Byrdie March 26, 2024



The 12 Best Hairsprays We’ve Found to Keep Your Hair in Place, After Testing for 300 Hours


With bestsellers from Bumble and Bumble, Living Proof, and more.

If you don’t have a good relationship with hairspray, we’re here to tell you that it’s not your fault. For years, these products left hair crunchy and stiff or leaked sticky residue everywhere. That’s not true anymore—a good hairspray will tame frizz and flyaways, add shape and bounce, and keep your style in place, all without the unpleasantness noted above. Some might even have heat-protecting qualities or provide volume and memory. “They can work really well if used properly and intentionally,” says Vennela Chamarti, stylist at Blandi Salon in New York City.

We tested 19 different formulas in our NYC Lab and out in the real world, dedicating more than 300 hours to the task. We evaluated the sprays after using them on both hair extensions and clean fresh hair (all different hair types) and observed how well they worked throughout a full day, trying each several times over two weeks. After assessing the texture, hold, and overall quality and performance of each product, we landed on these all-star hairsprays that stood out from the rest.

Best Overall

Bumble and Bumble Spray de Mode Hold Hairspray


What We Like

  • Superfine mist
  • Brushable hold
  • Light texture
  • Lots of shine

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn’t provide enough volume

Hold: Flexible, medium hold | Size: 10 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This Bumble and Bumble hairspray is truly a do-it-all formula: It offers fantastic coverage, dries quickly without residue, leaves hair looking fuller and glossier, and provides lasting, flexible hold, all while leaving hair feeling clean and fresh. It works well on all hair textures, from fine and straight to coarse and curly. The medium hold never left our hair feeling crunchy but was strong enough to provide memory and shape even after brushing. We also really liked the can design, which features a top that doesn’t get removed, but rather twists to reveal the nozzle (so it’ll never pop off and get lost). 

While we did find it added a bit of texture to our hair, which gave the impression of slightly denser strands, we wish it provided a bit more volume. That said, this hairspray can already do so much—and because it layers well with other products, we can always incorporate a root-lifting or volumizing spray into our routine.

Chantia, tester with 4C hair

“I love the lightweightness and the flexibility of this spray. I have never had a holding spray that I felt could be used on an everyday basis before this…The mist is fine with no droplets, which I love because that tends to make 4C hair frizz.”

Best Budget

Kristin Ess Ultra Fine Workable Hairspray

What We Like

  • Very lightweight
  • Heat protectant qualities
  • Holds well, even heavy hair 

What We Don't Like

  • Can’t be used for wet-to-dry styling
  • Doesn’t have very strong hold

Hold: Flexible hold | Size: 6.7 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This multitasking spray comes out of the can in a fine, fast-drying mist that provides flexible hold without any crunchiness, stickiness, or residue—when we ran our fingers through, our hair felt as if there was no product in it at all. Whether brushing out curls or sleeping on them overnight, the spray kept our style intact, taming flyaways and frizz while adding subtle volume and shine. At no point did we observe residue or flaking, even after spraying on multiple layers. Added bonus: This budget-friendly formula has heat protectant qualities to protect your hair from your curling or flatiron. 

If you’re looking for a product that will keep an updo securely in place, this is not it. Save this hairspray for more casual, loose styles that don’t need to be locked down. Also, keep in mind that hairspray, including this one, shouldn’t be used on wet hair; you’ll need to use a separate heat protectant when drying your hair.

Bridget, tester with 2A hair

“The hold is great without being tacky or heavy and the scent is light—I think I've found my new favorite hairspray!”

Best For Every Day

Verb Ghost Hairspray

What We Like

  • A little goes a long way
  • Keeps hair looking clean
  • Brushes through easily 
  • Leaves hair shiny

What We Don't Like

  • Easy to apply too much
  • Can get crunchy on fine hair

Hold: Medium hold | Size: 7 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

With just a few quick spritzes, this spray imparts a glossy sheen to hair without making it look greasy or wet. The formula contains alcohol, but the scent is mostly citrusy rather than harsh or boozy and fades quickly as the spray dries. When testing, the spray quickly secured frizz and flyaways and held our bangs and ponytail in place for the entire day; we found that, if we needed to, we could brush through our hair and restyle without the need for another wash. 

