Hair Spray 101
by Cinya Burton
Published Jan 18, 2012
Are you using your hair spray properly? Many of us just lacquer and go, but there’s an art to misting. Understanding when to use a light or strong hold can make a world of difference in the style and health of your strands. Since it’s vital to grasp these basics, we chatted with Sebastian Professional spokesperson Janine Jarman, owner of Hairroin salon in Los Angeles, as well as stylist Chad Cardoos from Yoshi Hair Studio in Beverly Hills about the do’s and don’t of hair spray technique.
“When it comes to styling, I prefer to use aerosol sprays because you get more control and better coverage," says Chad. "Non aerosols tend to produce more of a wet look." For naturally curly-hair, non-aerosol sprays are an ideal alternative to gels.
The least amount of hold, working hair spray is buildable and non-sticky. “It’s great for running through strands as you create an updo or soft, touchable waves,” explains Chad.
Used to thicken, volumize, or add texture, styling hair spray has a medium-level hold, and often features a heat-protecting ingredient. "Styling hair sprays works great with updos and bouncy curls," says Chad.
The strongest hold, finishing hair spray “should only be spritzed after you’re done styling and want to keep everything in place,” says Chad. Most finishing hair sprays include shine-boosting ingredients to add a healthy sheen to your look.
Light hairspray prevents flyaways after a blowout and won’t weigh down fine strands, but you need medium-hold if you’re trying to tame thicker, heavier hair or create lose waves or a soft bun. Strong and extra-strong hair sprays are for hair you don’t want to move at all, such as wedding updos, slicked back ponytails, and French twists.
"The most common mistake when applying hair spray is spritzing too closely," says Janine. "You should hold the nozzle at least 12 to 14 inches away from your head. Keep a steady stream while misting for overall hold. You want to create an even mist—don’t use it like bug spray!" Another no-no? Over-application. "Using too much will create an unattractive helmet effect," continues Janine. If left in too long, the spray can be difficult to remove and your locks will dry out due to the high alcohol content.
When you want to keep curls tight, use a medium-hold hair spray after you’ve finished with the iron. "Never spray product on your hair while it is on the iron,” says Janine. "The alcohol and heat will fry your hair—It's one of the worst things you can do!"
To prevent frizz and flyaways, "spritz hair spray onto the palms of your hands and gently smooth the hair down with your hands," says Janine. "This technique will keep you from over-saturating the hair with product. "To create a flexible hold and boost shine for blowouts, apply a light spray to the brush throughout the blowout process," says Chad. "This will create more volume and bend in the hair for a soft, natural look that lasts."