Whether you’re running one mile, 26.2 of them, or somewhere in-between, running is hard. It challenges you physically and drains you emotionally. The last thing you want to be worrying about is your hair, so when you find that magical unicorn of a headband that stays put, fights sweat and still looks great, you’ve got to spread the good word to your fellow runners.
I’ve run seven marathons, 30-plus halfs, and I work with beginning runners as a run coach, so I know a thing or two about running. I also have the kind of hair that makes every new stylist say, “wow, you have a lot of hair,” so I figure that gives me extra street cred on stretchy, sweaty headbands.
Before you lace up your sneakers and tighten your ponytail for your next run, check these tried-and-true favorites from six great headband brands.
If you’re the super-sweaty type who puts all of your athletic wear through its paces, you’ll love Sweaty Bands. The signature one-inch-wide bands hold up to grueling runs and workouts without budging. With satin on the outside and velvet on the inside, these bands also feel incredibly luxurious, which is a nice feeling while you’re using port-a-potties and sweating buckets. Don’t let anyone tell you running isn’t sexy.Plus, with hundreds of different prints, you can find something to match any race-day outfit. I’ve worn these bands for multiple marathons, and I’m happy to report that this band stayed snug for the four-plus hours I needed it to. ($15; amazon.com)
The brand’s name will either be a beacon or a turn-off, depending on your level of love for all things glittery (I’m at a solid 9/10 on the loving glitter scale). Most of their headbands are, yes, sparkly—but they also make plenty of matte headbands in both solids and prints like IOne of the top features about these headbands is their longevity. They use a single piece of elastic so you’re less likely to stretch it out after a few wears. The best part? This headband is so comfortable that you can definitely forget about it over the course of 26.2 miles. ($17; sparklysoul.com)
Whether you love or hate your bangs (there’s no in-between, amirite?), you know how high-maintenance they are. How can one part of your hair behave so differently from the rest of it? While we don’t have all of the answers to your hair woes, we can recommend a headband to help.The thick Lululemon Fringe Fighter is the answer to pushing back your fringe—and is also awesome for anyone with a lot of hair. Its heathered material won’t show when you’ve soaked it through, and its thinner back band keeps it in place. ($18; lululemon.com)
When you’re looking for something even more lightweight, Bondi Band’s Lycra headbands are where it’s at. The fabric feels like swimsuit material, so you know it will dry swimmingly (sorry.) Plus, with their thick three- or four-inch bands, you can hide that you haven’t washed your locks since your last track workout (just us?) or even protect your chilly ears from the wind when the temperature drops. These bands are super-lightweight, so pack ’em for your next destination race or run-cation. ($9; amazon.com)
If you’re a braid junkie (raises hand), then how about a braided headband? I’m not sure if it’s because they remind me of those woven potholders we made as kids or what, but I love these headbands from Under Armour. They’re also super lightweight and—this is important—don’t leave lines in your hair when you take them off.($10; amazon.com)
Don’t let the name fool you—these headbands are far from junk. Made out of technical t-shirt fabric (the stuff that looks like cotton but performs like the wicking material in race t-shirts), these headbands are soft on your head but hold up just as well as that weird waffle-y material. And not only do they have a massive number of prints to choose from, but the bands themselves also come in a variety of styles, including ear warmers for those colder runs.($16; junkbrands.com)
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Theodora Blanchfield is a NYC-based writer, social media consultant, and fitness nut, and is also a NASM-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach. She can usually be found in search of either a cup of coffee or glass of wine, depending on the hour. She has been blogging at preppyrunner.com since 2009.