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How to Choose and Use Hairspray for Grooming


Grooming and styling products are used as frequently as basic hair products like shampoo. They help provide volume and shine to hair. Hairspray is a useful styling product for men and women. If you want long-lasting hold on elaborate hairstyles, hairspray is your go-to product.

A professional woman using hairspray in client's hair

A few spritzes of hairspray can help maintain the shape of your hair for a whole day. However, there are some unwanted effects when you use hairsprays. The old formula of hairsprays leaves your tresses dry and damaged. Hairsprays used to have a bad reputation due to their harmful environmental effects. Thankfully, today’s hairsprays are gentler and safer on hair.

Brands created hairspray formulas that do not contain harmful ingredients. They also made various types of hairsprays that are not only used to style hair. You can now get cleansers and moisturizers that come in the form of a hairspray. Find the best type of hairspray for you to achieve the hair you’ve always wanted.

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    What is A Hairspray

    Hairspray is a product that comes in cans with a spray nozzle. The earliest formula of hairspray is used to style hair. This product was developed during the 1920s in Europe. Traditional hairsprays have aerosol formulas, which contain harmful ingredients such as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. There are other propellant agents that are considered harmful to the environment too.

    In 1948, the first aerosol hairspray was packaged in US. It became popular since an aerosol hairspray is easy to use. This type of hairspray can hold elaborate hairstyle longer too. Yes, aerosol sprays became really popular despite hair becoming so stiff and crunchy when used. However, concern for its effects on the environment made brands reconsider using ozone-depleting agents such as CFC.

    Since the 1970s, most hairsprays do not contain CFC. Brands developed another form of hairspray called non-aerosol sprays too. They do not contain ozone-depleting ingredients and are gentler on hair.

    Professional using a hairspray

    Difference Between Aerosol Spray and Non-Aerosol Spray

    The major difference between these two products is their ingredients. Aerosol sprays contain solvents and propellants that are harmful to hair and the environment. The contents of aerosol sprays are pressurized and come out as a fine mist that covers hair. They contain solvent, which evaporates quickly, leaving a film on hair strands. The contents of aerosol sprays are pressurized too.

    Non-aerosol spray may contain pure liquids that come out as liquids. Aerosol sprays can contain gas that is liquefied once sprayed on hair. Non-aerosol sprays contain and disperse liquid. They can use ingredients with thick consistency too. Non-aerosol sprays do not contain propellants or solvents. They have pump sprays that eject liquid.

    Concerns with Using Aerosol Spray

    There are many concerns about the use of hairsprays. Other than the damaging effects of the product to hair, they cause environmental concerns too. Old aerosol sprays contain ingredients that can damage your hair and the environment. Below are some of the major concerns brought about by use of hairsprays:

    • Hairsprays make hair dry and brittle. Hairsprays coat the strands with drying ingredients that hold and glue hair together in a certain shape for a long time. These drying ingredients remove moisture from hair, leaving it brittle and damaged. They also wear down on the strands, which can leave them prone to frizziness.
    • Using hairspray makes hair hard and crusty, which can lead to dandruff. Hairsprays leave residue on hair that makes the strands hard and crusty. Using the product regularly can lead to dandruff. Even washing hair with shampoo can’t remove all product residue from hair.
    • Hairsprays contain ingredients that speed up ozone depletion. Aerosol sprays contain ingredients called propellants that help eject liquid from the can. They contribute to ozone depletion, which has serious effects on the environment.
    • Frequent use of hairspray can cause respiratory problems. There are ingredients in hairsprays that can be inhaled. Several studies showed that stylists who often use hairspray have respiratory problems. They often cough, wheeze, or have difficulty breathing when using hairsprays.
    • Ingredients in hairsprays are linked to serious health concerns. The worst health concerns linked to hairspray include cancer and respiratory disease. Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in aerosol sprays, believed to have cancer-causing effects.

    Hairspray in aerosol can

    Ingredients Used in Hairspray

    Hairsprays use ingredients that help glue hair together. Their main ingredients include concentrates, solvents, and propellants. These are the main components of hairsprays. However, they can also contain fragrances and ingredients that can make hair shiny. Below are some of the most common ingredients used in hairsprays and how they affect your hair:


    Concentrate is made of ingredients that coat hair strands in a film that helps hold their shape. They can have various strengths ranging from flexible, medium, and maximum hold. Copolymer is a common ingredient used in concentrates. They prevent hair from absorbing moisture, which leaves you with dry locks.


    Propellants are ingredients liquefied under pressure. They carry and disperse active ingredients of an aerosol. Chlorofluorocarbon is the most popular propellant used back then. However, since it is found to have harmful environmental effects, brands do not use the ingredient in hairsprays anymore. Propellants used today include hydrocarbon, propane, butane, and isobutane.


    Most hairsprays contain a large amount of solvents. They dissolve ingredients to make a solution that can help hold hair in shape. Solvents evaporate once applied on hair. This leaves a stiff film that glues your hair together. Solvents used in hairsprays include hydrocarbon, water, and ethanol.


    Plasticizers are additives that make hairspray more flexible so they don’t become brittle or too stiff. These ingredients can help give your hair a shiny appearance too. Some plasticizers used in hairsprays are silicones, isopropyl myristate, and esters of citric acid.

