People have used natural compounds such as (clays, wax, tree sap, sugar, starch and gums) to hold their hair in place since antiquity. The early 20th century hair fixatives used a resin-like substance made of alcohol and shellac was dispensed from an atomizer bottle. This proved unsatisfactory because the nozzle would clog, soaking the hair making it stiff and almost impossible to remove. The lacquer in the spray was so sticky that the floors of beauty salons became quite tacky. By 1950 a clog free value was designed for dispensing gases under pressure and the first aerosol hairspray was born.

In 1950, Helene Curtis became the first to use the generic term “hairspray” for its newly developed aerosol product called Spray Net. By the end of the decade, aerosol hair sprays had inspired the creation of hairstyles that would have been impossible without them. The Beehive and Bouffant hairstyles involved teasing the hair on top of the head to keep its full and puffy looking. Hairdressers spent hours creating these towering styles and used tons of hairspray to keep it rigid and in place for a week or more. As a result hairstyles and hairspray sales soared.

By the late 1960s and 1970s the arrival of much more natural hairstyles saw hair spray sales dropped as stiff bouffant styles fall from fashion. At the same time, environmentalists began to discover that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) used in aerosol hair sprays were damaging the environment. This did not stop the beauty manufacturers, which quickly found alternative approach. In 1977, Alberto VO5 Hair Spray became the first nationally advertised premium brand to introduce an aerosol free of CFC.

The popularity of hair spray revived again in the 1990s with the popularity of structured and textured hairstyles and has remained a part of many women’s hair styling routine through the twenty-first century. In the last 50 years researchers have improved both the quality of hairspray ingredients and the aerosol packaging used to deliver them. Modern hairsprays have come a long way since the day of rigid, untouchable hairstyles. Today hairsprays deliver a light even spray that leaves no build-up, stickiness or weight. They are fast drying, and create an instant flexible hold to complement today’s hairstyles. Aerosol hairsprays have now become a delivery system for a wide variety of styling products (spray gel, spray wax, spray pomade) and account for 50% of all personal care sales. It appears that with all its ups and downs hairspray is “hair” to stay.
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