What To Use Instead of Hairspray: 10 Excellent Alternatives

Hairspray is a worldwide beauty staple. It’s the only thing that can keep flyaway strands in place and maintain a wide range of hairstyles— or is it?

In this article, we’re answering the question, what can you use in place of hairspray?

What To Use Instead of Hairspray

There are many hair products you can use in place of hair spray. These include mousse, hair paste, hair gel, aloe gel, styling clay, pomade, and sugar spray. 

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What is in Hairspray?

Hairspray is a lightweight aerosol or mist that freezes hair into place. It’s become essential in holding intricate styles and preventing frizzy flyaways for pro stylists and everyday beauty lovers alike. 

It works by gently coating hair strands in a water-soluble polymer, PVP, along with other ingredients like vegetable gum.

Essentially, the ingredients in hairspray absorb oil and water in the hair and seal the hair so it stays put. 

The harmful ingredients in hair spray are:

  • Carboxymethylcellulose
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Hydrofluorocarbon
  • Polyvinyl alcohol
  • Propylene glycol
  • Polyvinylpyrrolidone

Why You Should Ditch the Hairspray

Seeing that list of hard to pronounce words is enough to make anyone want to ditch their hair spray. But what do all of those ingredients really mean? Check out this list for the downsides of hairspray. 

The Cons of Using Hairspray

  • Can lead to scalp dryness
  • Dries out hair
  • Can potentially irritate the hair follicles
  • Contains hair damaging chemicals

Dropping traditional hairspray out of your beauty routine doesn’t mean you have to live a life with messy hair. Even though there are pros and cons to using hair spray, here are plenty of alternatives. These are both DIY and store-bought and products that you can use to hold your hair all day long. 

Also Read: Pomade vs Gel: The Definitive Buying Guide

Things to Consider When Looking for Hairspray Alternatives

Hairspray Alternatives

Deciding what hairspray alternative is best for you depends on a few factors:

Hair Type

Your hair type is the most important factor when it comes to choosing any hair product, and hairspray alternatives are no different.

Some products may be too heavy for finer, straighter hair textures, while others may not be moisturizing enough for kinky or coarser hair types. 

Desired Style

Not all hairstyles can be achieved using the same products. Some need a stronger hold while others need flexibility.

With hairspray, you can build it up. So you can just use a few spritzes or go over a few sections a little heavier. 

What hairspray alternative you choose depends on how much control and movement you want. 


Think about what you feel comfortable putting on your hair.

Even some storebought alternatives can have chemical ingredients that you might be wary of. Still, there are all-natural products and DIY alternatives you can try.  

10 Best Alternatives For Hairspray

To help you determine what products will give you the results you want, we’ve compiled a list to break down the pros and cons of each.  


Mousse is a lightweight foam that helps shape hair while providing soft, flexible hold, making it an excellent alternative to hairspray.

This option is also best for giving your hair an oomph of healthy volume. 

It’s most effective when applied to damp hair from root to tip.

Allow your hair to dry upside down—either air drying or blow-drying—for maximum volume. But be careful not to overdo it.

Too much mousse can make your hair look greasy and fall flat.


  • Lightweight
  • Excellent for adding volume
  • Works with all hair types


  • Too much can ruin your hairstyle
  • Doesn’t work well on dry hair

Our mousse of choice

No nothing Very Sensitive Strong Mousse

No nothing Very Sensitive Strong Mousse

There are different mousses on the market that are tailored to different hair types, making it a great all-around option. The No Nothing Very Sensitive Strong Mousse works for all types of hair and provides UV protection.

 Check Price on Amazon

Hair Paste

If you want to add a little texture to your style, then make hair paste your go-to. It’s also a great way to add fullness to thin hair.

With hair paste, a little goes a long way. Just rub a dime-sized amount between your hands and rub through your hair.

As you work the product in, you can direct and style your hair using your hands or a comb. 

You can use it on wet hair, but this combination can end up weighing your hair down. For the best results, apply it to dry hair. 


  • Adds texture
  • Makes thin hair appear fuller
  • Leaves hair feeling soft 


  • Too much can weigh down your hair
  • Doesn’t provide the same hold as hairspray

Our mousse of choice

Sun Bum Sonny’s Original Surf Paste

Check Price on Amazon

Hair Gel

Hair gel is an option that’s good for achieving a firm hold.

That being said, it’s best suited for slick styles or structure, but it wouldn’t work for things like curling hair. There are different strengths, though. 

The more lightweight gels can help provide a certain level of texture like hair paste. Heavier gels can essentially freeze hair and create hairstyles like spikes or slicked-back ponytails. 

The amount you need depends on the style you want, but generally, it doesn’t take a lot to give your strands a firm hold.

It’s also good to avoid putting in too much because it might take longer to thoroughly rinse it out. 

Be careful not to put on too much gel as this can lead to flaking—which isn’t a look that anyone wants. 


  • Can help you achieve a wet, slicked-back look
  • Great for preventing flyaways 
  • Different strengths available for different styles


  • It can make your hair appear too stiff
  • Hair gel can end up flaking as the day goes on
  • It’s not as easy to wash out as other alternatives
  • Limited style options

Our styling gel of choice

Sheamoisture Daily Hydration Styling Gel

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Aloe Gel

If you’re looking for a product with as few ingredients as possible, then aloe gel is the perfect solution.

