Avoid “Hat Hair” Now That It's Freezing

Photo: Henry Leutwyler

Kristin Booker

It’s almost that time of year! There’s no heat or humidity to make your hair frizzy, no burning sun to fry it, or chlorinated water to ruin the color. Until you have to put a hat on top of your head. Suddenly there’s static, your curls are squished, and you have a whole new set of problems. Can hat head be avoided? I asked Kattia Solano, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Butterfly Studio Salon in New York, to deliver the 411 on avoiding winter hat hair. 

Pick the right kind of hat. “You’re dealing with two things: the kind of hat and your hair texture,” says Solano. “If someone wants a lot of volume, the last hat they’ll want to wear is a beanie. You want more space at the crown, like a fedora or a larger knit hat because it gives your hair more space to maintain its shape.” 

Girls with curls need more room. For girls with curls, Solano suggests a Rasta-style tam. “I love those hats for girls with curls, or a lot of hair. Curly haired girls don’t want to put a hat directly over your hair; the hat has to have a little room.” Solano suggests scrunching your hair (especially the crown) before placing the hat over your hair to maintain volume. “That way, they can just shake their hair when they take the hat off and revive the fullness without causing frizz or flattening. Just watch the tightness of the hat: if it’s too tight, it’ll press your hair to your head.”

Choose your fabric wisely. You don’t want a rough fabric snagging your hair cuticle and causing split ends and damage, especially if you have curls. “Wool is so rough and conflicts with the texture of curly and/or natural hair,” cautions Solano. “Be sure to look for hats in a softer fabric, like cashmere, silk, or angora.”

Princess Leia had the right idea. Solano advises twisting your hair into a rolled bun or a topknot under the hat to prevent that dreaded flattening. “The more fullness you want, the more you’ll want to avoid the hat coming into contact with the majority of your hair. If you have longer hair, you can twist your hair into two twisted buns on either side of the top of your head and pull your hat over it, or you can do a topknot. That way, when you let your hair down, it cascades down in dry waves with volume. If your hair is fine or shorter, one twist will work. The thickness of your hair determines how many twists are needed.” Solano suggests securing the style butterfly clips if you have them. “Bobby pins can add too much tension.”

Guard against static. Solano says dryer sheets and Static Guard work, but there’s a better way. “If you tend to get static in the winter, it means your hair lacks moisture. Any styling aid with moisture (a light hair oil, cream, spray or serum) placed along the inside of the hat will stop it. If you saturate the hat band with moisture, it won’t create dry static.” Solano favors Shu Uemura Art of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($69), but says any hydrating styling aid will work. “Any of the Kerastase Elixirs like Kerastase Elixir Ultime ($56) are great, as is Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($48).”