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There’s no two ways about it: wearing a bike helmet is absolutely essential, no matter where you ride, how far you ride, or where you’re riding to.
However, helmets are infamous for ruining any hair styling efforts, even leaving an unsightly red sweaty mark across your forehead, and no-one wants to arrive at work or social event rocking that look.
It can, therefore, feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either you put your safety first and wear a helmet but arrive at your destination looking a bit of a state, or you forgo the helmet to protect your hair and put yourself at risk of serious head injury, or worse, if you come off your bike.
Well, we have good news for you. There are indeed bike helmet options that will reduce or even eliminate the risk of helmet hair while still giving you that essential protection if you do have an accident on your journey.
Read on for our top three hair-friendly, stylish bike helmets, and for more advice on avoiding helmet hair.
Bike Helmet That Doesn’t Mess Up Hair: Top 3
As the name suggests, ‘helmet hair’ is the term used to describe how your hair looks after wearing a helmet of any sort. Helmet hair can take many forms, including flattening and de-volumising your hairstyle, frizz from friction, sweat leaving your hair lank and greasy, and an uneven hairstyle thanks to the shape of the helmet.
In severe cases, bike helmets can even lead to hair loss, or scalp irritation from the heat and sweat generated inside the helmet.
Traditional bike helmets are typically made of a moulded block of polystyrene foam with a plastic covering, and feature a soft band around the forehead to keep the helmet securely in place.
While these materials are great at absorbing shock from a fall, and could save your life if you have an accident while biking, they are not very breathable. The secure fit of a bike helmet also means you can be left with impressions and sweaty marks on your forehead after your ride, on top of the dreaded helmet hair.
However, there are things you can do to reduce helmet hair. You can consider your hairstyle – maybe choose a braid or tight bun that won’t budge while you ride – and hair oils help tame flyaways and frizz.
It can also help to be mindful of how you put on your helmet. Pull it straight down and try not to wiggle it around once it’s on your head and your hair is more likely to stay in place. Also, make sure it’s snug but not too tight to stop indentations from forming on your forehead.
Is There a Bicycle Helmet That Doesn’t Mess Up Hair?
Yes, there are plenty of bicycle helmets on the market that can reduce or even eliminate helmet hair. Think carefully about the shape and style of the helmet you’re wearing, as this will have an impact, but there are even helmets that don’t cover your head at all and instead use an airbag.
Rounded helmets tend to be better at preserving your hairstyle, and look for helmets with larger ventilation openings to prevent your hair from getting too sweaty.
With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best hair-friendly helmets on the market.
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Best Bike Helmets to Avoid Helmet Hair
Prices are approximate
Size: One size (head size of 52-59cm and neck size up to 45cm)
Innovative airbag design
Does not cover head
Will notify emergency contacts in case of accident
The Hövding 3 inflatable “helmet” is an innovative piece of kit which, actually, isn’t a helmet at all.
It is an airbag that is worn around your neck as you cycle, so if you have an accident, it will inflate and protect you just like a car airbag.
The Hövding 3 inflates in 0.1 seconds in the event of a crash, forming an airbag around the head and neck to limit or prevent injury, and studies show that it’s actually eight times safer than traditional bike helmets.
It is only available in one size, with a head size of 52-59cm and neck size up to 45cm, but it can be adjusted to make it comfortable for you.
You can also connect the Hövding 3 to your smartphone through Bluetooth, and it will then automatically notify contacts if you’re involved in an accident.
The Hövding 3 runs on battery power, so you need to remember to charge it, but by connecting it to your phone’s Bluetooth it can also give you a charging reminder and you can view your battery status. The battery lasts for up to 12 hours of use.
So, while the Hövding 3 might look unorthodox, it’s actually a really safe and innovative helmet option. On top of that, it won’t give you helmet hair, as it doesn’t even go on your head, and it is also easy to store in a bag for commuters.
Prices are approximate
- Weight: 360g
Secure locking system
With their rounded style, Thousand helmets are a great choice for reducing helmet hair.
They come in a wide range of colours to suit your personal style, have good ventilation to stop your head from getting so sweaty, and you can comfortably wear a ponytail to protect long hair as you ride.
It’s also super light, from 360g in the small size, so it will barely feel like you’re wearing a helmet at all.
The Thousand MIPS helmet has lots of other features aside from being great for reducing helmet hair.
It has a multi-use magnetic light to help you be seen in the dark, an integrated MIPS safety system (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) which adds an extra layer of protection by reducing the rotational motion of impact, a visor to help reduce glare and increase your field of vision, and even a secret poplock so you can secure your helmet with your bike without it getting stolen.
Prices are approximate
- Ventilation Holes: 18
MIPS safety system
If sweaty helmet hair is your main concern, the Bell Falcon MIPS helmet might just be exactly what you need.
It has large holes for ventilation all over the helmet — 18 in total — keeping your head nice and cool without sacrificing the level of protection.
It’s multi-use, so perfect for commuting, training or leisurely weekend rides, and comes in a range of colours from the bold to the minimalist.
It has an integrated MIPS safety system designed to reduce rotational forces from certain impacts, and Bell have integrated the MIPS slip plane into the retention system which means the helmet is less complex, lighter in weight so it can be compact, well-ventilated and fit more closely to the head — thus preventing a build up of hair frizz from helmet movement.
The quick adjust fasteners on the helmet keep the straps flat and properly positioned, so they won’t get tangled in any flyaway hairs or jewellery, and the sweat guide pad design pulls moisture away from the brow pad, so you won’t have such a sweaty forehead.