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Although ski helmets aren’t technically required at most resorts, we’re of the opinion that one only ever helps. Knowing that my brain and face are protected makes me more confident and less fearful on the slopes, among other reasons.
In my first few days of living in a ski town and taking laps after my 9‑to‑5, however, the dry climate and smushed hair effect have made my own strands clump up and tangle. Helmet hair’s no joke! These past few weeks, I’ve learned the hair bands, styles, beanies, and more that are most effective in keeping my hair out of my face—but also looking cute enough when après hits.
How to Do Your Hair for a Day of Skiing or Snowboarding
A braid combination seems to always stay neatest by the end of the day, but you want a style flat enough at the top not to change your helmet fit. For me, I often opt for the Wednesday Addams-style symmetrical two braid pigtails going down either side. Starting with a French or Dutch style at the crown will keep the helmet from slipping or flattening my hair too much, and when I unravel them at the end of the day, my hair just looks curly instead of matted.
2. Slut Strands
To slut strand or not to slut strand? According to Slut Strand Society, an online Crested Butte-based ski and snowboarding apparel company for women, slut strands are “Two strands of hair commonly used by the ladies of skiing & snowboarding to express femininity under all dat gear.” In GRWM videos—whether at the pro or amateur level—you’ll often see women pulling out the strands (curtain bangs are easiest, although most styles can accommodate) closest to their face to frame their features. The look is an easy, de-facto method to differentiate yourself from the men on the mountain; although the men can do it too if their hair’s long enough (common amidst that crowd), the style is seen as a symbol the girls have reclaimed.
3. The Colonial Low Pony or Bun
The hardest part of doing your hair for the mountain is that you’ve gotta drop it low. Those high ponytails and messy buns you’re used to ain’t gonna fly. Instead, the bulk of your style should occur below the bottom edge of your helmet, meaning that if you do want a bun or ponytail, it has to be a low one—which has its pros and cons.
Sometimes after doing my pigtail braids, I’ll pull the two braids together and tie it at the nape of my neck—especially on snow days where I just know they’ll get covered in powder while I’m flying down the mountain. This way, I can tuck them down the back of my jacket or, at least, they’re largely protected from the wind and snow being hurled at my front.
4. Half-Up, Half-Down Style
If you keep your hair down on the mountain, you’re a braver woman than I! In all seriousness, the look is a viable style since it won’t alter the way your helmet fits. If you’re skiing in bluebird conditions without a lot of fresh snow, you might be lucky enough to keep that do intact.
Beanies are magic on-piste, especially on chilly days when your noggin needs some extra warmth. For the under-helmet beanie, you’ll usually want a style that doesn’t have extra room in the back (you know that slouchy style that’s all the rage?) for the same reason you’re uncomfortable when your socks are too big in your boot. It’s easiest if you have a thinner option for under-helmet wear because wearing one inevitably does affect your helmet sizing, and the first priority is keeping your head protected. When you get it right however, it looks cooler than cool. Nobody wants to be a gaper.
Gaper (n.) — a newbie or tourist generally spotted by the widened “gap” between their helmet and goggles.
6. Protective Scarves for Natural Hair
Textured hair has to face additional struggles with helmeted styles, and requires more consideration. Many women opt to tie a satin bonnet or scarf around their hair before skiing, snowboarding, or even biking.
7. Fleece Headband
Maybe you choose to keep your locks loose and flowing, in which case a fabric headband at the top of your crown can keep your hair bundled in a way that won’t get in your face (and will keep your forehead warm and chafe-free at the top of your helmet.)
Take Care of Your Hair During Après
And don’t forget about aftercare! After a long day of skiing, the hair can be a little frazzled (both figuratively and literally) when you finally do take that helmet off. Still, there’s little better feeling than shucking off all your gear after a successful day of your favorite runs. Picking out a hydrating, rejuvenating blend and routine for your hair can make it even easier to assemble your go-to looks and know your hair won’t be absolutely *fried* after the season.
Below, shop our editor-picked selection of the best brushes, masks, hair bands, shampoos, conditioners, beanies, and more to help you rock helmet hair you’re actually proud of.
Shop These 7 Editor-Favorites for Ski and Snowboard Hair Care
Vegamour Shampoo and Conditioner—$74 with subscription.
Okay, hear me out: this shampoo and conditioner is pricey for sure, so I felt awful the first time I saw it come out of my bank account. But frankly, my hair wasn’t doing so hot, and this is the golden-standard recommendation across magazines, celebrities, you name it. Ain’t no shame in the hair loss game, and nowadays, women are destigmatizing the very normal reality that stress, illness, age, and season have on our hair. I find that using Vegamour—a hair care brand that sells a bottle of its growth serum every 22 seconds—for my shampoo and conditioner reduces breakage and hair loss, a necessity when your hair is going through hell all season. Because you don’t want to get to summertime and be missing the chunks you shoved into your helmet…Oh, and the set lasts forever too, so I do feel like I get bang for my buck.
The Wet Brush is a longtime favorite for any age. I have memories of having my hair brushed and untangled for me using a bright pink version when I was about eight in a camp cabin. As an adult, it feels very soothing and childlike—and of course, it works. Elevate with the Sephora version! Flexible plastic bristles glide through tangles and, per its name, you can brush your hair while it’s sopping from your shower, which helps reduce tangles and breakage.
I always stock up on these easy, drugstore hair bands, and they’ve never steered me wrong. I’ve been using them all season. The elastics are soft and flexible, allowing me to make my styles as tight or flexible as I so choose, and you don’t really need to get much fancier than that (but if you do, we might have some recs…)
I was gifted a Quiksilver beanie for my birthday, and appreciate that it lies flat under my helmet without causing too much trouble as I’m attempting to put it on. It also looks good, feels great, and comes from an iconic snow brand—what’s not to love?
What I love about this beanie is that I probably wouldn’t have picked it out for myself. It’s slouchier than my usual style, and I didn’t think I could pull it off until I started wearing it around. According to the brand, it comes in the shape of “old school, classic ski hats” and that construction’s definitely accurate. The acrylic-polyester blend is so unreal comfy, so I’ve worn the white version just about everywhere, and it currently comes in gorgeous colorways that also include a pink I’m lusting over, black, a denim blue, and a striking red.
For textured hair, this satin-lined beanie can protect your locks while on the slopes. It retains moisture, has an elastic band built to stay on your head during sleep or motion, and is machine-washable (with delicates.)
Athleta —$15 (was $35).
For a soft, delicate look, opt for this twist headband from athleisure brand Athleta, made from a wool-cashmere blend (that yes, is machine-washable.) The knit style comes in cream, gray, light blue, and a cocoa brown. Act fast while it’s 57 percent off.