Holds well without leaving your hair stiff and crunchy. Washes out easily. Reasonably priced. Resistant to humidity.
Some have complained of their bottles getting clogged and refusing to spray.
Adds weight and volume to thin hair. Doesn't leave your hair sticky. Helps control frizz. Holds hair in place, but still allows movement.
Not for those looking for a product with a really strong hold.
Holds without being too stiff or sticky. Adds shine. Doesn't leave residue in your hair. Affordably priced.
Some find the scent to be a bit masculine.
Strong hold that lasts all day. Adds volume and shine. Doesn't make hair stiff.
Can build up in your hair if you're using it frequently.
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You’ve spent all this time on a cute updo, and you don’t want it to come tumbling down as the day goes on. The solution seems obvious – you need some hair spray – but it’s a little more complicated than that.
While it’s true that all hair spray does essentially the same job, its effectiveness will vary depending on your hair type and how you style it. Hair sprays come in a variety of different holds and finishes, and it’s important to understand these differences if you’re going to find the product that fits your needs.
If you’re in a hurry, check out our five top recommendations above. There are options for all different hair types. Or you can read on to learn more about how to choose the ideal hair spray for you.
Your hair type is one of the biggest considerations when choosing a hair spray. Each type has its own qualities and challenges, and each type often requires a different approach.
If you have thick hair, your hair is heavy. You’re going to need a strong-hold spray, especially if you’re styling it in an updo.
If you have fine hair, you need a lightweight hair spray that won’t weigh down your hair. You might also want a product that adds some extra body.
Hair spray comes in three different types of hold. You may have heard these referred to as light, medium, and strong, or as flexible, medium, and maximum.
Light (flexible): As the name implies, this type of hair spray provides the least amount of hold. Generally very lightweight, it is used for holding curls in place while still allowing your hair to move about freely. However, a lightweight spray isn’t strong enough to hold updos in place.
Medium: A good middle ground, medium-hold spray can keep your hair in place while adding volume and bounce to curls. It’s a favorite among those with unruly hair who want to tame their locks and still look natural.
In addition to holding your hair in place, hair spray can help do other things, too. What do you want your hair spray to do for you?
Add volume: Most medium- and strong-hold hair sprays help add volume, too, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a suitable product if your hair needs a little body.
Protect: Some hair sprays help to protect your hair against UV rays, which can damage hair and dull color-treated hair. This might be something to think about if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the sun.
Tame: If your hair is thin and flyaway or prone to frizz, select a product that resists humidity.
Hair spray can help neutralize static and frizz. Use it as finishing spray even if you don’t style your hair.
The alcohol in hair spray helps it dry quickly, and it can also help keep your hair from getting oily.
You’ll find hair spray with either a matte or shine finish. The right one for you depends on your hair type.
Shine: If your hair is naturally dull and dry, going with a shine finish could give your hair a healthier, more vibrant look.
Hair sprays come in two types of containers: aerosol and non-aerosol.
Aerosol: You’ll find pressurized hair spray in the most aerosol containers. When you press on the nozzle, you release a continuous stream of hair spray. Aerosol sprays are ideal for adding volume.
Any hair spray can leave your hair feeling sticky and stiff if you apply too much, but some are more prone to this than others. Make sure the product you choose is lightweight and doesn’t ruin your hair’s natural texture. It should have enough hold that your hair stays in place without making it feel crunchy or sticky.
This is a relatively minor concern, but if you have to run out the door in a hurry, you’ll want a hair spray that dries quickly. Most hair sprays dry within a couple of minutes, at most, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
You can use hair spray on your eyebrows and flyaway hair near your face, but spray it into your palm first and apply it by hand to avoid getting the product in your eyes.
Hair spray ranges in price from under $5 to over $30.
You’ll typically find that the more expensive products hold your hair better without weighing it down or feeling sticky or stiff.
While $20 or $30 might seem like a big investment, these products usually last a long time, especially if you don’t use hair spray every day.
You can also use hair spray to get rid of static in clothes and dry nail polish more quickly.
Overspraying or spraying too close to your hair can result in a crunchy, sticky texture.
Hold the hair spray at least a foot away from your hair. This will help you avoid using too much and ending up with stiff, crunchy hair.
Keep the container in constant motion while you spray. This will prevent you from applying too much hair spray to any one spot.
Periodically check the nozzle. If the nozzle is partially clogged, it could spray unevenly.
Avoid brushing through a lot of hair spray. While you can brush through light-hold hair spray without too much trouble, brushing through a lot of strong-hold hair spray can damage your hair.
Spray underneath hair strands. This will add even more volume.
Use hair spray to tame flyaway hair. Apply a small amount of hair spray to your fingers and gently comb them through your hair.
Spray your hair while it’s in curlers. This will give your curls maximum hold.
Q. How much hair spray should I apply in order to hold my hair in place?
A. Lightly cover all of your hair with the spray, keeping the product moving continuously. If you find that the hair spray isn’t holding your hair well enough, we recommend switching to a stronger hold rather than applying more hair spray. If you apply too much, your hair will just feel sticky and stiff.
Q. Should I buy both a light- and a strong-hold hair spray?
A. That’s an option if you plan to wear your hair in different styles. A light hold is best for loose curls, while a strong hold is better for updos. Or you could try a medium-hold hair spray and see if that works for you.
Q. I don’t want my hair spray to make my hair too stiff. How do I avoid this?
A. Make sure you’re holding the canister about a foot away from your head, and keep it moving as you spray so you don’t get too much hair spray in one spot. Apply small amounts at a time and let it dry before assessing whether or not you need more.
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