12 Hairsprays to Try If You’re Tired of Stiff and Crunchy Hair

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

There’s arguably no beauty product that’s experienced more of a ‘glow-up’ in the past few decades than the humble can of hairspray. Today’s spritzes are nothing like those of the 80s and 90s, where they were used to lock big hair in place with an impenetrable, shellac-like coating. Helmet head hair is a thing of the past, thanks to a wide array of new formulas that, yes, deliver hold but still leave hair feeling like hair. No matter your hair type or the look you’re rocking, a quick hit of hairspray can make all the difference when it comes to ensuring that style lasts from dusk till dawn.

Ahead, the best hairsprays that will fulfill all of your styling wants and needs.

Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray

4
L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Firm hold

  • Leaves hair soft and brushable

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

It wasn’t that long ago that this cult classic was only sold overseas; we’ve heard countless stories about stylists flying back from Europe with cans upon cans stuffed in their suitcases. Happily, it’s available stateside these days, though it remains the gold standard among hair pros who rely on it for red carpets and photoshoots. To that point, it delivers some serious hold. But the really cool thing? Despite that strong hold, you can easily brush it out should you change your mind and want to re-style.

Size: 11.2 ounces | Scent: Unscented | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Bumble and Bumble Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray

Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Versatile hold

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Simply put, this spray is a universal, fool-proof, crowd-pleaser. It works on any and every hair texture, from fine and straight to thick and curly (and everything in between). Plus, it’s equal parts working and finishing spray, meaning you can use it both as you’re styling to create volume and hold and as the final step in your routine to set your finished style in place. But no matter how much you spray, your hair will still feel soft and touchable.

Size: 10 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget: Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Milk Medium Hold & Volume Hair Spray

Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Milk Medium Hold & Volume Hair Spray

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Works on all hair types

  • Affordable

  • Air-powered

What We Don't Like
  • Nozzle tends to get clogged

  • Mist isn’t as fine as other options

True story: There’s no need to shell out the big bucks to find an awesome hairspray. This pick is proof positive of just that. It offers a great amount of medium hold—and volume, too—has a delightful scent, and is perhaps most noteworthy for being air-powered rather than an aerosol that uses greenhouse gases to minimize the carbon footprint.

Size: 10 ounces | Scent: White jasmine | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Flexible Hold: Unite Lé:Play Hair Spray

Unite Lé:Play Hair Spray

Courtesy of Unite

What We Like
  • Doesn't flake

  • Leaves hair soft and brushable

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Here’s a hairspray for all the hairspray haters out there. “It’s workable, brushable, and doesn’t flake,” says stylist John Mouzakis, co-owner of 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago of one his favorite formulas. “You can literally run your hand through your hair and never get that ‘hair spray’ feeling,” he adds. He also lauds it for delivering thermal protection, making it the ideal pick to use before curling or blow-drying.

Size: 10 ounces | Scent: Juniper | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Medium Hold: Kérastase Laque Couture Medium Hold Hairspray

Kérastase Laque Couture Medium Hold Hairspray

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Versatile hold

  • Works on all hair types

  • Offers color protection

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Goldilocks would approve of this mist—it offers the best amount of medium-level hold that’s neither too flexible nor too strong. Not to mention that it has the added benefit of delivering humidity protection to keep hair smooth and frizz-free and even boasts protection to safeguard your color.

Size: 10 ounces | Scent: Floral | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Firm Hold: Milbon Strong Hold Hairspray 7

Milbon Strong Hold Hairspray 7

Courtesy of Kossof Beauty

What We Like
  • Doesn't flake

  • Great for updos

  • Leaves hair soft and brushable

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

“This is the strongest hair spray I’ll use before it gets too hard and stops looking natural,” says Mouzakis of this firm hold choice. He points out that you can still brush your hair after spraying it on and adds that he likes spraying a bit on palms, then smoothing them over flyaways along the part and hairline. Its super-duty strength also makes it a nice choice for updos.

Size: 10 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Adjustable Hold: Unite GO365 Hairspray

Unite GO365 Hairspray

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Versatile hold

  • Offers thermal protection

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

Mouzakis also likes this hairspray, largely for its versatility. Simply by turning the top nozzle, you can adjust the hold to your desired level: soft, medium, or strong, he says. (Plus, it’s also safe for extensions and color-treated hair.) And while it is a little bit on the pricier side, think of it like you’re getting three hairsprays for the price of one.

Size: 10 ounces | Scent: Fresh berry | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Fine Hair: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Body Builder

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Body Builder

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Adds volume and hold

  • Customizable

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Using hairspray can always be a little risky when you have fine hair; spray on even just a little bit too much, and you can instantly end up with limp hair. Enter the beauty of this pick. It delivers just a touch of light hold but, more importantly, lots of airy volume at the same time. A totally unique nozzle (we have yet to see anything like it) lets you adjust the size and spray rate of the body-building polymers so that you can customize just how much volume you get. Tone it down for the finer pieces around your face, then amp it up for the roots and rest of your hair.

