Homemade Alcohol-Free Hairspray that Works

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This super simple homemade hairspray takes only 2 ingredients, is a breeze to make, and is a great way to clean up your every day beauty routine! Plus you’ll save a load of money too.

Homemade Hairspray in clear glass bottle

It might sound silly, but I get sooo excited when I find a great homemade personal care recipe.

There are so many toxins in the things we put on our bodies – and they can lead to all kinds of problems from thyroid issues to adrenal fatigue and more.

So when I can find recipes for things like homemade toothpaste, homemade body cream, or homemade eye makeup remover that work well, I’m all over it.

Hair spray is one of those things that I wish I didn’t have to use–but I do.

My hair just “needs” it.  Well, some of my hair does.  I used to use a lot more hairspray than I do now, but basically my bangs are the part of my hair that is typically “in need”.

I have always opted for “fragrance-free” versions as much as possible, but still there are things in hair spray that I really don’t want on my hair.

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Hair Spray and Me

My love-hate relationship with hair spray has gone on for a long time.

I’ve always felt I needed it because my hair is “sorta-wavy-sorta-frizzy-definitely’s-got-a-mind-of-its-own” hair.

I used to not worry about the ingredients in hair spray but I’ve had to start reading hair spray labels for several reasons:

The Problems with Hair Spray

Allergic Reactions

Perhaps you’re like me. I’m sensitive.

In my 20s, I started having allergic reactions to things and I thought one of them was hair spray so I started trying to get sprays without added fragrance. Not an easy task.

More Artificial Fragrances

Later, either the hair spray companies started putting more artificial fragrances in their products, or I became more sensitive. Whatever it was, I was having a hard time finding a brand that I could use without feeling foggy headed.

Plastic Hair

Did you know that most hairspray has plasticizers in it? No wonder it holds so well!

Drying Alcohol

If your hair brittle or frizzy, it might be the alcohol in your hairspray. It sure isn’t doing you any favors.

Homemade Hairspray in clear glass bottle

Why Make Your Own Hairspray?

Reduce Chemical Exposure

There are so many things in hairspray that you might not have thought about.

Check out “Is Your Shampoo Making You Sick” for more on what might be lurking in your hair products.

Save Money

1 cup of water and 4 teaspoons of sugar is about as cheap as it gets!

Compare that to well, some as much as even $25 for only 10 ounces!

Save the Environment

Fewer chemicals.

Fewer plastic containers.

Even if you recycle bottles, it’s better to not have them made at all in the first place.

Healthier Hair

The alcohol in many hairsprays is really drying. This spray makes your hair healthy and shiny.

There are recipes for salt hair sprays on the internet too.  They might be fun to use, but salt is drying for your hair when used on an ongoing basis.

Thankfully, sugar doesn’t have the same drying effect.

You can add essential oils to your recipe, which I recommend.  That way you have the benefit of aromatherapy and the possible benefits that your hair might get from the oils as well.

For example, as in my DIY Hair Growth Blend, the oils in that blend could be used in your hairspray and might benefit your hair.

You will note that I do recommend a specific brand of oils.  

See my Best Essential Oils Series to see which company I recommend and why.  It’s a very interesting series–and the comments are worth checking out as well, but you might need to set aside some time for those :). Here’s a link to the first post, and here’s a link to the last post, in which I announced the company that I chose.

Lady spraying homemade hair spray on her hair

Recipe Notes

1. 2 teaspoons of sugar works well, but feel free to adjust the amount according to how much hold you would like. Of course, if you add too much, you will end up with residue on your hair so try adding just 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

2. Please use filtered water to avoid the toxins in tap water.

3. This hairspray should last quite a long time due to the vodka, but do discard if it smells off. 

3. You’re probably wondering, “Won’t I be a bug’s best friend if I use this?” I was worried about that too, but from mine and others’ experiences, that’s not a problem at all. 

4.  Technically, if you are going to use the essential oils in this spray, you will want to add an essential oil emulsifier. Since you will be spraying this on your hair and not on your skin, it’s not really a problem.

