Sure, we’d love to walk out of the house or the gym looking like we just walked out of the salon. But ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re lucky if we can fit in a workout—let alone spend an extra hour on our hair. Besides, even if time allows, there are days we just. can’t. even.
We tapped Lauren Thompson, gym regular and senior hair stylist at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City, to get her expert time-saving styling tricks for those crazy-busy days. Check out her tips below to get out the door even faster.
Before a Workout
No one should have to choose between good hair or a good workout, but it happens. One study shows that 40 percent of African-American women have skipped a workout due to hair-related issues. But a great workout doesn’t have to lead to a bad hair day if you’re strategic about your style before you break a sweat. Try these two-second tips.
1. Choose the right hair tie.
One of the easiest ways to extend your style through a workout is to opt for a better hair tie. “I like the bracelet-type hair bands that look like a ribbon,” Thompson says. “They won’t dent your hair like other hair ties.” Try a metallic option like Emi Jay metallic 5-pack ($5.50, emijay.com), which look just as stylish in your hair as they do on your wrist.
2. Try a sweat-soaking headband.
Another easy way to extend your style is to slide on a sweat-absorbing headband. “A sweatband will soak up the sweat around the hairline so it’s not absorbing into your hair,” Thompson says. We like Lululemon’s Fly Away Tamer headband II ($12, lululemon.com), which comes in seven different colors to match all of your workout gear.
When You Have Only 10 Minutes
Drying your hair doesn’t have to be a total time suck. The reason it feels like it takes forever is because many people start blow-drying their hair when it’s still sopping wet. Before you reach for the dryer, try this pro tip.
3. Follow the 90 percent rule.
The key to speeding up your blow-dry time is to get your hair 90 percent dry first, Thompson says.
After you get out of the shower, use a super-absorbent towel like PackTowl Luxe ($24.95, cascadedesigns.com) to squeeze as much moisture out of your hair as possible. The terry knit microfiber absorbs five times its weight in water and dries 30 percent faster than cotton. Use a scrunching technique (shown above) rather than rough-drying, which will damage the hair’s cuticle. This should get the hair about 50 percent dry in two minutes.
Next, power-dry your hair with a blow-dryer until 90 percent dry. Flip your head over if you like volume at the roots and tousle it with your fingers. Your hair should feel damp, not saturated with water.
Once your hair is 90 percent dry, Thompson suggests spending the last five minutes smoothing it out with a brush as you finish blow-drying. A paddle brush works well on straight hair; a boar bristle on textured hair for a smooth finish. Brush through your hair focusing on the front and the top layer since that’s the most visible. If you have curly hair and want to maintain your curls, skip the brush and add a diffuser attachment to encourage the curl.
When You Have Only 5 Minutes
You don’t always have to shampoo your whole head to walk away feeling so fresh and so clean. When you’re tight on time, try these two shortcuts.
4. Do a mini-wash.
Try quick washing just the roots for a touch-up in between washes or after a sweaty workout.
First, tie up the length of your hair in a loose bun and cover it with a shower cap. Try DryBar’s Morning After shower cap ($16, sephora.com). Then wet just the roots and use a pea-size amount of shampoo to wash around the hairline and get the dirty or sweaty parts clean, says Thompson. Carefully rinse. Once out of the shower, remove the cap, and quickly blow-dry your roots. Your style will look as good as new—fast.
5. Hit refresh.
Skip the wash altogether and fake it with a spritz of dry shampoo. “If your hair is clean but you just finished a sweaty workout, take the blow-dryer and blast your roots to dry up the sweat,” Thompson says. “Then spray dry shampoo into the roots to absorb oil and instantly look fresh and smell good again.” It’s as simple as that.
When You Have Only 2 Minutes:
On days that are crazy AF, skip the shampoo and work with what you’ve got.
6. Tie it up top.
We have no idea what celebrity or hair stylist made the topknot a socially acceptable style, and we don’t care. All we know is this look has saved us from slaving away at our hair about one trillion times.
“I love a good topknot; all you do is pull your hair into a high ponytail,” says Thompson. “Then take the pony, twist it around the base, and use a few bobby pins or a hair tie to secure. It looks like you tried when you didn’t try at all.”
7. Slick it back.
Wet hair, dirty hair, greasy hair—it doesn’t matter. A slicked-back bun uses moisture, grease, or sweat to your advantage.
“When I’m too lazy to deal with my own hair, I go for a slick, low pony,” Thompson says. She suggests middle- or side-parting your hair, then using a boar-bristled brush to sweep it back into a low, tight ponytail. Leave the tail loose or wrap it around the base into a small bun. Use pins or a hair tie to secure. Lock everything into place and keep flyaways down with a few spritzes of hair spray. “It’s the best way to hide a dirty hair day,” she says.
Lauren Thompson gives us hair envy on the reg. For more inspiration, follow her on Instagram.