Debra Lynn Dadd

Fragrance-free hairspray

I ran a request for fragrance-free hairspray from a woman with MCS who needs to use hairspray and her favorite brand she has been using has been discontinued. I myself don't use hairspray, so I have no personal experience. Click on COMMENTS for more responses.

A number of fragrance-free websites carry unscented hairspray made by Magick Botanicals. This hairspray is unscented, but it does contain plastics. Free & Clear Perfume Free Hairspray is another popular brand sold on many websites.

What I've found is that most of the fragrance-free hairsprays are still made from petrochemical plastics (PVP on the label).

One reader wrote, "Thai Crystal Deodorant Mist doubles as a good hairspray!" It's 100% natural and unscented.

Another reader wrote, "I use the "old fashioned" hair spray--corn syrup that has been boiled in water. It works like a charm, has no scent (unless you choose to scent it), and is a very natural product. You might be able to use honey as well, but I haven't tried it."

Ah ha! This last suggestion prompted my memory banks to dredge up an article I wrote on making your own hairsprays in a newsletter I published in 1986 (twenty years ago!). Here's the text of that article...

Have you been eyeing those fabulous hairdos in all the fashion magazines and wondering how you can get your hair to stay in place without using a plastic resin based hairspray or mousse?

We took an assortment of natural potions and our friend Sara Harris down to the beauty salon at I. Magin in San Francisco to see if expert haircresser Jeannie Taylor could work with our natural hair preparations and create a look identical to what is possible with hairspray and mousse. "I'm amazed," she said. "These hold as well as any of our superhold hairsprays and mousses."

There are three basic formulas you can use. You'll have to experiement with each one to determine the correct proportions for your hair, depending on the amount of hold you need. For each formula, the stronger the soluition, the stronger the holding power., but more is not always better as they can all get very sticky. State with the proportions given, and add or dilute from there.


Dissolve one packet of unflavored gelatin in about 3 cups hot water. Let cool and apply to dry or wet hair, then blow dry into place. This will hold your hair in whatever position you dry it, so be careful! Jeannie liked this formula the best and suggested that it be diluted even further into a hairspray. Using geletin has the added advantage that it actually gives your hair more body, and even fine hair will stay in place for days after the initial application. This might simply be used as a hair conditioner, too.


Chop one lemon (or orange for dry hair) and place in a saucepan. Cover with two cups of hot water, bring to a boil, and simmer over low heat until only half remains (this will take about an hour). Cool, strain, and pour into a fine spray bottle. If desired, add one ounce of vodka as a preservative, otherwise, store in the refrigerator. This works well as a spray and will keep your hair in place while still leaving a soft feeling. Jeannie used the lemon spray after styling our hair with the gelatin. "The water in the lemon mixture reactivates the dried gelatin for a firmer hold," and our hair stayed in place for the rest of the day (even through wind and rain!)


Dissolve 2 to 5 teaspoons honey in about 1 cup of warm water. We didn't try this one in the salon, but it's easy to make and may be just right for your hair.

ATTENTION MEN! These formulations aren't just for ladies. We've heard good reports about men using them too!

Debra :-)


Paul Mitchell. "Super Clean." Even muscle tested well for me.

POSTED BY J. C. :: MONTANA USA :: 06/13/2006 3:52 PM

I use Aloe Vera 80 Styling Spray by Naturade. I suppose there is a tiny odor when you open the bottle and sniff, but I have the nose of a German Shepherd and it doesn't bother me.

Note from Debra: This one contains organically grown aloe along with the PVP. ingredients: Active Aloe (10% polysaccharides) and Water, PVP, DL Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, L-Lysine, Biotin, DMDM Hydantoin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid.

POSTED BY M. M. :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 06/13/2006 3:53 PM

I have been using an unscented hairspray from Finesse; comes in a blue can. I chose it because it was on the Environmental Working Group's website for products of lesser toxicity. They rank products and give lists of 10 Worst and 10 Best in various categories. However, the last time I checked that site, I didn't see it on the list. Other products I've tried from companies with more "natural" products are usually pump sprays and go on thick and very sticky. This is a tough question.

