Bicycle Network: Women's Cycling
The helmet hair dilemma
Want to ride into the office looking like a shampoo commercial? Melissa Cranenburgh looks at the hairy question of how to beat helmet hair.
Looking my unkempt hair in the work changeroom, I knew I needed help. Other bike commuters seemed to walk into the office with slick, shiny tresses. So how did they deal with those unruly locks?
A colleague with a particularly flattering hairdo told me her secret weapon was Eric Marziano of Carlton-based Raw Elements.
So I asked Eric for some tips on how to fix my messy mop. "Well, I'd chop a lot of the thickness out of it, put in more unstructured layers." He also suggested that I get my hair "chemically relaxed". Apparently this is a mild form of hair straightening that lasts two to three months. Treatments start at $60 and, according to Eric, the result would be a "wash and run hairstyle".
Helmet hair victim, Melbourne Ride to Work Day 2005
A little further down the road, hairdresser Gabi Forster at Chainsaw Massacre had a very different take on the helmet hair issue. "You're going to get helmet hair, it's not curable. But some people think it's a really good look."
Did that mean wearing a helmet could actually be part of a hair-grooming regime? "Well, if you've got big hair and you don't like it, the helmet flattens it out no probs. So you could say it's a no-fuss, low-cost styling technique."
Zhoozsh zhoozsh zhoozsh at the Ride to Work Day hair repair centre
Yvonne Hopkins, a 42-year-old training manager with a high-profile Collins Street law firm, agreed to walk me through her pre-work grooming process. As we locked up her bike Yvonne told me that she had moved from Sydney to Melbourne a year-and-a-half ago and started riding to meet people.
"I moved to Brunswick and realised the supermarket had more had more bikes than cars. I needed to make new friends so I started cycling."
In the firm's changing rooms, Yvonne had a quick shower - washing her hair with Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Glossing Shampoo. She then she blow-dried her hair using a round brush, applying Straight and Shine (50ml for $12 from Priceline) and Charles Worthington Big Hair 'to stop fly-away'.
Next she ran the heavy paddle brush through her now silky hair and, finally, the comb for the finishing touch. The whole process took less than 15 minutes.
Meanwhile Barrister Carolyn Sparke, 39, of cycling group Wigs On Wheels and her friend Supreme Court legal officer Leonie Englefield, 42, both had a much more low-maintenance, but equally effective, approach.
Leonie - who sports a fine head of chestnut curls - explained that she generally showers after cycling, leaves her hair wet then applies some leave-in conditioner, which sets her back $7.50 and "lasts for ages".
She also demonstrated a handy tip for keeping curls from getting crushed: simply pile your hair on top of your head, holding it in place with one hand, then put your helmet on top. When you arrive at your destination, just shake those curls loose.
Carolyn used a humble slide comb to great effect: she just takes her helmet off, shakes her hair and runs the comb through a few times. Using the reflective glass from a picture hanging on a wall in her chambers, she gathers the sides of her hair and fixes them in place with the comb. The whole process takes a few seconds.
With my new hair savvy I walked into the changerooms and tried out Leonie's hair-piling technique. I'm sure I can already see an improvement.
This is an edited version on an article that first appeared in Ride On magazine, April-May 2005