The only detractor is that you can actually hear and feel the crunch of this hairspray as you brush your comb or fingers through your hair. While it didn’t feel like our hair was shellacked, it was a little disappointing considering the formula claims it wouldn’t leave hair crunchy. This stiffer texture does help to keep hair held in place though.

Shannon, tester with 2B hair

“This is more of what I’d call a daily hold hairspray—it gives medium structure and hold to last a normal day but won't help your style survive  hurricane winds, an intense workout class, or provide enough hold for a complicated updo.”

Best With Heat Protection

Alterna City Slay Shielding Hairspray


What We Like

  • Protects hair from heat damage
  • Protects against humidity
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn’t have volumizing properties

Hold: Flexible hold | Size: 7.4 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Go ahead and spray on layer after layer of this lightweight, fast-drying Alterna formula—it won’t leave hair feeling crispy or sticky. Its flexible hold and lasting memory allow you to brush your fingers through your hair, shape it the way you like, and respray to keep your style in place without feeling stiff or heavy. Even after multiple layers, you won’t see any flakes or residue upon brushing. 

This product can be used to protect hair from heat styling as well as humidity (you can get up to three days of humidity defense!), but we’ll admit we wish it had just one more benefit: volume. After sleeping on our styled hair overnight our strands looked a little flat. That said, it layered beautifully with dry shampoo, which we used to amp up our roots before spritzing on one final coat of hairspray.

Michelle, tester with 3C hair

“My hair felt so soft and light, even after spraying a significant amount of hairspray on it. It didn't feel sticky at all—the hairspray sort of melted into my strands, allowing me to brush through and style easily without becoming stiff.”

Best Flexible Hold

amika fluxus touchable hairspray

What We Like

  • Makes blowouts last
  • Spray covers a lot of hair easily
  • Tames frizz and flyaways
  • Feels soft and touchable

What We Don't Like

  • Chemical scent

Hold: Flexible hold | Size: 8.2 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

When you want your blowout to look fresh, bouncy, and flawlessly styled all day, reach for this hairspray from amika. It mists out of the can in a continuous fine spray to cover all your hair in seconds, taming mild flyaways and frizz and providing flexible hold that keeps hair soft and touchable. It took a few seconds to dry, after which it did a great job of prolonging our style.

This product is very lightweight with a super flexible hold, so don’t expect it to tamp down a style like an updo; those with heavy or thick hair may also find that the formula isn’t powerful enough to keep strands in place. It may also be too fragrant for some, but we know scent preferences are subjective.

Lee, tester with 1C hair

“This is the lightest, most flexible hairspray I've ever used.”

Best Brushable Hold

Kevin Murphy Bedroom Hair Flexible Texturizing Hairspray

What We Like

  • Adds texture to hair
  • Makes hair look thicker
  • Lightweight
  • Hair looks clean the next day

What We Don't Like

  • Hold isn’t strong enough for some styles
  • Divisive fragrance

Hold: Flexible hold | Size: 8 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

A lot of texturizing hairsprays leave hair feeling stiff or grimy, but not this formula from Kevin Murphy. You can brush through it and maintain your style without that “I need to wash my hair” feeling. We found it offered just the right amount of grip to hair, helping to secure and bulk up our ponytail yet leaving our strands feeling soft and touchable. It also didn’t feel sticky on our hands when we used them to shape our style, nor did it weigh down our fine hair at all; its texturizing qualities actually made the hair look thicker.

The scent of this spray is highly divisive—you’ll either love the vanilla-coconut fragrance or hate it. Still, we appreciated that it didn’t smell like alcohol or chemicals, nor did it clash with our perfume.

Trisha, tester with 1C hair

“Not only does it seem to work very well, but it doesn’t make me feel like I’m constantly covering myself in a fog of chemicals. This is going to become my new go-to for texture and everyday hold.”

