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How to keep hair in place without hairspray

A couple of weeks ago, one of my readers asked me about how to keep hair in place without hairspray. It’s a situation I understand too well. I mean, the last thing we need in the middle of a long day outside the house is seeing our hair so out of place.

Regardless of hair length and texture, a busy day out is a sure recipe for tangled, messy hair if you don’t find a way to keep your hairdo up in place.

Good thing, hairsprays are there to help our hair stay put the whole day!

But, using hairsprays can still be a source of problems sometimes: from its strong, pungent smell to the numerous chemicals it contains, there are a ton of reasons for us to look for better alternatives to hairspray.

After all, we wouldn’t want to damage our hair permanently for the sake of keeping it in place for a few hours, right?

The good news is that there are actually tons of possible substitutes for hairspray!

From products to accessories and recipes for homemade hairsprays, this article has got you covered.

How do hairsprays work?

Hairsprays are essentially like invisible hairnets – they keep the hair in place for a long period of time by providing structural support to the hair, which allows it to hold a certain style or position.

This is possible because of the ingredients present in hairsprays.

These products are made up of different kinds of polymers that coat the hair, holding it in place.

A major component in hairsprays is polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), which absorbs and then seals excess moisture in the hair, enabling the hair strands to stay put.

Hairsprays typically have vegetable gum as an ingredient as well.

This is what the invisible coating or protective layer is made of.

With hair strands coated, the hair is able to stay up.

It’s also protected from breaking off easily when brushed or combed.

Of course, variations in ingredients also cause differences in terms of how strongly hairsprays can hold the hair, and how long they last.

Related post: Best curl-holding hairspray


Alternatives to hairspray

With an understanding of how hairspray works, we can also get an insight into how its alternatives work.

Although these products may not necessarily contain the same compounds that hairspray has, they may work similarly to hairspray in different ways.

For instance, they might make the hair strands stick together, or they may coat the hair and help it support its style on its own.

Let’s look at the different ways you can keep your hair in place without using a hairspray:


Other commercial products that work like hairspray

If you just really want a quick substitute for a hairspray that works exactly as it does – but maybe with more hair benefits – then using alternatives readily available in the market might be your best bet.

These products generally differ in how much freedom they give you in terms of styling your hair.

Some products are more friendly to the hair, but hold it less; while others have more hold and can be added in more quantities to the hair.

Let’s look at them one by one:


Texturizing spray

Texturizing sprays generally don’t keep the hair up as long as hairsprays do, but they’re a good option if you prefer a lighter hold on your hair or curls for a quick day out.

They also add some texture to the hair, while making sure it isn’t weighed down.

Texturizing sprays usually contain beeswax – an ingredient that helps in moisturizing the hair and fighting frizz.

Hence, even without the usual crunchy texture you get from hairsprays, you can be sure that texturizing sprays can keep your hair in place, while also giving a healthier, more lightweight feel.


Hair mousse

This is another great product with a light consistency.

Hair mousse is a lightweight option for keeping hair in place.

Unlike usual sprays, hair mousse is foamy in nature, so it’s sprayed directly into the hand and then worked and massaged into wet hair.

Applying it this way helps you have more control over how you style the hair and also lets you add more volume to the hair if you want.

However, just like hairsprays, using mousse in excessive amounts dry out the hair; so make sure to find just the right amount to use in the hair.

Related post: Best mousse for 4c hair


Hair gel

Like mousse, hair gels are initially placed on the hand, and then applied to wet hair.

Gels allow for a stronger hold over the hair, suitable for keeping the hair in place for long periods of time.

You also have more control over the amount of product you will be using.

Regardless of how much product you use, though, using a gel will yield stiffer, harder hair that will definitely stay put for a long time.

However, gels are usually easier to use for shorter hairstyles, so you may want to consider other alternatives if you have long hair.

Related post: Best gel for slicking back natural hair 


Hair paste

Hair pastes are also another option if you want to add more volume to the hair, while also giving it a slight hold.

Like texturizing sprays, hair pastes are a great option for adding texture and keeping the hair under control.

The bonus is that you also get to control the amount of product you put into the hair!

These can easily be used for both wet and dry hair, so it’s a must-have for styling the perfect hairdo!



Also called hair wax, pomades give your hair a firm hold comparable to hairsprays.

They also give some extra texture to your hair.

Pomades are applied directly to the hair, giving you the flexibility needed to work in your desired amount of product.

Pomades typically add shine and a smoother, more natural finish for the hair.

Related post: Best pomade for slicking back hair


Making your own hairspray using natural ingredients

There’s no denying that the chemicals in hairsprays can damage the hair, especially if you’re always on the go, which requires you to use them often.

Consider using natural products if you’ve been wanting to find out how to keep hair in place without hairspray.

If you’ve already decided to go all-natural to keep your hair healthier and more moisturized, here are a couple of recipes you can follow to make your own all-natural hairspray alternatives at home!


Shea butter mousse

This is an amazing alternative to hairspray or hair mousse since it does exactly the same thing, but without any of the harmful chemicals for ingredients.

