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Proper Green: Hairspray Helper (And DIY!)

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Are there better or worse ways to achieve the perfect Farrah Fawcett? Proper Green helps out on the hairspray front.

Dear Proper Green,

I’ve known for years that aerosol cans are bad, which seems to mean I can’t use hairspray without hurting the environment. But why not? Are there good kinds of hairspray?

-JoEllen R., Cherry Hill, NJ


Dear JoEllen,

Aerosol cans got a bad wrap in the ‘70s because they used chloroflourocarbons [CFCs] to propel other products (like the hairspray) out of the can, and CFCs were shown to cause significant damage to the ozone layer. In 1978, the U.S. government banned the use of CFCs for products like hairspray1, so assuming a company is complying with the law, you shouldn’t come across any aerosol hairsprays with CFCs. That said, aerosol cans still rely on hydroflourocarbons [HFCs] and compressed gasses that can pollute the environment and contribute to ozone depletion —perhaps less so than CFCs, but still a tiny bit with every use2.

Aerosol/pump debate aside: The ingredients in hairspray are sometimes toxic on their own. We have two suggestions for a work-around, so you can feel good about your hairspray choice and get on your way to perfectly coiffed hair!

  1. Check the ingredients. Often times, this is easier said than done (what do those words mean, anyway?!). Instead of bringing a dictionary to the store, check Environmental Working Group’s ratings before you make your next hairspray purchase. EWG rates hairsprays on health and environmental impact, so you could check their ratings to find a hairspray that you’re comfortable with.
  2. Make your own. There are plenty of hairspray recipes online, and making your own allows you to eliminate chemicals, and even go organic!
    • Boil two cups of water and a sliced lemon; let cool, and strain.
    • Pour into a spray bottle (maybe you could reuse a clean one you’re about to recycle!), and keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
    • Add one ounce of alcohol to the cooled water and lemon mixture, to keep the hairspray up to two weeks outside the fridge.

If this finds you wondering about other hair care products, read Proper Green’s take on shampoos and conditioners, too!

Do you have green hairstyling tips or tricks? Share yours in the comments below!

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About the Author
Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more