Out of all the hair products I use, hairspray is the one that I reach for most frequently. So you can imagine my curiosity in testing how homemade hairspray holds up to store-bought versions. Would a two-ingredient recipe measure up to my beloved sulfate products? I had high hopes for taming my frizz with a zero waste, money-saving, chemical-less option.
My hair has a tendency for being frizzy beyond belief, and in my 21 years of living I've found that only hairspray can keep my dark brown strands tame and frizz free. Even though my inner natural/organic beauty-loving self cringes at the thought of the chemicals in a store-bought hair spray, I can't break the habit. However, the homemade recipe I found by zero waste guru and author of Zero Waste Home Bea Johnson seemed like a good way to step away from chemicals, wastefulness, and save those few dollars.
So with the hopes that I could be swayed from my chemical-filled hairspray ways, I decided to try how a homemade hair spray recipe would work on my frizzy mane. Here's the story of how I fell in love with spraying boiled lemons all over my strands.
I found the homemade hairspray recipe on Johnson's blog/website, ZeroWasteHome.com. A California transport from France, Johnson and her family has adapted to a zero waste lifestyle since 2008, producing a less than a mason jar full of trash annually. Becoming a zero waste advocate, Johnson developed a "Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot" philosophy in her aforementioned book, detailing earth-friendly ways to maintain every part of a household. And it's within the recipe page on her site where I found the recipe for homemade hairspray.
The recipe is as follows, taken straight from Johnson's website:
2-4 lemons slicedCover with waterSimmer for 30 minStrainPour in spray bottleAdd 1tb rhum [sic] or vodka
And that's it! No extra ingredients, no laundry list of steps. That's all there is to this homemade hairspray. At first I was afraid of two things: the lemon juice being too harsh on my relatively healthy hair, and reeking of alcohol when going to work.
Admittedly with some doubt, I went to the grocery store and bought lemons and rum. Equipped with a pan, and reusable bottle at hand, I when on to create hairspray. Here goes nothing!
Making The Hairspray
The first thing I did was rinse off the lemons and slice them into half-inch thick slices. I attempted to get out all the seeds as to avoid having to pick them out by hand with the finished result. I successfully removed most. Putting about a cup of water into a large pan, I let it warm up before placing the slices flat in the water.
I made sure to leave the slices submerged in the water, so that the lemon could fully soak. Once the water was at a full simmer, I set a timer for 30 minutes.
This is what it looked like during the 30 minute period. I thought it was cool enough to warrant a Vine.
While I didn't see much of a change from when I first placed the lemons in to when I clicked off the stove, I definitely smelled a change in my kitchen. The simmer made the space smell like one of those lemon drops your mom forces you to take when you're sick. I wasn't elated by the scent, but carried on, letting the lemons and liquid cool down for about 15 minutes after that.
After the liquid cooled down, I forked out the lemons and placed the liquid in a container. Then, I poured in a tablespoon of rum and shook it up. The last task? Pouring it into a spray bottle.
There was only one question left to ask...
Does It Work?
Before we get into whether or not this seemingly odd hairspray recipe works, let me give you the low down on my own hair. My hair is dark brown, long, and like I said earlier, very frizzy. During the spring and summer, I let it dry naturally and deal with, basically, a whole head of frizz. During the autumn and winter, my hair is more manageable, so I'll blow dry it straight and occasionally using a curling iron to give it some texture.
Here's a photo of me on a good hair day.
And here's what my hair looked like the day I tried out the hairspray. It was blow dried and set with hot curlers the night before.
Even early in the morning, I was clearly already dealing with frizz.
So, I sprayed in the hairspray about a foot away from my head, just like any other hairspray. The hairspray was light, and quite fragrant. It was a misting on my hair which I worked in a bit with my hands to get it smooth and frizz-less. It worked really well to taming my flyaways at the top of head, as well as around the rest of my hair. Plus, the formula wasn't sticky like most hairsprays. The best part? My hair wasn't crunchy at all. I gave my mane a good dose of my natural hairspray, quite pleased with the way it was going so far.
Throughout the day, I noted my hair's frizz-level and how it compared to after first applying the hairspray in the morning. Even though I had walked through major rain to get to my car and from my car to my place of work, my hair was still looking pretty frizz-less in the morning. I checked in around the afternoon, though, and I noticed some frizz at the back of my head. I sprayed in some more hairspray and quickly tamed it.
I also got my co-worker to try it out. Her main comment was "it smells good," but she was pretty impressed when I revealed that there were only two ingredients in the spray.
By evening, my hair still looked better than it usually does despite the rain and the thick fog and humidity that was left behind. And even after I had driven home three hours for a long holiday weekend, my hair was still fabulous. Here's my final selfie of appreciation for my homemade hairspray. If you think this looks like a photo of us cuddling in my bed, then you are absolutely correct.
Am I A Natural Hairspray Convert?
I had my doubts about this homemade hairspray experiment. For years I have relied on the convenient store-bought products to tame my frizz and never thought twice about my consumption or trying a homemade alternative. But now that I have evidence to back up this natural hairspray recipe, and found that it actually works better than those store-bought versions I used to love, I can confidently say that I'll be opting for my homemade hairspray when it comes to controlling my frizz.
The homemade recipe not only makes my hair sleek and frizz-free, but also doesn't give my hair that crunchy feeling or an overwhelming bubble gum smell. With a light, citrus scent and a soft texture, this hairspray benefits my hair, scales down on my beauty waste consumption, and is probably much safer than those inexplicable chemicals you find in most of your average hairspray cans. To me, that sounds like a beauty win.
I admit that a few months back I would have sneered at the thought of a environmentally conscious hair routine. Now, I couldn't be happier to say that I am a fan. Even though homemade, zero waste hairspray is just a start, I'm already looking into more ways I can be earth-friendly with my beauty routine. Because if there are more recipes that work as well as this hairspray, why wouldn't I try them out?
And hey, if frizz-less hair is just a couple boiled lemons away, I'll do it any day!
Images: Melodi Erdogan