What Is Helmet Hair?

Helmet hair is not the exclusive domain of motorcycle riders, nor is it the exclusive domain of helmet wearers (bicycle, ski, etc) in general. In fact, helmet hair has been around since well before anyone even invented motorcycle or bicycle helmets.

I’d almost be willing to bet that those guys in the image below are probably grumbling to themselves about how their hair is going to look after they take off their armor.

So, what is helmet hair, and what can we do to avoid it? That’s what we’re going to look into today!

knights on horseback jousting
Image by Clarence Alford from Pixabay

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What is helmet hair?

Helmet hair is something that happens to pretty well everyone at some time or another. It is when you remove your helmet, or hair covering, and your hair is squished flat against your head.

Helmet hair comes as a result of your hair being held firmly in one place for an extended period by a hat, a helmet, a beanie, or any other head covering which is restricting your hair from moving naturally.

My first experience of this phenomenon was when I was a child and I went with my family to the snow one weekend. No skiing at that time, just snowball fights and building a very ordinary-looking snowman.

To keep our heads and ears warm, my parents had bought beanies for us to wear. They did their job well as far as keeping us warm went, but with the heat and perspiration holding my hair firmly in place under the beanie, when I took the beanie off my hair looked embarrassingly stupid.

No amount of brushing or combing was going to make it look normal, so the best course of action was to put the beanie back on until we got back home.

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Around ten years later, I joined the military which meant that often I had to wear a beret, and other times I had to wear a regular military-issued hat. When we had to wear a beret or hat for several hours straight, it was normal for our hair to be ‘permed’ into place, despite having shorter hair.

Woman on motorcycle with sidecar

One could argue that bike helmet hair isn’t as bad as motorcycle helmet hair because a bicycle usually has lots of air vents whereas a motorcycle is almost fully enclosed with thick padding squashing the rider’s hair against his head.

That argument may have some merit, but at the end of the day helmet hair from a motorcycle helmet or bicycle helmet is still helmet hair and both can be overcome or dealt with in the same manner.

So, as far as helmet hair goes, you don’t have to be wearing a motorcycle helmet riding a Harley Davidson, or wearing a POC helmet snowboarding the Alps, there is no escaping helmet hair.

Or, is there?

How To Deal With Helmet Hair

How to deal with helmet hair can be different for different people. It can depend on things like the length of your hair, or whether you are male or female. For example, one solution for women could be in the hairstyle which probably would not work well for most men.

So, when looking for the ultimate solution, you may need to try several solutions until you find the one that works best for you.

One thing that I found worked for me with short hair and medium-length hair (just over the ears) was the way in which I put on the helmet.

Before putting your helmet on, check that your hair is sitting how you want it to, then slide the helmet directly down on top of your hair. After doing this method for a while, you will find that if for some reason you twisted or turned the helmet slightly when sliding it onto your head, you will feel that it’s not right. You just need to remove the helmet, adjust your hair and try again.

On arrival at work, my hair would look fine. If for some reason my hair was a bit messy, then it could be easily fixed by a trip to the bathroom.

Simply wet your hands, don’t cup your hands, just wet them, then run your damp hands roughly through your hair. Your hair will get damp enough to straighten out normally without being wet.

That worked fine for me for many years, though my ride to work was only 20 to 30 minutes. Longer trips could give a different result depending a lot on the weather.

How to Avoid Helmet Hair

Let’s take a look at some other solutions that others have had success with to avoid helmet hair. The thing to keep in mind here is that there is no escaping helmet hair, and there is no silver bullet fix. You need to learn how to live with it by a means that suits you.

1) Bandannas & Headscarves

Have you ever noticed that many motorcyclists like to wear a bandanna? When they put their helmet on, they put it on over the top of the bandanna. Then, when they take off their helmet, they leave the bandanna on their head.

Biker guys wearing head coverings

Do they have helmet hair? Probably, but they deal with it by simply keeping it hidden.

Numerous women have also taken this approach by wearing a headscarf. Headscarves look nice on a woman and can easily hide unsightly helmet hair or botched hairstyles. It’s definitely not rocket science.

Another popular solution for both men and women is what is called Flydanas, which are basically a bandanna that has been cut and stitched to fit on your head. You just need to tie it at the back and leave it on, then put your helmet on over the top of your Flydana.

On arrival at your destination, take off your helmet and just leave the Flydana on. Flydanas can be had from Amazon for around ten dollars each.

Here’s a video of a cycling gent who covers his head with a scarf before putting on his cycling helmet.
Cycling Gent – how to avoid helmet hair

Courtesy SplashMaps on Youtube.

2) Wear a Baseball Cap

Another popular solution that you must have seen around is to take off your helmet and put on a baseball cap. Lots of people these days wear baseball caps indoors and outdoors, even in a corporate office. It simply follows on from the bandanna solution of simply hiding your helmet hair.

I’m sure we all know a person or two who always wear a baseball cap like it’s part of their signature dress code. Who knows what they’re hiding under that cap.

3) Reconsider Your Hairstyle

Long hair is unquestionably harder to maintain if you wear hats and helmets. After you take off your helmet, your unruly hair will be conspicuous for all to see.

If a hair covering is just not you, then you may want to consider different ways to style your hair which may be more in line with how you want to be seen by others.

Tight Braids

Tight plaits and braids are a decent way to not only look good but address the helmet hair problem at the same time. With braids that are pulled tight against your scalp, you go on the offensive against helmet hair by not allowing it to happen in the first place.

After your ride, you can swish them out or maintain the tight braids for the rest of the day.


Ponytails can also work if they are pulled tight and back to the rear to stop them blowing into your face. Whether it be single or double ponytails, tie them down close to the nape of the neck rather than up higher. If your hair is quite long, you can then put your ponytails into a bun holder at the back of your helmet.

Beach Hair Style

Some women can get away with that bushy blonde surfer girl style where they just toss their hair from one side (or the other) across the top of their head and manage to look great!

When it’s time to ride, roughly part your hair along one side, pulling the hair back into a scrunchie or bun. Then slip the helmet on. When you arrive at your destination, lift off the helmet while shaking your hair out looking like a movie star!

Blond haired woman

4) Carry a comb

If all else fails, carry a comb. Depending on how long your hair has been confined inside your helmet, combing it can be a quick and easy solution. If you’ve been riding for a few hours, or if your head/hair is hot and sweaty, you may need to dampen and rough up you hair to get it responsive again.

5) The Ultimate Sacrifice

Shave off!

There is no point in getting depressed over a bad hair day. This solution can work for both men and women. What’s more, these days it’s considered fashionable.


You can’t avoid something that is natural. You need to work with it in a manner that best suits you.
Some hairstyles can be manipulated to work with helmet hair, but others never will (that’s bad news for Marge Simpson).

Helmet Hair – 5 Ways to Prevent Avoid or Deal With It

Courtesy BrownBrady on Youtube.
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