Hair Spray Ingredients

Hairspray is used to keep the hair in place without disturbing its style or setting.  Yet, there are so many ingredients that go into its make-up.  Hairspray also makes the hair appear shinier.  It gives a well-groomed look to your hair, for about two days after application.

What happens when hairspray is applied?

When the fine mist of the hairspray comes in contact with your hair, the liquid moves down the hair until it reaches the point where two hair fibers meet.  A film is created (after the hairspray droplets dry) that bonds the two hairs together. When this happens with all the hair, it keeps the hair set and style without disturbing it.

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For the hairspray to be able to do this there is a long list of ingredients that go into its making.  They are broadly classified as solvents, propellants, additives, and holding agents.

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The basic ingredients

Holding agents: Polymers (molecular structure formed when a large number of similar units are bonded together) that are used in the manufacture of acrylic paints (complex polymers) are the basic ingredients of hairspray.  They are included in hairspray because these compounds can form a film when they dry up.  Polyvinylpyrrolidone and Polyvinylpyrrolidone Vinyl Acetate are the two common polymers found in hairspray.

Solvents:  Solvents form the medium that transports the ingredients of the hairspray to the hair.  A solvent accounts for the major portion of the weight of the hairspray.  Water is a commonly used solvent because of its low cost.  Denatured ethanol is another frequently used solvent.  Denatured alcohol contains 5% more methanol and has been rendered undrinkable and is generally used as a solvent in various substances. Denaturing is a process that removes a property from this liquid (by adding a few chemicals) and does not change its whole composition.

Propellants: These are the substances that help the spray to be propelled out of the container.    Earlier chlorofluorocarbons and other gasses like butane and propane were used.  But all these chemicals were found to be detrimental to the environment due to which hydrofluorocarbon family of gasses is presently being used, like Propellant 134A and Propellant 152A.

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Additives: There are several kinds of additives that go into the making of hairsprays.  The most common additives used are Diethyl phthalate, cyclohexylamine, aminomethyl propanol, and so on.  The reasons why additives are used are

  • Plasticizer additives can help control any adverse effect of polymers They can prevent the brittleness of the film formed by the polymers in the spray
  • They can help reduce the hardness of the film and keep it more pliable
  • They prevent corrosion and rusting of the hairspray container

The ingredients are so combined (with water or alcohol as the solvent), that the resulting substance can be easily applied to the hair as a spray.  Just like paints, hairspray is water resistant.  Yet it can be easily washed off with water when so desired.

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