There aren’t many downsides to riding a bike, but when the riding stops and the helmet comes off a potential downside becomes apparent: While we have a strict must-wear-a-helmet-while-riding policy, we have to admit that, yes, the dreaded helmet head, can be a bummer.
If you can relate, we’ve got great news — especially if this has been your biggest excuse for not bike-commuting to work: You don’t have to hide under your helmet anymore. We asked some top riders to share their style secrets for avoiding helmet hair. Leave it to the pros, who wear these protective pieces as part of their daily uniforms, to know how to look good during and after a ride. Their best piece of advice: When in doubt, embrace it.
1. DON’T STRESS ABOUT THE MESS
“Some ladies take off their helmet after a training ride or race and still have perfect hair. I definitely do not fall into that category. I tend to look like a drowned rat. Generally, I pull my hair back into a braided ponytail. If your hair is too short, wear a flat headband underneath to avoid an eyeful of hair. Afterward, splash water from your bottle on your hair to shape it in one direction and take care of the crazy strays. Most importantly, don’t stress. The reason you have your helmet hair is because you got on your bike and worked for it!”
– Kirsti Lay, Canadian pro cyclist who rides for Rally Cycling, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the team pursuit with the Canadian National Team
2. FIGHT THE WIND-BLOWN FRIZZ
“I pull my hair into a ponytail and use bobby pins [to smooth out] stray strands. Then, I add a headband to keep the fly-aways out of my face.” – Megan Guarnier, pro rider for Boels-Dolmans women’s cycling team, 3-time UCI Women’s World Tour champion and U.S. National road race champion, 2016 Olympic Games athlete
3. SWEEP BACK YOUR BANGS
“Make sure to keep your bangs inside your helmet, not running down your forehead or in your eyes. You’ll perform better and look better, too. Other than that, don’t fight it. Embrace having hair coming out the vents and incorporate that crazy style into your own look when you take off the helmet.” – Troy Wells, pro cyclocross and cross-country rider for Team CLIF Bar, former national U23 CX and Iceman Cometh champion
4. MANEUVER YOUR MANE
“I start with a ponytail at the middle of my head, so not low and not high. I bring it through the ponytail holder of my helmet. Once it’s through, I re-do my ponytail and add either a braid or flip it into a bun. I never ride with just a loose ponytail — it’s bad for your hair [unless you prefer tangles and knots!]” – Evelyn Stevens, newly retired pro rider for Boels-Dolmans women’s cycling team, current UCI Hour Record holder with a distance of 47.980 km, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games athlete
READ MORE > HELMETS: THE FORGOTTEN ACCESSORY
5. REVIVE THAT DRENCHED ‘DO
“Dry shampoo is a lifesaver. If I don’t have time to wash my hair after a ride, I spray lots of dry shampoo into the roots and put my hair into a bun. Otherwise, a French braid always fits nicely in the helmet, and it leaves you with some soft curls afterward.” – Nikki Brammeier, pro rider for Boels-Dolmans women’s cycling team, current British cyclocross champion, 2016 Olympic Games athlete
6. TOP IT OFF
“Sunglasses on the head can smooth out or cover up helmet hair. When all else fails, I always have a team manager equipped with ball caps waiting for me at the finish line.” – Catharine Pendrel, CLIF Pro Team rider, two-time mountain bike cross-country world champion, three-time overall World Cup winner, Rio Olympics bronze medalist, Pan Am champion