Other Natural Personal Care Items You Might Like

If you’re into making your own products, here are some others to try.

Nourishing Hand and Body Cream
Hand and Body Scrub – this is so easy and works great!
Invigorating Body Wash – so much better than store-bought!
Nourishing Hair Rinse

hair spray in bottle and woman spraying her hair collage with text overlay
bottle of hair spray

All Natural Homemade Hairspray

This is simply the easiest homemade hair spray ever for an all natural, gentle hold.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water (filtered)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (use more or less according to how strong you want the resulting spray to be.)
  • 1 teaspoon vodka
  • 3-5 drops essential oils (for scent and slight preservative action)

Instructions

  • Heat water in a small saucepan to boiling.
  • Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Allow to cool. Add vodka and options essential oils.
  • Place in spray bottle. (A funnel comes in handy here :).
  • Use quickly and store in the fridge for a longer lasting spray.

Notes

1. 2 teaspoons of sugar works well, but feel free to adjust the amount according to how much hold you would like. Of course, if you add too much, you will end up with residue on your hair so try adding just 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
2. Please use filtered water to avoid the toxins that are in tap water.
3. This hairspray should last quite a long time due to the vodka, but do discard if it smells off. 
3. I know–you’re wondering, “Won’t I be a bug’s best friend if I use this?” I was worried about that too, but from mine and others’ experiences, that’s not a problem at all. 
4.  Technically, if you are going to use the essential oils in this spray, you will want to add an essential oil emulsifier. Since you will be spraying this on your hair and not on your skin, it’s not really a problem.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Don’t Feel Like DIYing? Here Are Fairly Clean Hairspray Options

Believe me, I have tried TONS of hair sprays. As in basically all of them on the market.  Natural, unscented, supposedly unscented (but they really weren’t), and even traditional hairsprays that said that they didn’t have dangerous fragrances.

I am still on the hunt for good ones but this spray from Giovanni is pretty clean as far as artificial fragrances go.

I Recommend
GIOVANNI L.A. Hold Hair Spritz - Maximum Hold - 5 oz (3 pack)

GIOVANNI L.A. Hold Hair Spritz - Maximum Hold - 5 oz (3 pack)

Giovanni's Firm Hold Hair Spritz is a maximum-hold spray that's aerosol free and works great. Colo-safe, cruelty-free and last I checked does not have artificial fragrance but uses natural essential oils instead.

Also this hairspray is another one that I like. It’s very reasonable and is low on the toxic scale too.

I Recommend
White Rain Advanced Formula Extra Hold Hair Spray 7 oz (6 pack)

White Rain Advanced Formula Extra Hold Hair Spray 7 oz (6 pack)

White Rain's Unscented Extra Hold Hairspray is a fairly clean option for those who really want a traditional hold from their spray without a bunch of fragrance. The bottle size is great too - fits well in most purses, gym bags, etcetera.

And If you have one you like, please do share!

What is part of your natural hair care routine?

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Recipe Rating




 

451 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Nice recipe. I actually discovered, quite by accident, a really nice hairspray recipe.
    I use ACV on my hair as a final spray after shampooing in the shower. I also make my own Queen of Hungary’s Water as a facial toner, but it can also be used as a hair product, just like ACV.
    I spray it on after I get out of the shower, and have removed most of the water out of my hair. I comb it, taking care of any tangles, and spray QoH W all over my hair and scalp, do a bit of rubbing it into the hair and let it dry. I noticed that if I don’t mess with it, it dries a bit ‘crunchy’ and actually holds the hair. Even after I comb/brush it, it tends to stay the way I want it to!
    Here is the recipe I use, although there are many out there, but they all contain mostly the same ingredients.
    After the instructions here, (1:1) , are the ingredients that I added. They are mostly for the facial toner, but won’t hurt the hair spray. You could replace these with ingredients that are good for hair…rosemary, cedar wood, lavender, essential oils, etc.

