Hate helmet hair? Here’s how to avoid it

The Davis Enterprise: July 3, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #21

Title: Hate helmet hair? Here’s how to avoid it
Author: Beth Annon-Lovering

photo caption:
The author, Beth Annon-Lovering

There are a lot of women who would love to commute or make more short trips by bike. Better bikes for women with good baskets, fenders and easy-to-use locks are making riding a bike a wonderful alternative.

Unfortunately, concerns about “helmet hair” do discourage some wannabe bike commuters. If this is you, I will help you overcome helmet hair.

Helmet hair is not just a single-gender problem. Men face it, too. The ideas here are for everyone. Typically, the male coiffure needs little more than some water and a comb to right the man’s mane, or a hat can cover the problem, or their hair is so helpless that the helmet taking matters from bad to worse is hardly an issue — at least not for the male mind.

Let’s get to this serious issue for women. Because helmet hair is caused primarily by perspiration, and since the typical commute is usually short, just take it slow and easy. Relax and enjoy the ride.

Dress appropriately for your ride; wear lightweight, breathable clothing during summer months. Don’t work up a sweat and you can just fluff out your hair once you reach work or your destination.

After several days of riding, as you get into better shape, you will notice your speed increasing without you perspiring. Now you can worry more about beating the next stoplight than beating a path to the mirror as soon as you get to work.

You can always take additional clothing in your bike basket or side bags to finish your outfit once you arrive at work.

If you have short hair, just before you leave home, style it wet with a little gel, put on your helmet and, for most commutes, it will still be a little damp when you get to work. Then just remoisten the gel, restyle and away you go.

For those of you with medium to long hair, just pull it back into a ponytail or bun at the nape of your neck. Fluff and spray it with hair spray when you get to work. Pack a can of hair spray, a spray bottle of water and a brush or comb, or have a set at the office. Even the most stylish of hair-dos can be fluffed or combed into presentable condition in just a few minutes.

Yes, your head is a precious item you want to protect, but so is our environment and your physical condition. For those under 18, the law requires a helmet, and so our young generation needs to use a bit more creativity to find their personal solution to helmet hair.

But for adults, if it is the helmet that stops you from commuting by bike, then you can seriously consider going without it. I don’t want to be part of a world that discourages people from bike riding by insisting that they wear a helmet or else they can’t take an enjoyable ride to work. Serious studies have offered that riding without a helmet is still healthier, and makes for a better world, than not riding a bike at all.

Your alternative is not just helmet hair versus not riding a bike. Take the healthier option and ride, just be careful and at least give the helmet a try.

Happy, healthy pedaling!

— Beth Annon-Lovering has lived in Davis since 1992. She is the owner of B&L Bike Shop and commutes to work on her Townie 8 speed as much as possible.

4 Responses to “Hate helmet hair? Here’s how to avoid it”


  • Hi Beth,

    Great article. I was looking to find a way to reduce helmet hair for commuting to work.

    Steve T

  • I think it’s really irresponsible to advise people to ride without a helmet for the sake of their vanity, especially in any sort of urban setting.

  • I struggled w/ helmet hair – until I created my own solution raci babi diva do stops tangles knots wicks sweat too

  • Hi Beth,

    People may also want to consider helmet skull caps that fit under the helmet.

    Also, I have to agree with elisabeth. According to one study (linked below), 91% of cyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing a helmet. Also “helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent.”

    No matter how good of a cyclist you are, the fact is the road is full of careless drivers. Everyone please wear a helmet.

    study: http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm

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