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What Are the Different Types of Hair Spray Products?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are several types of hair spray products that can set a style, increase shine, and promote volume. The most common types of this beauty product are categorized by how strong of a hold that they provide, generally characterized as flexible, medium, or maximum. Some include shine-enhancing and frizz-fighting properties in addition to setting the style, while others include ingredients that expand slightly when dry, providing lift to the roots of the hair.

In general, the main difference between hair spray products is the amount of hold that the spray provides. Products labeled as "flexible" typically give the least amount of staying power and are ideal for holding curls, waves, or flipped ends in place while still allowing for optimal movement. For short hair, flexible hair sprays are best for keeping hair under control without stiffness, and popular for everyday use.

Medium-hold hair spray products are slightly stronger than flexible varieties, although they still allow for movement when applied sparingly. These tend to work best for softer up-dos and for keeping certain sections of the hair in place when the rest is down, particularly bangs. They are also typically preferred for more styled short haircuts, providing a fair amount of control with minimal stiffness.

Maximum hold sprays are the strongest, and tend to keep every strand in the same place for a significant amount of time. They are popular for slicking back or spiking up shorter hair when used in conjunction with a pomade or spray gel. For those with longer hair, these types of hair sprays are ideal for more dramatic up-dos, or on occasions when hair that is left down needs to stay in one place.

Hair spray products can also enhance shine, reduce frizz, and can come in either flexible, medium, or maximum hold. They may include light reflecting ingredients, a water resistant formula to fight humidity, or both of these. Typically, silicone is the primary ingredient in these types. In some cases, these hair spray products may include ingredients such as fine or coarse glitter that provide noticeable shimmer to the hair.

Volumizing hair sprays help to counteract the weighing-down effect that many stronger hair sprays have by utilizing slightly different ingredients than standard products. These are typically available in medium to maximum hold, and help to coat the roots of the hair, lifting them up. Some products utilize lightweight ingredients that expand once dry, giving hair body. In general, these types of hair sprays are meant only for the roots, although they can provide hold to the rest of the hair without weighing it down when applied sparingly.

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Discussion Comments

By discographer — On Nov 05, 2013

I can never find the right hair spray for me. I have very thick hair and it doesn't like to keep shape. But I hate hard, crunchy hair so I avoid the extra strong hair sprays. I use medium strength most of the time, but my hair still loses shape after a few hours. I live in a humid climate too, that certainly doesn't help.

By bluedolphin — On Nov 05, 2013

@SarahGen-- I think I saw a few products with sun protection. These are usually leave-in-conditioners in spray form. They moisturize and protect from pollution and sun. You might want to look at salon lines because sometimes there are more options. Even if a hair spray product doesn't say on the front label that it protects from sun, the back label might mention it. So you might need to look at ingredients' lists. Or just ask your hair stylist for a recommendation.

The only hair spray product I use is a leave-in-conditioner spray. It has silk amino acids in it. I love it, it makes my hair very soft and shiny.

By SarahGen — On Nov 04, 2013

My hair becomes very dry and brittle in the summer and I work outside because of my job. Are there any hair spray products that have UV protection in them, to protect hair from sunlight?

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