For some of us hairspray brings back memories of crunchy perms and rock-hard fringes – but times have changed and brands have gotten clever with lightweight formulas that can hold your hair in place without it feeling stiff or sticky.
A good hairspray can give you a fresh-from-the-hairdresser look, so whether you want to give your curls some volume or keep an updo in place, we’ve tested them on how well they hold your style, without feeling too rigid.
And while we want to keep our locks in place, we don’t want to damage them, so extra points go to any of the hairsprays which leave our hair conditioned and free from knotty messes the next day.
Sticky residue is also a big no no – so we’ve tested the sprays on how sticky they left our hands and locks after we perfected our chosen style, along with any distinctive scents they had.
We’ve also assessed how much they’ll cost us – you don’t need to spend a fortune in order for the spray to do its job, however, some of the really cheaper hairsprays tend to lack the ingredients to give you a good hold while leaving hair sticky or stiff.
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The best hairsprays for 2021:
- Best overall – Amika headstrong intense hold hairspray, £20, Amazon.co.uk
- Best budget buy – Superdrug hairspray extra firm hold, £1.99, Superdrug.com
- Best for natural hold – Living Proof flex hairspray, £23, Livingproof.co.uk
- Best for the environment – Moo & Yoo hairspray, £22, Mooandyoo.com
- Best for volume – TIGI bed head full of it volume finishing spray, £9.60, Escentual.com
- Best for quick drying – Tresemmé freeze hold hairspray, £4.99, Boots.com
- Best for a firm hold – Schwarzkopf professional osis+ session, £8.10, Feelunique.com
- Best for special occasions – Alterna my hair my canvas city slay hairspray, £26.49, Feelunique.com
- Best all-rounder – Fudge professional skyscraper extra, £10, Fudgeprofessional.com
- Best for vegans – Maria Nila style & finish extreme spray, £21.99, Sallybeauty.co.uk
- Best luxurybuy –Monat studio one strong flexi-hold hairspray, £45, Monatglobal.com
- Best for flexible hold –Vo5 No.2 flexible hold hairspray, £3.59, Superdrug.com
Amika headstrong intense hold hairspray
As well as keeping our hair in place, most of us want to know a hairspray is also protecting our locks – so we’re in love with Amika’s offering. A fast-drying freeze-hold formula, it also protects against breakage, reduces split ends and strengthens the hair thanks to Provitamin B5. We spritzed some of the spray on our hair after blow-drying and it not only held it in place but left it feeling more conditioned and looking shinier. The spray, which comes in a quirky neon bottle, is also vegan-friendly and free from sulfates. With a fresh scent to it, we were impressed with how it held our style throughout the day and how healthy our hair felt after we brushed it out. A worthy investment for a great all-day shiny hold.
Superdrug hairspray extra firm hold
Best: Budget buy
For less than £2, you can’t go wrong with this cheap but cheerful hairspray. If you ignore the classic hairspray smell you’ll be impressed, like we were, with how well it held our updo for a night out and also its non-sticky formula. Enriched with pro-vitamin B5 it quickly brushed out that evening and left our hair feeling soft and free from tangles. The formula for this Superdrug own hairspray has humidity protection and also comes in four other versions – from natural hold to ultra-firm. If you don’t have the budget for a fancy hairspray or use tons of the stuff on a daily basis, this spray does a great job.
Living Proof flex hairspray
Best: For natural hold
Known for its affordable haircare range, Living Proof’s flex hairspray is great if you’re looking for a natural hold. Housed in a sleek black bottle, the spray had a nice smell and didn’t feel heavy on our hair after it was blow-dried. It gave our style a natural hold but we were also able to run our hands through our hair without it losing any of its style. The hairspray also has heat protection, meaning it can be used on slightly damp hair. The light formula had a slight stickiness to it and our style dropped out after stepping out into extreme weather conditions. However, for a medium hold, we were quite impressed, and after another quick spritz, the volume returned.
Moo and Yoo hairspray
Best: For the environment
Innovative from the outset – this hairspray comes in a unique glass bottle with attractive packaging, which gives it a luxury feel. The sprays’ main ingredients, marula oil and Icelandic moss, work quickly to get rid of any frizz and gave our curls a strong hold. As all the ingredients in the spray are natural, you do have to shake the bottle before you use it, but we loved the natural hold it gave our curls all day. The next day we were able to brush the spray out with ease, leaving our hair feeling shiny and free from damage. A great natural choice, which also has a nice lingering scent to it.
TIGI bed head full of it volume finishing spray
Best: For volume
Love the voluminous look? This hairspray will hold your hair in place for days. The non-sticky offering from TIGI is not only one of the most reasonably priced hairsprays but also the best to retain volume. The spray contains style locker and hold-boosting technologies and is formulated with adhesive properties that create strong bonds between hair fibres – and it was by far one of the best volume hairsprays we tried, keeping our blow-dry in the same bouncy style all day. Easy to brush out the next day, the can will last you months. At under just £10 it’s a favourite for big bouncy curls or a blow-dry with lots of volume.
