Is exposure to hair spray and other hair cosmetic products a problem?

Is hairspray popular? In a study using consumption data gathered in France, the frequency and amount of hair styling products was evaluated1. It was found that 52% of women (294/565) used hair styling products like lacquers, gels, foams, waxes and sprays1.  Of these hair styling products, the amount used per use for women was highest with hair spray as compared to the other styling products1.

Is hair spray safe? Exposure to hair cosmetics can be evaluated with consumption data gathered from surveys and laboratory tests. Exposure levels of eleven hair cosmetic products (e.g., hair spray, shampoos and conditions) have been calculated in France based on the frequency of use, amount per use and body wieght2. For women, between the ages of 15-39 years old, the exposure assessment found with styling foam was 4.6 times higher than their exposure assessment found with styling lacquer. Styling sprays and waxes were found to have exposure levels that did not exceed the maximum daily exposure rate established by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)2,3. For those that may not know, the SCCS is a committee that is used in Europe to help assess health and safety risks of non-food consumer products (e.g., cosmetic products) and services (e.g., tattooing, tanning)4.

Can hairspray alter hair properties? A recent study demonstrated that hair spray can alter hair shine, the shine that occurs when light is reflected off the outer surface of the hair follicle5,6. In this study, mannequin heads were treated with hair spray and placed outdoors to mimic the shine created by the sun. The mannequin hair was then judged by 15 individuals in a consumer study. As we would have guessed, the unsprayed mannequins had the least shine5. A volume lift hair spray showed the most shine and allowed for much thicker hair spray deposits to accumulate on the hair surface5.

If you would like to know more about hair spray or other hair cosmetic products be sure to ask your hair stylist at your next appointment.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

  1. Ficheux AS, Chevillotte G, Wesolek N, Morisset T, Dornic N, Bernard A, et al. Consumption of cosmetic products by the French population second part: Amount data. Food Chem Toxicol Int J Publ Br Ind Biol Res Assoc. 2016 Apr;90:130–41.
  2. Ficheux AS, Morisset T, Chevillotte G, Postic C, Roudot AC. Probabilistic assessment of exposure to nail cosmetics in French consumers. Food Chem Toxicol Int J Publ Br Ind Biol Res Assoc. 2014 Apr;66:36–43.
  3. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety SCCS Opinion on decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (cyclopentasiloxan, D5) in cosmetic products [Internet]. European Commission. 2016 [cited 2016 Sep 1]. Available from:
  4. The SCCS Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic Ingredients and their Safety Evaluation 9th Edition [Internet]. European Commission. 2016 [cited 2016 Sep 2]. Available from:
  5. Puccetti G, Thompson W. Effects of hair sprays on color perception: A hyperspectral imaging approach to shine and chroma on heads. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Aug 17;
  6. Guiolet A, Garson JC, Levecque JL. Study of the optical properties of human hair. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1987 Jun;9(3):111–24.