Long Hair & Jiu Jitsu [Guest Blog]

This blog is originally by Emilia Tuukkanen. Emilia is a Finnish black belt who represents Gracie Barra, and lives currently in Malaga, Spain. 

I have had long hair since I started jiujitsu. At the shortest, my hair has been slightly over the shoulders and now at the longest, just over the back. I really couldn’t imagine cutting my hair very short and even though very impractical, I love my hair long.

Sea water makes my hair firmer than usual, and sometimes I use a salt spray (water + salt in a spray bottle) to get that surfer look artificially.

Despite my chosen path as a martial artist, I’m pretty girlish and like to put an effort in my looks when possible. My job as an sports instructor puts a limit to being pretty so healthy, feminine long hair is one of the only options to appear girly with a gi as well as with gymnastics clothing on.

Properly maintained, my hair remains good despite rolling.

There are countless downsides to having a long hair: it gets caught everywhere while rolling, hindering your movement. It’s also slow to dry, constantly in the way and in the mouth and eyes of you and your training partner. It takes quite a lot of attention and treatment to keep it in shape. But on the other side: since jiujitsu is so “manly”, it’s nice to keep some kind of femininity, and long hair just feels like it’s my thing.

This is how I keep my hair tied every time I compete and train. I tie my hair to a ponytail with a soft and thick band and braid it. This way, no hair gets damaged and it holds better, at least for that one round.

I have read a lot of posts about long hair and working out, but none of them really fit jiujitsu. The most common tip I read, is to wash your hair 1-2 times a week or otherwise use a dry shampoo. In martial arts – that are mainly ground based – the unfortunate fact is that the hair is very dirty and contains the sweat of your training partners as well.

If your hair looks like this …

Keeping it unwashed requires that you have to rely 100%  on the hygiene of all attendees (not just your own training partners, but ALL), and overall cleanliness. Which is practically impossible. I can not stand the idea that there are germs crawling around originating from 20 different human beings at the same time in my hair, so I wash my hair properly after each training. After training at the gym or the like, I only use dry on shampoo, but depending on the training day, I’m forced to wash my hair even two times a day. With jiu jitsu training six days a week combined with other sports, I wash my hair about 7-10 times a week.

… and this, then it just has to be washed. You can squeeze the sweat out of that braid like it’s from a wet rag.

After days with two training sessions, I wash my hair after the first work-out with just a conditioner and combine it with a shampoo for the evening. On one-shower-days I immediately wash with shampoo. There are no specific products I use, but I like to vary between hair care products and almost always buy a new brand when the old ones are over.

I’m very picky about what I buy, and look for products that contain oil or butter, preferably both. If the product doesn’t contain any real oils or butters, I won’t buy it. This goes for both shampoo and conditioner. When you have to wash your hair so much, the oils on your scalp are not enough so I use quality products to avoid drying.

However, quality is not always the same as expensive, at least here. My most expensive conditioner at the moment is €4,95. In general, in shampoo I need one oil or butter mentioned in the list of ingredients. I’m more particular about the conditioner, and it must have more oils and butters that it ends up in my shopping cart. 

Perhaps the biggest reason for my good hair is what I do with it after showering. I will put a teaspoon of regular conditioner on the tops of my towel-dried hair and leave it on. So there is no special hair spray, but exactly the same as I use in the shower. This way the tops do not dry so easily, and the hair is certainly easier to brush. I only brush my hair gently open in the morning and in the evening.

Here, you just have to find the right amount for yourself, because if you put too much, your hair is sticky and will tangle on the tops. I also always sleep with my hair open, and I do not tie my hair with anything else than thick and soft hairties. Small rubbery ones I only use at the end of my braid.

I use lemon to color my hair only. My hair has not been treated with dyes for years: lemon juice and sunlight are enough for me. So I squeeze lemon on the roots, to get nice natural stripes in my hair. I’m leave the lemon juice in around an hour. At the end of the lemon treatment, I often place an oil mask on the tops, that is, just olive oil straight out of the can into the hair for 15 to 30 minutes, after which I wash off everything off at the same time.

Thank you Emilia, for sharing your hair secrets with us! Make sure to check out Emilia’s blog, and give her a follow in Instagram

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