How To Manage Helmet Hair

How To -



You can buy a cool looking bike and you can buy cool looking gear, but very little can save you from the widespread epidemic known as helmet hair. As RideApart’s resident hipster, I’m here with a few tips to help keep your mane in check.

Consider Your Haircut
I know, it seems crazy to modify your haircut simply because you ride a motorcycle. I haven’t gone this far, but I have considered buzzing my head a number of times and my hair has definitely gotten shorter as my seat time increased. A helmet-friendly haircut can have long sections that are easy to secure in place, as well as short sections (nothing to mess up), but the medium sections are where you’re going to run into problems. Guaranteed.

Consider Your Hairstyle
Any hairdo where compression helps your style is going to be helmet-friendly. Any hairdo involving lots of gel or spiked parts are not. Have a Mohawk? Plan on waiting to do your hair until you get to work. Sweep your bangs back Mad Men style? No problem, just make sure your hair is tucked in place when pulling the helmet on.

Pro Tip: Pull your helmet half way on, then reach through the face shield opening and sweep your bangs where you want them and then pull the helmet the rest of the way down, securing everything in place.

Wear a Head Sock or Knit Skullcap
If you absolutely must have a haircut that lends itself to turning into a bird’s nest every time you put on a helmet and you absolutely must have perfect looking hair when you arrive at your destination, consider a knit head sock. You can fix your hair underneath it before putting your helmet on and it should keep your hair relatively close to where you left it.

Wear a Modular Helmet
A modular helmet offers all of the protection of a full-face helmet, but allows you to put it on like an open face helmet. Modular helmets have a surprising amount of give in them, allowing you to pull the two sides apart to increase the opening size of the hole you have to stick your head in. When I put on my Schuberth C3 Pro, no part of the helmet touches my head until the last few centimeters.

Shave Your Head
Riding motorcycles is way cooler than having hair. If we all unite, we can make being bald look cool. No? It was worth a shot.

Quit Riding Motorcycles
Just kidding.

All jokes aside, decreasing helmet hair is a real issue for those of you trying to commute to jobs that don’t involve writing about motorcycles all day. These tips to help you manage helmet hair should go far toward keeping you from looking like Carrot Top at your next morning meeting.

That’s my take on this very serious issue. What’s yours?

Related Links:
Opinion: Why Can’t We Look Good When We Ride Bikes?
Stylish Gear: REV’IT Tailored Technology: A “City Collection” Worth Wearing

  • Jason Ip

    You know you’re on a hipster motorcycle website when…

    • Jen Degtjarewsky

      Hi Jason – Even non-hipsters have to go to work, so we thought what the heck let’s write this one up.

      • Kevin

        Of course. Even if you don’t have hair you can still get imprints on your head from the helmet liner (and you probably should, given that a snug fit is a safe fit). There are two types of people to whom this article is relevant: 1) Those who realize it and 2) Those whose friends and coworkers wish they did.

        • bossross


      • Jason Ip

        not complainin’, just sayin’ :-)

        in all seriousness, I love the frequency and quality of articles here; keep up the good work

        • Jen Degtjarewsky

          Thanks! We are working hard to bring you the best
          motorcycle content
          on the web


  • Brian

    I love that Wes is the posterboy example here for this.

    • Daniel Silverman

      He never has bad helmet hair either. I have curly hair so I’m out of luck… shaved head.

    • sean macdonald

      That’s more a product of Wes being in Italy and asking me to write the article :)

      • Brian

        love it!

  • Sjef

    Protip: Take a beanie with you and wear it when you arive

    • sean macdonald

      This is my usual strategy, that breast pocket is perfect for carrying a beanie. I wanted to add embarassing pics of myself in with Wes, but I’m wearing a beanie in ALL of them

  • Johnny Thunder

    Pro-tip: Shampoo with Mane & Tail to get that Fabio style hair when you take your helmet off.

    • TP

      I read that Jim James doesn’t shampoo his hair and I haven’t shampoo’d mine since.

  • Ryan Chambers

    +1 for keeping it shaved. #1 electric razor guard does the trick for me, and helps keep my noggin cool during Georgia summers.

    • Pablo Perez

      Yes sir. I too gave up on hair… tropical weather + full face = nasty helmet conditions. Best to stay cool and clean.

    • Piglet2010

      I used 2.5 on the guard – keeps my hair just long enough that minor motion of the lid does not pull on my scalp.

  • TP

    Thank you ride apart for tackling the issues that matter to me.

    • sean macdonald

      i’m a servant of the people

      • bossross

        I do believe TP was using sarcasm.

        It’s wise not to poke the bear.
        besides why don’t you ladies stop worrying about your skirts, hair, and makeup and turn into men.

