Motorcycle helmet hair is hilarious – if it’s not happening to you.
But at the end of a motorcycle ride, helmet hair is suddenly not so funny.
Your hair’s either become a big tangled mess that passing birds try to nest in.
Or it’s flatter than roadkill … and just about as pretty.
So what can you do?
You can’t avoid motorcycle helmet hair – but you can fix it. Clean hair and very little product are a good start. Long hair needs to be wrapped up, and safely tucked away from the wind. Flat hair can be brought back to life with some simple tricks like dry shampoo, and leave-in conditioner. And if all else fails … break out a hat!
The best way to deal with motorcycle hair issues is to have a plan.
With a little preparation and insider tricks, you can make sure that when you take off your helmet, people will smile, rather than back away in terror.
I’ve been riding on the back of motorcycles for 27 years.
And in that time, believe me, I’ve learned a few tricks the hard way.
Here’s how I deal with a whole range of motorcycle hair challenges – from wrangling long hair, to taming wild outlaw bangs, and even the trials of road trip hair.
There’s a fix here for every situation.
Let’s make a start.
Get Your Hair Ready to Ride
Protect your crowning glory with a little pre-planning.
Start With Clean Hair
Before you go anywhere near your motorcycle helmet, make sure your hair is clean. Pulling a helmet over dirty hair is a terrible idea.
Even so, some ‘experts’ recommend it!
I’ve read plenty of advice that says not to wash your hair for a few days before a ride, to let the natural oils moisturize your hair.
And also: yuck.
If you do that, your helmet liner will be a stinky, slimy mess, and your hair will be as lank and greasy as a teenage boy’s.
It’s not a look you’re probably aiming for.
So avoid that disgusting outcome by starting the ride with clean hair.
Now, ideally, that’d involve a spare hour, and a deep warm bath full of rose petals. Be nice, wouldn’t it?
But back in the real world, we need to ask…
When should you wash your hair?
Well, that largely depends on the weather.
In colder weather, wash it the day before the ride, so it’s dry before you get on the motorcycle. Wet hair in a motorcycle helmet will only make you colder on a chilly day.
But if the mercury is set to soar, wet hair in a motorcycle helmet is a good thing.
A little breeze through damp hair will help keep you cooler.
So on a hot day, wash your hair on the morning of a ride.
Conditioner is Essential
Whatever the weather, be extra generous with the conditioner before a motorcycle ride.
Leave it on for an extra couple minutes so it really coats the hair shaft.
Finish with a cool rinse to help flatten the hair cuticles, and tame the frizzies.
You want your hair to be super moisturized, and ready for anything.
And the power of conditioner doesn’t end in the shower.
Before you put that helmet on, add another layer of protection with some leave-in conditioner.
But whatever you do, DON’T PUT ANY ON THE ROOTS.
That’s where the problem of flat hair starts!
Just a quick swipe of leave-in conditioner through the ends will help prevent dryness. It also doubles as a styling agent, without weighing down the roots with product.
This is a much better styling option than gel or hairspray, which will create a sticky, messy build-up inside your helmet.
OK, that’s enough fussing with the prep.
Let’s look at the challenges of having a lot of hair to fit under your helmet.
How to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet With Long Hair
Long hair on a motorcycle brings a special set of challenges.
Because long hair has a rebellious streak.
It yearns to escape from your motorcycle helmet.
It aches to fly free in the wind.
And yes, long hair billowing in the wind is romantic, wild, feminine.
On a motorcycle, it looks dramatic and glamorous.
We’ve all seen the movies where a woman climbs aboard a bike and takes off with her long hair flying behind her like a silky flag.
But it won’t be silky for long!
Hollywood biker chicks have an army of behind-the-scenes stylists – all focused on fixing their hair. The audience never sees the 2 hours of careful detangling and multiple $400 conditioning treatments required.
In the real world, long hair that’s escaped from a motorcycle helmet DOESN’T look wild and gorgeous.
It just makes you look like you live in a barn with the other farm animals.
That tangled haystack on your head is closer to grazing fodder for cows than red carpet glamor.
And it doesn’t just look awful.
Now it’s damaged too.
All that wind is really destructive.
Your wind-whipped hair is split. It’s dry and knotted.
It’ll take forever to brush out all the snags and snarls.
You may find a bird’s nest, or a couple of warm little eggs in there while you’re brushing.