Best Strong Hold

R+Co Vicious Strong Hold Flexible Hairspray

What We Like

  • Seriously strong hold
  • A little goes a long way
  • Stands up to humidity
  • Doesn’t leave hair crunchy or stiff

What We Don't Like

  • Easy to overapply

Hold: Strong hold | Size: 9.5 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Most people associate the concept of strong hold hairspray with helmet head, but this formula from R+Co defies that stereotype. We tried this on beachy waves and a sleek bun, and at no point did our hair feel crisp or untouchable—just perfectly polished. Even on ultra-humid days, this spray did its job and kept our wild baby hairs in check.

A little bit of this product goes a long way, so be sure not to overspray. Just a spritz or two will give your hair all the hold it needs; more than that could make your hair feel stiff. It’s also one of the priciest formulas on this list, but the canister is generously sized.

Katie, tester with 2A hair

“I really like this hairspray. It has a superb strong hold that rivals other strong hold hairsprays I've tried–and I've tried a lot! The difference is that it holds any kind of hairstyle without feeling crunchy or stiff.”

Best Non-Aerosol

BondiBoost Flex & Shine Aerosol-free Hair Spray for Brushable Hold

What We Like

  • Leaves hair looking very shiny
  • Great smell
  • Doesn’t leave residue
  • Lasts a long time

What We Don't Like

  • Easy to overapply
  • Takes some time to master application

Hold: Brushable hold | Size: 6.76 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Most hairsprays come in aerosol packaging, which can make for easy application but may also create an unfun cloud of product around your head. This product from Bondi Boost is rare in that it’s both a non-aerosol formula and smells fantastic, with a sophisticated and light fruity-floral scent. It didn’t show up on a tester’s blonde hair, which often shows residue from hairspray—instead, it just made it look shiny. 

The biggest benefit of aerosols is that they create a very fine mist, though there are plenty of traditional sprayers that can create a light spritz. However, we found that this one was a little persnickety. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to spray on way too much, which can leave the hair visibly wet and, once it dries, feeling hard, crunchy, or greasy, depending on your hair type. Once you know how to apply it, though, this hairspray is a must-try.

Courtney, tester with 1B hair

“This hairspray is definitely for a very flexible hold—the title containing ‘brushable hold’ managed my expectations. After a full day, the hold had fallen out a bit, but it was still very shiny.”

Best Non-Crunchy

Kenra Perfect Medium Spray 13

What We Like

  • Undetectable in hair
  • Adds volume
  • Smooths hair
  • Doesn’t weigh down fine hair

What We Don't Like

  • Strong scent
  • Won’t hold all styles

Hold: Medium, brushable hold | Size: 10 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

If texture from a hairspray is a dealbreaker, you’ll want to test this Kenra formula, which disappeared quickly after we spritzed it on to control frizz and keep our style in place. It added subtle volume, which we appreciated, in addition to giving our hair a nice, smooth appearance that made it look more polished and elevated.

Remember that this is a medium, brushable hold hairspray, so if you’re looking for a product that will secure a fussy style for hours on end, this isn’t it. However, it’s a great pick for someone who wants to tame their everyday style.

Stacey, tester with 1A hair


“While most products typically weigh my hair down, I found this was more lightweight than others I've used. It wasn’t obvious that I had hairspray in my hair—it felt and looked natural. My hair felt soft and normal in the ponytail…I appreciated how it added extra ‘oomph’ to my look.”

Best for Fine Hair

Living Proof Style Lab Flex Hairspray

What We Like

  • Lightweight
  • Adds lift and bounce
  • Makes hair look healthy and nourished
  • Leaves hair soft

What We Don't Like

  • Hold could be stronger
  • Easy to overapply

Hold: Medium hold | Size: 7.5 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This heat-protecting hairspray is a blessing for those with fine hair—it provides a flexible, residue-free hold that doesn’t weigh down strands, keeping bouncy styles lifted and intact. But what is especially remarkable is how it left our hair looking healthy and conditioned. While most formulas with a nourishing benefit tend to make the hair appear greasy, this one didn’t—it just left our strands soft and manageable.