    Queen of Hungary’s Water/ MRH
    5 parts fresh or dried organic Lemon Balm
    5 parts fresh or dried organic Lavender
    4 parts fresh or dried organic Chamomile
    4 parts fresh or dried organic Roses
    4 parts fresh or dried organic Calendula
    3 parts fresh or dried organic Comfrey leaf
    1 part fresh or dried organic Lemon Peel
    1 part fresh or dried organic Rosemary
    1 part fresh or dried organic Sage
    1 part fresh or dried organic Peppermint
    1 part fresh or dried organic Elder flowers
    1 part fresh or dried organic Helichrysum flowers
    Organic Apple Cider Vinegar or organic Witch Hazel Extract

    Combine all herbs in a glass mason jar and add vinegar until the liquid rises above the herbs by at least 1 or 2 inches. As the herbs swell, add additional vinegar if needed. Cap the jar tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.

    1:1
    *Rose Hydrosol/Lavender Hydrosol
    *Witch Hazel
    *Rose Water
    *Rose E.O./Lavender E.O.
    *Frankincense E.O.
    *Carrot Seed E.O.

    1. Hi Carol – so interesting. So you are taking the finished product and then doing what with it? Mixing it 1:1 with rose hydrosoal and then what happens with the witch hazel and rose water? Isn’t that really drying for the hair w/ witch hazel in it? Are you using this as a spray on your hair later after it’s dry too?

      Thanks for sharing – look forward to hearing more. I’m liking the change to this recipe a lot – interested in yours too!

      1. Adrienne, sorry! I actually just add in some rose hydrosol, lavender hydrosol to the whole thing on a 1:1 ratio. I also use both witch hazel and OACV, Just to keep my bases covered.

        All liquids amounts are based on the amount of herbs in order to cover them. …also, both rose water and rose hydrosol are the same thing…
        So, for a large batch it might be 1 cup EACH of OACV (with the mother) witch hazel, rose hydrosol, lavender hydrosol…and so on….and so on, again, according to how much you are making.

        1. Thanks! So you think the acidic issue isn’t a problem? And do you use this as a spray on dry hair too? I assume you’re buying your hydrosols? What benefits are you seeing from using this on skin? Thanks again!

          1. I don’t see any problem with the acidity at all…I have used it on dry hair, and it works as well. I think that using it on damp hair works a little better as you can distribute it better.

            OACV is really great as a hair product. It helps remove build up of other hair products, and will naturally normalize the scalp, just like toner does for the skin.

            I think that QoHW is just a step up from normal toners as it has a lot more ingredients in it that are great for the skin.

            I’m going to be 70 in December and when I asked for the senior discount at a store was told she didn’t ask because I didn’t look old enough!

            Using Queen of Hungary’s Water on the skin is really great. Like the Four Thieves recipe, it has a tale that goes with it:
            Supposedly, the Queen of Hungary used this on herself, and at the age of 70+ was proposed to by a young man of around 20…Of course, she WAS a queen!

            1. Love it! Where do you buy most of the ingredients? I am torn about some suppliers – I have a few I love, but just wondering what you do. Thanks again. Looking forward to trying this out.

              1. I usually buy from Mountain Rose herbs. I have heard others don’t like them, but they are local and I can eliminate the shipping fee by just going to their storefront. I admit, I am not certain about a few of their ‘practices’, (like having so much stock from China and India) and most of the administrators are kind of ‘hippies’, but they are very nice, they are earth conscious, and local. If I need something quickly and they are OS, I will buy organic from Amazon.
                PS: They used to have AWFUL shipping times, but they upgraded their system and now if I do order online will get it within a week or less. Used to be at least 3-4 weeks before)

                1. Thanks. Yes, there are some issues w/ that company. I had a disconcerting exchange w/ them years ago about adulterated essential oils and they apparently hired an abortion doula. I don’t recall the details there but it was a long time ago and a number of people were very upset about that. I will see what I can find. Doesn’t mean I won’t buy from them, but that is what happened.

                  I like their assortment, however. I’m trying to source from Frontier right now but I’ll see what else I decide.

