Welcome to Catwalk! Our goal is to bring education, tips and solutions for healthy hair care to the lady rider. Gentleman, there will be plenty of information for you as well so, stay tuned!
The best way to treat damaged hair is to prevent it in the first place. Our introductory session will teach you the easiest and most manageable way to keep your hair beautiful.
Considering the minuscule diameter of a single strand of hair, the hair fiber is quite strong. Couple this strength with a few million strands and the strength factor grows exponentially. Each strand of hair has an external layer called the cuticle layer. Cuticles are very similar to shingles on a roof. They protect the interior of your home from external forces and damage. On a healthy strand of hair, these cuticles are covered in lipids. Lipids are hydrophobic, meaning water repelling. This provides us with strong, shiny, elastic and smooth locks, capable of repelling undesirable damage. But once those lipids have been destroyed, the highly vulnerable cuticle layer gets attacked and starts breaking down. This creates an undesirable hydrophilic strand, meaning water loving or porous. Once the cuticle layer is damaged, it (literally) opens up and absorbs everything we try to avoid.
What damages lipids and cuticles? Unfortunately, everything motorcycle related: Sun, wind, dry climate, moist/humid climate, heat and tension. It seems we are doomed, doesn’t it? With proper preventative care, not necessarily. The following is a step by step list of the easiest and most effective prevention.
I’m certain you love a good ride as much as I do. It’s early in the morning. You’ve had your coffee. You’ve showered. You’ve had breakfast. You’re dressed in your chaps (not *only* chaps, please). You’ve pulled the bike out of the garage and put your helmet on. Think back… Did you shampoo this morning? You did? Why? If you didn’t shampoo, good for you! Most folks over cleanse their hair, increasing vulnerability. Shampooing removes all the natural oils our scalp produces. These oils are an easy and cheap way to create a barrier and protect our strands. So, save the shampooing for after the ride when you need to remove the sweat, dirt, sunscreen and road grime, anyway.
Thoroughly brush your hair. This is the easiest way to distribute your natural oils. It’s ok if you happen to be one of those folks that don’t produce much oil. You’ll be adding more, momentarily. When brushing your hair, the brush you use and the method in which you brush are very important factors in proper damage prevention. My favorite brush is The Wet Brush. It is designed to detangle without pulling (tension) and breakage. Bonus: it is the only brush I will allow my clients to use when their hair is wet. It has a convenience factor as you don’t need two separate tools for wet and dry brushing. Extremely important when packing for a motorcycle trip. One less thing in the saddlebags! Next, when brushing, ALWAYS begin on the ends of your hair strands. Often, folks start brushing near the scalp. Beginning at the scalp actually pushes your tangles downward, compacting more tangles. By starting at the ends, you’re eliminating one tangle at a time and significantly decreasing breakage.
Once your hair is tangle free, apply a barrier and protective product. Oils are my favorite go to product for preventative damage. Provided the oils are professional, they are excellent tools that will not show an oily looking residue to the naked eye and are easy to remove with shampoo. Please note: despite what you may have heard, oils do not absorb and repair damaged hair. They offer zero corrective benefits. If you have heard that oils correct damage, you have been misinformed. Often, we believe that our hair has been *repaired* because the oils make our hair feel silky and soft. What you’re actually feeling is the oil coating the hair strand and filling in all the gaps in a blown open cuticle. This is very similar to dipping your finger in melted candle wax. Your finger has a very smooth and supple coating that feels nice. However, your finger hasn’t absorbed a thing. My favorite oil is Aquage Silkening Treatment Oil. It protects from environmental, thermal and UV damage. Its molecular structure is fine enough that it is safe to use daily, without the fear of product build up and is undetectable in the hair. And yes, I have a naturally oily scalp. This will not increase your natural oil production. If you happen to ride without a helmet, apply the oil from scalp to ends. If you ride with a helmet, only apply your oil on the mid lengths and ends. This will save you a few cents.
This last step in damage prevention is probably the most important. Remember when I explained the strength of the hair increases with multiple strands? Allowing your hair to blow in the wind feels GOOD. Even I have to do it from time to time. But be warned, all your preventative prep will be for naught. Free hair allows all the wind, heat and thermal damage to envelope each individual strand and will cause way more damage than necessary. The solution is simple: braid your hair. Braiding your hair creates one single rope like structure. The majority of your strands are protected by the braid itself and only the surface of the braid sees any potential damage. There are several braiding methods which we will discuss in a future Catwalk session. But for now, a simple three strand braid is the easiest. If you are one of those all thumbs ladies, a hair glove is the next best thing. For 100% protection, braid your hair AND use a hair glove.
We hope you have enjoyed the first session of Catwalk and are as excited as we are to bring you more information and hair education for the lady rider.
Great article on preventative hair care. I’m guilty of free flowing below my helmet. With thin hair a hair glove won’t hold. Looking forward to the next piece with how to ideas to contain the hair.
I think most of us are guilty of letting our hair flow. It feels too good to avoid it completely! Fortunately, there are things we can do to avoid massive dryness and breakage. We’ll discuss some options for you in our next session of Catwalk!
Kim Boutell says
Thanks for the tips! I have shoulder length CURLY hair, so I only wash once a week and only brush right before washing (which is usually after a weekend ride, lol). Do you recommend the same oil treatment on UNbrushed hair.
Also, I always braid (two) and bandana my scalp (under my helmet), but I haven’t seen hair-gloves for short braids. Can you recommend a brand, or an option? In your next column on braids, will you consider curly and/or shoulder length hair as well?
Looking for more updates!
I’m very happy to read about your infrequency of shampooing. This will drastically diminish dryness in those curls. Yes, the oil is fantastic on all hair types although, finer and straighter hair needs less whereas coarser and curlier hair needs more. And definitely use it, even when you’re not brushing.
Yes, we will give tips for many different lengths and textures. I’m currently doing research to show as high a variety of tools as possible. I know I’ve seen short gloves but, of course, how short is the question. The good news is, gloves, much like chaps, can be trimmed to custom fit your locks.
I’ll be sure to include shorter gloves and how to use them in a future session for you!
Have you tried a Helmet Hed? I’m fairly certain that they’re magical.
I have not but I will check it out!
Kimberly S Tritz says
Do you have any suggestions for Helmet itch? I have removed the lining inside my helmet and washed it. No matter how I do my hair my head itches badly. Once I even had to pull to the side of the rode to scratch because it was insane.
Do you wear any type of covering on your hair or are you just putting your helmet on your hair?