This hairspray is excellent, but it’s easy to overapply if you’re not careful. Too much product will leave your hair a little crispy or sticky, so use a light hand when you’re misting. We’re such fans of this one that we wish it came in a stronger hold version.

Michelle, tester with 3C hair

“I love the flexibility of this product and how a little goes a very long way. It provided enough hold and helped my hair to actually look more nourished and healthy than it did before.”

Best Scented

Oribe Free Styler Working Hairspray

What We Like

  • Powerful hold
  • Sophisticated scent
  • Added volume
  • Leaves hair soft

What We Don't Like

  • Spray can be rather intense

Hold: Light hold | Size: 9 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Hairsprays can smell overwhelmingly like chemicals, so this one from Oribe is an indulgence—it smells like a citrusy floral perfume, yet it won’t linger long after application. It kept our style intact the entire day, leaving our hair voluminous, shiny, and frizz-free. The gentle hold of the formula meant our hair never felt crunchy or stiff, and even after running our fingers through our hair, we never saw any flakiness or residue.

We loved how this product performed, but it’s worth noting the price—it’s definitely an investment, especially if you’re looking to upgrade from a drugstore hairspray. That said, those who want a hairspray that they look forward to using every day no matter how they style their strands should check this one out.

Kelly, tester with 2A hair

“I was pretty impressed with how well it held. My hair doesn't last without hairspray at all, so this was great—the style wilted a little, but mostly stayed intact. It lasted as long as the product that I usually use, but it didn't weigh nearly as heavily on my hair.”

Best Shine Enhancing

Pureology Style + Protect Hairspray

What We Like

  • Strong memory
  • Leaves hair shiny
  • Simplifies style refreshing
  • Effective hold

What We Don't Like

  • May be too heavy on fine hair

Hold: Strong hold | Size: 10.5 fl. oz. | Alcohol-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

We adored how this product performed on our hair, which stubbornly resists styling—using it in tandem with a curling iron resulted in lasting texture and a glossy (not greasy) sheen. We were most impressed by the product’s memory; when our curls began to sag, a quick fluffing with our fingertips woke them right back up again, returning our style to its original form in seconds. This also made it easier to refresh our curls with our curling iron the next day, after which our style held even better. 

Aside from the fact that it can be a bit cumbersome, we wouldn’t change anything about this product. It performed well and was easy to use. However, those with very fine hair might find the formula a little too heavy for them. It’s best suited for thicker textures.

Sunita, tester with 2B hair

“I would give this brand a five-star rating in every way. The feel and texture of the product were great…It kept hair feeling soft, lightweight and was easy to brush through without feeling stiff and crunchy.”

What to Consider When Buying Hairspray

  • Hold Level: This is probably the most important characteristic of any hairspray. “It determines the amount of flexibility or firmness,” says Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. If you’re doing an everyday style that you want to have movement and bounce—and would like to run your fingers through it—then you should look for a formula with flexible or workable hold, like Amika fluxus touchable, flexible hairspray. Strong hold formulas like R+Co Vicious Strong Hold Flexible Hairspray are best for days when you don’t want your hair to budge, like on special occasions, humid days, and when you’re wearing a slicked-back, polished style.
  • Memory: You’ll also see the term “memory” when shopping for hairspray. This is a sign that a product contains special ingredients (typically heat activated) to help remember your style, says Chamarti. Even after your hair has been brushed, touched, or moved out of place, a hairspray with memory will more easily return to its original shape.
  • Application: “Anytime more control is needed—whether it’s before, during, or after styling—is a proper time to use hairspray,” says Abramite. However, there are two types of hairsprays—aerosols and non-aerosols—and how and when you apply them will differ. Aerosols work by spraying a very fine, lightweight, fast-drying mist that can cover a lot of area at once; you apply these from 12 inches away. They can be used before styling, to help prep your strands for heat styling and support lasting results, or afterwards to secure an updo or keep a blowout looking polished. “I use non-aerosol sprays for shorter styles that like to be spikey and textured,” says Charmarti, ”but my favorite use for non-aerosol hairspray is on naturally wavy and curly hair.” 
  • Feel and Finish: Remember, the hold level of a hairspray will often tell you exactly what your hair might feel like after use. Look for keywords like “firm,” “freeze,” and “control” for strong hold products and “soft,” “natural,” and “touchable,” for lighter hold formulas, says Abramite. As for the finish, you can expect mattifying or texturizing formulas to leave the hair looking less shiny, but that might not be a bad thing. “Texturizing hairspray is beneficial for fine hair looking to inflate volume and thicken density while providing hold,” she explains. Formulas that boast high shine will give you a glossy look, but they may not encourage volume— they tend to be more slippery, and that lack of grip translates to less oomph.


