Hairsprays come with flashbacks of the ubiquitous poufs and coifs of the past decades.
That a big, poofy, hair-sprayed ‘do is a staple for a retro-themed party attests to this popularity. While the hairdos didn’t stand the test of time, hairsprays were able to hold their place in the world of hairstyles and in our hearts.
Compared to the urge to bind our hair in a neat ‘do, hairsprays are a relatively recent idea.
We have used wax, gel, or other sticky material to keep our strands in place. Still, these did not give us the lift and volume unique to hairsprays.
It wasn’t until we could place pressurized air in a can that we could achieve the hairstyle. So how do hairsprays keep our hair up?
Hairsprays release mist which is just tiny liquid particles suspended in the air. This is what you call aerosol. The answer to how hairsprays work lies here. The liquid particles will connect with each other while also binding together the hair strands it touched.
After the hairspray has dried, your hair is now kept in place by the network of bonds. As people became environmentally conscious, manufacturers switched to ingredients that didn’t harm the Earth as much as before. This also meant less gravity-defying hair.
Did the switch make hairsprays better for our hair’s health and well-being, too?
The answer isn't as simple as a definite yes or no. Of course, using hair spray all day, every day, would negate any health benefit, if any. This comes to mind the timeless adage that having too much of a good thing usually doesn’t end well.
Take note that since our hair is already dead, it could not magically heal from whatever excess you inflict on it. You may have to hide the damage or, worse, cut everything off.
The damage is not unlikely since frequent use of hairspray can cause an accumulation of dirt in your hair. This problem can take the form of dandruff-like particles on your scalp but carries the same embarrassment in public.
Skipping wash day aggravates this problem. Since you’re using a product that is bound to leave residues, you have to wash all that gunk away at the end of the day. This is a matter of hair and scalp hygiene that should be taken seriously.
The product buildup makes your hair appear dull. Since gunk buildup can clog your pores and trap sweat, bacteria, and dirt, your follicles can develop an infection, disrupting and stunting new hair growth. Hair may not even grow from the follicle anymore.
But if you’re using the product as intended, the issue must lie with the product itself.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that a mass-marketed product has to work with the mass to whom the product is being marketed. However, a product is not necessarily harmful on the get-go, but because of certain factors, we experience adverse effects.
The most common negative effect associated with hairspray use is hair loss.
Losing some hair strands is normal. But if you lose too many all at once, the loss is apparent from how your hair looks. If you’re losing hair from the roots, you can see balding spots on your head.
But if you use hairspray often without subsequently cleansing it off, you may be vulnerable to hair loss. However, this effect is more about how we use hairspray than the hairspray itself.
Hair loss may also have something to do with our health. It’s just that the symptom or signs coincided with our use of the hairspray. After all, the health of your hair follicles is crucial in maintaining hair growth.
Hair can also break along its length. This kind of loss is a sign that your hair is already weak and damaged. Here, the hairspray only accelerated what would eventually happen. The damage may have come from sun exposure or treatments that have made your hair fragile and brittle.
While it does not directly harm your scalp, it can irritate it. Perhaps the negative reaction to the product is due to the chemicals in them. Exposure to these substances may cause itchiness which you would want to avoid.
Needless to say, you should stop using your current hair spray if you develop allergic reactions to the product.
These are only a few instances when you experience adverse reactions even though you use the hairspray correctly. They don’t mean that the hairspray is completely free of blame.
In itself, hairsprays don’t cause damage to your hair. But we can’t discount that some hairsprays are not formulated with the well-being of the consumers in mind.
Alcohol is a usual solvent used in some hairsprays. Short-chained alcohols like ethanol and isopropyl help styling products dry faster on your hair. Because it is inherently dehydrating, alcohol and hair don’t get along well. It tends to strip moisture away from your hair, making the latter more fragile and vulnerable to breaking.
Some types of alcohol aren’t just drying for your hair but also irritating for your scalp. Scratching this itch makes the problem worse because you could cut your scalp.
