If you’ve ever tried mixing water and sugar, you know what my first thoughts were when I saw this recipe. Sugar hairspray sounds like a magnet for bees and other insects that like sweet scents. Judging by the fact that even floral perfumes can get you into trouble in nature, I wasn’t a fan of this recipe. But there are some reasons that might help you decide to start making your own hairspray. 🙂
While I was researching the Internet for this article, I saw numerous recipes that called for brown sugar and boiling water. These two ingredients are supposed to hold curls and other hairstyles in place the same as regular hairsprays. While I do believe those who oppose regular sprays with aerosols, I have a hard time believing sugar is actually beneficial to the hair itself. I personally really like sugar scrubs for face & body, but we should keep in mind that skin and hair have different structure and function for our health. Skin is ‘alive’ (it renews all the time) and hair is ‘dead‘ (the visible part we call hair are dead cells-just like nails). Both body parts are supposed to protect us from the outside environment.
Another reason why sugar might not be the best solution for hair is the fact that sugar isn’t used by hairstylists. Even hair products that are named ‘sugar hairspray’ contain a) sugar in small amounts and b) contain other non-stick beneficial ingredients.
But let’s look closer at why commercial hairsprays are so controversial and what are the properties of DIY hairsprays made with sugar.
What do commercial hairsprays contain?
I’ve checked a few higher-priced sugar hairsprays on Amazon and (obviously) none of them contained pure sugar/sugar cane. Some contained sugar in traces but most were made with corn starch that is known as a thickening and ‘holding’ ingredients as well. Just think of ironing-a mix of water and cornstarch used to be used for ironing collars to make them stand upright. Some others contain sucrose (a form of sugar), but plain sugar can’t be found in any of them. While I do agree that hairsprays with sugar wouldn’t be easy to sell as anyone could re-create it for much cheaper, there is some sense in NOT using sugar on our hair. If you’ve ever left sugary water on your skin, then you know that it feels sticky and crystallized, but let’s talk about this in the next paragraph.
Do sugar hairsprays feel sticky and crystallized?
Most users of sugar hairsprays swear by it and don’t notice any sticky effects. Some, on the other hand, do notice their hair be stiff and sticky, even though they didn’t use too much of this spray. The trick is to use it slowly and let each layer completely dry before using the next one. This could be very time consuming if you want to finish your hairstyle in minutes. But this probably isn’t too big of a problem as most people use sugar hairspray for untamed hair around the face and not for styling curls and up-dos.
A few side-effects of sugar hairspray:
- too moist: moisture in the spray can make your curls fall down and make your hair straight again. Gradual application of layers is supposed to help, but it’s time-consuming as well.
- ‘strong hold‘: hairspray can be adjusted to your preferences, but two main categories are ‘medium hold’ and ‘strong/maximum hold’. Users of the strong hold spray (made with 4 tsp sugar per cup of water) report that they can’t comb through their hair with fingers as it’s too stiff. This means you won’t be able to use this spray several days without washing. Brushing out as much sugar crystals as possible might help a bit.
- coated scalp: some use this spray for volumizing flat roots, but scalp can get coated when too much spray is applied. Also, sugar should be rinsed off and not kept on scalp for days between washes.
- essential oils: these are used for improving the scent and for preventing problems with insects. As we know, bees like sugar as it’s one of their main foods, so using a hairspray with sugar is risky. The amount of sugar is low, but since even sweet perfumes can irritate insects and other animals, sugary hairsprays are a bit dangerous (especially for people with allergies). Some essential oils are supposed to repel them, but they can be too harsh for your hair if applied on their own. They are usually diluted with carrier oils, but since hairsprays don’t contain them, essential oils could harm your hair. Lavender and rosemary are often used for removing insects.
- alcohol: alcohol is used for faster drying because DIY hairsprays take longer to dry on our hair. Some like to use vodka or rum (not recommended, too much sugar and a strong scent), some prefer pure alcohol. Any way you choose, alcohol is too drying for hair and it’s one of the main reasons why people choose homemade over commercial, so why put it in your homemade products?
- residue and build up: these two conditions sound like a logical consequence after using a sugary product. If you use a DIY hairspray before styling with hot tools (straightener, curler), then the sugar crystals will be ‘baked’ to the hair and you will have a build up on them. Especially if you use it before and after styling, your hair will have some residue at the end of the day, so at least brush it all out or wash before next styling.
What about flies, bees, and bugs?
As I’ve already mentioned a few times, insects can be dangerous when using this hairspray. It’s also very dependant on the amount of product you use because some only use a very small amount for fly-aways (which in my opinion don’t require a spray, but rather a hair gel) and other just bathe their hair in the spray. The high amount of sugar will, of course, attract bees, but if you spend most of your time away from nature, then insects probably won’t find you. Just don’t use it when going to the woods. 😀
How to make a DIY hairspray with sugar
I’ve never tried making this hairspray, but most recipes call for 4 teaspoons of sugar per 1 cup of boiling water.
For less ‘hold’ use 2 teaspoons per cup of boiling water.
Here is a list of great recipes:
- DIY herbal hairspray by doTerra
- Homemade hairspray by The Pistachio project
- How to make your own hairspray by The imperfect homemaker
- DIY ‘better than hairspray’ sugar spritz by Naturally curly
- Lavender & rosemary homemade hairspray by Dr. Axe
- Homemade herbal hairspray by Sarah Titus
- Volumizing sugar spray by Joyous health
Wondering if water can ruin your freshly curled/straightened hair?
Water is the base of this spray and as we know, high amounts of water in the air make our curled hair loose and straightened hair curlier. So, can a water hairspray ruin our styled hair? Of course, it can, especially if you use too much. This homemade spray has to be applied in layers rather than in one big application like commercial ones. Some suggest using milk instead of water, but please don’t do this. 😀 I’ve tried a milk ‘hair mask’ before and it’s really difficult to get it out (and it gets spoiled in hot weather!).
IMPORTANT NOTE: some diabetics report that this sugar spray increases their sugar levels, so be cautious when using any sugar on your hair! Scalp and face absorb chemicals 5-10 times faster than other body parts. Sugar scrubs are believed to be safe as you rinse them out shortly after application (and hairspray stays on at least for a few hours, but usually a few days between washes).
ALSO: sugar is beloved by insects, so people with severe allergies should avoid using sugar on exposed body parts. Just like commercial creams, lotions and perfumes with sweet notes can intimidate some animals and cause them to attack us, bees and other insects can be attracted to the sugar scent as well. It’s better to use a natural hair gel or pomade than risk an allergic reaction. 🙂
What are other alternatives to sugar hairspray?
You can use sea salt texturizing hairsprays that will give you the beachy effect (slightly wavy), but this also means some salt residue will be visible on your hair. The high amount of salt in the air make your hair stiffer and less ‘clean’ feeling (just remember how your hair looks like after a few days on a ship). For me, this is not a good product, so I rather skip all products and just wear a ponytail. 🙂
DIY hairspray with citruses and alcohol by DIY natural
We came to the end of this very long post. I hope you’ve learned something new, I certainly did as I researched this topic. I’d love to know how many of you use DIY sugar hairspray, tell me in the comments! If you liked this post, sign up for newsletter to receive other posts like this!
Sources & interesting links
Is human hair dead or alive? by Return 2 health
Sweet & salty hairspray by Wellness mama