Shea butter, in fact, is known to help hydrate the hair and tame frizz due to the vitamins and other minerals present in the emollient.

This also helps protect the hair from breakage and from UV rays, all while making your hair softer!

To make a shea butter mousse, you would need:

  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 1 part shea butter
  • Few drops of essential oil
  • Hand mixer for whipping ingredients together


  • In a deep bowl, mix equal parts coconut oil and shea butter using a hand mixer until light and fluffy
  • Add in a few drops of any essential oil of choice for the scent of the mousse (lavender is a good option), then mix again
  • Apply the mixture evenly to the hair
  • Store in an airtight container. You may store this in the fridge, and simply warm the mixture in your hands before reapplying it to the hair


Sugar spray

This is a very common DIY hairspray recipe.

A sugar spray is very easy to make, and works as effectively as typical hairsprays, too!

This contains all-natural ingredients, so you’re sure that no damage nor harm is done to your hair with every spray.

You can therefore use this spray daily without feeling any guilt!

Here’s what you will need:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 2 drops essential oil (optional)


  • Heat filtered water in a saucepan
  • Dissolve sugar into the water. Wait for the water to cool to room temperature
  • Add 2 drops of essential oil of choice, depending on the desired scent
  • Transfer the mixture into a spray bottle
  • Shake the bottle well before every use, spraying at least 6 inches away from the hair
  • Empty or discard the mixture every after two months


Citrus hairspray

This is another common natural alternative to hairspray.

Citrus hairsprays are quick to create but still pack a punch.

These sprays can hold your tresses just as well as usual hairsprays do, but at a cheaper price!

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make it:

  • 1 piece citrus fruit
    • Use lemon for blonde hair
    • Use orange for darker hair
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 8 drops essential oil of choice


  • Cut up a piece of citrus fruit into small chunks
  • Boil the cut-up fruit in the two cups of water until the water evaporates up to around half a cup
  • Strain the water to remove seeds or pulps, and allow to cool
  • Squeeze fruit atop a strainer to get its juice (without the pulp) and mix into water
  • Once the mixture cools, add 2 tablespoons of vodka and 8 drops of your essential oil of choice
  • Mix everything together and transfer to a spray bottle
  • Shake mixture before every use


Aloe vera spray

Aloe vera is known to have lots of benefits for both the skin and the hair.

It’s found as an ingredient in most DIY recipes to help in hair growth or for making detanglers.

how to keep hair in place without hairspray

But did you know that it’s also effective in keeping your hair in place?

The aloe vera spray not only maintains and repairs the strands; it can also be used as a hairspray alternative, holding your hairdo up even after long hours!

Here’s what you need to prepare it:

  • ¼ cup aloe vera juice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vodka


  • Boil 1 cup of water in a saucepan, then add sugar until dissolved
  • Wait for the mixture to cool to room temperature, then add water and vodka
  • Mix ingredients evenly together and transfer into a spray bottle
  • Shake well before each use


Keeping your hair in place using hair accessories

Us girls know that sometimes, just using hairspray isn’t enough.

To make sure everything stays perfectly in place, hair accessories are still important.

From clips and bobby pins to scrunchies, accessories are a wonderful choice in making sure your hair stays put all day, especially if you don’t need to put them up in intricate hairstyles anyway!


Bobby pins

Bobby pins are a blessing in keeping stray hairs in check, or securing your hair in any of your favorite hairstyles.

These are a must-have, regardless of whether you have hairspray or not!

how to keep hair in place without hairspray

They are versatile and are easy to use; and they can also effortlessly be hidden, so you don’t have to worry about people noticing them, while maintaining the perfect hairdo!



Headbands are great if you don’t really have a style you have to maintain, but still want to ensure that no stray hair gets out of place.

They can also be chic and add color to your overall look.

These hair accessories are a practical choice if you don’t want to worry about your hair at all during the day, and are godsent for people with shorter hair!



If you’re simply looking for a way to keep your hair up, not really looking to style your hair in any way, then scrunchies are the way to go.

These are sure to hold your hair in a bun or a ponytail, ensuring it’s perfectly out of the way.

They’re useful for very active engagements such as working out.

This hair accessory is all about your comfort and convenience.


Hair clips

If you want to add a pop of color to your hair, and still keep your hair strands away from your face, a couple of hair clips can help.

how to keep hair in place without hairspray

Clips are especially useful for keeping your bangs out of your eyes, or for making sure your hair doesn’t get on your face while you’re doing important stuff.

This is a good option if you want to add a more casual, preppy vibe while keeping your hair in check!



If you’ve been wondering how to keep hair in place without hairspray, there you have it!

These are some of the alternatives you can opt for if you want to explore outside your usual hairspray.

Alternatives to hairsprays can be extremely accessible and easy to make, too!

You can also start looking at options that are more lightweight.

This is because they are easier to apply to the hair.

The secret is really just to look for the product that works best for you – after all, what we want is for us to be happy with how our hair looks, regardless of what style it’s in.

If you can have healthier, shinier hair in the process, that’s a great bonus!

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