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Curly hair is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. It could be super-defined one day and a frizzy concoction the next day – and it's never exactly the same from one head to another. Our mission is to equip you with the necessary tools for restoring and maintaining healthy locks and celebrating the hair you were born with! 

What To Use Instead of Hairspray for Curly Hair? 14 Brilliant Alternatives!

November 1, 2022


Verna Meachum

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With extensive experience in the beauty industry, I specialize in writing for curly hair care brands, websites, and magazines.

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I also partner with a friend who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist, ensuring our content is scientifically accurate and help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. 

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Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Verna Meachum

You don’t want to use hairspray to hold your curly hair, so you might be wondering what to use instead of hairspray? Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of hairspray – many curlies feel the same way!

When you need the hold that hairspray gives without actually using it, there are several good alternatives to hairsprays out there.

Hairspray may be popular, but more and more people are moving away from it. There are plenty of other products on the market that can do what hairspray does without being as harsh on your hair.

What’s In Hairspray?

Hairsprays have been around for quite some time, and their popularity has only grown over the years.  They were originally created to to protect against humidity and wind.  But what is actually in hairsprays that make them work?

Hairspray is actually made up of a lot of different ingredients, some of which might be surprising to you.

Hair sprays typically consist of:

  • concentrate
  • plasticizers (esters of citric acid and adipic acid)
  • luster agents
  • propellants
  • fragrances

Harmful Ingredients In Hair Sprays:

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and eEthanol
  • Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)
  • Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc)
  • Propylene glycol
  • Hydrofluorocarbon
  • Vinyl acetate-crotonic acid (copolymers give harder films)
  • Dimethyl ether  (this may cause skin irritation, is highly flammable and toxic when inhaled)
  • Carboxymethylcellulose
  • Propellants (i.e. propane, butane, isobutane, and related volatile hydrocarbons)
  • Polyvinyl alcohol

Hair sprays are created from a combination of polymers that help hold hair in place. They come in different types of hold: flexible, medium, and maximum.

Health effects

Hairspray today generally contain polymers in a solvent, and sometimes even a propellant (sometimes this doubles as the solvent). The polymers in the spray will coat your hair and help hold it in place once the solvent evaporates.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of certain propellants in hairsprays for health and environmental reasons, such as vinyl chloride and chlorofluorocarbons.

The long-term effects of the chemicals in the hairsprays are unknown, but it’s easy to see how they could cause injury or fires if someone was exposed to open flame.

Bottom line, if you use hairspray as it is supposed to be used, it poses little threat. However, small amounts of accidental exposure by inhalation, ingestion, or eye contact may cause some irritation.

Are there any cons to using hairspray?

If you are concerned about the potential health effects of using hairspray, there are some things to consider.

Hairspray formulas have gotten better over the years, and many brands have reduced or removed certain ingredients in order to make them safer for your hair. However, it’s still a good idea to be mindful of what you’re putting in your hair.

Not all hairsprays are bad, it really depends on the formula and what ingredients are used. Some not so good formulations can leave your hair feeling dry, crunchy, and stiff.

Without further ado, here are some of the best alternatives to hairspray that you can use to help hold your curls and keep them looking gorgeous.

What To Use Instead of Hairspray: Alternatives

The following list of product suggestions are a starting point for finding what works best for your hair type and style.

Everyone’s hair is different, so the best way to find what works for you is by trying out various products until you figure out which ones work best on your hair.

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is a great alternative to hairspray, and is especially popular among curlies. It helps absorb excess oils and helps your curls look bouncy and fresh. It can be applied to the roots of your hair, or throughout for a lighter hold.

Be mindful of how often you use this method to avoid over-drying your hair. Make sure your dry shampoo works with your hair color to avoid any unwanted hues!

Some great dry shampoos to try include:


Mousse is another great alternative to hairspray, as it helps provide a flexible hold, volume without leaving your hair feeling sticky or crunchy.

Product suggestions

Texturizing Spray

Texturizing sprays and powders are another great alternative to hairspray, as they help add volume and texture to your hair.

