Full disclosure: I love love love wearing headbands when I work out. Sparkly. Patterned. Stretchy. Plastic. If it can keep my hair out of my face and looks halfway decent, chances are, I’ll give it a try.
As a self-proclaimed athletic headband expert, I’ve noticed lately that some headband companies are churning out products that look cute but always seem to cause problems for me as soon as I break a sweat.
That’s exactly why I decided to scope the Internet in search of the best fitness headbands that are cute, functional and comfortable. Over the past month, I narrowed down my picks to eight headband companies — all founded by fit-minded ladies — and decided put their products to the test.
Not only did I sport each of these headbands during my workout sessions, but I also wore them while I did everyday, non-athletic activities.
I wore these headbands to work. I took naps in these headbands. I did Zumba in these headbands. I even photographed my entire headband-testing process on Instagram for everyone to see! Rest assured, all of these recommendations come from weeks of tried and true headband wearing from a seasoned headband fanatic.
In the end, I reviewed each headband based on three main categories: comfort, design/style, and ability to stay in place. I also added tidbits about how to best wear each headband, how I tested them, the best activity for each headband and any other information about the company that was interesting.
All in all, I think that there’s something on this list that would make even the pickiest headband wearer happy.
These cozy, handmade headbands entirely changed the way I viewed wide or over-the-ear style headbands — plus they’re handmade!
Comfort: I could wear these all day! The fabric is so soft and stretches just the right amount. Plus, I didn’t get a headache at all while wearing these.
Design/style: These headbands are a wide or over-the-ear headband featuring a cool twist “knot” at the back. There are a few other styles of GreecieGirl headbands as well, but I only tested this style. Also, each band is sized for your unique head size — how cool! As for the fabric’s pattern, I loved the samples I was sent! There’s a ton of other colors/patterns to choose from online as well.
Ability to stay in place: For high-intensity activities, like running and HIIT workouts, I found that these stayed in place the best when I wore them over my ears and close to my hairline. For less intense activities, I was able to wear these headbands behind my ears and close to my hairline without any slipping.
How I tested these: HIIT workouts, hiking, Pilates, running, everyday housework.
How to wear these: These stayed in place the best when I wore them with the “knot” part near the base of my neck and placed them as close to my hairline as possible. I thought they fit even better when I wore them over my ears.
When to wear these: I liked these the best for Pilates and really sweaty HIIT workouts. The moisture wicking capability of these bands kept the sweat from running down my face, which was great. Also, they kept my ears toasty during a few chilly runs while I was on vacation in Canada.
Fun facts: These headbands are made and designed by eight-time marathon runner and Etsy store owner, Mary, who decided to create her own style of headband after getting fed up with wearing athletic headbands that slipped, fell off or caused headaches. Mary also creates fleece headbands for the chillier months of the year!
Bolder Band Headbands
$15 – $25
Versatile, comfortable and durable, these headbands are perfect for a gal looking for a band as multidimensional as her workout schedule is!
Comfort: Talk about cozy. These headbands are made from a soft, yet durable, stretchy material that not only wicks moisture but stays in place!
Design/style: These are a wide or over-the-ear style headband that can be worn three different ways; basically, you can fold the fabric to whatever width you’d like best. I loved the versatility of these bands! Plus, I dig the variety of fabric patterns and colors available online, and the awesome paisley patterns that were sent to me.
Ability to stay in place: I think these headbands stay in place the best when they’re worn close to the hairline and over the ears. When I did Zumba, I wore my headband this way and it stayed in place the entire time. However, for barre, I was able to wear my headband with my ears exposed — still close to my hairline — with minimal slippage.
How I tested these: Zumba, Barre, HIIT, running, everyday housework
How to wear these: To be honest, it took me a while to figure out a good style to way to wear these bands so they stayed in place on my head, but when I did, it was magical! I would wear these close to the hairline, over the ears, and folded to the widest width for intense activities. For less intense activities, I’d play around and see what you like best. I folded mine up a bit and let my ears free for less intense workouts.
When to wear these: Because of their versatility, I preferred these headbands on days when I did multiple workouts back to back. For example, one day I went to a high-intensity Zumba class followed by a barre class, and was able to make minor adjustments that made the headband work wonderfully for both of my classes. I also loved wearing these during my HIIT workouts because of the fabric’s moisture-wicking abilities.
Fun facts: Bolder Bands are the brainchild of Colorado-cross-fitting-mom Amy Crouse, who was sick of having headbands pop off of her head while she busted out burpees. Amy decided to make bands based on people’s head sizes instead of a one-size-fits-all approach — so smart!
$8 – $18
These bands feature a unique button-adjustable elastic and velvet design that will help you get a fit that will stay in place no matter how intense the activity.
