Are Sugar Sprays the New Salt Sprays?

Shannon Farrell
sugar vs salt spray

Photo: IMaxTree

If you’ve mastered the perfectly imperfect style that is beach waves, you probably credit sea salt spray with doing half the work. The gritty formula offers piecey-ness and texture to any hair type. But you can have too much of a good thing, and it turns out that using too much salt spray can have serious hair side effects. “Overusing salt spray can eventually dry out your hair, especially your fragile ends,” says celebrity stylist Joey Maalouf, and co-founder of The Glam App. This can lead to tangling, split ends and breakage—and who wants that?

Now, there’s a new option to pull off beachy texture without the dryness: sugar spray. “[It’s] amazing for dry hair,” says Maalouf. “It’s not only nourishing, but also texturizing. It leaves a gorgeous glossy finish without any greasy residue.”

Beachy waves without the dryness? Shut up and take our money! However, before you mix sugar and water at home (“you’ll be a sticky bug magnet,” says Maalouf), know that the real secret is sugar cane extract. This specific type of sugar adds moisture with no trace of stickiness. A perfect example: Keratin Complex Sweet Definition Texturizing Sugar Mist ($17, is formulated with sugar cane and leaves hair soft, shiny, yet piece-y.

Sucrose in used as a humectant to retain the hair’s moisture in Tigi Bed Head Sugar Shock Hair Bodifying Sugar Spray ($14.45, The added bonus with this one is volume and texture. We also love Wella Professional Eimi Sugar Lift Spray ($15,, which adds more of a grip to hair so it doubles as hairspray on especially humid days. When applying, do just as you would with sea salt spray. Spray on wet or dry hair, scrunching into the strands to manipulate movement.

Love a good DIY? Maalouf has the simplest recipe for an at-home sugar spray that won’t leave your locks sticky or crunchy. Mix 8 ounces of lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon of raw sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil, and a dab of aloe vera gel into a clean spray bottle, shake, and tah-dah! The perfect sugar spray.

The only downside to sugar sprays that we’ve found is that they tend to lack the “gritty” texture that we so love. So if you NEED that, we got some amazing expert advice for how to rock salt sprays without ruining your hair. “Start with an appropriate curl creme, like Oribe Curl Control Silkening Créme ($38,,” says Max Gierl, the Senior Stylist at Mizu New York Salon. “This will leave your hair with ample moisture and will counterbalance the dry effects of any salt spray.” Gierl recommends curl enhancers over leave-in conditioners because they contain transglutaminase, the ingredient that creates curling enhancing bonds in the hair.”This mixed with the Salty texture is sure to leave you with shiny, luscious waves.”

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