The mere mention of hair spray can conjure up images of the 80’s.
You know, huge, crunchy hair that doesn’t seem to move, even in beach-level wind.
Luckily for us (and our hair), the times have changed, and the focus is now on products that hold a style but still look natural.
However, finding the right cruelty-free hairspray for that natural look can be more difficult than one would think, especially as someone living a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Vegans searching for the ideal hair spray for their styling needs should keep three things in mind when reading the back of the bottle:
- the cruelty-free status of the brand and product
- their own hair type
- and what role the hairspray needs to play.
Does this brand test on animals?
Are these ingredients safe for my fine, curly hair?
All that choice can feel daunting, but with some simple guidelines and a little research, you can find a vegan hairspray that is right for your hair, the function of the hairspray, as well as the animals and the planet.
To skip the guide and go straight to our list of the top vegan hair spray brands – click here
Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Hairspray
Before you can jump into making a purchase, there’re a few questions you need to ask before purchasing your product – namely, “is the product cruelty-free,” “will this spray be good for my hair type,” and “what am I going to use this for”?
Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these questions so they can help guide your decision.
For myself and most vegans, it doesn’t matter how well a product works if it isn’t cruelty-free – if animals had to be harmed to make or test it, I’m not buying it!
For this reason, the cruelty-free status of a product is the first thing I check – this ensures that I don’t accidentally purchase a product that has been tested on animals, and makes it easier to choose from a smaller list of products, as opposed to the entire hair care aisle.
While animals don’t always die during animal testing like they do for meat, cosmetic testing creates the same – if not more – suffering: simply put, cosmetic testing is hell for animals.
Hairspray that’s tested on animals might be rubbed into the eyes and shaved skin of rabbits to see the type of irritation it causes or forced into the stomachs of mice to determine the lethal dosage of the product.
Additionally, many animals used in cosmetic testing aren’t covered under the meager animal welfare laws that have been put into place, so there’s little to no regulation over what happens to these animals in the lab. For more information on vivisection and why we should avoid products that are tested on animals, read our full guide on animal testing here.
Luckily for us and the animals, there are plenty of humane alternatives to animal testing that make vivisection obsolete. These, combined with the use of safe, natural, non-toxic ingredients mean products can still be safe for human use, and don’t require the suffering of mice, rabbits, and other animals to make their way onto shelves.
Leaping Bunny is the original animal welfare organization and keeps an expansive database of products and companies that do not engage in animal testing. If you have any question in your mind as to whether or not a product you’re interested in is animal-friendly, you can run it through their list at leapingbunny.org, check it out on their app, or look for the Leaping Bunny icon on the back of the bottle.
Your Hair Type
Once you’ve found a product that has not been tested on animals, you can start to think about the needs of your hair type. Because hair comes in so many different types and has varying levels of damage from style and coloring products, there is no one-size-fits-all hair spray that will get perfect results for everyone.
There are six major hair types to think about when shopping for hair care products, compare the descriptions below to your hair to get a little closer to finding your perfect spray.
1. Fine & Healthy Hair
While fine, healthy hair suffers no damage, the strands themselves are thin, and can’t hold their own against more assertive products. Look for products that increase volume, and aren’t so heavy that they weigh hair down or overpower it. Look for plumping, volumizing, and moisturizing products, but avoid anything waxy.
2. Fine & Damaged Hair
Because fine hair already struggles with volume, any damage caused by heat styling or coloring can create a one-two punch that’s difficult to breathe life into. Look for volumizing hair spray to plump up fine, delicate strands, but avoid anything with alcohol in the ingredient list, as it will dry out hair and exacerbate any damage.
3. Medium & Healthy Hair
Medium hair means your strands are of average thickness, few ingredients are off the table, and you can pull off most hairstyles without issue, especially if your strands are free of any damage or dryness. This hair type just needs to focus on preserving the lovely condition it’s in, so look for sprays that advertise themselves as thickening sprays that don’t contain alcohol that can dry out otherwise healthy hair.
4. Medium & Damaged
Your hair is thick enough to hold its own but not so much that it’s impossible to handle – the only issue is dry, brittle strands caused by damage from your blow dryer, flat iron, or over processing. Like fine and damaged hair, avoid anything with alcohol, which will suck any last bit of hydration out of your strands, and choose products that will help tame frizzies.
5. Thick & Healthy
While thick strands of hair make for awesome volume, they are more prone to coarseness and frizziness than thin or medium hair. In addition to a good conditioning routine, avoid hair sprays with water as the first ingredient. If hair is healthy, you don’t have to avoid alcohol altogether – cetyl and stearyl alcohol are fatty acids, which can help coarse, frizzy hair look shinier.
6. Thick & Damaged
Thick hair can be unruly in a healthy state, but add a little damage and things can go haywire quickly. People with thick, damaged hair should reach for sprays that are hydrating, moisturizing, and formulated to fight frizz. Because layering on too many strengtheners can cause thick hair to misbehave, avoid any sprays that include keratin.
With a better handle on the type of hair, you’re working with, the last step is to think about the role your vegan hairspray is going to play and the environment you’re wearing it in.
The Function of Your Hairspray
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind the role your cruelty-free hairspray will play in your style – and this goes beyond simply holding hair in place. The amount of hold you need in your hairspray varies wildly between sitting behind your computer at the office to dancing the night away at a rooftop bar. Consider the elements, such as a classroom versus a windy beach, as well as how much movement you plan on doing over the course of the day (or night).
In addition to a variety of scents and formulas for certain hair types, hair sprays come in varying degrees of hold, from “soft and natural” to “helmet hair.” Depending on your needs, and how many different places you plan on wearing your hairspray, you may want to stock up on a few types, or grab a few travel sizes to keep in your purse to bring it from the office to the club.
