As frequent gym-goers, we know how tempting it is to fall into the rut of wearing a basic ponytail every time you exercise. We get it—they’re quick, easy to style, and (most importantly) keep your strands out of your face during those high-intensity workouts. However, there are tons of gym hairstyles that are both functional and stylish. Whether you favor a long mane or rock a short, fluffy haircut, you could probably use some advice.
We've got you covered if you want to switch up your hairstyle for your next sweat sesh. Keep scrolling for a roundup of cute gym hairstyles to take your workout game to the next level.
How should you wear your hair when working out?
There’s no right or wrong way to wear your hair when you hit the gym. Instead, it’s all about your hair type, length, and personal preference. In general, many can agree on wanting to push sweaty hair off their faces and necks and keeping knots and tangles at bay. Buns, braids, and ponytails are among the most popular gym hairstyles, and you may be pleasantly surprised by how many iterations exist.
Should you style your hair before the gym?
Our hair-loving selves may be biased, but we think it’s a myth that you shouldn’t style your hair before the gym. Not only will the right styles keep your hair up and protected, but there are so many great hair products strong enough to withstand even the most grueling workouts. You can even use conditioning masks and treatments to your advantage and run them through your hair before you head to the gym. After all, your hair will get dirty anyway, so you might as well make it count!
How do you style short hair at the gym?
Styling short hair can be a conundrum since you often don’t have enough length to recreate more intricate styles. But rest assured, you do have options. You can enlist the help of hair accessories like headbands, bobby pins, and barrettes to hold back your shorter layers. Or, why not opt for half-up hairstyles to keep the front of your hair away from your face? For those with super short hair, such as pixie cuts, gels, pastes, and pomades can help sculpt and tame your strands throughout your workout.
Whether easy gym hairstyles or cute gym hairstyles are more your vibe, here are our top looks to power you through that pilates class and beyond.
25 of the Best Gym Hairstyles to Try in 2023
Messy Top Knot
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give our first shoutout to the quintessential gym hairstyle: the messy bun. Begin by gathering your hair into a high ponytail. Create a bun at the crown of your head and secure it with a hair tie. To create the messy effect, gently tug on a few pieces to loosen them from the top knot. Complete the look with a light spritz of hairspray like the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Moya Hold Hair Spray.
French Braid Pigtails
The French braid pigtail is next on our list of tried and true favorites. If you’ve wondered what the best protective hairstyle for working out is, braids of all kinds are crowd pleasers—and this list is swimming in them.
Spiky Top Knot
Channel your inner ‘90s babe with a spiky clipped bun. Adding a few barrettes to the sides of your hair will help keep shorter layers tucked neatly away while you power through your workout.
Double Dutch Braid Ponytail
Looking for a hairstyle that will last all day? Give Dutch braids a try. After the gym, simply spritz a bit of dry shampoo, throw on a cute outfit, and get ready to tackle the rest of your to-do list.
If you need the perfect post-gym dry shampoo, we recommend Biolage Professional’s All-In-One Intense Dry Shampoo which can extend time between washes for up to four days..
Short-haired ladies, we understand the struggle of being unable to gather your entire mane into a ponytail or updo. Instead, opt for a half-up bun hairstyle to keep your hair out of your face during your gym sesh. To create a half-up bun, simply split the top half of your hair into two even sections. Gather the sections at the top of your head, twist them together to create a bun, and secure the bun with a hair tie.
For layered pixie cuts, we recommend using a styling paste like the Redken Pliable Paste to keep your hair from falling in your face at the gym. As a bonus, the formula stays moist and flexible so that you can rearrange your hairstyle afterward.
Scrunchie Ballet Bun
Gym hairstyles don’t have to be basic. Since scrunchies can be dressed up or down, they’re a functional yet glam way to keep your bun on lock while you move around.
Struggling to keep your bangs from plastering on your forehead? Try swapping out your headband for a stylish bang braid. Once the braid is secured, hold it in place with a few bobby pins and apply a few spritzes of hairspray like the Biolage Professional Finishing Spritz Non-Aerosol Hairspray.
Upgrade your bun by wrapping your favorite hair scarf around the base. The scarf will allow you to add a fun accessory while providing extra hold.
