How to deal with bike helmet hair if you have long locks

Helmet hair is the worst.

This guide isn’t going to promise that you’ll look like a L’Oreal advert after a long ride (here comes the science: perfect hair isn’t going to happen after a cycle, ever). But it will give you some handy tips and tricks to help keep things in control for a day at the office or some fun at after-work drinks.

So what can we do to at least minimise the knots, the sweat, the lank locks, the kinks, the fly away fringe? How do we inject a little blow-dry va va voom after the morning commute deflates everything our follicles have to offer?

Here are our suggestions.

Plait it up

Braids make rubbish hair look super nice, always. You only need to look at GoT’s silver-headed Daenerys Targaryen to confirm this. Braids also minimise knots and those flyaway hairs that can interfere with your vision during cycling.

There are so many ways to braid your hair; low and loose, high and tight and split into bunches are quick and easy to do on those days when you just really CBA. You can take things up a level by spending a bit more time on a French plait. Not sure how to do it? Check out YouTube for helpful tutorials or get a nice housemate to fix you up before setting off. Any hairs that loosen during your ride will only add to the nonchalant, tousled look. Just be prepared to get mistaken for Blake Lively.

Emergency kit

Keep an emergency hair kit in your locker at work, you won’t regret it.

Dry shampoo is one of the best beauty inventions well, ever. The sweet smell of Batiste Dry Shampoo Coconut takes me back to the glory days of those first festivals and travelling on a shoestring budget. Today it is the smell of sweet hairstyle success. Spray your roots from 30cm away and watch the dry shampoo magically banish all grease like Cillit Bang.

dry shampoo

The Tangle Teezer is another nifty invention worthy of a place in your kit. It does exactly what it says on the tin: teases out those tangles, no matter how hot and sweaty things got under the helmet. It’s small, light and comes in all sorts of colours and designs – including a Star Wars themed one.

Tangle Teezer

Beach sea salt spray is a saviour on those lazy days when you really have no time to iron out any kinks. Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray is a classic choice for ‘I woke up like this’ waves and curls.

Bumble and Bumble

You know those mini toiletries bottles that line the queuing area at the Boots checkout? Get stuck in and pull out your favourite shampoo and conditioner for the work showers. Just make sure that the changing room hairdryer is working, otherwise you’ll be bent underneath the hand dryer for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Lastly, stock up on as many Kirby grips that you can. These little life savers are the saviours of a bad hair day. You know what it’s like though: you buy a pack, use a few then they suddenly all disappear and you find the occasional one lurking under household objects over the next few years. Keep them safe in your kit, where you can keep an eye on them.

Fringe fear

It’s frightening how a fringe can so easily take you from hero to zero in one 30-minute-long bike ride on a warm day. It does this in one of two ways: sticks to your head with sweaty head glue or flicks out in every direction. Both are equally infuriating.

You’re going to need a hair dryer for this one. A toilet hand dryer will do if you’re out and about (swallow your dignity and think of the results). Use a barrel bush to re-dry the hair into position properly. If you’re suffering with flicky-out bits, dampen the hair a teeny-tiny bit and get to work on it again. Keep rollin’ rolling’ rolling’ that brush around. Be sure to pack some kirby grips in case it’s really misbehaving.

Finish off with a quick spritz of hair spray to keep it in place. Do you look like Farrah Fawcett? Great, now go get ‘em tiger!

Farrah's fringe

Quick tips and tricks

  • Keep your helmet clean. The lining can get pretty smelly and dirty, so regularly remove and wash it if possible. I currently have a Bern helmet but might experiment with a more ventilated model to see if it helps with my overheated head.
  • Some people find it helpful to wrap hair in a natural material scarf to help keep it shiny and flat. It acts as a barrier between your hair and the helmet, reducing any friction that causes kinks and frizz.
  • Own it! Waltz into the office, or up to your after-work date, with helmet in hand. Shake your wild locks, say hello then get on with bossing the rest of your day.

This guide is written from the perspective of a gal with straight, fine, long hair. It would be great to get some more tips from people with different types of hair. Got any advice on how to boost your curls? Does shorter hair still suffer under the helmet? Share your experience and ideas and let us know how you tame those tresses.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

6 Responses to How to deal with bike helmet hair if you have long locks

  1. A.L. 23/06/2017 at 6:24 pm #

    A scarf definitely helps, especially on windy days. I haven’t tried dry shampoo yet but may do! I usually spray some flower water (lavender or rose) which I buy in bulk (e.g., Croydon-based company naturallythinking). Sometimes I add a few rosemary leaves to the water too. Even if it mingles with any sweat you end up with a nice scent whenever you flick your hair 😉

  2. MJ Ray 26/06/2017 at 10:30 am #

    Why ignore the obvious solution? Hurl the helmet into the bin where it belongs (it’s not designed for the collisions with vehicles that seriously injure cyclists anyway) and wear a simple lightweight cool hat or headscarf that doesn’t crush your hair.

    • D. 26/06/2017 at 4:51 pm #

      Heh-heh! You beat me to it!

  3. MJ Ray 26/06/2017 at 10:34 am #

    Oh and if you are going to wear a helmet, do not wear a friction reducing scarf under it. Many helmet makers specifically warn against that, including Bell, Bontrager and so on. A helmet that slides around your head in a crash may leave you with worse injuries than no helmet at all, even in the sort of single-person head-first dive that they’re designed for.

  4. Neeta K 02/07/2017 at 8:30 am #

    Hi Hollie, Thanks for the super advice. I think it’s a pretty common issue we need to deal when we use helmets while on bikes.

    Checking out some of these products, let me see 🙂

    • hollie 03/07/2017 at 7:59 pm #

      Hope they work for you Neeta!

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