Comfort: For a velvet-backed, elastic-style headband, I thought these fit way more comfortably than other headbands on the market. Because there were no elastic grips to snag the bottom of my head, and the band was adjustable, I was comfortable wearing this headband all day long at my softball tournament.
Design/style: These headbands feature a unique button-adjustable elastic that allows you to pick the right size for your head. Also, you can tuck any extra elastic into a sneaky pocket that’s built right into the headband! I loved the paisley pattern I was sent and there are even more wonderful options to choose from on the online store.
Ability to stay in place: These puppies stay in place big time! In an entire day of softball, I only had to adjust my headband once, and it was a minor adjustment that took about 10 seconds to make after four hours of continual wear.
How I tested these: Softball, Zumba
How to wear these: I found that it took a couple tries to figure out what button “slot” was the best size for my head, but once I found my “slot” I just wore my headband like I would any athletic headband (i.e. close-ish to the hairline) and found that my headband stayed in place beautifully.
When to wear these: I think these are a great option for any workout but in particular would be great for women playing any type of sports. Not only did these look great, but they were one of the few headbands I’ve actually enjoyed playing softball in and didn’t have to worry about for almost the entire day!
Fun facts: Punkeelove Headbands was founded by Stacy Hvinden, a mother of two and a graduate of Minnesota State University-Mankato. Her cool button design is currently patent-pending!
$12 – $15
These headbands stay in place better than any other headband I’ve ever worn and feature a unique clip design.
Comfort: These headbands are just as comfortable as any other adjustable velvet-backed headband out there — even with plastic clips sewn into the band!
Design/style: Glam headbands feature a felt-backed design, an adjustable elastic, and a one-of-a-kind sewn-in clip that helps secure the band in place. Besides being technologically advanced, these bands are also cute and come in a variety of colors and designs. If the sewn-in clip is too intense for you, don’t worry, there are other styles of headbands available in the online store.
Ability to stay in place: Finally, the ultimate stay-in-place headband exists! Thanks to the unique clip and felt back design, these headbands didn’t move at all during my workouts. And when I say at all, I mean, at all!
How I tested these: Softball, HIIT, everyday housework
How to wear these: It took me a bit of practice to figure out how to clip and un-clip the headband from my hair, but once I figured out the process, I was able to use the elastic adjustable strap to make it the perfect size for my head before heading out for my workout. Unlike other bands, the clips also allowed me to wear this band a bit further back from my hairline, which was also nice.
When to wear these: This is the headband for girls who can’t seem to find anything else that stays in place. Athletes, cross-fitters and ladies with crazy locks, this will help keep you in control.
Fun facts: Glam Headbands was started in 2009 by Erika Ewers, a fit-minded lady who got headache from wearing a non-adjustable headband for under an hour. After a year in the headband business, Erika wanted to create the first truly non-slip (not just slip resistant) band and started sewing clips into her headbands. She also creates other fun running accessories like shoe charms and sparkly skirts.
Sparkly Soul Headbands
$15 – $17
So sparkly. So comfortable. What’s not to like?
Comfort: When I first got these bands in the mail, I’ll admit, I was skeptical that they wouldn’t comfortable to wear since they were non-adjustable. However, after one run, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they turned out to be. Full disclosure, the skinny headband I received erred on the tighter side, but the wider band fit my head just right. All that being said, I do think that both headbands were the perfect tightness for a workout headband, and the wider style could be worn all day long.
Design/style: These headbands are the only felt-backed headband I’ve seen that does not have an adjustable black elastic part in the back, allowing for 360 degrees of sparkle while you workout. I loved how pretty these bands were and I think they were some of the prettiest workout headbands I’ve ever seen — and the variety of colors they come in is fantastic.
Ability to stay in place: These headbands really held up to their anti-slip claim. As long as I wore these bands close to my hairline they didn’t budge much at all. I only adjusted the skinny headband once during a five-mile run.
How I tested these: Running, Zumba, barre, everyday housework
How to wear these: Wear these like any velvet-backed headband, but make sure they are close to the hairline or they might slip.
When to wear these: I liked wearing Sparkly Soul headbands during my runs and gym cardio classes. I prefer a tighter headband during these activities that I can “feel” staying in place and thought Sparkly Soul bands were the perfect fit.
Fun facts: Sparkly Soul Headbands was founded in 2011 by a lady-marathoner who couldn’t seem to find a headband that would look great and stay in place during her runs. Sparkly Soul Headbands are also guaranteed to fit any head shape, big and small.
Bani Bands Headbands
$1.99 – $15.99
I had to include the headband that got me into adjustable, fashionable athletic headbands!
Comfort: I basically wore these headband every day at softball practice during college and never once got a headache from wearing them. Occasionally, my hair would pull on the elastic grip on the bottom, but I can only remember that happening once or twice over three years of games, practices and tournaments.
