You have curly hair. You workout before work. How?
March 24, 2019 9:04 PM   Subscribe

I have recently discovered that I have wavy/curly hair (or, really, my formerly straight hair has suddenly decided it's wavy). I have therefore taken on more complicated haircare rituals in the morning. When I had straighter hair, I went to the gym in the mornings before work; when I showered there, I could pretty much let my hair airdry or do a quick blowdry and it would be fine. Now that doesn't work, and I would like to start going back to morning workouts, but I'm feeling overwhelmed by the hair thing. Help?

1. I need to shower after working out. That is non-negotiable.
2. Current haircare routine: Shampoo and condition with curl-friendly products. Comb while conditioning/squish-to-condish, kinda. Out of the shower, add DevaCurl's B'Leave-In and a teeny bit of SheaMoisture Curl-Enhancing Smoothie. "Plop" with a dishtowel for 10 minutes, then squish with the towel, then airdry. Right now, I'm letting airdry for 90 minutes before my 60-minute commute (and it's still wet for another hour or two at work). If I were to go to the gym, the 60-minute commute would be my airdrying time.
3. Previous straight-hair shower-comb-airdry took five minutes, so I'm hoping not to have to create a long process.
4. My hair is layered and barely shoulder-length, so the various methods for sleeping with it wet that involve pineappling and other "pile it up on top of your head" things are difficult, as it's not long enough for that.
5. I need to wash it daily, again non-negotiable.

What do other people do? Do I just need to budget 20 minutes of haircare time after my workout, and then three hours of wet hair at work? I'm hoping that's not the answer.
posted by lazuli to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have curly hair and I still blow dry it when I need it to dry more quickly or when I want to really enhance the curl.

I tend to flip my head upside down for a while and scrunch the hair upward with one hand while directing the hairdryer with the other. I alternate by having my head up and scrunching as well. If you have access to a warm/cool function on the hairdryer that's always nicer than a really hot level only. If you want to get really high tech there's a diffuser curl attachment you can add to the hairdryer as well. I have one for my home hairdryer but when I travel I just use what's provided.

If I want to ensure less frizz, before I use the hairdryer I will put in a little bit of curly hair gel watered down with salt water spray.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:12 PM on March 24, 2019

If it's only shoulder-length, have you tried blow-drying it with one of the BIG diffusers? It takes a little longer to blow dry that way, but not nearly as long as it takes to let it air dry. I have shorter hair, but I swear by mine at this point. I usually dry it to about 75% dry and let it air dry the rest of the way and it's worked fairly well.
posted by Sequence at 9:23 PM on March 24, 2019

What type of curly hair do you have?

Mine in 3C so my routine is your step 2 but without the shampoo as my hair is very dry (high porosity). I also use a gel after the "plop"(rude word in the uk)/t-shirt part (no scrunching at any point). It's a cream gel. I need it for the hold.

I know of people who twist their hair at night to maintain the curl and make it manageable but it sounds as if your hair is easier to manage/low porosity.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 11:20 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just scrunch in a bit of gel then air dry. If air drying worked for you before, why is it suddenly taking much longer now?
posted by sunflower16 at 12:01 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just comb in some Moroccan conditioning oil (my hair is also very bleached!), scrunch, spritz with some frizz-ease styling gel and leave to dry. I'm with sunflower16 - I'm not understanding why its taking 4+ hours to air dry your curly hair but that wasn't an issue when it was straight? Maybe its because of the products you're using?

IMHO curly hair requires less work than straight hair - when I had straight hair there was brushing, blow drying, straightening, styling etc, with my curly hair - comb it, scrunch it and then leave it the fuck alone lol
posted by missmagenta at 2:29 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Why not air dry, because it seems like the obvious answer? If that's not possible maybe explain why so we can help :)

I dry my (3c) hair (with a diffuser) about three times a year, when I have an event or meeting before 10am or so for which wet hair would just be too unprofessional. Otherwise I air dry after combing through a a silicone-free leave in and styling cream and twirling/arranging the front bits a little bit so they'll dry nicely.
posted by cilantro at 2:49 AM on March 25, 2019

I have a cheapo Conair Cordkeeper that came with a diffuser attachment that works fine. When I get out of the shower, I spray on a detangler/heat protectant and comb it through, work gel into it and comb it through again, then divide it into locks. Then I just blow dry it, starting at the tips, then upside down I dry the roots and then everything. That takes about 20 minutes after my shower time. It sounds like your hair is much shorter than mine though.

