readers share tips on how to arrive looking fresh

A recent post about coping with perspiration when riding a bicycle in the summer heat was my most-read ever. As scorching temperatures continued to grip the city, velojoy readers shared their own strategies for looking fresh at their destinations after riding to work or around town.

While sweating is often cited by women as a barrier to entry into the bike lanes and may contribute to the gender imbalance — particularly in fashion-conscious New York City — the readers who posted their tips demonstrate how one can happily integrate cycling into daily life while looking one’s best.

Riding a bicycle is, after all, just another form of transportation with its own relative merits. I loved this observation from Katherine, who commutes to work every day by bike. She wrote:

“As hot as it’s been some days so far, I don’t think I look any sweatier than people getting off the subway. And I’m in a better mood, too.”

Here, six additional hints to help you beat the heat in style:

  • Blot the shine: Lightly powdered blotting sheets absorb perspiration and shine, helping restore a fresh, matte finish to your makeup. Buy them at the drug store or online. For example, Papier Poudre Oil Blotting Papers come in little booklets ideal for purse or bike bag. (Robin)
  • Pack an extra layer: The transition from baking outdoors in the heat to freezing indoors in the air-conditioning may require an extra layer for comfort. “Prepare for the arctic winds of overly air-conditioned destinations…a wrap or cotton sweater is worth the extra sweat to carry!” (Gailanne)
  • Protect your hands: Wearing cycling gloves helps shield hands from grime encountered when topping off tires or locking up a bike and also protects hands from sunburn. (Katherine)
  • Save the good stuff: Pack an outfit for your destination into your bike basket, and wear a simple, inexpensive dress over a sports bra and shorts to stay cool and comfortable on your ride. Then change into your fresh clothes at your destination. (LN)
  • Capitalize on the convenience of dry cleaners: If you don’t want to carry extra clothes to work on your bike, then stock a selection of items, such as shirts, at work. Rotate these through a dry cleaner near your office, as necessary. (Marcus)
  • Upgrade from paper towels: For dabbing off perspiration, or for a quick “hobo bath” in the restroom, several readers said they keep a small terry towel or washcloth in their bags or at their desks. (Dale)

Thank you to all who commented! Additional suggestions?

Photo above via ajschu’s Flickr stream.

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  • I’ve found “hobo baths” in the restroom to be amazingly effective (although I think I’m genetically less burdened with BO issues on the whole).

    I find that after a long-cycle in the heat, there’ll be a thin sheet of sweat that’s dried and covering my whole torso. A quick wipe with a flannel soaked in warm water round my torso (including neck, underarms, back of shoulders) is all you need – slap on some organic deo (:P) and odours are significantly reduced.

    Also, showering *before* cycling helps as well, if you’re skin is clean, it won’t smell nearly as much when you sweat.

    Apologies if I’m just repeating the comments in the original post 🙂

    • Alex, thanks for sharing these hints — especially regarding showering before the ride to cut down on the potential for body odor. Like you, I’m a big fan of the “hobo bath.” It’s not always necessary, but in super-hot weather like we had here in NYC last week, a cool tap and a washcloth are THE keys to transitioning simply and comfortably from the bike to the next order of business…or fun!

  • My new best friend is a frozen bandana. I soak it in water, wring it out a bit, and put it in the freezer the night before my commute. Putting it on the back of my neck during my ride keeps me cool, and as it defrosts I can use it to wipe away sweat.

    I also keep a sports towel – one of those small, super absorbent towels — in my desk drawer in case I really need to wash off. It takes up way less space than a regular towel and dries very quickly.

    • Doug, the frozen bandana is a great idea. (Reminds me of the “cool packs” that I’ve seen pro tennis players apply to their necks during change-overs in particularly hot weather.) Super-absorbent sport towels are excellent space-savers. Thanks!

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