Homemade Alcohol-Free Hairspray that Works

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 am 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".

Just like with other things, 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.

But now that I have this super all-natural alcohol-free recipe, I feel much differently about it.

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.

It's fine, but I have quite a bit of it and when I let it dry naturally it's really curly/wavy, but after a day or so it turns pretty limp.

Well, 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

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 really having a hard time finding a brand that I could use without feeling foggy headed.

- Plastic Hair!

Finally, I settled on one that I liked, but when I switched to a new hair care line, I found out that my hairspray had plasticizers in it. Well-no wonder it held so well!
I had actually been coating my hair with plastic. Yuk. Believe me--when my hair went through detox it wasn't pretty.

Rather, I wasn't pretty.

- Alcohol

Recently, I've been noticing my hair getting more brittle or frizzy. I'm not sure what it is, but I dug around the internet and figured the alcohol in my spray wasn't doing me any favors. I thought it was time to work on making my own alcohol-free hair spray.

Well, I didn't think it would work--but it does.

And now you can make it too!

Homemade Hairspray in clear glass bottle

Why Make Your Own Hairspray?

1. Reduce your 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.

2. 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!

3. Save the environment

Less chemicals made.

Fewer plastic containers are used.

Even if you are recycling your bottles, it's better to not have them made at all in the first place.

4. Healthier hair

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

Note that there are recipes for salt hair sprays on the internet too.  They might be fun to use, but the salt would be very drying for your hair when used on an ongoing basis.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend using those often.  Thankfully, the sugar doesn't have the same drying effect.

You can even add essential oils to your recipe, which I recommend doing.  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

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

collage of homemade hairspray and woman spraying homemade hairspray
bottle of hair spray

All Natural Homemade Hairspray

This is simply the easiest homemade hair spray ever.
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Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water (use filtered please*)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (use more or less according to how strong you want the resulting spray to be.)
  • Spray Bottle - This one has good reviews.

Optional Essential Oils

Instructions

  • Heat water in a small saucepan to boiling.
  • Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Allow to cool. Add essential oils (if using).
  • Place in spray bottle. (A funnel comes in handy here :).
  • Use quickly and store in the fridge for a longer lasting spray. Please do take care to not keep around for a long time as bacteria might grow and use only clean utensils and containers for this spray.

Notes

1. 4 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 when making personal and home care products that you won't be using right away. Tap water has loads of stuff in it that you don't want sitting around for a long time. Read "Is Your Water Safe" for more info.
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 what I've read it's not the case. One summer comes I'll be able to tell you for sure. I guess you could use citronella oil in the spray ;-).
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 as much of an issue, but to be on the safe side, you might want to do it.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Don't Feel Like DIYing?

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

What is part of your natural hair care routine?

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435 Comments

    1. Oh no - I have never heard of this happening! I guess you should be glad you have bees...there are so few these days! Did you use a lot?

    1. Hi there. I'm sure it should help but it might make the spray oily. You could try a small amount and see. Hope it works!

  1. I was all excited to learn how to make my DIY hairspray. I enthusiastically wrote down and bookmaked your page. Then I scrolled down and found your update. To my not-to-surprise,
    it turned out to be a multi-level marketing ad. Now I am not against wanting to be entrepreneurial but I think this little hairspray blog is a trap. I am going to make my own spray with some of the things you suggest and maybe adding some of my own ideas but I surely am not going to buy products that are not tested or available on local shelves. The only people who benefits from ML marketing schemes are the very top wrung of the ladder as I have been involved with a few top companies over 40 years. I wish you well but I think your hairspray DIY recipe is a bit sneaky. Granted some products these companies produce are of fairly good quality but some are just dangerous. Like, soy protein shakes filled with aluminum shaving. Soy is poison no matter how one consumes it. The product cost is high with ML companies due to having to pay all the down line. Well enough of my rant but not for me.
    Lin B.

    1. Hello Lin. I am glad you wrote. I'm not sure when you initially bookmarked the page, but I had those updates in there since the first one in 2016.

      I am actually really glad you wrote bc I had meant to remove one and forgot about it. It's gone now.

      I completely understand your concerns, but I assure you that this was not a trap. I wrote the post in 2013 and updated it w/ the Beautycounter spray in 2016. I often do that with DIY posts--have the DIY version and then an option that I like for those who don't like to DIY--whether it's w/ an MLM or just a product that one can get from Amazon or off the shelf.