        I have a buzzed head and my scorpion helmet puts stupid lines in my hair…ask me if I care. c’mon ask me.
        the answer is no.
        real men don’t worry about things like this.

        (love the website btw, good work until today. tomorrow you start over)

        • sean macdonald

          But I like bears.

        • HammSammich

          “why don’t you ladies stop worrying about your skirts, hair, and makeup and turn into men.”
          Frankly, I don’t want my motorcycle riding wife to turn into a man – but kudos on assuming that everyone on two wheels has a Y chromosome…
          If “Real Men” are so unconcerned with such trivial things as their appearance, you wouldn’t expect them to be so worried about other men conforming their narrow notion of manliness.
          I shave my head, so the article really doesn’t apply to me, but it was still a fun read. Keep up the good work, Sean (and the rest of the Rideapart staff).

          • sean macdonald

            Thanks for understanding we had some fun with this one, while trying to provide a few pointers for the men and women who ride places and need to look put together.

          • bossross

            aritcle written by a man for men. if the article was written by a woman I wouldn’t have commented, but it wasn’t.
            Next on ride apart, Sean shows us which skirts are ideal for city riding.

            • sean macdonald

              This is actually surprisingly close to the truth.

  • grb

    I really dont care too much how my hair looks, so it doesnt bother me, but if it affects your job, professional image, social career,etc. then yeah, just cut it short, then it wont be an issue

  • BryonCLewis

    I’m a rider first, non-social butterfly second. Therefore I Bic my entire head

    • sean macdonald

      Wax outta make it slide right off.

    • Phil Mills

      Ah, the narrow window of “totally slick head” before “super high-traction stubble” kicks in half a day later. I like a clean bandanna or Buff when I go smooth (I’m usually a #2 guard) – just enough thickness to “capture” the stubble – keeps the fuzzies out and gives the helmet something to slide over.

  • JP

    I think pomade is probably the worst. I would definitely wear something over your head before you put on your helmet just so your helmet doesn’t get nasty.

    The only time I worried about my hair was riding to work. I wouldn’t put the product in until I got there and just did it in the bathroom. Go to any outdoor outfitter and they will have an assortment of different bottle types that are easy to fill.

  • Jen Degtjarewsky

    Ya gotta give it to Wes for letting us use those old photos of him… Sean, where was the shot of you putting on your helmet? ;-)

    • Wes Siler

      I don’t remember giving permission…

      • Jen Degtjarewsky

        Translation… On our private Flickr, fair game.

      • Jen Degtjarewsky

        Or… Blame Sean ;-)

  • E Brown

    Buzz-cut here, and have since I started riding, which actually means I lucked out. Thanks to motorcycling, there are no old pictures of me with a 70s big afro full of Afro Sheen, no 80s shots with a Jeri curl (or requisite baggie on my head), or other disastrous fads. Do yourselves a favor kids, and spare your older self those shots of a skinny-jeaned, spikey haired embarassment in your sunset years. ;)

  • Marie Delgado

    Moroccan oil works wonders on keeping my hair detangled from the wind, especially when I had long hair. I would also use a hair band and tuck it in my helmet. Now that my hair is short I just use bobby pins to keep my bangs in place.

  • Blixa

    Omg at first I thought that was a person on a leash. I need a bigger screen on this thing.

    • Joe Bielski

      And that’s a fancy gimp suit Wes is got there :P

  • Bret Prins

    ProTip – Blow dry your hair after you get out of the shower into roughly the style you want. Then apply a little of your favorite paste to finish things up. This means you can use less gel/paste and your hair will just “Naturally” go back to the style you blow dried it into the moment you take your helmet off.

    • Piglet2010

      I would rather not have any hair product gumming up the lid liner.

  • msay

    Riding is why I actually get my haircut regularly now. My usual routine is to run a hand through my hair when the helmet comes off and call it good. I also started giving myself enough time for my hair to try before putting a helmet on.

    I love the poor models on the Revzilla page this links to, nothing looks dumber than modeling a balaclava in a tank top… Well, the clown/skull masks do.

    • ThruTheDunes

      Had to laugh at the haircut thing – last time I went in, the regular lady was not there, and the only guy in the place cut my hair. Having never done my hair, he asked what I needed. I explained the hair in the helmet thing, how I wanted it short enough so it was not it in my face when the helmet went on, and he laughed, and said he knew just what I needed – he rides a Hayabusa!
      He laughed even more when he saw the surprise on my face…

  • MichaelEhrgott

    I just leave my helmet on at work.

    • sean macdonald

      Us Too!!!

    • Mr. White

      Yeah, The Stig look. My noggin would get too hot.