The solution is simple.
The only way to wear a motorcycle helmet with long hair is to tie your hair back.
Not in a pretty, loose ponytail that can easily escape.
It has to hog-tied securely so it can never make a wild dash for freedom.
There are about a million hair wrap ‘systems’ out there which promise to keep long hair under control under a helmet.
Maybe they work. I don’t know.
I don’t have time to try all the different options.
So here’s what I do (it’s quick, and it works).
- I make a tight, low bun at the nape of my neck.
- I tuck the bun into the high roll neck of a sweater.
- I wrap a scarf around my neck, trapping the bun under another layer.
- And then I put my jacket on.
My long hair is now safely bundled up by a hair tie, scarf and sweater.
Everything’s held in place by my zipped up jacket.
My reckless desperado long hair is under control for now.
With this approach, your hair has no choice but to stay where it is.
And now when you take your helmet off, passing birds won’t mistake your head for a possible nesting site.
How to Deal With a Fringe, or Bangs, in a Motorcycle Helmet
Ah yes, this is another big motorcycle helmet hair challenge.
There are two things you can do before a ride to avoid having greasy bangs plastered to your forehead when you take off your helmet.
1. Make sure your bangs are squeaky clean.
Wash them the morning of the ride and blow them completely dry.
Using a straightening iron helps to set them in place for longer.
Apply ZERO products – they only add to the grease factor.
2. Have a clean forehead.
Keep the moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup to a minimum on your forehead.
If your bangs are sandwiched between your helmet liner and layers of greasy lotions and makeup, of course they’ll get slimy.
If you need SOME coverage, use some powder with a little color in it.
At least that absorbs oil and shine, rather than adding to it.
The cleaner you can keep your bangs and the surrounding areas, the better.
It does make a difference.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Helmet Hair Emergency Kit
OK, so your hair is clean.
It’s safely tied back.
Will that solve the biker chick hair issues once and for all?
With the best preparation in the world, there will ALWAYS be some repairs to do at the end of a motorcycle ride.
But don’t worry.
The process is easy, and doesn’t take a minute.
All you need are a few simple tools that will fix hair issues on the spot.
That’s why you need to pack a helmet hair emergency kit.
Here’s what you should take with you on the motorcycle:
- A mini hairbrush, or small comb
- A small tube of leave-in conditioner (and for seriously flat hair…)
- Dry shampoo.
If you have travel sized versions of these, they’ll take up next to no space in your bag.
But they’ll make the world of difference to how your hair looks.
Here’s what you do with these magical items.
How to Fix Motorcycle Helmet Hair AFTER the Ride
When you put in such great preparation, you’ll be less worried at the end of a ride.
But you still need to know a couple of secret tricks once the helmet comes off.
Pull out that emergency bike hair kit.
Find a bathroom for some privacy if you can, and try this…
If your hair is long…
If you have long hair, untie it from its bonds, and finger comb your hair.
You now have soft waves set by the bun, and held in place by the leave-in conditioner.
If your hair is straight rather than wavy, give it a quick brush instead.
If your hair is flat…
Whether your hair is long or short, the biggest hair problem at the end of the ride is flat roots. So once your hair is tangle-free, it’s time to break out the dry shampoo.
Here’s what you do:
- Lift up a handful of hair on the top of your head.
- Working in sections, sprinkle a little of that magic powder onto those flat roots.
- Then turn your head upside down, and gently rub the shampoo into your roots to revive them.
- Stand up again, and finger comb or brush your hair.
What about the bangs?
A fringe or bangs can also benefit from the dry shampoo treatment.
Hold the fringe straight up, sprinkle the powder on the roots, rub it in, and then re-arrange the bangs with your fingers.
This whole process will take under two minutes in the diner bathroom.
And OK, no-one is likely to mistake you for Marilyn Monroe at this point.
But you won’t look like you were raised by wolves either.
These steps will help you fix motorcycle helmet hair on a weekend ride.
But what about if you’re going on a road trip?
That usually involves wearing a helmet all day long.
EEEK! What will that do to your hair?
We can handle that too…
How to Deal with Motorcycle Helmet Hair on Road Trips
There’s a big difference between dealing with bike hair issues on a Sunday afternoon ride, and the much bigger challenges of a longer trip.