If you’re already suffering from dry hair, you should stay away from products that would just dehydrate your mane even more. You can still hydrate and nourish your hair, but this would take time. For now, it’s best to look for alcohol-free hairsprays.
As mentioned earlier, product buildup from excessive use and poor hair hygiene also make your hair more susceptible to damage. This is why you shouldn’t use hairspray everyday.
Let’s say you really have to use the spray often. You have to meet your hair’s needs halfway by using the product in moderation. Unless you are attending a themed party, you probably don’t need each hair strand fixed in one spot the entire day.
And at the end of the day, you should wash all the spray off your hair. The need to wash your hair thoroughly comes with the love for hairsprays.
If you don’t depend on hair-sprayed hair for a living, you should skip the bottle for several days. It’s also good to let your hair rest from all the chemicals you’re putting on it.
A night out with friends is a good excuse to style your hair with hairspray. While tempting, you shouldn't keep the product on your hair longer than that evening. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
The effect of sleeping with hairspray on might seem unremarkable the first few times. But if you keep doing this, the gunk will just accumulate. Appearance-wise, your hair would look dull and weighed down. The buildup would also affect hair growth.
Sleeping with sprayed hair can leave residues on your pillow and sheets. Apart from its effect on your hair’s health, it’s a habit that your face won’t thank you for.
If you already have thinning hair, you have to be mindful of the hair products you’re using. We have talked about how hairspray doesn’t directly cause hair loss. But with the wrong product, you can accelerate the rate you lose your hair.
When selecting hairspray, look for one that does not have high alcohol content. Alcohol easily dries your hair which can cause breakage. And brittle hair is the bane of persons with thinning mane.
You can still enjoy other hairstyling products that give your hair some form and volume. But high-alcohol hairsprays should be scratched from your list.
Now that we have the potentially bad effects of hairspray out of the way, we can look into what hairsprays would be perfect for you.
Hairsprays don’t just stiffen your hair. And to be frank, we should leave stiff hairstyles to runway shows and magazine editorials. Based on their spray hold, different hairsprays can conjure different results.
If you just want a natural look minus the frizz and flyaways, light or flexible to medium hold hairsprays can get the job done. Since the hairspray doesn’t need to be extra strong, there are many alcohol-free options.
When your hairstyle can benefit from a bit of volume boost, you can glam up with extra or firm hold hairsprays. They will secure your hair in place as you conquer the night or day. If you’re worried about losing your hair curls before an event has even started, you can benefit from these hairspray variants.
And when your elaborate hairdo needs to keep itself together for an important occasion, you can count on hairsprays with the strongest hold. Special events like your own wedding don’t happen every day. And on days like this, your hairstyle should be the last on your mind. Just remember to clean your hair after.
When your hair has too much to lose, pampering it with hair-friendly products is the way to go. Ultimately, choosing the right hairspray has a lot to do with understanding what our hair needs.
While not as strong as other hairsprays, alcohol-free hairsprays can still give you a sleek finish. The best part is this is without compromising your hair's health. This is a good choice when hairsprays are already a fixed part of your hair routine.
Today, it seemed as if companies just plastered the word "organic" over everything. This can be misleading, especially since organic does not mean "chemical-free". So, we have to take an "organic" label with a grain of salt.
Organic hairsprays can mean that the product uses natural alternatives for raw materials instead of artificially developed versions. It also refers to the product's packaging and whether or not the spray is tested on animals.
These hairsprays claim to be gentler on your hair because of their ingredients. And in this era of the green movement, brands that actively minimize their environmental impact are commendable. This is also faithful to the history of hairsprays when companies put the environment first over profit.
We have since embraced a letting-our-hair-down approach in hairstyle, coming out of our loud and wild hair era. But embracing the more natural look doesn’t mean we completely gave up glamming up. Knowing what hair products work for your hair means you don’t have to pick between health and style.