What’s Your Favorite Drugstore Hairspray?

Published in: Hair, Just For Fun


Do you remember your prom?


It was ages ago for me, but it seems like yesterday.

Reader Vivian is at that point in her life, and she’s in need of some help with her hair:

…I’ve been digging through your archives for the best drugstore hairspray that won’t make my hair like an honest-to-God bird’s nest, texture and all, but since I’m emailing you now, do you have any immediate suggestions?

Thanks so much! Your blog makes me so excited about prom!

Hi Vivian,

Ah, prom… That’s a good place to be in life. I hope you’re enjoying it. 🙂

Before we get into the hairspray bit, let me first just say that if you haven’t started wearing sunscreen on your neck, then you gotta start TODAY, girl. Trust me, in 10 years you’ll thank me for it.

Now, onto drugstore hairsprays!

I usually use hairsprays to set a final style, and there are two drugstore products I really like.

If I want soft, flexible hold (say, if I’ve curled my hair), I reach for L’Oreal’s Elnett Extra StrongHold UV Hair Spray ($15). It’s an aerosol spray with UV protectors, and I love fine mist. It doesn’t weigh down my hair and holds a hairstyle without flaking. Plus, it never leaves me with stiff or sticky hair.

But if the humidity’s high, or for some reason my hair needs some extra hold, I’ll grab Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Anti-Humidity Hairspray Ultra Strong ($4).

It controls the frizz, even in the rain (fab for those extra birds-nesty hair days), stays put all day long and costs less than a blended coffee.

MBB readers, let’s give young Viv a hand. What are your favorite drugstore hairsprays, and why do you love ’em?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 50 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Cristina says:

    John Frida Frizz-Ease Hairspray!!! I loveeeeee that stuff.

  2. Alison says:

    I agree with Karen, Loreal Elnett is great.

  3. I have looked all over Hell’s creation for Elnett and cannot find it anywhere. I’ve been hearing about it for years.

    I use the Garnier Fructis you mention when it’s super windy out and I need my hair locked into place. I also really like John Frieda’s hair spray for blondes because it holds really well and doesn’t darken blonde hair like a lot of sprays can.

    Back in my prom days (I didn’t go though) I was all about the huge can of Aqua Net! And you are SO right about wearing sunscreen on the neck START NOW!

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Zoya Exchange – Part II

  4. Victoria R. says:

    I always use Aussie Mega Hairspray.

    Never sticky- never leaves my hair crispy nor leave a residue. And the smell is absolutely amazing- I ALWAYS get compliments on how good it smells whenever i wear it!

  5. Denisa says:

    I use Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play. I find that it can give me the big birds nest effect, but also if I spray it on lightly- it gives me a nice subtle hold with lots of volume! It’s pretty good.

  6. Beth says:

    Another vote for Elnett over here – I love the fact that it brushes out so if you ned to re-style, you can.

    Beth´s last blog post..At 27 years old, how did I get here?

  7. Megan says:

    So every single day I use TRESemme tres spray super hold hair spray because I CANNOT stand when my hair gets in my face. It does have a stiff hold depending on how much you use, but it’s never sticky. It doesn’t flake or leave build up though. I really only use it on the very front part of my hair. I have from time to time used it on the back etc. and it can leave that stiff crispy feel. I think I generally pay about $4 for a bottle. My hair kinda has a mind of it’s own…and this is the best one I’ve found that keeps my hair the way I want it and doesn’t flake/leave build up – even when using sulfate free shampoo etc.

  8. Michele says:

    I like: Thermosilk Flexible Hold, Aqua NET, Big Sexy Hair, Frizz Ease, Treesmme Extra Hold.
    and Number ONE: Air Control- great for curly hair.

  9. Solé says:

    The last time I used drug store hairspray was in the early 90s when I had a perm and wanted that super crunchy look. I used to use the non-aerosol purple bottle spritz from St. Ives and L’Oreal Studio Fix. I don’t think they make either one anymore. Heh, I’m old school.

    I rarely use hairspray anymore, but when I do I use Graham Webb Brit Style Energy Lock hairspray. It’s technically considered a salon brand but I have seen it at some drugstores. I love it because it holds incredibly well while still leaving your hair soft and flexible. And it doesn’t flake.

  10. Holley says:

    ******************One that I LOVE is by got2b. It comes in a dark red can, smells great and leaves your hair touchable but still holds. Really great stuff that I’ve bought multiple times!*************************

  11. Jaime says:

    The BEST hairspray ever is Sebastian Shaper spray. Their Zero g spray is amazing too, but the hold isn’t as strong. The Shaper spray is fabulous, because you can’t see it on the hair at all, it brushes out if you need to redo something, and it look really natural. Love love love.

    Have a fabulous prom! 🙂

  12. ines says:

    got2b glued freeze spray. not very “natural” or touchable, but awesome hold for sweaty dance competitions – it holds its shape, regardless of what you do.

    dancers like to add about half a bottle/tube of hair gel or extension glue (i like got2b spiked up gel, once again, because of max hold and shine) to their updos, slick/braid/whatever into an immovable helmet, then liberally spray with freeze spray

    we sleep for the three days of the competition on our stomachs so we don’t have to redo the “helmet.”

    it looks supersleek and is pretty much glued to our heads.

    then i wash it out with a clarifying shampoo like herbal essences drama clean. the mintiness curbs the pain and itching caused by the countless hairpins and tons of gel and hairspray.