Size: 7.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Runner-Up, Best for Fine Hair: Kenra Professional Volume Spray 25

3.7
Kenra Volume Hairspray

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Very long-lasting

  • Great for humid days 

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

Not only does this formula add major body, but it also helps ensure your newly voluminous style says put—it boasts up to 120 hours of hold. On top of that, it touts 24-hour humidity resistance and 25 mph wind resistance. So if you’re looking for a hairspray to save your style on those stormy, rainy days, this is it.

Size: 10 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hold and Shine Moisture Mist for Thick Curly Hair

SheaMoisture Hold and Shine Moisture Mist

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Adds moisture and shine

  • Fights frizz

What We Don't Like
  • Hold is very light

To be fair, hairspray probably isn’t the first product that curly-haired girls will reach for. But along with your line-up of gels and creams, hairspray can play an important role, too—so long as you choose the right kind for your texture. Enter this option, specially formulated to keep curls in place with a light, buildable hold while imparting beautiful shine and lightweight moisture thanks to ingredients like neem oil and silk protein. The formula also helps fight frizz and flyaways, something curly girls will certainly appreciate.

Size: 8 ounces | Scent: Coconut and hibiscus | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Blowouts: Nexxus Comb Thru Volume Finishing Mist

Nexxus Comb Thru Volume Finishing Mist

Courtesy of Ulta 

What We Like
  • Adds shine and hold

  • Nice scent

What We Don't Like
  • Too light for those with thicker hair

As the name suggests, this pick is insanely featherweight, making it our go-to finishing step after a blow-out. Credit its proprietary Fluid-Fix technology that ensures your hair stays full, bouncy, and totally touchable. The subtly glossy finish and sophisticated floral fragrance are just the icing on the cake.

Size: 10 ounces | Scent: Unscented | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Texturizing: Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray

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Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Has multiple benefits

  • Works on all hair types

  • Nice scent

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Think of this as a hairspray-meets dry shampoo-meets texturizing spray mash-up where you get the best of all three of those worlds. It offers hold and texture, a choice for looks like beachy waves, and has the added benefit of containing volcanic minerals that work to absorb excess oil, so it’s particularly great to use on days when you haven’t washed your hair. Not to mention, the floral-citrus scent smells delightful.

Size: 4.5 ounces | Scent: North Bondi (consists of bergamot, Italian lemon, rose de mai, violet, and more) | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

No matter your hair type, texture, or desired style, a good hairspray is an invaluable asset to your haircare arsenal. L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray and Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray are tied for tops in our book. The former is a cult classic with a firm hold; the latter falls more on the buildable, brushable side. Speaking of buildable, the Unite GO365 Hairspray is unique in that it basically acts as three products in one, letting you choose your desired hold level from the same bottle. If you have curly hair and are searching for a hairspray, try the Bounce Curl Hairspray, while anyone looking to get a little extra texture and oomph from their spritz will appreciate the texturizing benefits of the Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray, which also works as a dry shampoo of sorts.

Meet the Expert

John Mouzakis is a stylist and co-owner of 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. He has over a decade of experience in the industry, working as both a hairstylist and educator across the globe.

What to Look For in a Hairspray

The Hold

There are plenty of hold levels to choose from, but Mouzakis says that, as a general rule of thumb, going for more flexible holds is key. He suggests reserving super strong or firm formulas for updos only. Otherwise, “use a lower hold so your hair will still move naturally while still holding your style,” he says. Plus, many of these formulas are also buildable, so you can easily add another layer if you want even more hold.

FAQ
  • What does hairspray do?

    “Hairspray is made to hold your finished style in place and also tame frizz and flyaways,” explains Mouzakis. Brushable, more flexible hold options are also great to use before a heat tool, such as a curling iron, to help set your style in place as you create it, he adds.

  • How do you apply hairspray?

    “Shake the can and hold it about a foot away from your hair as you spray,” suggests Mouzakis. Any closer and you risk over-saturating your hair with too much product, which, no matter how great the formula is, can be a recipe for stiffness and crunch.

  • How long does hairspray last?

    “Most hairsprays last about a day if they’re not brushed out. The firmer the hold, the longer it lasts,” says Mouzakis.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her hair is fine and super prone to frizz, meaning she always relies on some type of hairspray, no matter what kind of style she’s sporting. The Living Proof, Ouai, Bumble and bumble, and Kerastase products on this list are in her current rotation, though she’s also used most of the others on this list.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough hairspray from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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