Need to Know
  1. Thicker headbands work best for wicking sweat away
  2. Thin bands can work for flyaway-taming — if they don't slip
  3. Paying more for brand names doesn't always mean high quality

Flyaways, loose pieces of hair, sweat trickling down your forehead — these issues, and many others, are all reasons to wear a good headband while you work out. Unfortunately, headbands that stay in place are hard to find. Personally, I’ve struggled to find a headband that actually stays on for more than five minutes when I was working out. I entered this round of Spright testing hoping I might find something capable of staying put no matter the sweaty activity.

THE TEST

We picked out some headbands from bigger fitness brands and had our testers put them through their paces, wearing them while running, doing yoga, working out in the gym, and doing other sweat-inducing, hair-mussing exercises. After they worked out while wearing the headbands, we asked them to assess slippage, sweat-proofing, and other important features to see how well these bands kept everything under control — ideally without causing a headache in the process.

THE CONTENDERS

If you want to go a different route with your headband buying, check out these reviews of headbands from independent companies founded by athletic women.

THE TAKEAWAY

Finding good headbands that will stay in place while you work out is heavily dependent on your head shape and hair type, plus the intensity of activity you’ll be doing. Special “grip” on thinner headbands doesn’t always hold hair in place, and thicker headbands can lead to overheating. Our best picks from this round of testing included the alo No Sweat Headband and the Buff UV Headband. These bands both stayed in place successfully (for the most part) during moderate to intense exercise, as well as providing the most features in a single headband across all categories.

Note: Some of our testers have long hair, some shorter hair, but yes, we all have more-or-less straight hair. We’ll keep updating this review as some curly-haired ladies put these headbands to the test.

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THE TESTERS

ProductReview_Testers_ContentTeam

 

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THE HEADBAND: Lululemon Cardio Cross Trainer

The bottom line: Buy this headband to go with your street-style workout apparel — but don’t expect it to hold up during a workout.

Anti-Slip Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Headache Factor: None

Sweat Trickle Prevention: 2 out of 5

Comfort and feel: 4 out of 5

Worth the price: No

Best for: Sitting around looking cute, possibly while sipping a Starbucks Iced Latte. Maybe while walking to yoga. Maybe.

Caitlin tried the Lululemon Cardio Cross Trainer for yoga. She says: The headband is cute and stays in place fine for minimal activity. However, it slipped off my head easily, which kind of defeats the point of wearing it while working out. I had to take it off pretty early on. Not sure if it would have stayed better with some clips underneath. I would say this is more of a style piece to have the Lulu logo/cute color and not much of a functional item.

Kimra tried the Lululemon Cardio Cross Trainer for yoga and walking. She says: The top of this headband sat fine on my head. However, over the course of a yoga class, the bottom started slipping up toward the base of my ponytail and popped off my head from underneath. There was no easy way to reposition it without taking it off completely, and eventually, I just left it off. It does have sticky grips, but they sit lower than a raised seam that isn’t sticky, which seems silly. It’s simple and stylish, but it might as well have been a plain circle of material and not had the sticky grips at all for all the good they did. Perhaps then it could have cost a little less too.

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THE HEADBAND: alo No Sweat Headband

The bottom line: Loved by one and all in the Spright office, this headband is secure and wicks away sweat with ease.

Anti-Slip Rating: 4 out 5

Headache Factor: None

Sweat Trickle Prevention: 4 out of 5

Comfort and feel: 5 out of 5

Worth the price: Yes

Best for: Running, regular and hot yoga.

Ursula tried the alo No Sweat Headband for running. She says: This headband stayed on my hair fairly well with its thick band (usually anything thin slips straight off) and was comfortable prior to my run. It did the job as far as catching any flyaways and keeping them off my face, but had a harder time dealing with sweat. The front part of the headband kept most of the sweat off my forehead initially, but after just a mile or so the headband couldn’t keep up. I actually started overheating (I was running outside in direct sunlight) so I took the headband off after just a mile and a half, and immediately cooled down as a result. That being said, it was a hot day, I was in direct sunlight, and I tend to sweat a lot. I would love that extra heat in the winter, and overall this was the best headband I’ve tried in a while.

Molly tried the alo No Sweat Headband for yoga and Barry’s Bootcamp. She says: I definitely had my doubts that this would stay in place for a strenuous Barry’s Bootcamp class (where you’re doing a mix of treadmill interval training and weights). It kept the sweat out of my face and didn’t budge at all. I am not really a headband person, but this was probably my best headband experience so far.

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THE HEADBAND: Under Armour Graphic Headbands (4 pack)

The bottom line: With two bands in each of two styles (Skinny Braided and Graphic Mini) of solidly performing thin-cut headbands, this 4-pack brings the most bang for your buck.

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UA Skinny Braided Headband

Anti-Slip Rating: 5 out of 5

Headache Factor: Moderate

Sweat Trickle Prevention: 0 out of 5

Comfort and feel: 4 out of 5

Worth the price: Yes

Best for: Any and all types of physical activity.

Heather tried the UA Skinny Braided Headband for running and walking. She says: I like the design and would wear this headband if I were a regular headband wearer. Since I’m not, I was a little more aware of the feeling of it on my head but didn’t feel it was too tight and didn’t get a headache from it. It stayed put while I was running for an hour — win! It did move a little bit when I wore it just walking around town for a few hours. I’m generally not a fan of headbands, but if I did decide to buy one, this would be a front-runner because it actually stayed on my head. I also didn’t feel like the sticky part pulled my hair — good stuff.

