Whether you ride an e-scooter, bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, most riders can agree on 1 thing. Helmet hair is annoying. Male or female, if you woke up and fixed your hair, it is inevitably in a different state when you get where you’re going. You got it! I’m writing on helmet hair because I think helmets are that important and so are the impressions you have to make when you get to the end of your ride. So. What can you do to prevent helmet hair?
To limit helmet hair, add a root booster product and fluff before and after the helmet for volume. Braids and scarves can help longer hair to prevent damage. Keep small but key tools with you to polish your look post-ride.
You have options when it comes to minimizing the effect of wearing a helmet without a bunch of fuss. It does require a bit of planning to handle it pre-ride or to remember to bring what you need to look good once you get to your destination.
What Exactly is Helmet Hair?
Wearing a helmet will leave you with a flattened version of your hairstyle when you get where you’re going. This happens to both men and women. In addition, this is a catch-all term for dealing with the effect of the wind on any hair that hangs outside of the edges of your helmet. Whether you are more concerned with the flat-hair, tangled mess of being left out, or both problems, there are a variety of tactics up for your hair challenge.
Can Helmet Hair Be Avoided?
Set Your Expectations
Your helmet is a huge part of how you can minimize the chance for major issues if you find yourself in an accident. It’s important, so dealing with helmet hair is kinda small in the grand scheme of things. That said, you can definitely still look presentable after a ride with a helmet and a bunch of wind. Stiff as a board straight can be problematic, but there are solutions for all helmet related hair issues depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to give it.
Quick Rules for Better Helmet Hair
If you only mildly care about what the helmet does to the look of your hair, you will have better hair just by doing 2 simple things.
# 1 – NO WET HAIR
Rule number one is to never throw a helmet on your head when your hair is wet or even damp. Every little indentation will be glaringly obvious when you pull the helmet off. This is absolutely the worst thing that you can do if you care even a little about what you look like when the helmet comes off.
#2 – Style Well Before You Need to Leave (if you can)
Try to finish your hair styling about 30 minutes before you plan to leave. This gives any product you choose to use to set, and it ensures you don’t break rule number one.
Long versus Short Hair
You are tackling the problem from different approaches based on your hair length.
For short hair, the primary concern is to just not end up with the shape of the helmet as your look for the day. Your hair slicked down to frame your head with no life. I also find that short hair is more likely to tickle parts of my face under my helmet. For this, I use a buff or headband.
Long hair does have that component to deal with, but there is also the tangle factor. Have you seen long hair after a ride? It certainly doesn’t look fun. Also, long hair can be a distraction when it’s quite literally flapping in the wind. You feel the tugs.
If you have bangs to contend with, make sure they squish down over your forehead instead of squishing to the side or something. Unless you’re going for that look, of course.
Embrace the Mess
Sometimes, you just have to roll with the cards you’re dealt. Take your helmet off, run your fingers around at your scalp, and carry on!
I walked into a drugstore one day fresh from the scooter. I had my helmet on as I was walking in, and I was unstrapping it from my face as I walked towards the back of the store. I was in a hurry, clearly. Anyhow, I picked up a card for the event I was headed to with my helmet in hand, and the store clerk surprised me at checkout. She said, “I apologize for saying this, but you looked really bad a** as you walked in.” Mind you, I’m just over the 40 mark, and I feel like the biggest goof sometimes. People don’t ride scooters in the area, and it is like finding a unicorn to find a woman on one. It’s not that they don’t exist, but it’s rare. I digress. I looked awesome in the eyes of the young clerk. It was a crazy moment for me. Moral of the story, just embrace it. You’re likely overthinking it.
Use the Helmet to Embrace the Mess
If you want to purposefully style for the mess, you can certainly do some things to help out the finish-line look. Prep your hair by adding a root booster at the roots, and then add in a texturizing salt-spray or a strong hairspray on the rest of your hair. Then twist it around to the top of your head and pin it into a type of messy bun. Just pile it up there if you don’t want to deal with pins. You aren’t going for perfect, but a loose twist is key for a bit of intentional curl. Take off your helmet, take out the pins, and give your hair the model treatment of shaking out your hair. Voila! A gorgeous mess!
I’ve heard folks with curly hair even enjoy some of the taming that wearing a helmet can provide. Give it a go.
Braids, Ponytails, and Low Buns
If you have long hair, a quick solution some of my gal pals turn to are braids. These can be fun, but for a helmet to fit right, we aren’t talking about the kind of braids that circle your head. You can do 1 long braid or a couple of braids going down the back of your head or along the side of your face. It does keep the hair from knotting up as badly, but it will still be flat and possibly a bit disheveled that you may need to adjust when you are finished with your ride.
That said, it is tough to get any braid to stay intact, particularly for the pieces touching areas of your scalp under the helmet. You can pull off a braid for tangle prevention most successfully by starting at the base of your neck. I did not have much luck with looser braids when my hair was longer.
With shorter hair, braiding beyond the edge of the helmet is obviously not going to happen, but you can pull off a low ponytail if you have just a bit hanging out. I do like this because it keeps the fine little pieces of my hair from finding the front of my face by purposefully pulling the hair back and securing it. The little tickles of stray hairs are an annoying distraction at a minimum. You can do the 1 or a series of 2 small braids in the back or towards the side of your head by your shoulders depending on the length of your hair and where your helmet falls.
