Should You Use Headphones With Wet Hair?

Wearing your headphones with wet hair is unlikely to damage functionality but there are a few things to watch out for to keep you safe. Read on for more info!

Brunette with wet hair close up

Headphones have become so ever-present in our lives that they’ve almost worked their way into our morning shower routines. The second we get out, we want to put them on and get to work. But should you use headphones with wet hair? How water-resistant are they? We have the answers.

Wearing your headphones with wet hair is unlikely to damage functionality, whether you’re using over-ear headphones or earbuds. However, if your hair is long and soaked with water, you can cause damage to both functionality, among other things, so always exercise caution.

When you bought your new pair of headphones, you were likely excited by the water-resistance features that most new headphones come with these days. However, you’re hesitant to push the boundaries and aren’t sure exactly what “water-resistant” means.

Is it only okay for your headphones to be exposed to a couple of drops of water? What happens if they’re submerged? It differs from brand to brand, but we can narrow down the discrepancies by looking at how exposure to any water or moisture affects over-ear headphones and earbuds.

Can You Wear Over-Ear Headphones With Wet Hair?

Over-ear headphones are often a popular choice and are not designed in any way to be waterproof or water-resistant. Out of luck here, unfortunately!

However, the good news is that it’s unlikely that a small amount of exposure to water is even possible with the protective padding on over-ear headphones. Not out of the woods just yet though. Unfortunately, your drying hair can still cause issues with the headphones with moisture build-up.

This is not to say that wet hair will undoubtedly damage the functionality of your headphones. In fact, it’s pretty unlikely. What is likely to happen is that the water can damage the protective cushioning and leather headbands on your headset. You may not notice, but over time the consistent exposure to water will lead to the deterioration of the materials in your headphones.

Interesting read – Are Headphones Safe In The Sauna?

Woman in bath tub with over ear headphones

Can You Wear Earbuds With Wet Hair?

When it comes to earbuds, many are fooled into thinking that just because the packaging says they’re  “water and sweat resistant” it means they can be soaked. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they’re designed for watersports like swimming or showering! So, if your hair is relatively short, it shouldn’t be an issue. But if you’ve got long hair, to be on the safe side, tie it up so it doesn’t cover up the earbuds.

Interesting read – Are Headphones Bad For Your Hair?

Are Headphones Waterproof?

It’s generally not advisable that you use electrostatic headphones with wet hair because there are a few risks associated with it. Not only can you damage them, but you stand a chance of electrocuting yourself or getting a buildup of moisture in your ears.

But the real question you should be asking is if headphones are waterproof or not. It depends on the manufacturer and model. So, it’s always best to check the packaging insert with the information about your headphone’s features and warranty. Some headphones are waterproof, while others are not, but most headphones will be water-resistant.

Related article – Are iPhone Headphones Waterproof

Black over ear headphones

Waterproof vs Water Resistant Headphones

What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant? 

Generally, protection for wireless headphones and most modern devices is certified with an IP rating with two characters (such as IPX5 or IP56). 

After IP, the first character explains how resistant the device is against dust and other solids (rated one to six, the higher the number, the more protected your headphones are). The second tells you how resistant the device is to liquids, such as water (0 to 9K, which is not found in headphones). 

Therefore, the best wireless headphones will come with an IP67 rating.

Water resistance is the lowest level of water protection, meaning that something has been designed to keep water out and make it difficult for the electronics underneath to get wet. On headphones, water resistance comes in a very light coating that increases their chance of avoiding water damage but does not eliminate it.

IP Rating Table For Headphones

So how do you know which rating to look for? 

IP RatingProtection against water
IPX1When oriented normally, headphones are protected against vertically dripping water for a short time (about 10 minutes)
IPX2Headphones tilted at about 15-degrees from normal orientation are protected against vertically dripping water
IPX3Headphones rotated at roughly 60-degrees are protected against water falling as a spray
IPX4Protected against a splash of water from any direction
IPX5Protected against water jet (6.3mm stream of water) from any angle
IPX6Protected against powerful water 12.5mm jet from any angle
IPX7They are protected against the entry of water. Headphones survive water damage when temporarily submerged in 3 feet (one meter) of water depth for 30 minutes.
IPX8Headphones can survive continuous immersion in water at a depth of 13 feet
IPX9KNot available on any headphones. But devices with this rating can withstand powerful high-temperature water jets.

If you have headphones with an IP rating of anything from IPX6 to IPX8, which can survive being immersed in water, they can be considered waterproof. But waterproof levels and power are different for each rating, so bear it in mind when taking any risks.

What you can be sure of is that your headphones or earbuds will have some level of water resistance (check their IP rating), meaning that wet hair is unlikely to damage their electronics at the very least.

This doesn’t mean you should be hopping into the shower with your favorite tunes keeping you company. However, a little wet hair is unlikely to cause any harm. You should at least towel dry your hair and reduce the possibility of any water getting in!

Remember, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the materials that accentuate your headphones. For example, the leather earmuffs of headbands. That and the cushioning can deteriorate over time with prolonged exposure to water and moisture.

Related article – Can You Wear Over Ear Headphones While Running

Woman wiping sweat away from forehead

The Verdict: Should You Wear Headphones With Wet Hair?

For most people, the answer to whether it’s okay to wear headphones with wet hair is found in how risk-averse you are. The chances of damaged functionality or electrocution are low, and it is unlikely that it’ll create any problems. But are you willing to leave it to chance?

Conventional wisdom says that the risk isn’t worth it. Especially if you spent hundreds of dollars on your headphones! What would be even worse? If water damage makes the warranty null and void.

Just spending a bit more time waiting for your hair to dry or even using a hairdryer to save yourself some time is totally worth it. Even more so when it comes to avoiding damage to a pricey piece of hardware. 

If you’re using over-ear headphones, water damage to the protective layer makes a huge difference in the long run. It will make wearing them so uncomfortable that you’ll be wanting to buy a new pair anyway.

So should you wear headphones with wet hair? No, it’s not a good idea. 

Most people aren’t bothered by the risks, but in my opinion, every dollar counts, and just putting in a little bit more effort to dry your hair or exercising a little more patience can add up to a whole lot of money. It’s not worth taking the chance!

You may also be interested in How To Fix Peeling Headphones.