

How you style your hair is important.

Styling in the incorrect way, especially for intense workouts, can cause the hair extensions to get matted and tangle. Always brush your hair gently before and in-between workouts and style it in a neat bun or braids to keep the extensions in their best form.

"I love the fact that I can now make a side plait, which makes my hair look fuller and longer than before. And my ultimate favourite style is a high ponytail, which now has extra volume and length. Nobody even notices the extensions!"

READ MORE: 15 Gifts under R500 that every fit girl wants

Inge’s Tips: You will get proper caring instructions before installation, but here are are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Always choose quality hair over price – this is really important to ensure good-looking, soft extensions.

2. Make sure you get them installed by a professional.

3. Understand that it’s real hair and needs extra TLC – caring for your extensions will keep them looking and feeling great for longer.

4. After a workout, swim or shower, dry your extension bonds as soon as you can and use a proper extension brush – the original Wet Brush is great! – to keep your hair looking great.

This article was originally published on Women's Health.

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