Although it may seem trivial, at one point or another female athletes of all races have had to consider their hairstyle or its care based on their type of exercise regimen. Unfortunately for some African-Americans, this decision has come down to exercising or not exercising because of the amount of time required taking care of their hair and styles.
Many women spend hundreds of dollars every few weeks to have their hair wonderfully coiffed, permed, colored and or blow-dried. So to turn around and "sweat it out" doesn't seem to make any financial sense. So a good handful of women choose not to regularly exercise.
Exercise, with all of its many benefits, leaves your hair damp, salt-laden and sometimes completely wet. When you work out, you sweat, which leaves a salt build-up that tends to lodge in your hair and on your scalp. This layer of salt and water can lead to your hair drying out and eventually cause hair breakage. Your scalp has many tiny pores to breathe and absorb whatever substances are on the scalp. The salt buildup not only blocks these pores, but can sometimes get absorbed by the pores as well.
Athletes expose their skin to elements like sun, wind and rain more than sedentary people. Each day, adults put up to 126 unique chemicals on their skin, up to 60 percent of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. If you're an athlete showering twice a day, the number of exposures can double.
African-America hair products are the most toxic hair products on the market. These products contain ingredients such as mineral oil, petroleum and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). Semi-permanent hair colors, which are aniline dyes, are made from coal-tar. These ingredients can cause hormonal disrupts, organ system toxicity and many other problems. Relaxers are the only hair product in the history of hair products that can be made into a bomb, clear drainage systems, dissolve a plastic container, dissolve human flesh, and completely disintegrate a hair follicle while straightening the hair.
There are hundreds of natural hairstyles that are convenient and can solve African-American women's hair dilemma of when and if to exercise. If Gabby Douglas's hair was not permed or straightened, she may have been under less scrutiny when intense competition "sweated" her hair back to its almost natural state.
During the 2012 Natural Hair Care Expo in Raleigh, N.C., experts in natural hair care discussed and showcased styles and the benefits of natural hair care on one's overall health. One expert, a cosmetologist, discussed how her years of exposure to the chemicals were a direct contributor to her cancer. Athletes consider the best shoes, clothes, foods and supplements for their game, so shouldn't they consider what goes on their skin and scalp? Diminishing the amount of chemicals they are exposed to will benefit their overall health from head to toe.