How To Keep Hair In Place Without Hairspray

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Hairspray is a fantastic product for keeping your style in place and adding shine. However, overuse of the product can damage your hair and cause breakage.

It can also damage your scalp and often makes your hair feel sticky and even hard. (No one likes helmet head.)

If you’re looking for an alternative solution to keeping your hair in place without hairspray, then read on!

Alternative Products To Hairspray

There are several products you can use instead of hairspray for holding your style. They include:

Hair Gel

Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling Gel

Hair gel is one of the most popular hair products around besides hairspray for styling and holding.

As the name implies, it’s a gel product that you squeeze into your palms and work through your strands. It works best when applied directly to damp hair before styling.

The gel will dry and hold your hair in place until you wash it out.

This product is great if you want a sleek and smooth look, or manage frizz if you have natural curls. A disadvantage of using hair gel, however, is that it can leave residue in your hair, making it stiff, and will only come out by washing your hair.

Hair Mousse

hands dispensing hair mousse

Another popular product that you can use is mousse. This product is similar in use to hair gel but has a lightweight texture as its dispensed as a foam.

Unlike hair gel, which dries and holds your hair in place, mousse is designed to give volume and bounce to your hair.

It can be used to create curls, waves, or even straight styles. If you’re looking to add some extra volume to your hair, applying mousse to your roots will help lift your hair away from your scalp.

Hair mousse is a great alternative to hairspray because it gives you the same result without causing any damage to your hair.

The only disadvantage to using this product is that it may leave your hair feeling a bit crispy and crunchy.

Texturizing Spray

Texturizing sprays are another product you can use to create a natural look.

They contain oils that will help to define and shape your hair – which works particularly well if you have fine, limp strands.

When sprayed onto damp hair, the oil will act as a sealant and prevent your hair from getting tangled up. This product is perfect for creating and holding the always gorgeous beach wave.

Once dry, texturizer will give your hair a soft and shiny appearance.

This type of spray is used to create wavy, curly, and textured styles.

In many ways, texturizing spray is like an all-in-one product because it can be used to give you lots of volume, absorb natural oils, and keep your style going all day, whether it’s a blowout or an updo.

Hair Wax

Kenra Platinum Working Wax

Not usually part of the female hair styling arsenal, hair wax is another alternative to use if you’re looking for a product that can hold like nobody’s business, especially when it comes to short, piece-y or layered styles.

Like the name says, it’s a wax-like substance that you normally scoop out of a jar and apply to your tresses. (You can find hair wax in spray-form too though.)

Hair wax is great for adding shine and definition to your hair. It also helps to protect your hair against heat damage.

This is a great alternative to using hairspray because it holds your style while giving you a polished look.


Got2B Defiant Shine Pomade

Pomades are again a mostly male-oriented hair styling product best known for retro ‘dos like Elvis Presley’s pompadour or The Fonz’s hairdo.

But female styles can benefit too if you’re looking to tame wild curls, create the wet look, or play up a short spikey cut.

Shine pomades are great for superior hold and shine, while cream pomades soften and smooth and have a more matte finish.

If you don’t want a super greasy product, choose a water-based pomade over an oil-based one.

In some ways, pomade functions similarly to gel, but leaves your hair feeling softer and more natural than the crunchy feel gel can produce.

Hair Styling Paste

Redken Rewind 06 Styling Paste

Instead of hairspray, you could try using a hair styling paste. A styling paste is somewhat similar to a pomade or gel in application, but is more lightweight and flexible.

Instead of a super strong hold that keeps hair stiff, styling paste allows you to finger style your strands, give it more texture, and keeps your hair more or less in the direction you’ve styled it.

Some people prefer using a hair paste rather than hairspray because it doesn’t cause damage to your hair.

In general, most styling pastes have a thick consistency, hence the term “paste”. But it becomes soft and nearly invisible once you rub some between your palms, which heats it up and transfers easily from your hands to your hair as you run your hands through and style as you wish.

Shea Butter Mousse (Great for Natural or Damaged Hair)

Shea butter is considered one of the most effective treatments for damaged hair. It contains high levels of vitamin E, which helps to strengthen your hair strands.

As a result, your hair becomes less prone to breakage and split ends. Shea butter is also known for its ability to add body and volume to thinning hair.

The mousse is easily prepared by mixing shea butter with water until a creamy consistency is formed.

You can then apply the mixture to your hair and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off.

Using this mousse is a great alternative to using hairspray because it not only holds your hair in place but helps to protect and nourish it as well.

Alternative Methods To Keeping Hair In Place

Now that we‘ve gone over the various products you can use in place of hairspray, you might be thinking “what if I don’t want to use any hair product at all?”

If you prefer to go au naturel, why not try styling your hair with:

Bobby Pins

That’s right – who needs expensive hair products that require purchasing and repurchasing when you can easily create gorgeous styles with bobby pins?

