via TheBeautyBrains.com

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.
Image cred­it: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/

Read more at http://thebeautybrains.com/2013/05/01/is-sweat-bad-for-your-scalp-and-hair/#JSx1ydSDw36W4Hb9.99

Black Girl With Long Hair

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

Leave a Reply

26 Comments on "Is Sweat Bad for Your Hair and Scalp?"

Notify of
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 session.it 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… Read more »
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… Read more »
There is a new prod­uct out called Hair War­rior. It is a prod­uct that pro­tects your hair from sweat while you work out and is applied before you exer­cise to dry hair. It is absorbed imme­di­ate­ly into the hair and will not run into your eyes or face. Hair War­rior is body heat acti­vat­ed and, it not only hydrates hair but pro­tects it from the salt pro­duced from sweat which leaves hair brit­tle, dull & dry. The best way I can describe it is an elec­trolyte for your hair. Hair War­rior helps elim­i­nate the “frizzies” and holds col­or for approx.… Read more »

I’m for­tu­nate, I think, in that I only need to wash my hair every 4 or 5 days. My hair is health­i­er for it. I bicy­cle every day and so sweat alot. So I will run water through my hair every oth­er day but I only use sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, and oth­er hair prod­ucts once every 4 or 5 days.


What a great response. Very well ground­ed in bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal prin­ci­ples. Thank you! By the way, when I swim in salt water, my hair is soft­er. Many of the salts found in sea water are excret­ed by our sweat glands, so scalp sweat may be a plus for me.


WATER is our friend.…water grows and hydrates things…If you are work­ing out 2 to 6 days, wash­ing your…at least your scalp, isn’t an option.

I am going to sec­ond Jen­nifer. Salt water is what I used on my body pierc­ing when it got infect­ed to dry it out. Salt is often sprin­kled on fish to cure it aka dry it out. This is what peo­ple did with meats before refrig­er­a­tion became the thing. It draws water out of the cells of the meat and the water is where the bac­te­ria lived, thus keep­ing the meat fresh­er. I teach and prac­tice hot yoga in a 100+ degree room. If I don’t rinse my hair, it gets dry and brit­tle. I think it depends on how… Read more »
I have to dis­agree with this arti­cle in that sweat mois­tur­izes your hair. Sweat con­tains salts, and salts always suck out water from sur­faces that they’re on. That’s why salt is so effect at killing slugs and snails; it lit­er­al­ly sucks out all the water that those crea­tures need in their cells.  Since bac­te­ria seems to accu­mu­late where sweat is, more bac­te­ria in hair fol­li­cles in addi­tion to salt draw­ing mois­ture from the hair, means that there is no way that sweat is ben­e­fi­cial to the hair… In my per­son­al expe­ri­ence, sweat on my scalp is real­ly bad. It makes my hair… Read more »

You total­ly mis­un­der­stood the mean­ing of the word ‘salt’ in this con­text. The salt that you’re talk­ing about is only one spe­cif­ic type of salt, sodi­um chlo­ride. The arti­cle used the chem­i­cal def­i­n­i­tion of salt, which is sim­i­lar to min­er­als. As far as I know, not all min­er­als absorb water and dry out the hair.

Do what works for your hair, but don’t spread false infor­ma­tion based on mis­un­der­stand­ings. The nat­ur­al hair com­mu­ni­ty has enough myths to dis­pel.


I work out 5–6 days a week. Heavy duty boot­camp types of things, so I sweat. I have found that it has no affect on my hair. I wash once or twice a week. I don’t have any odor in my hair and I believe its because I brush or comb it out after my work­out and wear sweat­bands to help absorb mois­ture. The only thing that ends up smelling at the end of the week is my laun­dry bas­ket! haha. Tide febreze sport helps with that though (but thats a dif­fer­ent arti­cle for a dif­fer­ent web­site!)


“Lac­tate and urea are found in many skin lotions.” Isn’t urea found in urine?


Yes, urea is a nitroge­nous waste found in urine, but it is also found in quite a few cos­met­ic prod­ucts.

You’d be sur­prised about all of the “gross” chem­i­cals that are incor­po­rat­ed in an ingre­di­ents list. Most red dyes come from the crushed up shells of bee­tles. Some cos­met­ic prod­uct incor­po­rate pla­cen­ta. There is an FDA-approved amount of insect parts in our food. Such is life :)


I played bas­ket­ball all through high­school and col­lege so i worked out 6 days a week for a least 2.5 hours a day for about 8 years. I sweat so much I could wring it out of my hair. I only washed my hair once a week and saw no prob­lems. At one point I did wear two strand twists and rinsed my hair after every prac­tice but it did not seem to make a dif­fer­ence.


