Does Regular Hairspray Use Lead to Damaged, Frizzy Hair?

Most of us reach for the hairspray when we want to lock a style in place and prevent flyaways. However, some hairstylists argue that frequent use of hairspray can actually damage hair over time, leading to dryness and frizz. So does regular hairspray use damaged hair? 

Let’s explore hairspray's ingredients, how it affects hair and tips for minimizing damage.

Hairspray Ingredients and How They Work

Does hairspray damage hair? To answer that, we first need to understand what’s in hairspray and how it works to hold styles. There are a few key ingredients:

Polymers - These long-chain molecules create a thin plastic coating on each strand to bind the hair together. Polymers like PVP and VA/crotonates are water-soluble.

Ethanol or Denatured alcohol - This serves as a quick-drying solvent for the polymers and provides hold.

Propellants - Hydrofluorocarbons are compressed gases that push the product out of the can.

Fragrances - Many hairsprays contain fragrances though unscented versions are available.

Plasticizers - These allow adjusting of the stiffness of the polymer film on hair.

By coating each strand in a fine polymer film, hairspray can temporarily hold the hair in place against gravity, humidity, and wind. However, there are concerns that ingredients like alcohol can be problematic with repeated use.

How Does Hairspray Potentially Damage Hair?

Now let's discuss how the components in hairspray could potentially lead to hair damage when used excessively:

Drying Effects of Alcohol - Most hair sprays contain denatured alcohol or ethanol to dry the polymer quickly. This can strip hair of moisture over time and cause dryness.

Bond Disrupting Polymers - Some polymer ingredients have been shown to break protein bonds in hair with repetitive use. This leads to weaker, more fragile hair prone to breakage.

Clogged Follicles and Pores - Product buildup from heavy polymer and plasticizer use can prevent natural scalp oils from nourishing strands.

Frizz and Breakage - Lack of moisture causes the cuticle layer to lift and strands to fray, causing frizz and split ends.

Premature Thinning and Loss - Dehydration and breakage from hairspray accumulation can ultimately cause hair thinning and excessive shedding if not addressed.

While an occasional light spritz likely won’t cause significant issues, daily or heavy application could impact hair health, according to some stylists. But others argue today's formulas are hair-safe when used properly.

Are Modern Hairsprays Less Damaging?

This raises the question: are newer hairspray formulas gentler than older versions? Some evidence suggests yes:

  • More Moisturizers - Many now include panthenol, collagen, and keratin to condition hair.
  • Flexible Polymers - Newer polymers like PVP are less rigid and bond-disrupting.
  • Lower Alcohol Content - Brands offer light hold options with less drying alcohol.
  • Easy Washout Formulas - Designed to shampoo out easily without buildup.
  • Natural Options - Some brands use naturally derived polymers and forgo alcohol.

While these innovations may make hairsprays less damaging, many still feel daily or heavy use can degrade hair over time. Using layers of any product daily can potentially impede hair health.

Tips to Minimize Hairspray Damage

Use Light Hold Formulas

Opt for hairspray formulas labeled "light hold" or "flexible hold" whenever possible. Check the label to confirm the product provides a movable, touchable hold rather than a cement-like freeze. Light hold sprays contain less alcohol, which can dry out hair when used excessively. The lower alcohol content allows hair to retain more moisture and suppleness instead of stripping strands.

Target Only Styled Sections

Avoid spraying hairspray all over your entire head. Instead, precisely target only the areas of your hair that need hold, like bangs, flyaways, or sections with curls or volume. Section off the parts of your hair that do not need to be held and clip them back, then only lightly mist your styled strands. Also, be mindful not to spray directly onto the scalp, as product buildup on the roots can clog follicles and inhibit growth over time.

Apply a Leave-In Conditioner First

Before applying hairspray, spritz in a lightweight leave-in conditioner containing ingredients like aloe, panthenol, keratin, or olive oil. This provides a nourishing base layer of moisture to counteract the drying effects of the hairspray polymers and alcohol applied on top. The leave-in will smooth down the cuticle and temporarily reinforce strands.

Alternate Your Styling Products

If you rely on hairspray daily, swap it out for other styling products on some days. Alternate using mousse, gels, pomades, or salt sprays. Giving hair a break from the repeated application of polymers and alcohol allows its moisture levels to recover and prevents excessive buildup.

Wash Out Thoroughly and Often

Use a clarifying shampoo containing surfactants at least once a week to remove any potential hairspray residue accumulation on strands and scalp. Clarifying shampoos help eliminate oily buildup from styling products. Follow up with a hydrating conditioner. Also, consider washing hair more frequently if using hairspray daily to prevent clogged follicles and pores.

Do Regular Deep Conditioning

Schedule a weekly deep conditioning hair mask after shampooing to infuse moisture into strands. Look for nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, avocado, honey, and olive oil. Apply generously from roots to ends and let sit for 15-30 minutes before rinsing. The mask will replenish hydration to counter drying from hairspray.

Get Trims Every 6-8 Weeks

Getting consistent trims every 6-8 weeks will snip away any split ends before they travel up the hair shaft and cause breakage. This helps prevent already dry, fragile hair from becoming more damaged. Let your stylist assess hair health at visits.

Protect Hair Overnight

Use a satin hair wrap, bonnet, or pillowcase at night. The smooth fabric minimizes friction, preventing vulnerable hair from snagging, tangling, and worsening split ends while you sleep. Cotton pillowcases can be too drying.

By following these smart hair care practices, you can keep your hair healthy and minimize any potential damage from frequent hairspray use or other styling products.


Does hairspray damage hair? Using hairspray occasionally won't cause harm. 

However, heavy daily use over many years could potentially contribute to dryness, breakage, or thinning, based on some hairstylists' views. The alcohols and polymers may degrade hair with time. However, newer, improved formulas likely are less damaging than old versions when used properly.

Focus hair sprays only on styled sections, use lightly, wash out thoroughly, and do regular conditioning treatments. Alternate with other styling products as well. With smart, moderate use, you can keep your hair happy and rock your desired styles!

What's your take on hairspray and hair health? Do you think daily use damages hair over time?`