  13. Lehea says:

    I to am a fan of Garnier Fructis. I use it when I curl my hair. Hasn’t failed me yet!

  14. Lehea says:

    I too am a fan of Garnier Fructis. I use it when I curl my hair. Hasn’t failed me yet!

  15. Janet says:

    Aussie! Good hold and smells amaaaazin’

  16. Kristina says:

    got2b smooth operator … not too heavy and it smells great!

  17. alli says:

    herbal essences “set me up” extra hold hairspray is what i’ve been using lately. works well and doesn’t make my hair crunchy!

  18. Oh yes I had BIG hair! I got a perm when I was 16 then did the huge sprayed bangs. I wanted the “rocker chick” look and sadly, I pulled it off LOL!

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Zoya Exchange – Part II

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vampy Varnish,

      I can totally see you with big hair like the cool chicks in the Bon Jovi videos. Did you wear off torn, off-the-shoulder t-shirts? I wanted one but my parents were NOT having that.

  19. Alison says:

    I agree the smell of elnett isn’t great. Tigi bed head make a god smelling one I think. Most of their products smell like candy!

  20. Megan says:

    It’s definitely getting longer. It’s past my shoulders – the length truly depends on the day though…some days if I shower at night and go to bed with it wet, it’s really curly and it’s short and just past my shoulders, others I shower in the morning and comb it out and it dries a little straighter and it’s a few inches past my shoulders. I don’t really ever straighten it though. Seriously my hair looks a mess when I try to straighten it. Even my stylist has straightened it before and agrees that it only looks good for about 15 minutes…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Megan,

      Dang, it’s getting LONG! I still remember when it was Betty Boop style.

      I have a friend who has hair just like yours that won’t straighten at all. It stays straight for about 10 minutes, tops, and then magically it transforms back to curly right before your very eyes. It’s fascinating!

    • Ah says:

      My hair is so long it pulls the curl right out after 15 min. So I started putting phyto organics omnistyler designing liquid (sub line of nexus) On damp hair before using no-heat rollers. Worked like a charm. Then I got lazy and got a body wave. But try it before straightening, it worked wonders for me.

  21. penelope says:

    i love the aussie one…it smells so good

  22. Solé says:

    Ha ha yes Karen, I confess – I was rocking that crunchy spiral perm all through middle school and part of high school! In 7th and 8th grade, the bangs were a separate unit, like a layered sprayed out puff sitting over my face. Oh yeah, and those half-ponytails directly on top of the head with hair spouting out like a fountain? All part of my junior high hair repertoire. Seriously, what the heck were we thinking back then?

  23. Daya says:

    Does anyone remember LA Looks?? I LOVED their hairspray in jr. high. However, I tend to use my mom’s favorite now..VaVoom Freezing Spray.

  24. Vivian says:

    Awww! I was NOT expecting a whole post dedicated to this! I think I’ll go with the Garnier or the Aussie, but thanks so much for the suggestions, everyone–that was really sweet.

  25. Elle says:

    My fave would be Tresemme’s Freeze and Control ultra hold. I use it every time I style my hair. Even though, it says it’s an ultra hold, it doesn’t make your hair all plastic and hard throughout the day.

    In the past, I used hairsprays in which they gave me plastic and hard hair. But, this brand did the trick for me and it smelled good too. It was only around $5 at Walgreen. I mean, if you don’t want to spend a lot on a can of hairspray and it’s only used occasionally on special events you can always start with an inexpensive bottle.

  26. I am going to regret saying writing this I am sure, but my favorite is still good, old Agua Net (except I feel a tinge of guilt every time I use it because of the carbon foot print and all). I guess I am still stuck in the 80’s!

    Melissa Street´s last blog post..Mineral Maven!

  27. Katie says:

    John Frieda Sheer Blonde Spray is awesome. It’s not too “wet” and it’s great to blow dry with…

  28. Michele says:

    i am stayin’ with air contol. It doesn’t make my hair sticky,
    and it is still manageable!

  29. TinaNYC says:

    I love Shielo’s Volume hair spray. I have never had a nosel break on me and I never had it get clogged. I used their Volume shampoo for years, and finally decided to try the hair spray.

    The reason I love Shielo’s hair spray is because I have thick but fine hair. Lots of hair that won’t do anything. I don’t like FLAT hair. I use this hair spray and first of all my hair acturally stays where I spray it – unusual for me (might be because I live in the south). This also gives my hair some lift. When I want to brush my hair I have no problem – the brush goes right thru my hair and then I can restyle. I would recommend this product to my near and dear friends.

  30. Deniece says:

    I was looking for a good hairspray that smells good. And then I remembered what I used to use back in the day (jr.high). I believe it was by St.ives…it came in a purple pump or pink pump and smelled sooo good and held up my bangs very well, lol. I cant find it anywhere and dont even know if they still sell it….I believe this is the official name for it…
    “St. Ives Swiss Formula Silk & Keratin Sculpting & Finishing Hair Spray”
    Anyone have any clue??

    • Trishia Stanley says:

      I remember that stuff too! It was so awesome& smelled great, but never got all crunchy.
      Remember Clarion makeup in my bag with it too….

  31. Molly says:

    I’m a hairspray hater! BUT I can only use the Shielo Flexible Hold Hairspray – its weightless and allows me to smooth flyaways without feeling heavy, sticky, or hard. It keeps my hair flexible and soft and doesn’t leave a visable residue like other sprays.

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