I’d forgotten about hat hair.
It wasn’t until I returned from a Lois Walk in St Rosa, having removed my sister’s pink crocheted headband and the hood of my booger, that my knowledge about hat hair flooded back. Too late, on this occasion.
My hair was flat and sweaty in some places and stood up in others. Static-laden strands floated in all directions. I got a shock when I touched a metal doorknob.
Smoothing, patting, running my fingers through the impossible knots – nothing made it better.
If you wear hats in Minnesota, I realized, unless you plan ahead you're going to have hat hair.
How can you prevent this unflattering look, or at least restore a normal appearance after removing your headwear?
This is a daily reality if you’re a Minnesotan.
We always had winter hat hair after returning home from skating, sledding, skiing, walks, ice fishing, outdoor play, scraping the windshield, taking out the garbage, shoeshoeing, shovelling the sidewalks or driveway, snowball fights, or making snowmen or snow angels.
During the really cold months in Minnesota, hat hair is the lesser of two evils.
You don’t want to be cold in Minnesota.
A snug hat, hood, earmuffs, headband, balaclava - wearing these singly or all at once wins the day over chattering teeth, frostbitten ears, and icicles in your eyebrows, mustache and prominent nose hairs. I don't admit to having all of these, but for those who do, go for the balaclava.
The accumulated wisdom of winter-wise folks can save you from bad hat hair, or help you recover from its worst visual effects.
Allow me to share my recovered memories and the guidance of Stearns County friends to prevent hat hair this year.
Unless you don’t care about it.
This makes you one of the wisest of us all and will save you a fortune in headwear made of natural fibers and a medicine cabinet filled with spendy hair products. Your indifference will also have mental health benefits by warding off hat hair anxiety.
Stearns County people often care about what others think of them, though. Our tips may help.
- The simplest way to prevent or control bad hat hair is to have short hair in winter. Not all of us suit a gamine pixie cut, as we little Hilsgen girls learned when our older sisters sheared our Germanic blonde tresses one year. They still feel bad about it, yet this is one of my favorite pictures of my younger sister Cherie and me. Nowadays none of us need proceed with a dramatic new style without checking whether it suits us: visit your App Store to find tools to help you test cuts, styles, and colors before you go to the hair salon. Who knows – you may be one of those rare people who can rock really short hair. Today, Cherie and I both have long hair. We learned the hard way. Oh ja.
- Use a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. These products will keep your hair soft and pliant, able to withstand extreme temperature changes and frequent use of winter headwear.
- Dry your hair completely before you put your hat on. This makes Minnesota sense on a few fronts – you won’t risk sickness, or lock in moisture that will result in flat, bent hair when you take your hat off.
- Don’t apply hairspray. You’ll sweat beneath your hat while reeling in your crappie, and hairspray will add to the stickiness, and you’ll get bad hat hair. Experiment with products to keep your hair fluffy while wearing a hoodie or beanie.
- Try frizz and static control spray to minimize flat hair or an explosion of hat hair when you’re indoors again.
- If you have longer hair, pull it into a ponytail, bun, or braid before covering your head. This will keep things tidy under the fake fur and pompoms while you’re outdoors, and make it easier to tease your locks back into shape later.
- Beauty experts say you should part hair in the opposite direction than usual before putting your hat on. Once you’re home again, flip your flattened hat hair back to its usual part, restoring hair volume. I’m not girly enough to bother as a rule, but I tried this tip and it works.
- If it’s not too cold outside, wear a headband, earmuffs, or ear mitts instead of a hat. These will keep your ears warm with minimal hair disruption. Some headbands feature rhinestones and sparkly embellishments, and some earmuffs are sold with built-in headphones. Many variations are sold in Stearns County – go wild!
- Buy headwear made of natural fibers like wool or cashmere. You’ll reduce the risk of annoying static, and these fibers are soft, comfy, and kind to your hair. Merino has the advantages of wicking moisture and repelling sweaty odors.
- Reduce static build-up by rubbing the inside of your hat with a dryer sheet before you go out. Or rub one of these sheets over your hair after taking your hat off when you’re inside again. Some swear by pinning a safety pin inside their headwear to ‘ground’ static so hair remains free of flyaways. It’s easy enough to carry a dryer sheet in your wallet or purse or cubbyhole in case you have a static hat hair episode while out and about. I like the idea of a safety pin – a durable multi-purpose solution that’s also environmentally friendly. Unless there’s lightning.
- Choose looser hats. It makes sense that the tighter the hat, the greater your risk of hat hair later.
- Scarves or berets aren’t practical in Minnesota during blizzards, when skating or sledding or skiing, or in extreme wind chill situations. Go for something warm that covers your face and ears – hat hair is preferable to frostbite.
- Shovel, skate, or hike along the Lake Wobegon Trail before you wash your hair. Sweat-producing activities will always give you hat hair.
- Accept that hat hair is a reality for Minnesotans. Be at peace – sometimes we just have to roll with the hat hair.
Stearns County Hat Picks
Scarves and Mittens with Strings
If you’ve found the perfect hat, don’t forget a warm scarf and toasty gloves or mittens.
It’s so easy to lose a mitten, don’t you think?
With seven children, this single truth used to drive our mother crazy.
“Where’s your other mitten?” is a question I heard often. I did lose a lot of mittens.
I recall Mom resorting to mitten strings, which keep paired mittens together when threaded through your coat sleeves. This allows you to make a quick exit, pulling on your coat while sliding your hands into the conveniently dangling mittens on their knitted or crocheted strings.
Don’t make or buy strings with those strange metal suspender clips – they always break, and you will eventually lose your mittens. Instead, use buttons or industrial sized safety pins to secure your strings to your mittens.
People like my sister Marilyn, who Grandma Lena taught to sew and knit and crochet and quilt, can easily make their own mittens with strings.
By the time we young ones came along, Grandma Lena was tired of teaching her many grandchildren to sew and knit and crochet and quilt.
So I developed an important Minnesota survival skill, learning to just buy such things, or press Marilyn into making them for me.
I once bought corduroy, notions, and a Simplicity pattern to make a nifty pair of winter pants with pleats and fancy belt loops. I showed these to Marilyn, who belly laughed at the thought that I would make those complicated pants with my rudimentary sewing skills.
So Marilyn made the pants.
And I know she would make me a pair of these mittens, too.
But it’s embarrassing to always ask Marilyn.
So I’ll order mine from Helen in Kansas.