Using a texturizing spray is a great way to get the perfect light hold or added texture without weighing down your hair.

Product suggestions:


Hair pomade is often misunderstood. It comes in different types, each with a unique hold, finish, or texture. Pomades used to be heavy, sticky and contain beeswax or petroleum.

Today’s pomade formulations are lighter and more versatile, making them a great option for creating styles that require hold.

Product suggestions:

Gel and Pomade

Video credit: ehowbeauty

Gel and pomade combined can add both definition shines to your curls, while maintaining curl control for a few days at once – without any flaking!

Shea Butter

Another great alternative to hairspray is shea butter. This natural and moisturizing ingredient can help add definition and shine to your curls, while also helping to keep them hydrated and soft.

The majority of people are unaware that, through its holding abilities, shea butter can take the place of hairspray to avoid frizz and unruly curls.

Product suggestions:

Hair Gel

Hair gel is a product that will give your hair great hold. It is easy to find, and comes in a variety of styles, depending on what type of hold you want.

Product suggestions:

Gel Spray

Gel sprays are similar to hair gel, but less dense, making them easy to spray on rather than apply by hand.

Product suggestions:

DIY Aloe Gel

If you want to avoid harsh chemicals and preservatives found in many commercial products, consider making your own aloe gel following the tutorial below:

Video credit: Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh

The aloe gel will help keep your curls tamed and controlled, without any frizz or stiffness. Plus, it is super easy to make.

Flaxseed Gel

Video credit: Naptural85

Flaxseed gel hold curls beautifully and is a great alternative to hairspray, as it won’t contain any harsh chemicals or preservatives.

Sugar Spray

Video credit: Homeveda – Home Remedies for You!

Another great option for hold and shine without the use of harsh chemicals is a sugar spray. Believe it or not, sugar is a great way to add texture and volume to your hair while still keeping it soft to the touch. Unlike traditional hairsprays, this one won’t leave your hair feeling harsh or weighed down, but will give your curls a nice hold.

DIYs Hairsprays

Lemon Hairspray

Video credit: iluvjesse444


  • 1 lemon
  • Small bowl of water
  1. Add one chopped lemon to a small bowl of water.
  2. Heat for up to 10 mins. over a double boiler
  3. Allow it to completely cool
  4. Transfer the lemon water to a spray bottle and shake well.

To use, simply spritz onto your hair and style as usual. This lemon hairspray will give your hair a silky-smooth finish, while also helping to tame frizz and flyaways. It is the perfect alternative to traditional hairspray, and is formulated with all-natural ingredients that are gentle on your hair.

To prevent hairspray from spoiling, store it in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks. If your hair is particularly frizzy, try using a leave-in conditioner or smoothing serum before applying hairspray for extra hold. And be sure to avoid exposing your hair to heat, such as from a curling wand or straightening iron, as this can make it even more

Homemade Hairspray

Video credit: POPxoDaily


  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Lukewarm water
  1. Combine ingredients and mix until completely dissolved.
  2. Let cool for up to 15 mins.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and shake well.
  4. To use, simply spritz onto your hair and style as usual.

To prevent hairspray from spoiling, store it in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks.

Citrus Hairspray

If you have naturally curly hair and are looking for a hairspray that will give your curls definition and extra hold, try this homemade citrus hairspray.

To make this simple recipe, you will need just a two ingredients:

  • Peeled orange
  • Boiling water
  1. Peel and cut one orange into small pieces.
  2. Add cut orange to 2 cups boiling water.
  3. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Let it cool down.
  5. Strain the oranges and store the leftover liquid in a spray bottle.
  6. If the mixture becomes too sticky, add additional water until desired consistency is achieved.

To use, simply spritz onto your hair and style as usual.If you want it to last, mix in 1 ounce of rubbing alcohol and store the spray in the fridge for up to 3 weeks maximum.

Related Article

If you would like to check out some hairsprays designed specifically for curly hair, check out my blog, ‘The Best Hair Sprays For Curly Hair That Keeps It All In Place.’


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