6 Things To Know When Choosing Hair Extensions For Running, Athletics, And Gym

If you are an avid gym-goer, athlete or runner, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to rock your hair extensions while doing so—and that’s exactly what I’m going to help you do!

Before you start deciding which hair extensions you’re going to use, it is really important you know which hair extensions are durable and can withstand the sweat without slipping out or needing to be replaced.

With that being said, here are 6 things you should know when selecting hair extensions for running, athletics and the gym;

  1. How running, gyming and athletics can damage your hair extensions.
  2. The best hair extensions to use while exercising.
  3. The best hairstyles to use to keep your hair out of the way, to avoid any further damage.
  4. How to prepare your hair extensions BEFORE exercising.
  5. Caring for hair extensions AFTER exercising.
  6. Useful accessories you can use to make exercising with hair extensions a lot more pleasant.

Let’s jump right in and learn exactly how exercising can damage our extensions.

Heavy exercise generally tends to make us sweat—sweat can be extremely damaging to your hair, and can cause knotting, matting, frizz, dryness and the acidity and salt in the sweat can dissolve the bonds of your extensions, causing them to possibly slip out.

Another important factor is making sure you take the proper steps to ensure that your hair extensions are not damaged in the process, as regular, vigorous exercise can wreak havoc on your extensions if you don’t have a proper hair care routine before and after you exercise.

01. Will Exercising Damage My Hair Extensions?

Just because you have to work up a sweat doesn’t mean you can’t look your best while doing it! Regardless of whether you are a track athlete or tennis star, your hair deserves the same dedication and attention as your sport does.

Heavy exercise can indeed do some serious wear and tear on your tresses if you do not take the proper measures to combat this. This is because the sweat you produce when exercising is highly acidic and salty, which can dry out your hair and cause the bonds of your extensions to become loose.

Hair extensions are also more prone to damage, as they do not receive the natural oils and nutrients from your scalp that help restore your hair, so if anything you need to go the extra mile when caring for your extensions.

The good news is that you can easily minimize the damage by taking the time to care for your extensions both before and after your workout, as well as choosing good quality extensions that can withstand a bit of extra wear and tear.

02. Best Hair Extensions That Will Survive the Sweat

If you want to wear your hair extensions when you exercise, it is really important that you choose extensions that are of high quality and are durable.

Good quality hair extensions should ideally be made from 100% human Remy hair, meaning it does not contain any plastic or synthetic fibers. You’ll know if your hair isn’t real human hair by the way it reacts to heat and moisture—the end result is having to buy new extensions.

If you choose low-quality hair extensions such as non-Remy, non-virgin and not raw you can’t be surprised when they start slipping out after being exposed to a bit of sweat.

Even if you own 100% real human extensions, there are certain types of extensions that will prove a nightmare when exercising. After much research, I discovered which 2 types of extensions are best suited for exercise, taking into consideration durability, easiest aftercare, and the best quality:

  • Tape-in Extensions. Tape-in extensions are well-known for lasting the longest as they are applied with a strong adhesive, meaning it will hold FAR better than clip-in extensions. 100% Pure Remy tape-in extensions are extremely similar to natural hair in terms of durability, and will last you months even while you exercise! You can even shower and swim with them in, as the adhesive is designed to withstand moisture. How long can I expect them to last: If you take really good care of them, you can expect them to last you between 6-8 weeks.
  • Micro-ring Extensions. This method involves using tiny copper rings and combining them with your natural hair. If you are looking for longer-term extensions, these are a great pick. They are also ideal for up-dos, as they are much less visible than other types of extensions, meaning you will be able to rock them on the track or field without feeling conscious about them falling out or becoming visible! How long can I expect them to last: Impressively, micro-bonding rings last for 3-4 months before needing to be refitted. This is because they start to grow away from your scalp over time.

If you are looking for good-quality, ethical extensions from the best companies in the world, you can check out our article 12 Best Vegan Extensions (Full Buyers Guide.)

03. Which Hair Extension Styles Are Best For Athletes, Runners and Gym Goers?

  • The French Plait Bun. This simple yet elegant style is ideal for sporting events as they secure the hair away from your face and tie up all loose ends. Start by braiding the hair on two sides until the top of your neck, then tie the hair with a hairband. Then gather the hair together and twist. Finally, wrap the twisted hair into a bun and fasten with a hairband.
  • Flip Ponytail. Simply another, more elegant version of the ponytail, the flip ponytail is ideal for keeping your hair under control. First, put your hair in a low ponytail, then push your fingers through the hair between your head and headband to make a gap. Carefully pull the hairband and tail through this gap. Finally, split the hair into two sections, pull them apart and pull them up through the hairband. 
  • Inverted French Braids. For this look, you can follow the exact same procedure here as the french plait bun, except do not wrap the hair into a bun, simply leave them hanging.
  • The Bubble Ponytail. This super cute style can be completed by gathering your hair in a high ponytail and attaching small, transparent hairbands all the way along with your hairband. This hairstyle is ideal for the gym as it separates the hair neatly, preventing your hair from flying all over the place and causing knotting and sweat exposure.