Design/style: These headbands feature a velvet anti-slip backing, an adjustable gripping elastic strap and more colors and designs to choose from than you can imagine. I personally loved the sparkle options, but I also own plain colors as well.
Ability to stay in place: Whenever I wear these headbands, I’ll admit, I do occasionally find myself re-adjusting the band — but only after hours of wear. Usually, I can pop on one of these babies and head off to my workout without touching it until it’s time to take a shower.
How I tested these: Pilates, running, HIIT, yoga, softball, everyday housework, wearing to work
How to wear these: Wear these like you would any other velvet-backed headband. Just make sure to adjust the band using the special elastic at the back to get a perfect fit.
When to wear these: I’ve worn these headbands for pretty much any athletic activity you can think of, including fast-pitch softball, which includes taking helmets on and off of a very sweaty head. Honestly, I’d recommend them for anything … well, maybe not while you’re doing headstands :)
Fun facts: Founded in 2008 by veteran Renee Hanson, the Bani Bands company was created to help solve the headband headache all fit chicas dread. Now, Bani Bands has grown to include hundreds of styles and is the only velvet-lined headband licensed by the MLB.
$9.98 – $24.98
Not only are these headbands fashionable, but they make a difference in the world, three meals at a time.
Comfort: Although these bands don’t feature an adjustable backing, I found them surprisingly comfortable, and was even able to wear them for an entire day of video shooting without any discomfort or headaches.
Design/style: BANDED headbands come in a variety of styles that vary from super skinny to sparkly to bold and wide. To me, the variety of headbands available by BANDED is one of the company’s best design strengths — you’d be hard-pressed not to find something you’d like to wear. In terms of technical headband design, I was pleasantly surprised at how well these bands stayed in place, especially for being a non-adjustable velvet-backed style. I’d always thought I needed something I could adjust to fit my specific head size, but apparently, BANDED bands are the exception!
Ability to stay in place: When worn close to the hairline I found that these headbands stayed in place pretty well. I only had to adjust a skinny BANDED headband I was wearing twice during an entire day (14+ hours) of shooting video.
How I tested these: Pilates, HIIT, wearing to work, everyday housework
How to wear these: I would wear these close to the hairline, just like any other velvet-backed headband.
When to wear these: These were actually my favorite headbands to wear to work. Because of the versatility of styles, I found that these bands looked great and kept my hair in check, even when I was running around with my camera and taking my headphones on and off all day long. I also wore these while working out and thought they were a great option for Pilates and HIIT workouts.
Fun facts: For each headband purchased, BANDED donates money to Amazima, a charity that feeds, educates and cares for the poor and vulnerable in Uganda. Simply stated, for each headband BANDED sells, they are able to donate enough money to provide three meals for people in Uganda. Talk about looking great, feeling good and giving back!
$12 – $15
What’s not to love about headbands that are cute, high quality and give back to a variety of worthy charitable causes?
Comfort: These were a favorite of mine to slip on and wear to work when I knew I’d be wearing them for a long period of time. I never got a headache while wearing any Bic Band headbands, even after wearing them for entire day of video shooting — I wished I had known about Bic Bands sooner!
Design/style: For a non-adjustable velvet-backed headband, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I grew to love the design of these bands. The black elastic along the back is thin, yet durable, and the variety of patterns and widths available online is impressive. Plus, these headbands were really comfortable to wear!
Ability to stay in place: I loved, loved, loved how well these bands stayed in my hair. I was able to put one of these babies on at the beginning of the day and basically forget about it until it was time to wash my hair at the end of the day. I never found myself adjusting these headbands!
How I tested these: HIIT, wearing to work, everyday housework
How to wear these: Like most velvet-backed headbands, I would wear these guys near your hairline for maximum staying power.
When to wear these: I wore these everywhere: working out, running errands, shooting video. I think Bic Bands are the type of headbands that you can wear from work to the gym and out to dinner and look and feel fabulous all day long.
Fun facts: The Bic Bands company was started by the awesome Sandy Pearson as a way to raise money to run her first half marathon with Team in Training, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After raising more than $1,000 from selling her hand-sewn headbands, Sandy decided to keep making and selling her headbands as well as giving back to those in need. Now, Bic Bands gives a portion of its profits to a variety of different charitable causes.
BONUS TIP FOR ALL VELVET-BACKED HEADBANDS: Over the years, I found that velvet-backed headbands actually stick the best to hair-sprayed hair. I know it sounds crazy to hair spray your hair before a workout, but trust me, the two seconds it will take you to do this will save you the two minutes you’ll spend over the course of the day adjusting the headband.
Photos by Sandi Moynihan
Author’s note: This article reflects my own personal opinions. Many of the companies sent me complimentary sample headbands to review and keep, none of the companies paid me to write this story.