Yes, your hair is MUCH flatter after a full day inside a motorcycle helmet.
It may even have pretty little imprints from the helmet liner in it.
But if you’re on a road trip, a motel room is waiting at the end of the ride.
That means you have access to more tools – and more tricks!
You’ll need to bring that emergency hair kit we just talked about.
Pack a small travelling straightening iron, too, and you’ll have everything you need.
Let’s walk through the process together.
OK, so you arrive at your little motel after a full day’s ride.
You pull off your helmet to check in.
The motel receptionist gasps in fear, and takes a step back, covering her eyes.
Your hair is so flat, your cat could’ve been sleeping on your head.
The top of your hair has weird helmet imprints pushed into it.
Your bangs are plastered to your forehead.
Yeah, no wonder the poor receptionist is scared.
Just smile bravely, grab your room key, and slam the door behind you.
Lock it, in case she’s called the police.
Oh yeah, all-day motorcycle helmet hair is brutal.
But trust me, you can fix this.
And it’ll only take about 3 minutes.
Here’s how you do it.
The Road Trip Hair Rescue Routine
1. Start with the bangs.
If you have bangs, crack open some shampoo.
There might be a mini shampoo bottle waiting for you on the sink if you’re lucky.
Wash and rinse the bangs only.
Towel them dry.
2. Deal with any tangles.
Sometimes even hair that’s been locked down for the ride manages to break free.
So brush your hair gently (or separate curls with your fingers) to make sure there are no knots.
3. Find the dry shampoo in your bag.
Sprinkle dry shampoo onto the roots on top of your head.
Turn your head upside down, and rub it lightly into your scalp.
4. Search for the hairdryer.
Most motels hide a hairdryer somewhere in the bathroom.
Ransack the cupboards and cabinets until you find it.
Blow dry your bangs, and apply some heat to your roots to bring your hair back to life.
5. Did you bring a travelling straightening iron?
If so, plug it in, and use it to smooth and style any parts of your hair that make you look part-wild-animal.
If you forgot to bring it, don’t worry.
Skip to the next step.
6. Apply leave-in conditioner.
This is where your small travel bottle of leave-in conditioner comes into its own.
It doubles as a styling product and hair moisturizer.
Rub a little lightly through the ends of your hair, so it smells fresh and sits well.
That’s all there is to it!
Just wipe the road dirt off your face, slick on some lipstick, and you’ve joined the human race once again.
What If You Can’t Face Dealing With Motorcycle Helmet Hair?
Sometimes, especially after a long ride, you don’t want to think about your hair.
You’d rather just find a bar, and something decent to eat.
In that case, even these simple motorcycle hair tips are too hard.
If you’re in that frame of mind, I have you covered, too.
Don’t worry about making your hair look better.
Just go to Plan B…
Unpack your favorite hat.
If your hair still looks a little wild, well now it looks like it’s meant to be like that.
Now You Know How to Deal With Motorcycle Helmet Hair!
Just because you’ve spent all day on a motorcycle, your hair really doesn’t need to be flatter than roadkill or as tangled as a bird’s nest. With these practical tips, you can look better and feel more confident when the helmet comes off.
Now you can stop worrying about your hair, and go back to loving the thrill of the ride.
Like this article?
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Love the article! I’m always looking for tips on how to control my very straight very long hair lol I don’t usually wear a helmet but when I do…I hate how flat my hair gets. Hopefully these tips will help. Especially love the idea of bringing a small travel straightener with for longer trips! Such a good idea!
One tip for bangs that I have found works really well for me…use a flat hair clip and clip them back so that they’re not on your forehead. They won’t get oily and because they’re pulled back they’ll have some volume when you let them down. I usually, for my side bangs, I twist them before pulling them back. Gives them a little wave once let down.
Also, if you put a bandana on your head before you put your helmet on, it keeps your helmet clean and minimizes the indents from the padding. Or use a scarf and you can keep wearing it as an accessory if your hair just won’t cooperate. Just some things I’ve figured out from trial and error.
Thanks again for this wonderful article!
Glad you found the article helpful, Cas – it’s an ongoing issue for sure.
Thanks so much for adding your own tips! They sound really helpful – will try those myself. Appreciate it! 🙂
Would be nice to get an article like this for curly/Afro hair.
Thanks for the suggestion, Isellina, that’s a great idea. 🙂