Since the french braids can be a little trickier, especially for beginner’s, here’s a quick video tutorial with a step-by-step guide on braiding your extensions:

04. Preparing Hair Extensions For Exercising

Preparing your hair extensions just before you exercise is extremely important so that you minimize damage and prolong the life of your extensions.

  • Remove clip-ins. If you didn’t listen to my advice and went ahead and purchased clip-ins, you may want to take these out before you hit the gym or the track. Clip-ins are prone to matting and tangling, and when mixed with moisture you will have a disaster on your hands.
  • Tie you back in a ponytail or braid. This is to try and expose your extensions to the least amount of sweat, as well as preventing knotting or matting. When hair is exposed to moisture, it tends to tangle more frequently.
  • Wear a headband. This will help soak up any excess sweat, thus minimizing exposure to damage.
  • Wear a hat. If you are running outdoors it is important you protect your hair from the heat. If you have tape-in extensions this could cause some damage to the adhesive, so rather avoid it if you can.
  • Don’t pull too tight. You don’t want to loosen your extensions or cause an uncomfortable pull, so be gentle when securing your hair and don’t pull it too tightly on your scalp.
  • Use a good leave-in conditioner. Before you begin your workout, be sure to put in a good conditioner. This works by creating a protective barrier between your sweat and your extensions. For best results, put the conditioner in the night before and sleep with it in so your hair is saturated for the next day.

05. Caring For Extensions After Exercising

Remember I told you that how you treat your hair after your exercise is what really counts? Well, now it’s time to put this knowledge into practice! Here’s how to care for your extensions after you exercise:

  • Carefully remove any braiding or styles. Once you have finished exercising, remove any styles you originally had in, including accessories.
  • Avoid the sauna. While the sauna is certainly a tempting after-gym activity, this may be a sacrifice you’ll have to make. The intense heat and moisture will cause your hair to frizz like crazy and damage your tape bonds, which means they may slip (eek!)
  • Comb through the hair gently. Run your fingers through the hair, gently removing any knots. After this, use a good detangling brush to remove any bigger knots. Grab your ArtNaturals Detangling brush set from Amazon and kiss your knot and matting problems goodbye!
  • Wash hair thoroughly. Wash your hair gently yet thoroughly, using a good sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. This will remove any excess sweat, oil, and build-up from the hair that can cause damage. This is very important to extend the look and lifespan of your extensions. Extensions also need to be very carefully washed and in one direction, from top to bottom. You also need to use more conditioner on your extensions and make use of good treatment is absolutely essential. Check out Faithful to Nature leave-in conditioner for good quality, organic product that will nourish your locks.
  • Always use products free of phosphates and sulfates. These ingredients can be very damaging to both your extensions and your natural hair as they dry it out. Here’s a full list of 14 of the best sulfate-free products in 2020.
  • Dry hair on low heat. Gently dab your hair dry with a towel. Be careful not to vigorously rub, as this can cause knotting or dismantle your extensions. Once this is done, dry the hair carefully with a hairdryer on the lowest heat possible. Too much heat can damage your extensions, making them dry and damaged.

INSIDER TIP: DO NOT wash brand new tape-in extensions, wait a couple of weeks before doing so.

06. Some Useful Accessories

When it comes to keeping a sweaty situation under control, your new best friends will be hair accessories! From headbands to clips and scrunchies, here’s a list of all the best accessories to don to your next trip to the gym:

  • Headbands. These are an absolute MUST when it comes to keeping the sweat and oil away from your face and scalp. If you’re looking for one of the best headbands in the business, check out the Red Dust Active Lightweight Sports band. This awesome accessory is designed specifically for heavy workouts and excessive sweating, meaning you can go your absolute hardest at the gym and not worry about your extensions becoming soaked with sweat, oil, and grime!
  • The stretchy ponytail holder. This adorable, fabric-based scrunchie will give your ponytail a little bit of extra lift, keeping your extensions from draping down your back or shoulders and soaking up any excess sweat. Grab it here!
  • The ribbon headband. These are my personal favorite! Nike offers a range of absolutely gorgeous neon headbands that are suitable for those who aren’t fans of thicker headbands and do an awesome job of holding your hair back. Check them out here!
  • Scunci hair elastics. These are the most durable elastics you can get, meaning they are perfect for exercising. As an added bonus, they also come in a variety of colors. Check them out here.
  • Hair clips. Hair clips are ideal for clipping back those pesky strands that just won’t stay in place. Here are some of the best hair clips designed for longer hair that will keep your hair in place no matter how much you move around!

Final Thoughts

If you are going to brave the gym, track or field make sure that your hair extensions are good quality, 100% Remy before exposing it to the elements. Synthetic hair will very easily become knotted and damaged, and once wet with moisture they will need to be replaced. Just like your body, if you take proper care of your hair before and after you exercise, you’ll have no problem keeping your extensions in tip-top shape.


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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