DIY Hair Spray Dilemma

I've casually looked at DIY hairspray recipes in the past and the little I saw was not very promising.  So for this challenge my expectations are not very high.  

But it's still a great experience to deconstruct such a common hair product and try to recreate a simple, healthy, home made version.   You never know, it could come in useful someday when you're in a pinch. 

I enjoyed comparing two polar opposite recipes last week so I figured I would do the same this week with hairspray.

Most of what I found involved using sugar.  So of course I looked for something different to try so we can have a good comparison and I found a recipe using orange juice (could be promising - you know how sticky your hands get when you peel an orange?) and another using aloe vera gel - which makes me think it might be more of a gel spray but that's ok we'll include it in our experiment. 

As mentioned, the most basic and common type of DIY hair spray recipe you will find on the internet uses sugar.   This recipe is from the Wellness Mama.

DIY Hairspray 


  • 1.5 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (dark ones don’t work)
  • 1 tablespoon high proof alcohol like vodka (I prefer spiced rum for the scent)
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils of choice


  • Boil water and dissolve sugar in it.
  • Allow to cool to room temp and add alcohol and essential oils.
  • Store in spray bottle and use as regular hair spray.

Note: This recipe lasts indefinitely if kept in an air tight container. Adjust the sugar up or down for more or less stiffness/hold (more sugar=stronger hold) but don’t add too much or hair will feel sticky. I have had some luck combining this with the salt from my beach waves spray for a texturizing spray. I reduced the sugar by half and added half of the magnesium.

I was actually already thinking of making a salt/sugar version of hairspray so I may add that to the list of to-do's this week! 

Our next recipe I'm curious to test out because it doesn't involve using refined sugar at all.  It is from the blog Naturally Curly

Curl Defining Hair Spray


  • 1 whole orange (for dark hair) or lemon (for light hair), preferably organic (to avoid having pesticides in your hairspray)
  • 2 cups distilled or filtered water
  • 2-3 tablespoons high proof vodka (or other clear grain alcohol)
  • 6-8 drops of lavender essential oil



  • Cut a whole orange or lemon into wedges and combine with 2 cups water in a small pot. Boil over medium high heat until liquid is reduced by half.
  • Strain liquid through cheesecloth into a measuring cup. If you boiled too much liquid out add water until you have 1 cup. Allow citrus juice to cool.
  • Combine alcohol and essential oils in a small bowl, swirl to mix, then add to the cup of citrus juice. 
  • Use a funnel to pour into a spray bottle with a fine mister and shake to combine ingredients. Shake before each use.

 Intriguing right?  We shall see. 

Our last recipe is one using aloe vera.  I'm a big fan of aloe vera.  Having filleted open some stalks at home I know it can be sticky - we'll see how it holds up as a hair spray. This recipe comes from

Aloe Vera Strong Hold Hair Spray


  • Aloe vera gel (for extra hold) – 2 tablespoons
  • Rose water (adds shine) – 1 tablespoon
  • Filtered water – 2 tablespoons
  • Lavender essential oil (for fragrance) – 2 to 4 drops


  • Pour 2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel into a container. You can also learn how to extract your own aloe vera gel here.
  • Add to it 1 tablespoon of rose water.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of filtered water.
  • Pour the prepared solution into a dark-colored spray bottle.

Use it like your regular hairspray on damp hair before you begin styling your hair. This will help hold your hairdo for longer.  The shelf life of the hairspray is 2 to 3 months when stored in a dark and cool place.

So that wraps up the sticky mess I'll be making in the kitchen this week.   I'll be testing these out and sharing results on Instagram and Facebook and at the end of the week I'll add a final update to the blog here.   

Update 12/16/18: Well I enlisted the husband to try these hair spray recipes because I don't use the stuff!  He uses hair spray every day and that automatically makes him a great guinea pig.  His hair is baby fine and fairly thin, so keep that in mind as comparing it against something like my coarse thick hair would yield very different results. 

Here is a summary of each of the recipes:

1) Aloe Vera - no hold at all.  However, I like this spray for my hair as it helped smooth the hair shaft and added a nice healthy looking shine. This will be repurposed as an anti-frizz spray for me. 

2) Orange - it smelled great, may have held up temporarily.  It's raining this week and my husband could already tell it was going to fall flat fast.  So this one was a fail as a hair spray too.

3) Sugar - I had just as low of expectations for this one as well because everything thing I've read indicated it does a decent job but as soon as humidity sets in you're done for.  The hubby used this with all intentions of having to redo his hair later but ended up rocking his do all day long.  I honestly wouldn't have been able to tell that he was using anything different in his hair.  It had the same textured/tousled look it usually did. He noted even with the brief exposure to the rain it didn't fall completely flat. The downside is that he styled his hair while shirtless and was left with a residue on his shoulders and upper back that once dry felt a little uncomfortable as it hardened and had to break up with movement.  

The other downside of a sugar based hair spray as discussed in some comments on Instagram would be the potential draw of ants.  I may do a little more experimentation this spring when ants have a tendency to show up and see if they would still be drawn to this mixture if I added clove or cinnamon oil since that scent usually repels them.  

All in all - an educational week.  If we got desperate and needed some hair spray, we'd definitely whip up a batch.  For now, the husband will use up what he has and then I'll tactfully see how he feels about using the sugar spray instead of buying more hair spray.  Baby steps...  

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