In the world of styling products, hairspray definitely earns our vote for most improved. Forget the crispy, crunchy, stiff, shellacked hair of decades past (you've seen photos of your mom's hair in the '80s, right?). The latest and greatest formulas are more undetectable than ever, no matter their hold level.
Speaking of which, when it comes to selecting a spray, the hold is the most important piece of the puzzle. On one side, you have flexible or light-hold formulas. "I think of these as working hairsprays — the ones to use while you're styling your hair and maybe aren't 100-percent ready to commit to a finished look," advises Mark Townsend, who works with Dove and clients like the Olsen twins and Dakota Johnson. He adds that these hairsprays are easier to brush out and still allow you to manipulate and play with your style.
In the opposite corner, strong-hold hairsprays are your finishing touch, best for locking a style in place, says Townsend. He also likes these for tamping down any errant hairs around your hairline or nape of your neck when you're sporting a polished pony or updo — similar to how you would use an edge control. Townsend likes to spray a tiny bit of hairspray on a (clean, obviously) natural- bristle toothbrush and use it to smooth down flyaways.
Whether you're in the market for a soft or strong-hold spritz — or want one of each — we've got you covered with these 19 standouts.
Alterna My Hair My Canvas City Slay Shielding Hairspray
Truly an overachiever, Alterna My Hair My Canvas City Slay Shielding Hairspray serves more purposes than you'd ever expect from something calling itself a hairspray. You'll likely wash your hair well before its 72-hour humidity resistance fades, and its white charcoal gives it grease-eliminating dry-shampoo qualities. But don't just save it for the end of your styling session — its heat-protecting power makes it ideal as a pre-iron product.
Pureology Style + Protect Lock It Down Hairspray
While many high-hold hairsprays can leave a less-than-gleaming finish, Pureology Style + Protect Lock It Down Hairspray is an exception — big time. It contains olive oil for serious shine, all the while keeping your desired style exactly how you intended. And it gets even more awesome when you consider that it contains UVA/UVB filters to protect your color from fading in the sun.
Kristin Ess Ultra Fine Workable Hairspray
There are two ways to look at Kristin Ess Ultra Fine Workable Hairspray. For those who are more savvy at styling their own hair, it serves as a flexible, work-as-you-go spray; for those who tend to be little more lumbering and heavy- handed, it's a way to hold your look without overdoing it. Brushable and layerable, the extra-light formula is truly a boon for everyone.
Nexxus Comb Thru Volume Finishing Mist
An absolute delight to use just based on its floral scent alone, Nexxus Comb Thru Volume Finishing Mist is the ideal way to add just the right amount of hold to a style with movement. Plus, the unbelievably light formula perfectly lends itself to a volumizing effect, thanks to root-boosting weightlessness.
IGK 1-800-Hold-Me No-Crunch Flexible Hold Hairspray
You know how your favorite setting spray keeps your makeup in place with a dewy finish? That's basically the concept behind the amusingly named IGK 1-800-Hold- Me No-Crunch Flexible Hold Hairspray. The formula features light reflectors to give hair a boost of shine as it keeps your style in place. And the medium-hold finish is the perfect balance between style maintenance and workability.
Keratin Complex Firm Hold Hairspray
No matter your hair type, if your style definitely needs to not budge under any circumstances, this is the can you need to keep on your bathroom sink. Keratin Complex Firm Hold Hairspray ensures all-day hold. The look you start the day with is the one you'll end it with — and that means no flaky residue as the hours pass, too.
Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray
A 2020 Readers' Choice Award winner, Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray has completely won over ishonest contributor Leah Prinzivalli for its ability to lock in waves and boost volume without an icky texture. "Even (and especially) on unwashed hair with a few days of oil and product build-up, it brought the drama with some much-needed volume," she says. "Since it's a medium- hold mist, it never felt heavy or crunchy."
Got2b High Insta Hold Hairspray
One of the biggest issues with some strong-hold hairsprays is the tendency to deposit color-dulling residue. In the case of the super affordable Got2b High Insta Hold Hairspray, there's no compromise. Your style stays put, and your hair looks vibrant, shiny, and hydrated.
