10 Things No One Ever Tells You About: Hairspray

Victoria Moorhouse


Between keeping curls coiled, putting a halt to fly-aways, and even stopping bobby pins from slipping out of place, hairspray has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s pretty iconic in nature, too—and not just because it’s the one-word title of a John Waters movie-turned-Broadway play. In the 80s and 90s, this was THE product to reach for if you wanted major volume. Today, hairspray is still used to secure hairstyles, and even though it’s undergone a few essential formula makeovers, it’s still consider a hair essential. But how much do you really know about hairspray? Learn some facts about this classic product below.

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1. It’s got a few names; hairspray is just one of them. It’s also classified as setting sprays, holding sprays, and finishing sprays. The key determining factor if a spray is really a hairspray—regardless of its brand assigned name—is in the description. Does it provide hold? Most bottles will tell you if the product you’re about to spritz will help keep a hairstyle in place on the bottle and “holding” is one of those key words.

2. Hairspray got a bad environmental rep for being housed in aerosol cans, but that’s not the case anymore. At one point or another, someone has probably thrown shade your way about a hole in the ozone layer from your excessive hair-spraying. But according to the EPA, ozone-depleting agents haven’t been used in hairsprays since the 1970s. However, aerosol containers still aren’t the most environmentally-friendly option.

3. They turned flexible! Hairsprays used to be a “lock it down” kind of product. Once you sprayed that stuff in, there wasn’t much room for you to get a brush through it to change up your style, without your hair getting pouf-y and frizzy, anyway. Switching up a look pretty much required a shower to rinse that product out of your hair, making it pliable once again. Now, hairsprays are formulated to be flexible, meaning it provides a light hold without making your hair stiff, crunchy, and totally immobile. Living Proof’s formula uses elastic fibers that still maintain pliability while providing a hold and can be used on wet and dry hair.

4. There are TONS of different kinds, allowing you to really get particular about what you want from your spray. From anti-humidity sprays that fight frizz to ultra-firm holds to thickening features to shine-enhancing products— the market is packed with plenty of options.

5. Avoid that shellac by spraying at least eight inches away from your head. There’s a misconception that you have to spray the product directly on your roots. You don’t want the product to soak your strands or collect in your scalp, making it appear like you have greasy hair or a shellacked, super shiny look. When spraying on the product, keep it a good distance away from your head. It’ll still attach to your locks, even if the nozzle isn’t touching your tresses, we promise.

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6. They can be used for SO MUCH besides hair. For example? Got a problem with static cling between your dress or skirt and tights? Spray hairspray directly on your tights and you’ll find that the fabric from your skirt is less likely to stick. It can also be used for removing permanent marker stains and stopping your tights from running after a little snag.

7. It can be used to solely add texture. Out of sea salt spray? Lightly spray in a flexible hairspray to your tresses and tousle the strands with your fingers. You’ll get the same effect with the same hold (if not more so) than you would with another styling product.

8. Brushing through a lot of hairspray could cause hair damage. Your hair is essentially locked into place, so using a brush or a comb to brush through with force could cause individual hair shafts to break off. At the end of the day, all those little hairs at different lengths are going to be really hard to control. If your product isn’t a flexible formula, make sure you wash your hair first (and then let it dry) before brushing through it.

9. Hairspray’s hidden weight can make your hair go limp. Since hairspray generally is packed with a lot of power, too much on your hair can actually make it go limp. Sometimes you want to keep a fresh blowout voluminous but still not flying out of place, which is where the application (how far away you hold it from your head) and the type you’re using comes in. Lighter, weightless formulas do exist, so just do your research. Also, a simple rule of thumb is to count to three, moving it evenly around your head (for blowout-like ‘dos) while doing so.

10. When you want a defined curly hairstyle, how you apply hairspray changes. According to hair stylist Edward Tricomi, stick to “spot-styling” to ensure your curls don’t fall out. This means spraying each individual tendril as opposed to all of them together.