Hair spray

Hair spray

Hair spray (also hair lacquer or spritz) is a common household aqueous solution that is used to keep hair stiff or in a certain style. Weaker than hair gel, hair wax, or glue, it is sprayed to hold styles for a long period. Using a pump or aerosol spray nozzle, it sprays evenly over the hair. Hair spray was first developed and manufactured in 1948 by Chase Products Company, based in Broadview, Illinois.

Its active ingredient is a suitable polymer or the chemical elastesse. Elastesse is a form of liquid elastic that keeps the hair stiff and firm without snapping.

The solvent used was once a compound of carbon, fluorine, and chlorine (a chlorofluorocarbon, or CFC). CFCs are nontoxic, nonflammable, and make almost ideal aerosol propellants. However, when it was learned that they cause destruction of stratospheric ozone, they were replaced with other solvents, like alcohols and hydrocarbons.

One of the polymers used is polyvinylpyrrolidine, which is also used to glue the layers of wood in plywood together. A non-water soluble polymer called polydimethylsiloxane is added to make the hold last a bit longer (the polyvinylpyrrolidine is water soluble). Pytocalcious chemicals are another family of ingredients in hair spray, which increase the amount of minerals in the hair's root causing the hair to become stiff.

Other polymers used in plastic-based hairsprays are copolymers with vinyl acetate and copolymers with maleic anhydride.

Some hair sprays use natural polymers and solvents like vegetable gums dissolved in alcohol. One popular ingedient is gum arabic is made from the sap of certain trees that grow in the Sudan. Gum tragacanth is another herbal gum that is used to stiffen calico and crepe, as well as hair.


Excessive use or lack of washing after hair spray may lead to dull or damaged hair and dandruff. Some hair sprays are scented or have color. Hair spray is an easy way to hold hairstyles for a short period. Hair spray can be used mostly for hairstyles like the beehive and the bubble

Hair spray is extremely flammable, more so before it is dry. The result of ignition is moderate to serious burns to the hair and upper torso, sometimes resulting in death. A common movie and video game weapon is hair spray and a lighter to form a makeshift flamethrower, though in reality this is far more dangerous to the user than as a weapon.


* Ben Selinger, "Chemistry in the Marketplace", fourth ed. (Harcourt Brace, 1994).

Further information

* [ What is hairspray made of?]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • hair spray — hair ,spray noun count or uncount a substance that you SPRAY onto your hair to hold it in position …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • hair spray — hair′ spray orhair′spray n. cvb clo a somewhat viscous liquid for spraying on the hair to hold it in place • Etymology: 1955–60 …   From formal English to slang

  • hair spray — a liquid sprayed from a spray can onto the hair, to hold it in place: also hairspray n …   English World dictionary

  • hair spray — noun toiletry consisting of a commercial preparation that is sprayed on the hair to hold it in place • Hypernyms: ↑toiletry, ↑toilet articles * * * noun : a preparation that is sprayed on the hair to keep it in place * * * a liquid in an aerosol… …   Useful english dictionary

  • hair spray — UK / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms hair spray : singular hair spray plural hair sprays a substance that you spray onto your hair to hold it in position …   English dictionary

  • hair spray — a liquid in an aerosol or other spray container, for holding the hair in place. Also, hairspray. [1955 60] * * * …   Universalium

  • hair spray — noun Date: 1958 a liquid sprayed on the hair to keep it in place after styling …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hair spray — noun A usually scented hairstyling product in aerosol form that stiffens the hair, so it stays in a certain hairstyle …   Wiktionary

  • hair spray — noun (U) a sticky substance that is sprayed (spray1 (1)) from a container and used to keep hair in place …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • spray net — hair spray …   English contemporary dictionary