Is Sweat Bad for Your Hair and Scalp?


Sillabear says…I am looking for ways to minimize the amount of times that I wash my hair and I recently came across information that utilizing a mixture of 1:2 parts of peppermint oil to jojoba oil will break down the salts that are deposited on the scalp from pores after a strenuous exercise. Is this true? If not, do products such as dry shampoo rid one’s scalp of these potentially damaging salts?

The Beauty Brains respond:
Before we talk about sweat removal let’s do a quick recap of what’s in sweat.

Sweaty chemistry
Our bodies sweat through two different glands: eccrine (which are found pretty much all over the body) and apocrine (which are concentrated where there are hair follicles.) Both glands produce sweat that consists of water and minerals (or salts). Specifically, sweat contains sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. But only the apocrine glands product lactate, urea, and other substances which make this milky sweat so tasty to odor causing bacteria.

Peppermint oil or jojoba oil have no special ability to breakdown or remove sweat. Peppermint oil could have some antibacterial properties which might inhibit some of the odor associated with eccrine gland perspiration but it is also a mild irritant and may end up making your scalp inflamed. The “stuff” you’re trying to get rid of like salts, Sodium lactate and urea are water soluble so jojoba oil won’t do much to remove them either. A dry shampoo which contains a water absorbent starch might help “soak up” some of these materials if you’re that determined to get them off your scalp. Which brings us to the main point of this post…

Is sweat bad for scalp?
Why do you think that salts from sweat are damaging in the first place? And what exactly do you think is becoming damaged? Your skin? Your hair? That may not be the case! In fact, some of the components of sweat have skin moisturizing properties. (Lactate and urea are found in many skin lotions.) And there’s some evidence that suggests sweat may actually keep you healthy by helping to ward off certain microorganisms.

The Beauty Brains bottom line
If you’re sweaty and stinky you should certainly clean up as needed. But if you’re just worried about sweat “damaging” your scalp or hair it’s probably less of a problem than you realize.

Ladies who work out regularly: how do you handle the sweat factor?

“Sweat mineral-element responses during 7 h of exercise-heat stress,” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2007 Dec;17(6):574-82.
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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...


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26 thoughts on “Is Sweat Bad for Your Hair and Scalp?

  1. Looks like the opinions are split about it being good or bad for our hair.

    My experience is after severe hair loss at my nape for years I finally came across a post that said the minerals dry out hair. I’d tried everything else so, I started co-washing my hair at the end of every work out day as a full-time sweat-monster Zumba instructor.

    Its the only year I have not lost my hair. Even when I tried to wash my hair less and skip a day my hair started itchy and broke with in days. My hair HATES sweat!

    I want to try and cut back though. I don’t like how often it gets soaked. I’ve tried putting loads of oil before to keep the sweat out of my strands but I just ended up with over moisturised hair. Think I may try the Taliah Waajid product mentioned above or the Hair Warrior mentioned above. See how it goes!

  2. Yeah,I hate sweaty scalp.I have dense curls so I have issues not washing it.I get moist itchy& I scratch so much I can’t take it for 2 long.I usually wash weekly but if I got 2 the gym 2-4 times that week,I gotta wash.even if its a half assed rinse.I’ve tried acv as a post workout rinse to avoid a full wash works ok but nothings like a full wash.I find the sweat maynot be harmful but it sure causes me to get nasty dandruff after a day or two! Ick!I’ve done the scalp only wash which usually ends up wetting up most of my hair anyway but I save a lot of time.its exhausting trying to have clean scalp& be a faithful gym bunny.the 2 don’t always go hand in hand! Its extra work!

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