Are you saying you can't blow dry it now?
posted by heatvision at 3:59 AM on March 25, 2019

The answer is most likely haul all your hair products and a hair dryer with a diffuser to the gym with you or let it air dry. I realize both options suck a bit
posted by raccoon409 at 4:26 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You don't mention whether you get in your car after the gym. If you do, wash your hair in the gym shower, keep the towel wrapped on your head while you get dressed so it half dries flat; add stay-on conditioner, and use a plastic roller brush to sort of flatten your hair in its general shape (to avoid frizz). When you get in the car, put your heaters on to the max. In five minutes' driving time, your hair will be dry. Run your fingers through it, or use a plastic roller brush to style before you get out of the car. I do this in all seasons after I get a haircut. I won't let my hairdresser blow dry or diffuse it after she cuts my hair. That's my non-negotiable. My other non-negotiable is that I do not wash my hair daily to avoid all this rigamarole. It actually looks better on Day 2 and not bad on Day 3. I have dry hair, so it's better for my hair not to wash it daily. YMMV.
posted by Elsie at 5:25 AM on March 25, 2019

Do the post-workout shower and the daily hair wash have to happen at the same time? Could you wash your hair at home, do most of your styling routine, then go to the gym with wet hair (then a quick post-gym shower without wetting your hair)?
posted by mskyle at 5:53 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

To answer a few questions:

1. Straight hair took much less time to airdry because I dried it a LOT with a regular towel and then continually shook through it with my fingers to get air circulating through it. When I do that now, the curls/waves go away and it gets weird.

2. I assume I could blowdry it but I haven't tried because reading about curly hair made me scared to try.

I think basically my question is, as raccoon409 phrased it, do I have to haul all this hair stuff to the gym now?
posted by lazuli at 6:23 AM on March 25, 2019

Oh, and the airdrying thing is annoying because I'm trying not to go to work with sopping-wet hair, because I think it looks unprofessional-ish enough that it bothers me. It's not at all a super-polished workplace, but a lot of times I'm conducting a training at 8:30am and I'd rather not look like I just got out of the shower. Right now, if I shower at 5 or 5:30, my hair is not really dry until 9:30 or 10, but by 8am (start of my workday), it's damp rather than wet.
posted by lazuli at 6:25 AM on March 25, 2019

If you're comfortable with it, you could wear something like a headwrap or a silk scarf at work to hide your wet hair.

I have this problem too, good luck
posted by zima_lengneui at 7:07 AM on March 25, 2019

I would scrunch with the towel to remove excess moisture, comb through your styling product and scrunch again by hand
posted by missmagenta at 7:22 AM on March 25, 2019

Have you tried a microfiber hair towel? It absorbs more water via blotting/squeezing than regular towels, and is supposedly gentler on hair than ruffling/tousling with a regular towel. This likely would only be part of the solution, but it might help remove some moisture without deflating/wonking-up the curl as much. I have this one, which works well enough but I'm not sure how different it is than any other microfiber cloth. I squeeze sections of my hair in it when I get out of the shower, and use it to "turban" my hair while I brush my teeth, do makeup, etc. Then I squeeze my hair some more with it.

(And then ultimately tie it up in a braid or blow dry it, b/c my hair takes like 4-6 hours to dry, and looks super unprofessional while drying loose. But the towel does seem to reduce the drying time a bit.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 7:49 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I used to dry my long curly hair with a diffuser and it only took about 10 minutes. My hair is very thick and I usually dried them until the curls had a little bit of moisture left in them. If you don't want to lug a diffuser attachment with your hair dryer, you can also hand diffuse it (scrunch big pieces of hair while you point the dryer at them). It's less efficient, but it can work to get the job done.

My new go-to routine on days that I wash my hair before work is to front braid my hair while it's wet. It takes maybe three minutes and my hair always looks very tidy and professional, even when it's wet. You can do it even with short hair with the help of bobby pins.
posted by orangesky4 at 7:50 AM on March 25, 2019

SO after reading though some of these links, I think we have really similar hair. For my hair, I must wrap it in a towel (the upside-down turban look) for at least 10+ minutes for it to air dry. If I have time, once the towel sops up some water, I'll reverse it to the dry side and repeat. When I do that, my hair air-dries the rest of the way relatively quickly. If I'm in a rush and leave with sopping wet hair, it takes forever. If you have the kind of drive where you can stop for a minute halfway, leave the gym with your hair up in the towel, then stop and put product in for it to finish air drying.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:52 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Get a better hair cutter. Go to them with wet hair. Show them what it does, ask for the best, no hassle attractive cut they can come up with. Tell them you don't want to have to do anything with it but wash and shake it out. That is how I got great, workable hair. I broke it down to one shampoo only, no rinse no anything.
posted by Oyéah at 8:18 AM on March 25, 2019