This gel comes directly from the aloe vera plant, and its uses go beyond hair care. It’s a popular remedy for sunburn, razor burn, dry skin, and dry hair. 

Plus, it can help define and hold your hair when it comes to styling.

It’s particularly good for styles that require setting, like twists or using curlers. Aloe also helps tame flyaways for buns and ponytails. 

However, if you need a strong hold that will keep your hair perfectly in place for hours, then this isn’t the best alternative.

But if you want to reduce the number of damaging products you put on your hair, make aloe gel a staple in your beauty routine.


  • Great for conditioning hair
  • An excellent lightweight gel 
  • A natural alternative to hairspray
  • Suitable for all hair types


  • It doesn’t provide the same hold as hairspray.
  • It’s suitable for certain hairstyles

Our aloe gel of choice

PURA D’OR Organic Aloe Vera Gel

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Styling Clay

Styling clay is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hair product that has the texture and consistency of clay, and it provides medium hold.

This is another great option if you want your hair to have more body—which sometimes, even hairspray can’t provide.

You only need a little bit to achieve the style you want, and you can apply it to wet or dry hair.

Either way, you’ll have an eye-catching style that has plenty of movement and texture without feeling too heavy.

All it takes is a dime-sized amount rubbed together between your palms. This warms and loosens it up so you can evenly distribute it throughout your hair. 


  • Works on both wet and dry hair
  • Suitable for different hair lengths
  • Available for different levels of hold


  • More expensive compared to other products
  • Won’t provide the firm hold that hairspray can 

Our styling clay of choice

Moroccanoil Texture Clay

Check Price on Amazon


Hair pomade is a good alternative for hairspray because it applies maximum hold while still remaining flexible.

It’s got a long history in the beauty world, and has been used over the years to slick back hair, smooth down frizzies, and create full-bodied styles like pompadores. 

That’s exactly why it’s a great alternative to use instead of hairspray.

Best of all, it’s suitable for all hair types, and there are different strengths available depending on the style you want. 

Traditionally, pomades are oil or grease-based, which can make it difficult to completely rinse out of hair and lead to build-up.

However, pomades have come a long way, and there are water-based options that are easy to wash out. 


  • Makes hair smooth
  • Good for slicked back looks
  • Long-lasting hold


  • Can feel heavy or greasy
  • Not the easiest application
  • Some pomades are difficult to fully rinse out

Our pomade of choice

Layrite Original Pomade

Check Price on Amazon

Sugar Spray

Believe it or not, there’s probably an easy hairspray alternative right in your kitchen: sugar.

This everyday item does an excellent job of holding up hair and styles like curls and waves. What makes this alternative even sweeter is that it’s simple to create, too. 

Just boil 1 ½ cups of water and dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar in it.

Once dissolved, allow the mix to cool to room temperature, and stir in 1 tablespoon of vodka or rum, which enhances the hold.

Finally, add up to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. 

If you still need a stronger hold, just add a little more sugar, and test the mixture until you get the results you want. 


  • Easy to make 
  • Provides a strong hold compared to other alternatives
  • Very similar to traditional hairspray


  • Doesn’t last as long as hairspray
  • It may irritate your scalp if it starts to build-up

Beeswax Pomade

If you’re interested in having a slick style like a pompadour, beeswax pomade is a good hairspray alternative. It’s also less heavy than some store-bought options you’ll find. 

Best of all, it’s simple to make.

First, you want to create a strong base by melting 2 tablespoons of beeswax pastilles with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.

Then, mix in 2 tablespoons of bentonite clay for maximum hold, and about 10 drops of essential oil of your choice for the scent. 

This DIY mix will last a long time since you only need a small amount to create the style you want. It’s also perfect for touch-ups throughout the day. 


  • Provides a flexible, natural hold
  • Easy to make
  • Moisturizing


  • Doesn’t hold hair as firmly as hairspray
  • Too much can weigh hair down

Gel Spray

Gel sprays are just like hair gel, but with a lighter consistency, so you can spray them on instead of applying them by hand.

Not only does this mean less mess, but it also means you’re less likely to experience stiffness that can sometimes come with hair gel. 

There are some spray gel options you can buy online or in stores, but you can also make your own in no time.

All you have to do is combine your favorite gel with water in a spray bottle, and shake it thoroughly. 


  • Provides more flexibility than normal gel
  • Evenly coats strands


  • Too much can make hair crunchy
  • May flake over time

Citrus Spray

This is another easy-to-make DIY hairspray alternative that’s worth having on hand. 

You can use either lemons or oranges to create your citrus spray, but you should know that lemon is best for lighter hair and orange should be used on darker shades.

If you use lemon juice on dark hair, it can lighten it over time.  

Once you decide which citrus fruit is best for you, cut it up and boil it in 2 cups of water.

Wait until the water reduces down to a half cup, then strain out the fruit and allow it to cool.

Finally, add 2 tablespoons of vodka and some drops of essential oil. 

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and it’s ready to go! Just be sure to give it a good shake before using it to make sure the ingredients are all mixed together.


  • Flexible hold
  • Pleasant aroma
  • Easy to make


  • Doesn’t last as long as hairspray
  • Can’t provide a super strong hold

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