Tresemmé freeze hold hairspray
Best: Quick drying hairspray
One of the stickiest hairsprays we tried, it definitely kept, or froze, our hair in place. A favourite of celebrity stylist Aaron Carlo, we weren’t too keen on the stiff finish the spray gave our hair, which was hard to brush through, and it also made our hands sticky after we used it. The formula is however very quick drying and kept frizz at bay, in both the sunshine and rain when we ventured outside – a formula which lasts up to 24 hours. If you want to keep a delicate style in place and want a frizz-free, well-priced spray, then Tresemme can do the job.
Schwarzkopf professional osis+ session
Best: For a firm hold
One to keep tight curls, instead of loose waves in place, this one delivers a very firm hold. Wet and sticky as we sprayed on our hair, it took a little longer to dry than the other hairsprays we tried. It worked best when we sprayed it on our hair, then brushed out our curls, otherwise our hair was left feeling and looking too stiff. Even after we brushed it out our curls stayed in all day and remained wavy, even when we slept on them. A great option if you want to keep your curls in all day – at a reasonable price.
Alterna my hair my canvas city slay hairspray
Best: For special occasions
This vegan hairspray, with a fresh jasmine scent, gave our hairstyle a flexible hold, without feeling too stiff. We loved how you could add more and build up the firmness of the hold as you styled. Infused with white charcoal, it was a light spray that dried quickly on our locks, without any stickiness. We used it on a particularly hot day and it fared well in the humidity with no frizz. The spray is also environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free, and it also provides heat protection against temperatures of up to 232C – so particularly great if you’re using it before styling. It’s on the more expensive side, so we’d probably save it for special occasions or if we’re stepping out into the sun.
Fudge professional skyscraper extra
This fine mist hairspray gives great volume and hold without feeling too heavy or stiff. Super dry, it settled on our hair in seconds and kept our blow-dry in place, without feeling unnatural. By the end of the day our volume had dropped slightly, but we did have to contend with showers and sunshine. The spray, which comes in a large bottle with a funky design, was also easy to brush out the next day without any hair breakage. A good all-rounder for volume, hold and a natural feel – and with a pretty acceptable price tag.
Maria Nila style and finish extreme spray
Best: For vegans
We’re a fan of Maria Nila’s range of vegan haircare products, so we were excited to try its extreme hairspray. With a sweet fragrance it took a while to settle and dry on our hair but once it did, the non-sticky formula gave our hair a firm but natural hold. As well as being made from 100 per cent vegan ingredients, the formula is also sulphate and paraben-free – meaning it’s great for anyone with allergies. Even in windy conditions our style stayed in place all day, with the added bonus of smelling gorgeous. Easy to brush and wash out, the spray also has “colour guard complex”, which protects against UV-rays and free radicals. Perfect if you’re a vegan and want to avoid that awful classic hairspray smell. Maria Nila also offers a volume (£12.60, Amazon.co.uk) and styling hairspray (£21.99, Sallybeauty.co.uk).
Monat Studio One strong flexi-hold hairspray
Best: Luxury hairspray
One of the most expensive hairsprays we tested, at over double the price of most of the others, we were expecting miracles. Designed in a pretty bottle, the nozzle has two settings – depending what part of the hair you’re spraying. It promises a non-sticky formula, but we found it was when it went on, although once dry its stickiness subsided. A fine dry mist, it felt firm as we sprayed it on to our curls but left them with a weightless finish. Our hair held all day, and we loved the natural healthy glow the spray gave our locks. Safe for use on colour-treated hair, Monat’s offering is also allergy and dermatologically tested. If you’re looking for a luxury treat then this spray is that – however, we’re not sure if any hairspray is worth £45.
Vo5 No.2 flexible hold hairspray
Best: For flexible hold
A water-based hairspray, this Vo5 offering gave us great volume and hold without our hair feeling stiff or crunchy. The spray-dried quickly on our blow-dry, but we were also able to brush through it without affecting the volume. At a great price, we expected a cheap scent, but its coconut smell surprised us and lingered for a few hours. However, it didn’t fare well with the temperamental English weather – with the volume dropping once we’d reached our destination. But at just under £4, we were impressed with its flexible hold and feel.
The verdict: Hairsprays
While some of the hairsprays kept our locks in place, Amika’s headstrong intense hold hairspray did that and more, keeping out tresses damage-free and leaving it feeling conditioned and healthier. It’s quirky bottle and scent gave it an edge, while also leaving us with a shiny hold. If you’re on a budget, or need an everyday hairspray Superdrug’s hairspray impressed us too – with its non-sticky formula it fared well in humid conditions and kept our style in place all day.
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Is your hair in need of some TLC? Check out our review of the best hair vitamins for stronger, healthier and glossier locks
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