You need to shower after working out, but do you need to wash your hair immediately after working out? Could you shower at the gym with a shower cap on, then wash your hair in the evening when you get home and have time to futz with diffusers or airdrying? I realize this depends a lot on how sweaty your scalp gets, but it may be an option.
posted by snowmentality at 8:21 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not the most environmentally correct way but a couple paper towels soak up a LOT of moisture after you've already dried your hair with a regular or microfiber towel (yes, including the much talked about Aquis). It also sounds to me like you are layering your products on top of wet hair, sealing all that water in and then (predictably) waiting forever to it to air dry. If I were you, I would shampoo, let air dry at least half-way and then put in a leave-in conditioner (I highly recommend Living Proof Style Extender, I've tried dozens and dozens of products and this is the only thing that makes my sometimes straight, sometimes curly hair look good in a hurry).
posted by rada at 8:48 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had gotten one once before but I just recently got another DevaCut and my stylist took a lot of bulk out of my hair (mostly in layers in the back) and I feel like it's much quicker to dry now. I have wavy/ curly hair and I find that if I 1. plop with a microfiber towel 2. diffuse (low heat) for about 20min 3. air dry the rest of the way that's it's the best of all the worlds that I can hope for. Especially given that you have a bit of a drive where it can air dry the rest of the way I would either find a travel diffuser that can attach to whatever is available at the gym or just bring your own hair dryer and diffuser with you.

If someone else had a better solution though I'd love to hear it because I'm suffering from the same problem.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:59 AM on March 25, 2019

Blow dry normally until your hair is half dry; add the diffuser attachment to the dryer, apply a styling product, scrunch hair until it’s merely damp; manually twist curls into shape and let it air dry from there.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:05 AM on March 25, 2019

Honestly my hair is curly-curly(like 3b-3c, think 80s poofy pop star) and long and i just can't find an answer to this i'm happy with. I don't shower before work, and i don't think i'd even attempt this

If i did, i'd have to go REALLY early to give myself the full hour~ it takes to diffuse my hair dry(and you should be using a diffuser here if you're in a hurry) and get it put together.

Yes, this would involve the "haul products with you" solution, unfortunately.

My earnest answer that i had to go with is "only go to the gym in the afternoon, shower when i get home so i don't have to haul crap". Anything else was too much work and caused me to lose too much sleep.

I highly suggest removing like half the toweling if not basically all and just diffusing though. You'll be able to go from wet to dry, barely even slightly damp hair in 30~ min or less. I go straight from devacurl to the diffuser with dripping wet hair, only squishing out some water. I still wouldn't want to do it at the gym though.

I really think morning gym-ing just isn't the answer here, or at least it was almost instantly a no-go for me
posted by emptythought at 9:32 AM on March 25, 2019

I just went to work with wet hair but wet-hair judgement doesn't really bother me. It does take my hair a good two hours to be really dry and if I need it to be so early in the morning I have woken up very early so I can wait around.
posted by dame at 3:09 PM on March 25, 2019

For me, the answer to this question is to chemically straighten my hair or have hair short enough that I can blow dry it and flat iron it into submission in ten minutes or so. If it's short enough, damage is not as much as a problem because it gets trimmed off much more quickly.

I straighten my hair (when it's longer) with a keratin straightening product that lasts a few months. I don't do this in a salon because I don't think it's safe for someone to be so repeatedly exposed to those fumes / chemicals. When I do it myself I do it outside so that ventilation is a non-issue. I accepted when I did this that it might turn out horribly and I'd have to have a pixie cut, but it worked well for me.

Curly hair or what I think of as "fancy lady hair" (straight hair that has been carefully styled) are too high maintenance for me to manage and still look (what I consider to be) sufficiently presentable. For times when I'm strapped for free time or under a lot of stress, it's so nice to be able to let my hair air dry straight and not have to worry about it at all.

Just my two cents, in case either of the above are possibilities.

[Context: I am a white woman whose hair is the texture of Albert Einstein's.]
posted by ZeroDivides at 4:43 PM on March 25, 2019

Can you just dry your hair the way you did when it was straight and put it up (bun, braid, twist, whatever)? You'll still be able to wear your hair down and curly on days you have enough time to let it air dry.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:13 PM on March 25, 2019

Super-late, but wanted to add: this collapsible diffuser works well and would be a space-saver in your gym bag. I scrunch product through wet shower hair, then gently scrunch with thick microfiber to blot out a lot of moisture; drying (technique - but I use the cool setting, on high) takes less than ten minutes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:23 PM on May 18, 2019

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