Why does figuring out your weekly exercise versus hair wash schedule feel like a maths equation? Gemma Watts shares a grooming 'week in the life' as a beauty guru who works out six times a week.
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Simultaneously, I am winning battles against sweaty hair, hot showers and the latter’s effect on the skin.
I have recently ramped up the frequency of my gym visits (for no reason other than enjoyment, which is a wonderful headspace to find oneself in - read our article on this topic) and have taken up swimming for the first time in close to a decade.
I have always had naturally healthy hair and am a weekly false tanner and, being a beauty writer, I am acutely aware of the effects chlorine, warm water and regular soaking can have on both of those things - it dries and discolours the hair, and it eats away at false tan like tiny little painless piranhas.
When I searched the world wide web for ways to combat what I felt was inevitable (having to wash my hair daily thanks to self inflicted sweating six days per week, fake tan evacuating my skin in patches, and lingering facial redness from my new found love of saunas) the advice was generic.
“Use a conditioner!” “Moisturise!”
Sorry, web, but I have some questions.
As the saying goes, if you want something done properly, do it yourself - and that I have done.
This is a very, very specific breakdown of my week (a routine that changes depending on work, but is fairly consistent), but hopefully there are some nuggets in here that help you navigate the intersection of being a beauty-person and a gym-person with the surprising ease I have.
In advance, you’re welcome.
Boxing is hard. I am the youngest person in my boxing class by a fairly large margin, which allowed me to enter my first session with a confidence I simply should not have possessed - most of them have been boxing for decades. DECADES.
The big beauty lesson here is how sweaty your hands get in your gloves. Sweat, boxing gloves, and wrist wraps (yes, wrist wraps - I don’t do things by halves) has led to my fake tan getting pretty patchy on my hands.
The solution has been to shower then moisturise from head to toe (the Grown Alchemist Intensive Body Cream is an enduring favourite), to keep the rest of my tan looking good, then applying a tanning mist to the backs of my hands to top them up. These mists are usually formulated for the face, but they work a treat on the hands too.
My hair is sweaty, as you’d expect, but I try to keep the number of times I wash my hair each week to a minimum for no reason other than my hair takes so long to dry.
I use a dry shampoo on the off days stretch things out (I actually have a little trick for this which went viral on TikTok, prompting a lot of people in the Northern Hemisphere to ask me, a person in the Southern Hemisphere, “Why are you wearing a winter jacket?”).
I have a bit of a drive to and from my personal training sessions, so on the drive home I blast my air conditioner to dry a bit of the sweat out of my hair. This works really well, but subsequently dries out the skin on my hands and face.
To combat this, I keep a hand cream and a facial moisturiser in my car. This might seem unnecessary, but I’ve found applying these after gym really keeps my skin barrier protected, rather than allowing the air to dry my skin out.
I know I’ll need to wash my hair tomorrow (more on that shortly) and washing my hair two days in a row feels like such a time waster, so it’s another dry shampoo and sleek bun day.
My Wednesday morning combo brings me a great deal of joy, despite the potential it holds to throw both my skin and hair into turmoil.
Fortunately, this is where the very particular set of skills I’ve acquired throughout my time in beauty really shine.
When I swim, I pull my hair into a plaited ponytail so that it doesn’t swish everywhere (hair caps give me a headache and I hate them).
After swimming, I immediately apply a hair mask from root to tip, then twist my hair into a bun. Next, I sit in the sauna where the heat allows the mask to really sink in that bit better than it otherwise would.
This routine is really, really working- so much so that when I recently asked my hairdresser to cut off any split ends, she replied with “What split ends?” Take that, chlorine.
Chlorine and false tan are not a great combination, I’m afraid. I lean into the dryness by making Wednesday a full body exfoliation day. I’ll do a really thorough scrub in my post-swim shower to remove any remnants, then I’ll re-apply my tan later in the day. Magic!
Nothing new to report. Hair is fairly fresh, so dry shampoo it is, and tan is doing what it needs to do without the interruption of chlorine. That is, until….
My Friday morning routine really sets me up to be in the best, best mood for the last day of the working week. In a surprise twist, it also sets my beauty routine in good stead for the weekend, too.
I follow the same hair routine on Friday as I do on Wednesday, but my body care routine technically begins the night before.
To get my skin as hydrated as possible before hitting the chlorine, I’ll do a really thorough head-to-toe moisturisation on a Thursday evening, then I’ll top up any particular dry spots (knees, elbows and ankles) on rising the next morning.
I’ve found that doing this really helps to protect my skin, and subsequently my tan, from the drying effects of the chlorine. The tan will usually fade a little after a swim, so I’ll top it up once I’m home and showered, but it’s an even fade rather than a patchy mess.
Depending on my Friday evening antics I might fit in a Saturday morning spin class, and I’ll usually go for a walk or do some gentle pilates, so the sweat situation doesn’t wreak the same havoc on my beauty rituals of a weekend as it does during the week.
I’ll wash my hair again only if I need to, which depends on how fancy my Saturday night plans are, and I’ll usually afford myself time to work through an at-home-facial on a Sunday night to reset my skin for the week ahead.
Youtimer Paloma Rose Garcia names Kevin Murphy Re.Store as the perfect post-swim product for cleaning and conditioning hair in one step:
"Re.store is one of the most unique products I have ever used. It’s for beachgoers, and people who let their hair air dry.
It settles down frizz and fluff, while still keeping it clean, and super silky."