Can you use hairspray on all hair textures?

Yes, anyone can use hairspray, regardless of their hair type, though they’ll want to consider their texture when shopping. “People with finer or thinner hair should be careful with both shiny and matte sprays,” says Chamarti. The former can make your hair look oily, especially if you’ve applied it too close to your scalp, and matte can cause tangling. You should also apply less product overall to avoid weighing down the hair. 

Those with wavy or curly hair can use any hairspray, but both Abramite and Chamarti prefer non-aerosol formulas for these textures. “Curly textures match very well with non-aerosol hairsprays because they are a wetter product,” says Abramite, who notes that the damp burst of product will enhance hair’s texture and improve hold while promoting definition.

Should you only use hairspray on dry hair?

For the most part, you’ll want to use hairspray on dry hair. “When I curl finer hair, I like to use texture spray before using a curling iron and then apply hairspray after, while the hair is still hot, to finish styling,” says Chamarti. If you have medium to coarse hair, spraying before styling may be enough to secure your style. If you’re doing a simple blowout, you’ll likely only need an all-over mist from 12 inches away to keep your hair looking flawless, says Abramite.

Can you use hairspray on wet hair?

There are a few instances where you’d use a hairspray on wet hair. Chamarti will occasionally use it like a setting lotion to add body before a blowout. “It can also be used on wet hair to create sleek styles or molding shapes,” says Abramite. You’d spray on a generous amount two inches away from your hair, leaving your strands saturated with water and hairspray. “This creates a wet look with high gloss shine and heavy hold, even after the hair has dried,” she explains. From here, you can leave your hair as is or brush it out with a cushion brush once it’s air-dried for a style that has serious hold and a soft sheen.

Is it possible to use too much hairspray?

Yes, you can absolutely use too much hairspray. If your hair is crunchy and hard, that’s usually a sign you’ve gone too far. “For ‘down-dos’ that are meant to be soft and moveable with bounce, too much hairspray will stiffen the hair,” says Chamarti. If you’re wearing a formal or bridal updo, you don’t have to worry too much about overloading your hair. But you should approach applying hairspray in the way you would when using lipstick or nail polish, says Abramite. “Hairspray can be layered for more intensity,” she explains. “The more coats layered result in a buildup of texture, hold, and strength.

How can you keep hairspray from getting crunchy?

To avoid the dreaded crispy or sticky feel hairspray sometimes leaves, Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, suggests using a flexible hold formula. “Begin by holding the spray 12 inches away from the head and lightly mist all over,” she says. As the spray travels through that distance, it’ll begin to dry midair; once it’s on your strands, it’ll finish drying to set your style. Touch your hair to see if it’s still soft but also staying in place—if it can be secured a little more, repeat this spraying technique until you have your desired level of hold.

Why Trust Byrdie

Emily Orofino is a seasoned beauty writer and brand consultant with hair that absolutely will not hold a style. After years of experimenting with different hairsprays, she has finally figured out the hair care routine that works best for her (and it includes Bumble and Bumble Spray de Mode). 

She interviewed Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, and Vennela Chamarti, stylist at Blandi Salon in New York City for this article.