Full buns & ponytails will not work on the top of your head as your helmet will not fit properly with the excess hair bunched in section. However, see if you can work out a bun at the base of your helmet. You will still likely need to spend some time adjusting it at the end of your ride as the same problem of how your hair pulls up when the helmet is coming off will apply here, too.
Don’t sacrifice your helmet’s fit to make a braid, bun ponytail work. Where the helmet sits on your head is critical in keeping it effective if you end up in an accident. If you can’t get it low enough to be out of the way of the helmet, the helmet wins. Just throw it up in your favorite hairstyle when you are done with your ride for the moment.
Play around and experiment with your hair. This can be fun. Worst case, the braid, ponytail, or bun looks a bit too disheveled for your taste when you take off your helmet. No big deal. Just simply pull it all down and tousle. Then you’re in the embrace the mess style zone.
Head Scarves & Liners for the Win
A scarf or liner is a triple duty win. They keep your helmet’s interior fabric liner cleaner, minimizes wind tearing up your hair by keeping it bound, and they help keep you more comfortable depending on the season and fabric you’re using.
I also ran across this product called the Diva-Do that I’m eager to try. Here’s a link to their site with a review below.
You’ve Arrived and Look Disheveled
Just Do Your Hair When You Get There
Some people just prefer to do their hair when they get to their destination. This is totally fine, of course. Just make sure to budget the right amount of time to get the job done. Have a plan, and this definitely works.
The more problematic thing for me is to remember to bring whatever I need to accomplish that task. That is no small feat! That’s why I tend to leave regularly used items in my under-seat storage box or my work backpack for my commute. Just keep in mind that it is best to think light and compact for this to work well long term.
Break Out the Tools
I carry a couple of items in my storage box that help in case I haven’t thought through my post-helmet look. Here are some things I carry (with an *), and you can go further down the line to spur ideas for what will work for your hair ’emergencies’. The linked items will simply take you to Amazon for more details or images of the item.
- If I’m dealing with tangles with long hair, a wide-tooth comb* is a miracle.
- For shorter hair, a more fine-tooth comb is probably your go-to.
- Hairpins (aka bobby pins*) and bands*
- Anti-humidity hairspray (keep this in a desk drawer at work)
- Mini styling tool like a hair straightener
Quick Style Options
You have a few options to deal with flat or disheveled hair if you need to polish quickly.
|Frizz||Run slightly damp hands over problem spots or run slightly damp fingers throughout.|
|Run the straightener through your hair or a curling iron if you are one to carry those things.|
|Braid Issues||Depending on where the problem spot is, but sometimes you can simply unwind the braid to the problem spot and rebraid. The 2nd time is easier since your hair is somewhat trained to that shape.|
|Simply remove the braid and use your fingers to tousle your hair. Voila. Polished messy.|
|Flat||Turn your head upside down and fluff your roots around with your fingers|
|Embrace the flat but slicking your hair down (with water if necessary) and going for the tighter bun or ponytail|
|Tease your roots a tiny bit (no 1980s business here) to give your roots a bit more lift.|
|If you have the straightener, I’d still go for some lift at the roots, but straight the rest of your hair.|
Again, Embrace the Mess
The above solutions were for trying to polish up a bit more, but I find freedom and style without so much effort on the daily. Take your helmet off, do the left and right model move to shake it out, and carry on with your day. I feel like that bleeds into some full-on life advice right there. Embrace the mess!
Does Wearing a Helmet Affect My Hair’s Health?
Helmets are not bad for your hair health. However, the friction from taking a helmet off and on can cause damage. This damage can lead to hair breakage and is a larger concern for someone with longer hair in particular.
While helmets are not bad for your hair, the wind can cause problems. Wind by its very nature is drying and so can long, dusty rides or those with arid conditions. To minimize the damaging effects of the wind, putting your hair up is even more important.
Also, keeping your hair well moisturized is good for limited the damage from your hair rubbing against the liner and the drying impact of wind. Before or even after a ride, be sure to give your hair a bit more moisturizing love. I tend to do this by sticking with a great daily conditioner like this one on Amazon by Biolage. You can leave your daily routine alone and just add a moisturizing treatment or a bit of coconut oil from time to time or after prolonged riding abuse.
Helmets get dirty as you sweat. A build-up of sweat can lead to bacteria breeding in the padding. Remember, that padding touches your hair and scalp at all times when you’re wearing your helmet. This can lead to clogged pores and infection. This helmet problem has an easy remedy, though. Just take care of your helmet by washing the removable liner however the manufacturer recommends it.
If you find the act of taking the liner out regularly to be a pain or causing more wear and tear, you can always opt for a separate liner that you put on your head similar to a swimming cap. Take the helmet off, take the liner off, and you can toss it in your dirty laundry while leaving the liner attached to the helmet alone a bit longer than you would get to otherwise.
Do Helmets Cause Hair Loss?
There is a condition called Traction Alopecia. It causes isolated hair loss and is caused by a more constant pulling that can come from things like tight hair braids or cornrows. Generally, avoiding too much tension will prevent this, so for a helmet to cause this means you’re likely wearing a helmet that is considerably too small. Your helmet should be snug but not smush. I have a whole guide on helmets hereif you want to dive in further on choosing a helmet.
I would love to hear what others do to handle this, or do you find it all to be a bother? Share, and I’ll go back and incorporate any ideas you find helpful.