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Is Sweat Bad for Your Scalp and Hair?

Sillabear says…I am looking for ways to minimize the amount of times that I wash my hair and I recently came across information that utilizing a mixture of 1:2 parts of peppermint oil to jojoba oil will break down the salts that are deposited on the scalp from pores after a strenuous exercise. Is this true? If not, do products such as dry shampoo rid one’s scalp of these potentially damaging salts?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Before we talk about sweat removal, let’s do a quick recap of what’s in sweat.

Sweaty chemistry

Our bodies sweat through two different glands: eccrine (which are found pretty much all over the body) and apocrine (which are concentrated where there are hair follicles.) Both glands produce sweat that consists of water and minerals (or salts). Specifically, sweat contains sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. But only the apocrine glands product lactate, urea, and other substances which make this milky sweat so tasty to odor causing bacteria.

Peppermint oil or jojoba oil have no special ability to breakdown or remove sweat. Peppermint oil could have some antibacterial properties which might inhibit some of the odor associated with eccrine gland perspiration but it is also a mild irritant and may end up making your scalp inflamed. The “stuff” you’re trying to get rid of like salts, Sodium lactate and urea are water soluble so jojoba oil won’t do much to remove them either. A dry shampoo which contains a water absorbent starch might help “soak up” some of these materials if you’re that determined to get them off your scalp. Which brings us to the main point of this post…

Is sweat bad for scalp?

Why do you think that salts from sweat are damaging in the first place? And what exactly do you think is becoming damaged? Your skin? Your hair? That may not be the case! In fact, some of the components of sweat have skin moisturizing properties. (Lactate and urea are found in many skin lotions.) And there’s some evidence that suggests sweat may actually keep you healthy by helping to ward off certain microorganisms.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

If you’re sweaty and stinky you should certainly clean up as needed. But if you’re just worried about sweat “damaging” your scalp or hair it’s probably less of a problem than you realize.



“Sweat mineral-element responses during 7 h of exercise-heat stress,” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2007 Dec;17(6):574-82.



Image credit: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • name February 3, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Sweat induces dandruff on my scalp. This post adds to the small list- very -mall list- of instances I disagree with the beauty brains.

  • Athena Parousoudi June 22, 2017, 2:01 pm

    I cannot be more grateful to have come across this blog. I go to practice six times a week and my head gets soaked in sweat every single time. I have come to accept the fact that I am a big sweat(t)er. I have been worried sick that the sweat will ruin my hair. I also avoid the daily wash as I find it too much.
    Your info has confirmed what I have witnessed on myself. My hair used to be thin, brittle, I could not get it to grow for anything in the world. After a number of years (3-4) of intensive sweating it has changed dramatically for the better.
    Best regards