Kimra tried the UA Skinny Braided Headband for Burn class (pilates/weights/cardio). She says: I like that the UA logo can be on the top or tucked away behind my ponytail on the braided bands. The “stickiness level” (of the three strands, only one has the grippy material) seemed exactly right for my hair. This headband felt a little tight when I first put it on, and I was expecting it to pop right off the back of my head. To my surprise, it stayed put through a very sweaty workout, and while it was definitely tight, it wasn’t headache-inducing (I forgot about it once the pain of the burpees kicked in). It’s so skinny that I imagine it’s intended more for holding hair back vs. keeping sweat off my face — because it did great on the first of those things but horribly on the second. 

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UA Graphic Mini Headband

Anti-Slip Rating: 3 out of 5

Headache Factor: Light to Moderate

Sweat Trickle Prevention: 3.5 out of 5

Comfort and feel: 3.5 out of 5

Worth the price: Maybe

Best for: Moderate activity and mid-distance running.

Molly tried the UA Graphic Mini for running. She says: The headband stayed put for my five-mile run. I was going at a pretty strenuous pace, but it was an overcast/foggy SF day so I wasn’t sweating as much as I would have been in the blaring sun. At first it bothered me and felt a little tight, but after a mile or two I stopped noticing it so much. My long, straight, thick hair doesn’t really have a big headband need. I don’t generally have shorter hairs around my face that bug me. That said, this headband was fine.

Jackelyn tried the UA Graphic Mini for a combination of running, weight lifting, Stairmaster work, and yoga. She says: I did a one-hour workout, spending about 10-15 minutes doing each activity. When I ran, I had over-the-ear headphones on, so that helped the band stay in place. After the run, I had nothing else on my head, and over the next 30 minutes, I felt the headband slowlyyyyyy slipping. It wasn’t until mid-squat jumps that the band just popped off the back of my head. I noticed that with a lot of head movement (looking up/down or side to side), the band would slowly slip back. It was a gradual slip, so I was always anticipating the pop-off. All in all, this headband was OK. I’ve had a lot of experiences with headbands slipping off so I’m not completely surprised. I had high hopes for the anti-slip rubber, but it didn’t work for me. I am thankful that I didn’t get a headache though, as that is usually the most frustrating thing.

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THE HEADBAND: lucy Power Double Strap

The bottom line: This headband is cute and functional, perfect for keeping the flyaways out of your face during yoga.

Anti-Slip Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Headache Factor: None

Sweat Trickle Prevention: None

Comfort and feel: 4 out of 5

Worth the price: Yes

Best for: Yoga.

Kimra tried the lucy Power Double Strap for yoga. She says: When I put this headband on, I expected it to slip — it just doesn’t fit very tightly, and I was skeptical it would stay put on my thick, slippery hair. But it stayed in place through a 60-minute yoga class plus a 60-minute walk into San Francisco’s summer wind. In fact, the only time it budged was when I accidentally shoved my sunglasses on top of it, because it’s light enough that I forgot I was wearing it. My only complaint: One of the two straps of the double strap kept twisting behind my ear, which didn’t affect performance but felt a little funny.

Caitlin tried the Lucy Power Double Strap for running. She says: This headband felt a little bit like it was about to slip the whole time I was wearing it, but it never actually did slip. I tried it with a low ponytail and high ponytail with similar results. It didn’t squeeze my head too hard, which was nice.

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THE HEADBAND: Buff UV Headband

The bottom line: This headband will hold out through your sweatiest workouts — and comes in a variety of eclectic prints.

Anti-Slip Rating: 4 out of 5

Headache Factor: None

Sweat Trickle Prevention: 4 out of 5

Comfort and feel: 5 out of 5

Worth the price: Yes

Best for: Running, cycling, hot yoga.

Ursula tried the Buff UV Headband for running. She says: This headband is advertised as sweat-wicking, and it definitely worked as far as keeping sweat off my forehead and out of my eyes. However, it did nothing for the sweat trickling down around my ears, and I’m pretty sure I was sweating more than usual because I had the headband on. This headband stayed on better than most headbands I’ve tried — I could feel it slipping up gradually when I started running, but it stopped at a certain point and mostly stayed in place well (I did have to adjust it every mile or so). The fabric absorbed all the sweat, but did not evaporate it — it was soaked through by the end of my six-mile run.

Molly tried the Buff UV Headband for hot yoga. She says: This headband definitely did its job during a very sweaty hot yoga class. The pattern wasn’t really my style, but it was very comfortable for the duration of the 90-minute class. When I took it off after class I felt like my hair was more dry than usual, so that was a win. It stayed in place and was comfortable, so as far as that goes it definitely did its job! The width of this was my least favorite part, so I had it folded over when I wore it. I think it’s a runner-up for me, with the alo band being my winner.

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THE AWARDS

Best Overall: The alo No Sweat Headband tied with the Buff UV Headband on sweat prevention, anti-slip, and comfort, but at $5 less than the Buff, alo No Sweat wins the crown.

Best Middle Ground: The lucy Power Double Strap doesn’t do the best job of absorbing sweat, but it holds hair in place well with its stylish two-band design and grippy dots.

Best Value: With four headbands averaging out to $5 each and reasonable performance scores in almost every category, the Under Armour Graphic Headbands 4 pack takes the win for best value.