  • Moritz

    Hair clipper, 1mm – challenge solved – thanks!

  • Dana Pellerin

    I found that I could put some serious hold gel in my hair and then wear a doo rag and my hair would sort of pop back when I got to work. However, the times that it didn’t left me with pieces sticking up every which way. So I finally started taking the clippers to my head in the summer. 3/8″ all the way around. Problem solved. Saves money on haircuts too!

  • Zachary Church

    When are we going to get RideApart/ season three???

    • Wes Siler

      Very soon, on a bigger and better channel.

      • Zachary Church

        I am DYING to see it! I’ve grown really fond of this website and I check it daily. You’re awesome, Wes!

  • kentaro

    I just keep a thing of hair product at work.

  • Brian D

    I actually keep a bottle of water in my backpack when riding. A little water and a couple of pulls with a comb solves most of the issues. Luckily, ladies my age also go for the “I just woke up” look and can’t tell the difference between that and the “I just rode my motorcycle” look.

  • Mr. White

    Simple. Always have a comb with you.

  • aircraftmech

    If you’re a guy keep your hair cut short. If you’re a girl, I don’t know. :-)

  • Grant Nicholson
  • Beju

    I manage it by trimming my hair short with clippers on the shortest setting.

    Actually, that’s more how I manage my receding hairline :(

  • Chris Cope

    If you’re a curved-bill guy (I will never understand people who think flat bills look good) a baseball cap fits in the sleeve of your jacket — along your bicep or forearm, depending on how much of a manly man you are. Though, I personally am partial to the ever-foldable flat cap. Even though I worry it makes me look a little too much like Eric Von Zipper.

  • engageit

    I have short/medium length hair, very straight, balding on top, lol. I find it makes a huge difference if I wash my hair or not. Every day I ride, which is at least monday to friday, I wash my hair, and it looks fine when I get off. If I don’t wash it, the grease build up makes it matte down under the helmet and then I look like an idiot when I get where I’m going.

  • Rowan

    I haven’t used a comb in 3 years. Weddings and special occasions I just shave it off. It’s just hair. At least when I take off the helmet it’s kinda flat. Maybe.

  • kcavaliere

    Get a cut that works with a helmet. A good stylist can make that happen. I have medium length curly/wavy hair and wear a modular helmet. Since a helmet tends to push your hair down and forward, get a cut that works in that direction. I never use anything in my hair. It makes a mess of the liner.

  • Joe Bielski


    So much awesome in this article!!!
    So many pictures of Wes :P
    Maybe a hardcore mullet is the perfect haircut for ANY rider.
    LOL, I cry myself to sleep alone everynight so no one cares what my hair looks like :S

  • bossross

    a little heckling makes my boring day a little more tollerable. I do love this site.
    Although unapplicable,I did find this article amusing. Keep it up fellas…MORE VIDS!

  • Michael Howard

    It’s crazy to me that a person can be truly passionate about riding and NOT choose a hair style/cut that works with wearing a helmet. Or, like me (when I choose to grow it out instead of shaving it), riding is just so much a part of who/what I am I don’t give a #@%& what anyone thinks about my hair.

  • Piglet2010

    Shaving my head sounds like a real pain to do and a good way to get an irritated scalp. I think I will stick to using clippers with a guard that lets me trim hair down to about 5mm in length.

  • jon

    what about getting beard hairs stuck in the foam or in metal fasteners or whatnot?

    • Phil Mills

      I wear a thin balaclava or Buff (yeah, that stupid thing from Survivor). It knocks the beard hairs down and gives the helmet something to slide over. Keeps my ears from going all foldy as well, so I don’t have to poke them back into shape through the eye hole.

  • 1hunid

    I have dread locs and there is no managing outside of wearing a XXXL helmet or cutting my hair. Just not ready to cut them just yet so I’ll continue to ride around town looking like the ‘Predator’.

  • Kemal Kautsar

    the pros rock the ‘fro, my friend

  • Mugget

    Hahaha… first thought when I saw the article title – buy a bag of cement and HTFU!!

    But then I have shaved my head a number of times just because I got sick of helmet hair (and it’s much easier, saving time and money).

    Good tip on the head sock though. I have longer hair now, was thinking I’d have to start wearing a bandana under my helmet but those head sock/cap things look much better.

  • pete bloggs

    Buzz cut with clippers on a close setting. Cheap and you always look neat.

  • Karen

    My hair is waist length, other than some fringe around my face. I put it in a low ponytail and secure the tail with a band every 4 inches to keep it from getting tangled – those shots of free-flowing hair are totally unrealistic. I put a Heat Out cap on before my helmet goes on and it keeps the fringe out of my face. It works well enough to face a workday at the end of my commute.