Hair sprays can be scary! Here’s why you need to switch to a natural hair spray NOW!
By Arwa Lodhi
Hair spray is a beauty cabinet staple, and has been for decades. Any why not? It can do marvellous things for your hair: give superior hold, boost the volume, add some scent and control flyaway hair. But did you know that with every spray, you’re likely increasing your risk of cancer, skin irritation, and lung disease, thanks to inhaling fine particles of carcinogenic gases?
The National Institute of Health states that it’s unknown whether all of the ingredients in hair spray are safe for human use, but to compound the problem, hair spray manufacturers have knowingly included ingredients that have had cariogenic effects, including those that have caused rare liver cancers and birth defects.
Many of these harmful chemicals are also included in other hair products, like dyes. Want to know what to watch out for? Read on!
Here are some of the worst ingredients in hair sprays
Propylene glycol is the stuff you top up your car with so fuel doesn’t freeze. You know, that chemical that’s so tough that it can withstand temperatures of -34 ° degrees. But propylene glycol has been linked to red, itchy skin; allergic reactions; kidney and liver toxicity; and stupor, convulsions and other unspecified “severe mental symptoms”. Yipes!
These are used to push all those chemicals out of the can and onto your hair. But this practicality comes at a cost – with propellants linked to allergic skin reactions, asthma and breathing difficulties. In some cases, they’re even (and rather frighteningly) linked to fatal heart complications.
The alcohol content in hair sprays isn’t only a source for potential scalp and skin irritation, it’s also an ingredient with potentially the most serious of consequences. When coupled with hydrofluorocarbons and other hair spray ingredients, alcohol increases absorption rates, so inhaling significant amounts of hair spray spritz can cause acute poisoning. Symptoms include low blood pressure and breathing problems. If you deliberately inhale the alcohol in hair spray, you can even fall into a coma.
It’s a weird word to spell, but phthalates are seriously nasty! This is a group of plastics and plastic softeners that can be found in perfume, skincare products, and many a hairspray brand. By far the biggest problem with these is that they mess with our hormones and can put the skids on the development of the reproductive system. Today, they’re strictly banned in the EU from use in children’s toys, with previous research linking phthalates with birth defects and developmental abnormalities. No such luck with the beauty products we use all over our bodies, though – consumers must simply learn to be diligent ingredient checkers.
Despite their myriad chemicals, not all hair sprays smell like chemically induced bio hazard substances. In fact, some smell lovely. But it might be these that you should look out for the most!
The ingredients that contribute to what the industry calls ‘fragrance‘ can be seriously harmful (and also non-vegan). These ingredients often also go completely unlisted, so the manufacturers are able to protect their “Intellectual Property”.
Hopefully the health impact of hair spray has now truly and deeply stuck in your mind – and if you should go on to use it again, just remember that we’ve covered is just as applicable for anyone else unfortunate enough to breathe the fumes that hover around you during application. You may have noticed that aerosols usually have instructions telling you not to use them in a confined space. There’s a big reason why!
Healthier Hairspray Alternatives
Plant-based natural hair sprays remove the plastics, the phthalates, the chemical perfumes and the propylene glycol. In fact, they remove the hocus pocus concoction of chemicals altogether and instead opt for solely natural ingredients.
What of the results? Well, in addition to providing a firm hold, such products are also better for your hair – for happier follicles and shinier locks – whilst never compromising on hold and volume. So, when it comes to Toxic Hair Spray Cloud vs. Plant-Based Natural Hair Spray, we’d say that it’s game-on in favour of the natural product.
When Mother Nature provides plentiful ingredients for sticking and slicking your hair into any style, it’s worth wondering – just why are we surrounding ourselves with a thick fog of harmful chemicals with each spritz of traditional hair spray?
The Best Natural Hair Spray Brands
This is a spray that gives a medium hold, dries fast, protects your colour and keeps your hair brushable throughout the day. Rahua is a wonderful organic brand that sources many of its ingredients from the Amazon. This means local people there are given incentives to harvest local plants instead of turning to logging for a living.
Best natural hair spray for: Thin hair.
Hair specialists John Masters offers an all-natural, plant-based hair spray with flexible hold and no flaky residue. Six organic ingredients suffuse hair with beneficial nutrients while delivering an all-day hold with a light, citrusy scent.
Best natural hair spray for: Doubling as a hair perfume.
If you’ve just created a gorgeous hairstyle, you’ll want to use a versatile finishing spray like this one, which provides shine and hold. This unique product offers certified organic honey, which acts as a natural resin. It also features organic rooibos tea for antioxidant care. Aloe and rice proteins moisturise and strengthen every strand, leaving hair full and shiny.
Best natural hair spray for: Non-vegans (this contains honey extracts).
They say this product is like ‘a dry shampoo and hairspray had a baby’. In other words, this ultra-lightweight hair spray builds volume and texture for limp hair. Packed with volcanic minerals, it absorbs oil and refreshes your hair naturally, whilst keeping it in place.
Best natural hair spray for: Fine hair.
This organic product with a sweet, citrusy scent is great for keeping frizz at bay. It holds down flyaway hair, leaves no ‘crunchy’ buildup, and is safe enough to use even if you’re pregnant or around little kids.
Best natural hair spray for: Those on a budget.