By Barett Wertz
You wake up, shower, shave. But there’s that one grooming step you have a slight reservation about: styling your hair. Why? Because you know that smooth coif of yours will be squashed by the time you walk into work. The culprit? Your hat.
It’s a tale as old as time. Man has hair. Man finds hat. Man falls in love with hat. Hat leaves man’s hair a mess.
Well, you gotta move on, dude. Times have changed and you don’t have to lose out to some hat every day. Whether you have long fairly predictable strands reminiscent of a romance novel, or a short style with a temperament that changes by the day, there are ways to increase your chances of not looking like you have hat hair every time you come in from the cold.
These ways are not a secret. They just take commitment. Believe it or not, it starts in the shower and doesn’t involve waiting until getting to the office bathroom to style. All you need is the knowledge, desire, and dedication to avoid funky fibers up top.
Wash With Purpose
By now, you have probably heard that we don’t need to, and perhaps shouldn’t, wash our hair every day. That’s great for those who can stand it, but a lot of guys just can’t resist. When your hair is too clean, especially in the dry winter months, it, along with your scalp, can act out. Whether it’s superior static cling or irritating scalp itch, not taking your environment into consideration can easily lead to issues that won’t make a good style any easier to hold on to.
If you are going to wash every day, choose a shampoo and conditioner that will moisturize and protect. "It’s important to protect your hair and scalp," says Justin Virgil Gramelspacher, Master Barber at Blind Barber Moxy Times Square in New York City. “Use a gentle, high quality shampoo several times a week to balance oil and promote healthy hair. [Using] conditioner gives moisture and prevents tangles.”
“Make sure your hair is completely dry and styled before putting on your winter hat,” Gramelspacher tells us. It may seem like common sense, but for most guys trying to rush out of the door in the morning, dedicated blow-dry time may not be much of a priority. Here’s the problem — it’s one of the best ways to fight against hair hair. Not looking to blow dry? That’s cool.
“Towel dry hair, apply product, comb into place, and slip a beanie on,” says McLaren. “I have an indoor beanie and an outdoor one. So the indoor one absorbs moisture while getting ready, then the cooler one goes on outside.” Just the act of your hair drying (with a blow dryer, towel, or hat) helps set your hair where you want it. McLaren adds, “The key is using products that will get you the style. Let the products dry all the way before messing with it.”
Style as Usual
“Prepping the hair with correct products that give you the look and texture you require is key, as the products will do their job,” McLaren says. The goal here is to style your hair so it holds its shape as much as possible under your hat of choice.
”Comb a clean hold gel through towel dried hair, set the desired shape, and dry *before* applying your regular pomade, wax, or hair clay,” adds Gramelspacher. “This extra step can fortify your style and protect it from being trampled by your beanie.”
By adding a bit of grit before you blow dry, it further trains your hair to stay where you put it. If you have longer hair more susceptible to frizz, spritzing on an anti-frizz spray before you go is key. “When using an anti-frizz product, it should be on damp hair,” advises McLaren.
Say your hair doesn’t stay where you put it. What do you do then? Gramelspacher tells us, “Dry shampoo, like our Bryce Harper Dry Shampoo, is a powerful way to revive your hairstyle after wearing your hat or before happy hour.”
If your style requires a little more attention, you’re going to have to suck it up and just add a little water or a lightweight hair tonic mist. You shouldn’t need to go crazy — no need to dip your head in the sink. Wet your hands or lightly mist the spots that need a little fixing and run your fingers through to fix.
It’s not all up to your hair to resist the wills of your beanie. Work smarter, not harder, by opting for a hat that is made out of a more forgiving fabric. “Natural fibers like wool or cotton will be friendlier to your hairstyle than synthetics like acrylic or polyester,” says Gramelspacher. These fabrics naturally trap more heat which, especially combined with moisture from sweat, helps set hair into whatever shape it takes once you’ve put your hat on.
Cotton, wool, and cashmere, on the other hand, are softer and more breathable, allowing for heat and moisture to escape, even when keeping your head warm enough for your walk to work. “A cotton-based hat will absorb more moisture while a synthetic hat will cause static,” says McLaren. “A great cashmere hat from Elder Statesmen is my outdoor favorite.”
When looking out for those natural fibers to keep you cranium cozy, make sure the beanie you buy isn’t too tight — another direct cause of hat hair. If your hair has a little room to move, chances are it won’t got rogue and leave you disappointed.
Free the Follicles
Lastly, sometimes you have to know when to let it out. The chances are higher of your hair getting messy if you leave your hat on for hours. Remember to take your hat off and run your fingers through your hair every once in awhile. This will further help prevent hair from settling into a position you aren’t fond of.
With these simple adaptations to your existing routine, you can drastically cut down on your chances of horrible hat hair. If you still find yourself suffering from an unhappy hair headache, you could forego any sort of hat hair all together and opt for a jacket with a hat-like addition — a hood.
Gramelspacher explains. “A great cut goes a long way too. See your barber regularly to ensure healthy shape and texture that will look great in all conditions.”