I had hair down to the middle of my back until about seven years ago, when I decided to cut it all off and sport a pixie cut. Since then, one great benefit of my new hairstyle is that I haven’t had to use any accessories to keep my hair off my face while running. At least that was the case when I was actually able to get haircuts. Because of the pandemic, my last cut was in February, which means I am now at a very awkward growing-out stage: My hair is too long (and too thick) to be controlled by a bobby pin or two, but it’s not quite long enough for a full ponytail.
A headband was the most obvious solution. Prior to the pandemic, however, my headband wardrobe consisted of one — which I got for free and use for washing my face. Aside from the fact that I only use it to keep my hair out of my face during my nightly ablutions, it’s velour and would probably a little too warm for running. So back in March, I ordered a few to try out, and I have been testing them in the past few months. Some were basically unusable, a couple came very close, but in the end, only one was good enough to convince me to order multiples.
In an effort to be frugal, I started with these very affordable Old Navy headbands (two for $10!) that looked promising online. They are thick enough to hold back my longer bangs and are made from a spandex-polyester blend that, unlike cotton, wicks away sweat and doesn’t feel wet and soggy on my head. But once they arrived, I realized they were very loose and would slip off my head once I started running. (They are good for face-washing, though.)
After that disappointment, I caved and ordered three different styles of Lululemon headbands. They’re pricier (especially as I’d eventually need 5–6 headbands to cover all my runs between laundry days), but considering how much I like the brand’s running leggings, tops, and shorts, I thought I’d have much better luck with their headbands.
The Cardio Cross Trainer Headband solved the slipping-off problem. With grippy material on the inside of the band, this headband stuck to my head no matter how fast I ran or how much I sweat. Unfortunately, it was too thin to hold back all of my hair, and strands started falling forward, which annoyed me during my run as I constantly felt the need to tuck them back in. It’s not a bad headband by any means and would definitely work if you had longer (or shorter) hair than I do, but it wasn’t quite right for this stage in my growing-out process.
For a while, the Lululemon Fly Away Tamer looked like it might be the one. Thicker than the Cardio Cross Trainer, it held back all of my wayward fringe. Plus it’s lined with velvet strips that helped it stick to my hair. I went on a lot of runs with this headband, and I was happy with how snug and secure it felt mile after mile. After a few rounds in the washer and dryer, however, the velvet backing started to peel off. The dangling velvet strips would fall out awkwardly during my run to the point where I got tired of tucking them back in and just tore them out. Afterward, the headband didn’t stay on quite as well.
And then, the perfect porridge: The Lululemon Fringe Fighter Headband is the thickest of all the bands I tried, so there’s no chance any hair can escape, but it also tapers down to a skinny elastic strip in the back that grips my head and easily stays in place. There’s no velvet to peel off, and it hasn’t warped or stretched out after six months of washing and wearing. Like all of my Lululemon running gear, it’s made from workout-friendly synthetic materials that wick away sweat and keep me relatively dry.
Now that I’ve determined it’s clearly the best headband for me, I ordered it in two more colors, and I plan on eventually stocking up on a few more so that I can wear one on every run — until I have enough hair for a ponytail or finally feel safe getting a haircut again.
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