            2. Also, I am seeing other recipes online that are the same / similar, but I don’t see the same ingredients in what you mixed yours with at the end. In your experience does that vary? Thanks again.

              1. Basically, this is just a similar recipe to fire Cider: put your herbs in a jar, cover with OACV, let it sit for 4-6 weeks. (I always let it go for the 6 weeks). The herbs are pretty similar for QoHW, 8 major ingredients are the same for all:
                Lemon Balm
                Rosemary
                Rose petals
                Calendula
                Mint
                Lemon peel
                Sage
                Chamomile

                Some add lavender flowers, elder flowers, chamomile.
                I think I added some helichrysum flowers as well as all of the above.

                They all add in the Rose hydrosol (water) and Witch Hazel and most also add in Lavender essential oil and/or one or two other essential oils

                I just choose to add in everything! Lavender and Rose Hydrosol, Witch Hazel, Rose E.O., Lavender E.O.
                Frankincense and Carrot seed E.O.’s as they are both beneficial for the skin.

                I might do Lavender, Cedarwood and Rosemary for the hair, but since I only do the one recipe I figure the facial E.O.’s aren’t going to hurt me if I use them on my hair!

                I hope that helps you…OH:
                These are the links for the other recipes I got, but decided to go with the MRH recipe, as I believe Rosemary Gladstar is the author.

                https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/queen-hungarys-water?

                https://beautynaturalsecrets.com/diy-astringent-the-one-only-queen-of-hungary-water/

                https://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/queen-of-hungary-facial-toner-recipe/

                https://www.herbalmusings.com/queen-of-hungary-water

                https://thebeautygypsy.com/queen-of-hungary-water/

              2. Basically, this is just a similar recipe to fire Cider: put your herbs in a jar, cover with OACV, let it sit for 4-6 weeks. (I always let it go for the 6 weeks). The herbs are pretty similar for QoHW, 8 major ingredients are the same for all:
                Lemon Balm
                Rosemary
                Rose petals
                Calendula
                Mint
                Lemon peel
                Sage
                Chamomile

                Some add lavender flowers, elder flowers, chamomile.
                I think I added some helichrysum flowers as well as all of the above.

                They all add in the Rose hydrosol (water) and Witch Hazel and most also add in Lavender essential oil and/or one or two other essential oils

                I just choose to add in everything! lavender and Rose Hydrosol, Witch Hazel, Rose E.O., Lavender E.O.
                Frankincense and Carrot seed E.O.’s as they are both beneficial for the skin.

                I might do Lavender, Cedarwood and Rosemary for the hair, but since I only do the one recipe I figure the facial E.O.’s aren’t going to hurt me if I use them on my hair!

                I hope that helps you…OH: These are the links for the other recipes I got, but decided to go with the MRH recipe, as I believe Rosemary Gladstar is the author.

                https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/queen-hungarys-water?
                https://beautynaturalsecrets.com/diy-astringent-the-one-only-queen-of-hungary-water/

                https://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/queen-of-hungary-facial-toner-recipe/

                https://www.herbalmusings.com/queen-of-hungary-water
                https://thebeautygypsy.com/queen-of-hungary-water/

                1. Thanks for that – what I don’t understand is how much of the other liquids you are adding after extracting for 6 weeks.

                  1. It really depends on how much you are making. I made about 2 gallons (I use a LOT, plus this will last me a couple of years!) including the herbs, so probably about 1.5 gallons, give or take. I also probably used, for that amount, 1.5-2 cups each of lavender hydrosol rose hydrosol, and witch hazel, making the OACV part at LEAST 3/4 of the liquid.

                    Now clearly those ratios don’t make the added liquids 8 cups, but I just guestimate, as I want the benefits from the added liquids, but the actual recipe for QoHW is for vinegar…
                    So really, the added liquids is just whatever you want. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, use more of WH, RH and LH, although I’m not really sure what ‘ingredient’ is responsible for the ‘hairspray’ benefit either…

                    I’m also sorry about not having a better answer for you! When I make adjustments to given recipes, I will just go for whatever and guess at what I want!

