There are way too many hair sprays on the shelf when you go to the store, and they certainly aren't all the same. There are aerosols and sprunches and scrunching sprays and spritzes, and they're all meant to do slightly different things. How do you know what will do what you need it to do?

First, let's get a little terminology straight.

  • Flexible sprays aren't meant to do any heavy duty holding. Use a flexible spray when you just want to add a little bit of definition to a hairstyle that still needs to have some movement.
  • Strong and Extra Strength hairsprays work well for slightly more elaborate hair styles and more vigorous activities or weather.
  • Maximum Strength, Ultra Strength, Freeze are all terms you can expect on the strongest hair sprays. These are best for very elaborate, gravity-defying hair styles, or for times when you're going to be moving more, e.g. if you're going to dance or ice skate, or just really don't want your hair going anyway.
You should also be aware of a few other deciding factors when choosing your hair spray:
  • Delivery. Some hair sprays come in aerosol cans so they can spray on continuously. This is easier for getting overall coverage,as for curls or updos. Other pump style hair sprays come out in short bursts that make it easier to control the amount, but harder to get consistent coverage.
  • Hair type. Some hair sprays are made for fine hair or for frizzy hair - consider your hair type when buying the sprays that specify.
  • Scent. If you use shampoo that has a strong scent, it may be a good idea to use an unscented hair spray. On the other hand, some hair sprays out there smell very nice, which could be a factor in how much you like it.
  • Special hair sprays that offer UV protection or humidity resistance might be a good idea in summer or in humid locations, since UV rays can dry out and damage your hair, and humidity can wreak havoc with hair spray and leave you with a sticky mess.
  • Feel can be another important factor. Hairspray doesn't have to be sticky to hold, but not all non-sticky hairsprays hold perfectly. You may need to experiment a little to find the design that's best for you.
When you pick your hair spray, think about what you do with your hair most often. If you usually wear it in a fairly natural style, a flexible hold will be plenty, but if you usually like something more extreme or elaborate, you'll need a stronger hold.