And no, they aren’t just your grandmother’s plain black bobby pin. You can use beautiful jeweled or gold-colored pins that will sparkle and make your hair look stunning.


woman wearing a headband smelling a lily

That’s right girl, headbands are back in style. But you don’t need to look like you’re in junior high anymore, especially with these stylish ways to wear them.

The nice thing about headbands is the sheer variety you can find: thin plastic, padded fabric, bewejeled, or a simple bandana-style wrap that pulls your hair back and away from your face.

Scrunchies, Hair Ties and Clips

Of course, the tried-and-true method for many a gal who can’t be bothered with hairspray are your scrunchies, hair ties, or clips.

For days when you just can’t be bothered, pulling your hair into a ponytail or braid is a simple, no-fuss way to get on with your day without worrying about your hair.

Though you can dress your hair up a bit more with a nice clip – think the half up-do, or a small butterfly clip on a deep side-part.

Other Ways To Wear Hair Without Hairspray

woman wearing hair wrapped in a headscarf

On bad hair days, sometimes the best thing to do with your hair is to cover it up!

Wearing a headscarf or a hat is a great way to change up your look. With headscarves, the sky’s the limit as you can either use one to cover your head entirely or roll it up to use as a headband or hair tie.

But if you do end up using product, a couple tips for those with unruly, frizzy, or curly hair:

  1. Use an oil-based conditioner instead of a water-based one – Oil-based products work better at keeping your hair moisturized and soft. This will prevent your hair from getting dry and brittle, and also help to stay in place naturally.
  2. Try out different types of oils – Different oils work best for different hair types. For instance, coconut oil is known to be great for all hair types, but olive oil works well for frizzy hair.

How Does Hairspray Work?

Most hairsprays today are made from polymers. Polymers are synthetic materials that are created by combining smaller molecules.

When the spray comes into contact with air, the polymer breaks down into small particles which give off a mist when sprayed onto the surface. These tiny particles adhere to the hair shaft, giving the appearance of volume and texture.

When you apply hairspray, the alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving only the sticky polymer behind. The polymer bonds to the surface of the hair, creating a protective layer.

When you blow air through the bottle, the bubbles trap moisture inside the bottle, helping to keep your hair shiny and smooth.

Additionally, hairsprays contain ingredients like silicone and waxes that give your hair extra shine and manageability.

Benefits Of Using Hairspray

Using hairspray has numerous benefits. It helps to protect your hair from the elements, such as wind, rain, snow, sun, heat, cold, humidity, dust, dirt, and pollution.

It also helps to control flyaways and frizziness and gives your hair a glossy appearance. Hairspray has been used for years to help tame hair and keep it in place. 

Downsides Of Using Hairspray

Although there are many advantages to using hairspray, there are also some downsides. First, if you use too much hairspray, it can leave your hair feeling stiff and heavy.

Also, hairspray can cause damage to your hair when used incorrectly. Some people have reported allergic reactions after using certain brands.

And certainly not least, many popular hairsprays contain a bunch of chemical additives that frankly, just aren’t great for your hair (or your skin).

Is Hairspray Bad For Your Hair?

woman with wavy hair styled with gel

While hairspray isn’t necessarily bad for your hair, it’s important to remember that it does contain chemicals that can potentially harm your hair.

There are two main concerns in regard to the safety of hairspray: 1) the potential for chemical burns on your scalp and 2) the effects of long-term exposure to these chemicals.

Hair sprays contain solvents and propellants that are often toxic to your skin. These substances can penetrate the outer layers of your skin, causing irritation and even burning.

As a result, you may experience redness, itching, swelling, and blisters. It’s important to wash off any residue immediately after applying hairspray.

Hairspray can sometimes contain harmful chemicals, so there are reasons why you shouldn’t use it every day.

However, you need to remember that it does contain synthetic ingredients, which means that it won’t nourish your hair as effectively as natural products would.

Also, since it contains alcohol, it might cause damage if used frequently. It’s important to note that this isn’t true for all brands of hairspray.

Some are completely safe, whereas others contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin. So, before applying hairspray, read the label carefully and choose the safest product possible.

Wrapping Up

There are many ways to style your hair without using hairspray. You don’t need to sacrifice style to achieve beautiful results.

Instead, try experimenting with some of the alternative styling products or accessories we discussed. You might just find an even better look for yourself in the process!

Or…if you really want to use hairspray without all the added chemicals, you can even make your own hairspray at home with a few simple ingredients:

Emma Lee
As long as she can remember, Emma has been obsessed with beautiful hair. Her favorite look is pin-straight, sleek glass hair. She's had multiple styles from short and permed to long and natural throughout her life, and knows full well that how your hair looks can make or break your day.

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