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Winter earmuffs and headbands

On warmer winter days, wearing winter earmuffs and headbands are great alternatives to wearing a full winter hat. These will cover your ears but leave your hair alone so leaving you with a "good hair day" for most of the day.

For these milder and but still winter days, this is an ideal solution. Just about anyone can wear them at anytime so they are really versatile. They are readily available from retail clothing department stores as well as from specialty sport clothing stores.

Why wear Earmuffs or Ear warmers?

On the coldest of winter days, wearing a warm hat to keep your head warm makes perfect sense and is a no brainer. Now, wearing your hat for long periods of time, will leave you with "hat hair" meaning that your hair has been flattened and squashed under the weight or tight fit of the hat you are wearing.

If you don't like having "hat hair" then you can eliminate this problem by getting winter earmuffs and headbands instead. Your hairstyle will remain almost intact and not be too frightful to look at in the mirror!

Earmuffs and Ear warmers

Winter ear protection has a range of different terms such as "winter earmuffs", "ear grips" and "ear warmers".

The basic style of winter earmuffs has remained pretty much the same with an individual protective covering over both ears and joined by a flexible band over or around the head.

Invented in 1873 by Chester Greenwood in Maine in America, he had the idea while skating. And what a good idea it was - and still is!

Winter earmuff types and textures

You can make them more compact by folding or twisting them together which is usually possible. Once you starting looking, you'll find a wide variety of them in different colours and textures. You can get adult or children sizes and the band can be adjusted to some degree to make them bigger or smaller too.

These protective ear covers can be made of:

  • Wool
  • Cable knits
  • Fake fur
  • Fleece
  • Suede
  • Shearling (lambs wool)
  • Thinsulate (man-made brand made material)
  • Plaids or checkered material.

Winter earmuff style and shape

One difference is the thickness of the connecting band that joins the two ear coverings. It could be thin plastic like you see for acoustic earphones or a wider and thicker plastic band that is covered by the same or similar fabric that covers the earpieces.

Make sure this band is adjustable to allow for different positions on your head. Even though the bands are adjustable, some aren't all that comfortable.

Unlike hats, the stiff plastic band doesn't mold well to your head. I've had several pairs over the years and one thing I find is that I can only wear it for short periods because of the band. However, the ear coverings themselves fit reasonably well; they're warm and definitely protects you from getting painful or frostbitten ears.

Fun children's earmuffs

A fun take on the earmuff style is that you can buy earmuffs shaped into different animal types. These are great for children and might better appeal to your child when a hat may not. For adults, find your inner child again! You'll definitely make someone's day by sharing a laugh with them over your style of earmuffs - always a good thing.

Bandless earmuffs

This newer style of winter earmuffs are not joined by a over the head plastic or nylon band at all. Each insulated ear cover just slips over each ear and with some adjustment, appears to fit quite tightly.

Now, I've not used these so can't say one way or the other but they might be easy to lose since they are not joined together. However, they will easily fit in a coat pocket to keep them safe and available when you are not wearing them.


Stretchy headbands are another alternative to "hat hair". This inexpensive item comes in many different styles and widths. Headbands can be made of wool, fleece or acrylics that's combined with stretchy material like spandex to fit snugly around your head.

They are easily folded and stuffed into jacket pockets so it's a good backup plan if your regular winter hat goes missing. Headbands made of fleece are particularly warm, very lightweight and comfortable to wear. Wool, on the other hand, can be itchy and scratchy around your hairline.

Caring for your winter earmuffs and headbands

Caring for your winter earmuffs and headbands will make them last several winter seasons which is always good for your winter clothing budget.

Cleaning earmuffs are more problematic so spray-on fabric cleaner may be the only way to go if there are no cleaning instructions attached to the earmuffs. If the covers are detachable, then you can most likely wash them as I've described below. The plastic band won't be affected as it's waterproof.

You can gently wash headbands but be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions too. Use a mild clothes detergent in cold water usually, particularly for wool, as wool shrinks. Lay them flat to dry although fleece can be hung up if you prefer.

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