I typ­i­cal­ly just wore my hair in a pony­tail or bun to keep it off my neck


I think it varies from per­son to person..in the past my hair was very tol­er­ant of the sweat but now if i go to the gym dai­ly and allow it to stay on myscalp i suf­fer from extreme shed­ding.


I sweat a great deal in my hair when I work­out reg­u­lar­ly, and the dif­fer­ence I saw was that my hair was much dri­er, even though I was tak­ing care of it as usu­al. I added veg­etable glyc­erin to my water bot­tle to com­bat this, and now I do not have that prob­lem. Oth­er than that, I saw no dam­age to my hair. Hope this helps.

Amber from TN

The hair ben­e­fits you get from work­ing out (increased blood flow of nutri­ents, oxy­gen, vit­a­mins, etc) out­weigh any dam­age caused my salts in sweat.


I work out 3–4 times a week. I wash my hair every week to two weeks depend­ing on how my scalp feels. I put my locs up in a bun on top of my head and wear a sweat band when I work out. I want to try a new method from an arti­cle I saw on this site “How to Wash Twists with­out Get­ting them fuzzy which involves wash­ing the scalp and only with an appli­ca­tor bot­tle except I’m going to do an acv rinse.


plain water rinse after work­out, red meat free diet every­day. small dab of cas­tor oil to scalp occa­sion­al­ly.


I exer­cise 5–6 days a week.

When I exer­cise, I’m either rock­ing twists, a bun or a puff. For twists, I wear a satin scarf with a funky ban­dana on top. For buns or puff, I wear a bright head­band.

After exer­cis­ing, I show­er and either untwist my hair or reap­ply a bt of el to my bun or puff. 

I wash my hair week­ly with a sul­fate-free sham­poo. I don’t do any­thing else to it — or my scalp — dur­ing the week.


any­thing else = wash­ing or treat­ments (oil­ing, etc.)


i just spritz my scalp with water w/ tea tree oil and go on about my life. my scalp is cleaned once every 3 days any­way, so i dont wor­ry about it too much. Even if sweat is bad for your hair, its not a big deal. If i had to choose between my hair and my health, i’d choose my health. my hair can fall out. i can just make an awe­some wig. lol.

I sweat from my head like crazy and I used it as an excuse to avoid the gym. Permed or natural,I hate moist scalp. I want to be healthy so I go to the gym so I just split my hair down the mid­dle into pony tails and tye a ban­dana on my head real tight to absorb the sweat as much as pos­si­ble. Once I’m done I show­er & then untie & shake out my hair to let my scalp breath and allow the resid­ual sweat to dry up. Real wash day takes hrs so some­times I just do… Read more »

I brought this up in a forum with Feli­cia Leather­wood. She told us that we sweat tox­ins that we shouldn’t let dry on our hair after a work­out. She rec­om­mend­ed Shea mois­ture detox­i­fy­ing sham­poo. It does the job, but I pre­fer to cow­ash more often, so I may try the detox con­di­tion­er instead. I too am not a fan of over-cleans­ing my hair. Still try­ing to fig­ure out how to refresh after work­outs myself!

I agree with Mskat. I sweat a lot too. I just make sure I wash my hair at least once a week, no longer than two weeks. If I don’t, my scalp itch­es and I hate an itchy scalp. In between wash­es, I clean my scalp with the Tal­i­ah Wahjid moister cleanse spray with spearmint and pep­per­mint. It does a good job refresh­ing my scalp. I heard seabreeze and witch hazel are good too. I try not to wait too long to wash the sweat…I don’t want to be the lady with the smelly hair! For me, my pro­tec­tive style… Read more »
It’s pret­ty harm­less aside from the poten­tial odor fac­tor. If it weren’t I would be com­plete­ly bald by now, I sweat like a race­horse from my scalp and always have, like if I walk around the block I look like I just sham­pooed no mat­ter how long my hair is. Think­ing short­er would mean cool­er and dri­er, I cut it and was wrong-it only made me less absorbent! The only issue I could see as poten­tial­ly dam­ag­ing is, if you use a lot of heat or ten­sion on hair filled with the salts and min­er­als from the sweat, but that’s… Read more »