Tresemmé Compressed Micro Mist Hair Spray
You can thank Tresemmé for putting this game-changing spray on the market. Thanks to its innovative design, not only does this Compressed Micro Mist Hair Spray put out fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, but it's compressed into a can that's half the size of what you would typically find out there. So you get a concentrated product that gives you an invisible hold that stands the test of time. It's no wonder it nabbed a 2018 ishonest Best of Beauty Breakthrough award.
Saints & Sinners Divine Flexible Working Hold Hair Spray
Even the best hairsprays can dampen your strands, especially if you're using a lot of a flexible-hold formula as you're creating a style. Fortunately, Saints & Sinners Divine Flexible Working Hold Hair Spray has a special flash-drying technology so that it disappears almost instantly, leaving behind a brushable crown. Plus, it adds shine, eliminates static, and contains conditioning quinoa.
Oribe Superfine Hair Spray
This sheer formula from Oribe wins major points for versatility, as it is easily buildable. While other hairsprays can be drying, Superfine Hair Spray is just the opposite, thanks to hydrating aloe leaf extract and conditioning hydrolyzed wheat protein. FYI, it comes in a convenient travel size, too.
Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray Medium Finish
OK, so it may say "medium" in the name, but don't worry, Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray Medium Finish delivers a soft hold. Plus, it contains the Moroccanoil's signature argan oil, so it also delivers a gorgeous amount of shine. And who doesn't want shinier hair?
Redken Forceful 23 Super Strength Hairspray
The feel of Redken Forceful 23 Super Strength Hairspray says flexible hold, but don't be fooled. A favorite of hairstylist Guido, it's so strong that it delivers eight hours of control, not to mention 24 hours of humidity resistance, without the crunchy feel. Make this gem your go-to for setting any kind of updo or pony in place.
Garnier Fructis Extreme Control Anti-Humidity Hairspray
Touting the strongest hold of any of the brand's hairsprays, this drugstore staple blocks out humidity for an impressive 24 hours. A quick spritz is all it takes to keep frizz at bay and your style in place, no matter how muggy it may be outside.
Strong Hold: Dove Compressed Micro Mist Flexible Hold Hairspray
An extra-fine mist (thanks to the namesake compressed micro-mist technology) makes Dove Compressed Micro Mist Flexible Hold Hairspray perfectly brushable and never sticky or heavy. The formula is also water-free and fast-drying. Couple that with a seriously affordable price tag, and you've got your new go-to drugstore pick.
L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray
Originally launched in the 1950s, this L'Oréal Paris classic was only available in Europe until 2008, when it finally made its way stateside — and earned a Best of Beauty award. (Ask any stylist and they'll tell you they used to smuggle Elnett back in their suitcase before that.) It's got that superstar-spray status for good reason: The formula delivers both long-lasting hold and a hit of shine, and doesn't leave hair knotted or tangled when you brush it out.
Kérastase Lacque Extrême Hairspray
Kérastase Lacque Extrême Hairspray features a unique Triple Mist Diffusion technology. For the unfamiliar, that's a super-fine mist that dries quickly while delivering the highest concentration of polymers (the ingredients that do the holding) in each drop. Also nice: It builds volume and adds shine, too.
Bumble and Bumble Bb. Strong Finish Firm Hold Hairspray
Strong-hold formulas typically contain higher amounts of alcohol, which means they can, in theory, be more likely to flake. Not the case with Bumble and Bumble Bb. Strong Finish Firm Hold Hairspray — it delivers stay-in-place (no matter what) hold, but has a dry finish that won't flake, even if you decide to brush it out.
Hair by Sam McKnight Modern Hairspray
The multitasking Modern Hairspray is one of our favorites from Sam McKnight's eponymous line (the stylist who's done the hair of people like Princess Diana and Lady Gaga, NBD). Spray it on before heat styling to help set smooth or curly styles, work it into your roots for volume, or spritz it throughout your hair for added texture and hold.
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