A braided bun is perfect for anyone trying to keep their hair off their neck at the gym. Start by flipping your hair over. Taking three sections of hair starting at the nape of your neck, begin French braiding until you reach the crown of your head. Gather the remaining hair and tie it into a simple bun. Lock the style in place with a few spritzes of hairspray.
Tired of your usual top knot hairstyle? Make it two with space buns! Split your hair into two even sections and wrap a hair tie around each area to create pigtails.
Working with one section at a time, twist the segment into a bun at the top of your head and hold it in place with another hair tie. Repeat this step on the other side and secure any loose pieces of hair with bobby pins.
Braided Space Buns
Kick your space buns up a notch by braiding them beforehand. This easy how-to from @kamberrykreates shows you how to execute this cute gym hairstyle perfectly.
Baseball Cap Claw Clip
If you can never seem to get your hairstyle quite right beneath a baseball hat, this claw clip hack may become your new holy grail ‘do.
Messy Boho Pigtails
Make it look like you slayed your dance class before it even started with purposefully messy pigtails. After all, they’ll get loose eventually, so you might as well control the chaos!
Rope Braid Ponytail
Begin by pulling all of your hair into a tight ponytail and securing it with a hair tie. Once secured, take all of your hair and split it into two even sections. Twist the sections around each other until you reach the ends and hold them in place with another hair tie.
Slicked Side-Parted Pony
Fact: Changing your part is an easy way to reinvent your whole look. If the classic pony is one of your go-to gym hairstyles, flip how you part your hair to shake things up. A strong-hold gel like Matrix Styling Controller Gel can add structure and shine to your hair, no matter how intense your workout gets.
Work with your sweaty gym hair, not against it, with the sauna hair trend! It involves creating a slightly damp, just-stepped-out-of-a-sauna look using conditioning hair masks and nourishing oils. (Hint, hint: Matrix Food For Soft Multi-Use Hair Oil Serum is one of our must-haves.)
After you apply all your products, throw your hair into a loose bun or ponytail and let your ingredients sink in while you work out. With all this goodness in your hair, washing it after is totally optional.
Knotted Low Bun
A knotted low bun is ideal for anyone headed straight to the office after a morning workout. For the perfect, chic low bun, start by brushing your hair back into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck. Pro tip: We recommend spraying a bit of hairspray onto your brush before running it through your mane to tame flyaways.
Use your ponytail to create a knot at the nape of your neck and secure it with a hair tie.
Five-Strand Braid Ponytail
Five-strand braids may be more challenging to master than a typical three-strand braid, but the result is absolutely stunning. We love the five-strand braid variation for the gym because it’s stylish and the tight braid keeps your hair intact.
On the hunt for exceptionally cute gym hairstyles? Look to bubble braids. We saw them rise to popularity during lockdown, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere soon. From work-from-home to festival season to gym sessions, there’s nothing bubble braids aren’t suited for.
Rolled Bubble Braid
Add some visual interest to your bubble braid with this rolled look. Place elastics throughout your pony and flip your hair through the previous loop. You can make each section uniform in length or vary them for a more playful effect.
For those prone to frizzy hair while they sweat (looking at you, hair types 3 and 4!), a tightly woven ladder braid can help keep excess moisture from transferring from your skin to your hair. It’s also one of the best gym hairstyles for long hair. You can leave your ends hanging free, as pictured here, or continue the ladder braid down the length of your locks.
Lace Braid Bun
Pull your hair into a high ponytail and hold it in place with a hair tie. Take a 2-inch section of hair from the base of the ponytail and let it hang loose. Form a bun at the crown of your head with the remaining hair. Using the separated section of hair, create a simple three-strand braid and wrap it around the bun's base. Once the braid is in place, use bobby pins to secure any loose pieces of hair.
Still trying to master the three-strand braid? We have a solution. Keep your pigtail routine more straightforward with these two-strand twists. All you have to do is divide each pigtail in half and wrap them around each other as you work your way down. As far as easy gym hairstyles go, it doesn’t get simpler than this.
Looped Braided Pigtails
While we love pigtails, we sometimes hate how our hair still clings to our neck. Looped braided pigtails are one of the cutest gym hairstyles to keep you cool and free of sticky strands.