List of Animal-Friendly Vegan Hairsprays
With these three components in mind, we’ve compiled five of our favorite vegan hair sprays. Read more about each spray below!
Good for Healthy Hair, Medium Hold
Our #1 Top Pick
Giovanni Organic Styling Mist is an organic, medium-hold vegan hairspray that keeps hair in place without weighing hair down or leaving a “crunchy” look.
Unlike many hair sprays on the market, this spray uses a non-aerosol pump, which is better for the environment, in addition to being Leaping Bunny certified.
What We Love
Amazon reviewers love that this hair spray holds well, but looks soft while staying styled – it is a perfect balance between natural and styled, and the amount of hold can be changed with the amount of product used.
Reviewers with long, fine hair were especially pleased with their results, as it held hair in place without weighing it down.
One of the first ingredients in this hair spray is SD Alcohol 40-B, which contributes to drying out hair. This hair spray should be avoided by people with damage from heat, color, or other situations, as it can dehydrate the strands and make any signs of damage worse.
Good for All Hair Types, Damaged Hair, Flexible Hold
Ever sit on the beach wondering how you can recreate those beautiful waves and curls in your hair at home?
Because Herbivore Botanicals’ All Natural Sea Mist Hair Spray is formulated with the same salinity as ocean water, it is perfect for adding natural texture and waves to hair.
The spray contains 100% natural ingredients, is created sustainably, and comes in a beautiful handcrafted glass bottle.
What We Love
This sea salt spray is an incredibly versatile product: users with fine hair found that it added texture and body without weighing hair down, while users with thick and damaged hair love the moisturizing, conditioning properties of the spray.
Reviewers on Amazon love the natural ingredients, the texture it gives hair, and the pleasant, pure, and clean smell.
While this spray conditions well and helps with flyaways and frizz, it only provides a very delicate hold. If you’re looking for a super secure style or something to keep your hair under control despite all elements, this product may not meet your needs.
Good for Curly Hair, Damaged Hair, Thick Hair, Fine Hair, Casual Hold
DevaCurl’s Flexible Hold Hairspray is formulated for curly, thick, hard-to-control hair.
It uses wheat protein and exclusive DevaCurl Botanical Blend to maintain hair’s natural moisture balance to condition and control frizz.
This cruelty-free hairspray is lightweight, and 100% sulfate, paraben, and silicone free.
The formula also contains conditioners for a non-drying alcohol spray and includes styling polymers to keep hair in place, even in humidity.
What We Love
Reviewers on Amazon note that this hairspray is perfect for very curly, very thick hair that tends to get out of control on humid days.
The spray ensures curls stay bouncy and well-defined without looking crunchy or sticky.
Both fine-haired and thick-haired customers found the spray held up well in their hair – the lightweight formula doesn’t weigh down fine hair, but it provides enough hold to keep a beautiful shape to curls in thick hair.
Some reviewers noted that the smell of this hairspray is overwhelming and less pleasant than some other DevaCurl products. A few complained of the very strong alcohol smell of this formula.
Good for Fine Hair, Most Hair Types, Strong Hold
N-4. Hair Care aerosol hairspray is good for men or women and prides itself on repelling humidity and providing a strong, secure hold that does not flake or cause buildup.
The formula is completely free of gluten and parabens and is also vegan and cruelty-free.
What We Love
This formula is hypoallergenic and natural, so it is a safe option for people with allergies and sensitivities.
Amazon reviewers also have a lot of love for the scent of the product; one reviewer even went so far as wishing she could wear the smell of the hairspray as a perfume.
Because this hairspray offers the strongest hold available, it can be a little thick and heavy for everyday use.
The hairspray is best for updos, and intricate styles that need a very secure, very strong hold – people wearing it casually may find it a little intense for their needs.
Good for All Hair Types, Medium to Firm Hold
This flexible hairspray from Dermorganic is completely free of sulfates, gluten, sodium chloride, dyes, parabens, and alcohol, which makes it a perfect choice for people with a lot of damage in their hair, or who have fine and medium hair that is prone to dryness.
Even better is what the spray does include, which includes thermal protection with Moroccan argan oil, anti-fade extracts, UV inhibitors that protect color, omega-6, Vitamin E, and natural moisture factors to moisturize and condition strands while holding styles in place.
What We Love
Amazon reviewers love the versatility of this product – not only can it be used with nearly every hair type, but the day-to-day wear of the spray can be changed based upon your needs.
Reviewers note that they can simply spray and tousle for a casual day, or apply to more intricate styles to ensure all-day long-lasting hold. The spray does a good job holding hair in place, while also leaving it soft and brushable.
A few reviewers expressed frustration with how fragranced this product is – they noted that the spray has excellent “staying power,” but the smell was too overwhelming to use on a daily basis.
Additionally, those in humid climates noted that the spray has a hard time maintaining hold when there is a high percent of moisture in the air, so curly-haired consumers and those in very humid climates should take note.
Good for Your Hair, Good for the Animals
While it may require a little extra effort to find the perfect hairspray that is good for you and good for the animals, it is worth the effort.
By finding a brand or product that is committed to animal welfare, in addition to containing (or not containing) certain ingredients for your hair type, you can achieve the hairstyle and amount of hold that works for you and your lifestyle.
By choosing products that are cruelty-free and vegan, you’re voting with your dollars to show companies that animal testing is cruel, outdated, and unacceptable. Arm yourself with knowledge as you replace your cosmetics with animal-friendly alternatives, and take care of the animals and our earth, in addition to your great style.