      As for the testing, I am not sure what you are referring to. Beautycounter actually is one of the most transparent companies out there. They test everything and have pulled products for months just because there was a hint of a problem. There are so many other companies with products on local shelves, as you say, that are not tested. Just b/c something is on a shelf doesn't mean it's tested. In fact, I bought products at Target this past week that I ended up having a horrible allergic reaction to due to the fragrances. Their label of "essential oils blend" was totally misleading and I had to call and message the company numerous times before I got the truth out of them. Just horrible!

      You are not right that the only people who benefit from MLMs are those at the top. And they are not all schemes. Yes, there are many that aren't solid ethically, but the same is true about all businesses. I know many ladies with Beautycounter who aren't at the top who are very happy with the extra income that they are making and for the difference that they are making in the world.

      Yes, the MLM model makes it hard for some people to be transparent if they find a problem w/ their company, but I'm not that way. I have removed other MLMs (and non MLM companies) from my blog before and I will do it again when / if I find ethical issues / questions that I can't get answered. I have removed Ava Anderson and 100% Pure, Young Living, and doTERRA.

      I don't like soy either, for the record :). At least most of it.

      As for the high cost, that can easily be the case with non MLMs too. In fact, I did a cost comparison chart of Beautycounter's products vs other companies (both MLM and non) and some of their products were cheaper than the non MLM ones.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this and again, thanks for reading.

    2. Hi again, Lin.

      I did want to mention one other things about MLMs. Another plus is that people have the chance to get their products at a reduced price or for free, which is a great boon for those who don't have the option to or don't desire to work outside of the home. There are so many who can't handle a job where they have to be on a specific schedule, don't have transportation, or just need to be at home with kids, and this gives them an opportunity. As long as you run it ethically with an ethical company I think it can be a great thing. Again, hope that helps clarify things.

  2. does this diy hairspray work well with holding curls? Also, will it make my hair super sticky at all? I don’t really like using hairspray with chemicals.

    1. Hi there. It depends on your hair and the strength you use. It does "OK" holding my curls. I agree-- I try to use as few toxins as possible! The Beautycounter spray in the post is a good option if you'd like to try it. I have been trying out some other options as well.

  3. Wow, thank you! I think this could be a winner 🙂 I have very short hair, but it's stick straight, so I need something to give it a little lift. But as someone else stated, the overspray of hairspray products is obnoxious and very hard to clean (much less what it is likely doing to my insides-eek!!)

    I noticed that collagen hydosylate was on your list of emulsifiers, so I figured hey...why not add some? And I also put in a pinch of pink salt and a few drops of grapefruit seed extract (for its anti-bacterial and preservative properties).

    We have liftoff! Sugar....whoda thunk it?

  4. Can you be more specific when you say to use "quickly": If kept in the fridge does that mean use in 1 week or 1 month?? 3 months? Thank you for great ideas here!

    1. Typically bacteria starts to grow within about 4 days -- I'm not sure how long it should be OK for but I wouldn't think 3 mos would be a good idea. Thanks!

  5. Since Honey has a natural anti-bacterial property, (at least that is what I was told by fellow soapers), could it be used as the sugar?

  6. Do not use the homemade spray with your flat iron it will cause the platlettes on your iron to turn brown with burnt sugar. It won't cone off, unless u use alcohol. Your cheaper irons the burnt sugar don't even come off at all.

  7. Thanks it's really helpful.
    I'm losing my hair and I was worried about chemicals in hair sprays.
    I never thought that only sugar and water would work so well!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  8. Do the essential oils actually mix into the liquid? I'm wondering because you haven't used any emulsifier, and I have read in one of your other posts how important it is to use an emulsifier when mixing oils with water.

    1. This is a good question. If the spray isn't going to be touching your skin I wouldn't be concerned about it at all. The spray will diffuse some of it but it would be best to use an emulsifier or eliminate the essential oil altogether. If you are not using the mixture topically then I am not personally concerned and I consulted with an aromatherapist who said the same thing.

  9. Thankyou so much for your article. It helped me a lot for my frizzy hair. Its a good easy and cheap way.

  10. I'm looking for an alternative to commercial hair spray because the overspray on the floor is sticky and so hard to clean. Is the overspray from this formula sticky?

    1. Anything that gives hold will be sticky to some extent but this is nothing like the sprays with plasticizers in them.