How to Avoid ‘Helmet Hair’ for Guys?


Helmet hair is a particularly frustrating part of cycling and is something that can put guys off riding regularly, be it to work, college or other frequent journeys.

Bike helmets are always recommended when cycling yet helmets leave that undeniable mark in the form of a wave in your hair that just looks frankly odd.

However, having been through the frustration many times myself, below are my tips to help you conquer the dreaded ‘wave of doom’ that you

So, here are my tips to help you beat helmet hair:

  • Use hair putty for a firmer hold
  • Change to a helmet with higher ‘clearance’
  • Try an airbag helmet
  • Leave a comb or brush at the office or in your bag
  • If all else fails, change your hairstyle!

OK, let me elaborate a little more on the points above to help you navigate your way around this niggling issue. Let’s get to it!

Use hair putty for a firmer hold

Helmet hair in full effect after using hair wax/gel. Me in the bathroom at my work.

The first thing I would recommend is actually changing your current hair product.

This is because most men’s hair products list how firm a hold they offer. Some give this in a range while others simply describe it.

From experience, I can tell you that gel and wax do not hold up well under a helmet on your daily ride. I used these two types of hair product until very recently and found them to be surprisingly poor when it came to preventing helmet hair.

Not only do hair wax and gel pretty much vanish after being under a helmet, but they also give you the frustrating helmet hair ‘wave’ that you are no doubt trying to avoid.

However, since switching over to a textured putty hair product, I have found that my helmet hair is almost non-existent.

This product is rated as 5 out of 5 on the firmness scale and also sets extremely hard soon after applying it.

I must confess that I am no connoisseur of hair products but this switch seems to have beaten the dreaded helmet hair outright.

If you are, however, unable to switch hair care products, then read on for more options.

Change to a helmet with higher ‘clearance’

The downward pressure on your hair (and head!) from your bike helmet’s design are clearly the main cause of helmet hair.

However, more and more different designs of bike helmet are coming onto the market at the moment and some offer alternative designs while also promising to offer improved safety for the user.

One example that springs to mind is Park + Diamond’s collapsible and foldable bike helmet, which looks more like a baseball cap than a bike helmet.

Closca also offer a similarly compact and collapsible bike helmet that might also offer some welcome clearance above your hair.

If not and that you find either of these helmets to be too close-fitting, then the design alone could still benefit your hair in that they do not have the lengthwise gaps found in most standard bike helmets, a design feature which is the cause of the problem.

Try an Airbag Helmet

This one falls into the ultra-modern category, but I would be remiss for not mentioning it here.

As you can tell, an airbag helmet is not actually a helmet at all in the traditional sense. However, it provides you with the peace of mind of using protective headgear while riding your bike without affecting your hair.

They also come with some impressive safety credentials, claiming a much lower risk of serious head injury than standard bike helmets.

Since the Hovding airbag helmet is worn around your neck, it will certainly not cause you any issues with helmet hair, unless of course you fall off your bike. In which case, helmet hair will likely be the least of your concerns.

There are two obvious downsides to an airbag helmet: price and size. In terms of buying one of these avant-garde designs, you are looking at spending upwards of $220, which I know is a considerable amount for something to replace a standard helmet that you could get for $40 and up.

In terms of size, they effectively become like a belt around your neck, with no easy way to stow them or obvious answer in terms of carrying them around other than to carry them by hand.

The other point to note is that you might simply feel like you stand out while wearing one, given how rare they are at present, but then that’s something that could change and is again a small price to pay for the added protection.

Leave a comb or brush at the office or in your bag

This option for guys with helmet hair concerns is not only the easiest one out there but it’s also the cheapest by a long way!

You can get yourself a comb or brush, if you don’t already have one at home, for a few bucks and leave it either in your drawer (work) or in your bag if you are on the move or at college.

The only extra thing you might need here is to get to your destination just a few minutes earlier to give yourself the time to go and fix your hair again.

However, I’ve found that my hair only really needed minor fixes since if you have styled once before leaving, it maintains some of its style but just needs you to give it an extra going over to get the wave out.

It’s the one I’ve found most useful and definitely have used this most often, although my latest hair putty is pretty solid so I haven’t had to do it for a good while!

Me looking a little bit happier (although also a bit scary!) after taming the helmet hair with a splash of water and a sweep of the comb.

If all else fails, change your hairstyle!

OK, so I know you might not want to hear this one, but if you have really got this far and nothing in the points above calls out to you, then considering a change of hairstyle might be an option for you.

You could just go for a simpler look, or even shave it all off, which both sound quite drastic but if you really do want to defeat the ‘wave of doom’, then there’s little else to be said!

Related Questions

How do you not mess up your hair with a helmet? The key ways to do this are to use a firm putty-type hair product as this will usually hold off against your helmet. You could also try leaving your hair products in your bag or at work and do your hair on arrival with a splash of water in a bathroom.

Should I buy an MIPS bike helmet? MIPS helmets are definitely a good investment since they cost only a little more than standard helmets yet they offer a lot more protection, especially from multiple impacts, as their name suggests.

To be clear, MIPS stands for Multi Impact Protection System, which means that they can help you if you fall off your bike and your helmet (and head) bounces off the floor having more than one impact. This is particularly important since many cyclists fail to attach their helmet properly, with it coming off after the first impact, leaving their head exposed to a second, forceful impact.

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