    Ingredients You Should Look For in Hairsprays

    Hairsprays used to be one of the most harmful hair products. However, brands found a way to create hairsprays that are safer for hair and environment. You can use hairspray in various ways and not only for styling anymore. Get shiny hair that is easy to manage with the best hairspray. Here are the ingredients you should look for in hairsprays:

    Moisturizing Hairspray

    • Polymers – Polymers are ingredients that hold your hair together. Polymer covers your hair in film, which glues hair strands together. If you want long-lasting hold, look for polymer in hairspray.
    • Anti-Humidifier – Just because you use hairspray, doesn’t mean your tresses stay smooth and sleek all day long. Humidity can still mess with your hairstyle. This is why you should look for anti-humidifier in hairsprays like aminomethyl propanol. This ingredient helps hold your hair in shape without making it frizzy.
    • Natural Alternatives – There are natural alternatives to harmful chemicals that are safer and gentler on hair. If you think synthetic polymers are harmful to your hair and health, try using hairsprays that contain natural alternative such as vegetable gum. They are gentler on hair and do not cause any health concern.
    • Moisturizing Oils – Some hairsprays contain moisturizing oils that help prevent dryness caused by polymer. They prevent brittleness as well, so your hair stays lustrous after removing product residue from hair. Discover which oils you should find in hairsprays to maintain healthy hair. Here are the best oils for hair and their benefits.

    Various Types of Hairsprays

    Hairsprays evolved from having damaging formulas that only hold hair in shape. They have various forms and effects today. Hairsprays are not only for styling purposes anymore. You can now get hairsprays that cleanse and moisturize hair. Below are the various types of hairsprays and their benefits on hair.

    Cleansing Hairspray

    Cleansing hairspray can remove dirt and oil from hair and scalp. Dry shampoo is the perfect example of a cleansing hairspray. It covers hair in a powdery substance that absorbs excess oil and dirt from hair. Using dry shampoo makes hair shinier and smoother. It improves hair volume too.

    Finishing Hairspray

    Finishing hairspray is different from holding hairspray. This type of hairspray helps maintain the body and shape of your hair just like holding hairspray. The difference is that it helps maintain hair’s flexibility so your locks don’t become stiff. Finishing spray makes hair appear more lustrous too.

    Volumizing Hairspray

    If you have oily and limp hair, a volumizing hairspray is good for your tresses. It helps restore volume to your hair so it doesn’t look lifeless. A volumizing hairspray can help lift your roots too, so your hair doesn’t look flat.

    Non-aerosol hairspray

    Moisturizing Hairspray

    Moisturizing hairspray coats your hair in rich moisture to prevent dryness and brittleness. This hairspray is good for all hair types and can be applied any time of the day. Most moisturizing hairsprays only provide moisture that makes hair softer and smoother.

    Heat-Protectant Spray

    Heat-protectant sprays prevent damage caused by exposing hair to high heat. They lock in moisture to strands so they don’t become dry. Heat-protectant sprays strengthen your hair’s natural barrier so the strands are more resilient against damage.

    Holding Hairspray

    Holding hairspray is the most common type of hairspray. It coats hair in a film that glues the strands together to hold them in shape. Holding hairspray can make your hair feel dry and stiff. Make sure you moisturize your hair before applying holding hairspray. You can look for milder formulas that may not hold the shape of your hair for long but are gentler on tresses.

    How to Use Hairspray

    Hairsprays are easy to use. However, you need to apply them properly so your hair doesn’t become dry and brittle after using hairsprays. Here’s how to use the product.

    For Styling

    1. Brush hair to remove tangles and knots. You can apply hairspray to dry or damp hair. However, make sure that it is not dripping wet.
    2. Shape your hair before you apply hairspray. Once you’ve styled hair, hold the nozzle 30 centimeters away from hair. Spray all over until hair is fully covered. Do not brush hair once it feels stiff and dry. This can ruin your hair and cause the polymer to flake off.
    3. Another way you can apply hairspray is to spray it directly on comb or brush. It works best if you want to keep a straight and sleek hairstyle or make your curls stay longer.

    Applying hairspray

    For Moisturizing Hair

    1. Make sure hair is dry or damp before you apply moisturizing hairsprays. They help maintain the soft and smooth texture of your hair. They can be used as heat protectants too.
    2. Place nozzle a few inches away from hair before pressing. If you are using moisturizing hairspray with thick liquid formula, you may need to spray directly on palm and apply the product using hands.
    3. Make sure entire hair is covered. However, do not put on too much or it can weigh your hair down. Detangle or brush hair and leave it on for a few minutes.
    4. Once moisture is absorbed by hair completely, style as desired.

    For Cleansing Hair and Scalp

    1. Dry shampoos come in aerosol cans that dispense powdery materials on scalp. They absorb moisture and excess oil, leaving your hair shinier and smoother.
    2. Part your hair in sections so the powder can cover entire scalp.
    3. Place dry shampoo hairspray 8-12 inches away from hair and press nozzle. Do this on entire scalp and areas where hair feels oily.
    4. Massage it on your scalp for a few minutes so the alcohol or starch can absorb excess oil. Make sure that the dry shampoo is evenly distributed. Brush your hair afterward. You can use dry shampoo any time of the day so your hair stays smooth. Discover more benefits of using dry shampoo here.

    There are various types of hairspray that can help you achieve the hair you’ve always wanted. They offer various benefits that can help make your hair stay lustrous. Hairsprays can help cleanse, moisturize, protect, and hold your hair so it looks fabulous. Make your hair extra shiny or fabulous with the perfect hairspray.

    Lily Montgomery

    It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, It's Levi-OOO-sa, not Levio-SA! (I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts Letter)

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