                  2. Hi again – What a ton of info! Great but I’m now wondering what to buy and what to do with it. Do you feel that the shelf life is really good for years? And you use it daily on hair and skin? Just face, or your whole body? And what quantities are you buying the herbs in? Thanks again :).

  2. Hi I’ve suffered from chronic internal inflammation. From my gums to my colon. Turns out I have several food sensitivities that were misdiagnosed for many years.. I’m currently dealing with pmle and a t cell disorder and I’m apparently allergic to about everything. I’m starting to wonder if it’s all the chemicals in everything. I stopped using lotions and store bath products at Christmas and learn to make my own and I’m in love with how my skin looks and feels. And haven’t had a skin/sun eruption from the pmle this year. I’m 46 and people mistake me for my kids sister, my oldest is 27, I’m loving that lol. Natural is so the way to go. I’m venturing into hair products now. My question is in bath and body there is stuff you can put in them that’s non toxic that keeps them from growing bacteria and gives them longer shelf life. Would that work here?

    1. Hi there. I just updated the recipe to help you work up from the 4 tsp. It’s hard to say – your hair is of course really heavy….do you spray all of it?

        1. I think it likely won’t work for that much hair. It’s more of a light hold. But I have been surprised by some commenters. Try it and see! 🙂

    1. Hi there. Welcome! Are you asking if you need adult supervision? It’s just for mixing sugar and water, so no, you should not unless you have some kind of special situation outside of the ordinary.

  3. Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for the recipe. Here I would like to know what is the purpose of adding sugar?

    We used to use a so called “natural” hair spray where the base is a blend of avacado carried oil, peppermint essential oil, emulsifier, and water. But we would like to add other ingredients such as argan oil, aloe vera oil, lavender, as well as the rosemary, geranium essential oils.
    1. Would it be good to replace the distilled water with floral water (i.e. rose water)
    2. What natural emulsifier should I use in this case?
    3. What is the suggested percentage between the water, oils, emulsifier?

    Thank you

    1. Hi there. You are so welcome. The sugar is what holds the hair. Think of how sugar gets a bit sticky–that’s the hold. Water of course would do nothing.

      Did your spray hold hair? Sounds more like a moisturizer to me.

      1. I guess you could? I am not sure what you mean by “would it be good”?
      2. That is a tough question. I’m not well versed enough to speak to this. I have been reading up on emulsifiers, but I don’t have enough knowledge to pick the best one.
      3. I can’t say about this either. I hope to learn more about this topic in the future and want to make more hair products. Stay tuned!

  4. The sea salt spray wont leave the scalp and hair dry? As I have problems with my scalp before I buy this product I will like to know.
    Thanks
    Aida

    1. I never noticed a problem with my scalp but then again, not much spray gets on there. As for the hair, it’s definitely nowhere near as drying as most of the salt sprays on the market. I know some people who love it and use it all the time, while others think it’s somewhat drying for the hair.

      The company has a great free return policy with a 60 day money back guarantee and they have a sale going on right now–spend $125 and get 2 free sunscreen products so it’s a great time to buy. I’m happy to help with anything. Thanks for reading!

  5. I would suggest using organic sugar. Just like any food or drink that you would put into your body, make it organic, as much as possible.

    1. Great idea! Not sure how much it matters if it’s on your hair and not your scalp but of course it could be touching your face, etc. Thanks!

        1. How long would a non alcohol version ( sugar filter water essential oil) last in the bathroom cabinet? Could i add rubbing alcohol instead of vodka to preserve it and give it an emulsifier?

          1. Hi there. I can’t make shelf life claims but water and aloe start to breed bacteria pretty quickly so I wouldn’t recommend leaving it in the bathroom for very long. Vodka itself is a preservative but each will have differing properties. Hope you enjoy it!

    1. Hello there. First of all, I don’t allow self promotion on my blog–thanks for understanding. I outlined some of this in the post but some people are sensitive to it and others are concerned about safety. Hope that helps!