POSTED BY F. A. :: GEORGIA USA :: 06/13/2006 3:54 PM

In an emergency, I tried to buy unscented hairspray in a drug store. This is based on the fact that I only use a little now and then on a spot or two that need a little lift. I found Garnier Fructis Style with fruit micro-waxes, FULL CONTROL...ALL DAY HARD HOLD to be less objectionable than even the "unscented" ones----strictly from a smell point of view (actually I sort of feel I "taste"...that is I sniff it through my nose but it seems to land in my mouth.)

The less than hard hold version is too soft, doesn't hold well at all.

The full control version is probably tolerable to some because you only need a bit, perhaps under a place that doesn't stand up right. Also, it seems to soon lose what little scent there is and doesn't give me a headache (with the little I use.)

I'm not suggesting that this is a "good" product....only that we occasionally find ourselves out of the "good" stuff and have to make do with a drugstore product....this is the only tolerable hair spray I've found in a drugstore....and I sniffed quite a few to find this one. Actually I was looking for something my fashion plate granddaughter could (make that "would") use that wouldn't do me in. We also settled on their shampoo and conditioner for her to use at my house, for the same nearly lack of scent reasons (for me) and their attractive packaging (for her.)

POSTED BY J. L. :: OHIO USA :: 06/13/2006 3:56 PM

Hi Debra,

For years I used the Aloe Vera 80 alcohol and fragrance free hairspray. About a year ago they were bought out by another company. Although the ingredients read the same the smell is so obnoxious I have been unable to use it. I am curious if the readers have noticed the same thing and if so what brand have they changed to or does anyone know where one can purchase some of the old, odorless ones? My supply of the original ones just ran out! Thanks sv

POSTED BY SV :: WASHINGTON USA :: 01/26/2007 11:13 AM

Real Purity makes a sensitive hairspray that's unscented. It's a pump bottle and the ingredients are: Purified Water, Citrus Gum Blend, Gum Arabic, Guar Gum Extract, Organic Aloe Gel, Extract of Calendula, Horsetail, Hyssop, Nettles, Chamomile, Linden, Vegetable Glycerin, Panthenol, Vitamins A & E, Biotin. They sell sample bottles so you can try it before buying a full size. There's no plastic listed in this one.

POSTED BY JOY :: UTAH USA :: 01/31/2007 11:01 AM

Here's a super idea from "Here's Egg on Your Face," by Beatrice Traven. Citrate of Magnesia is a great alternative to gels and mousse. (Yup, that's right -- you get it at the drugstore for another "medicinal" purpose!) I tried it today and it worked wonderfully. You can use it straight from the bottle or dilute it (2 tablespoons per 1 cup of water.) It's so thin that I didn't think it would do anything but I went ahead and worked a small amount undiluted through damp hair and styled as usual. It gives the hair body and sheen and has great holding power with no stickiness, gumminess, or "fragrance"! I may experiment to see how well it works diluted. I bet the above formula would work as a hairspray. And what could be simpler?

POSTED BY KATE :: MICHIGAN USA :: 02/25/2008 9:04 AM

Magic Botanicals hair spray and/ or gel from


Unscented is not the same as "fragrance free". Unscented usually has fragrance that has been masked so allergies from fragrance will still be aggravated. debbie j.

POSTED BY DJG :: ILLINOIS USA :: 09/01/2008 3:23 PM

I have MCS and I successfully use Suncoat hairspray. I also use it as a spray in styling gel when my hair is wet, and then finish with it as a hairspray when it is dry.


Aubrey Organics makes all-natural hairspray that doesn't have any of the chemicals found in other hairsprays in the health food stores. It does have a scent but it's natural and I have no problem tolerating it (I am chemically sensitive). They make it in 2 strengths. The super hold strength holds very well.


I have been using a sugar based hairspray for years and LOVE it. It holds well (not amazing but well enough) and has no bad odor.

You can also get in unscented.

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (water), hydrolyzed Zea mays (corn) starch, Linum usitatissmum (linseed) seed extract (flax protein), citric acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), Citrus grandis (grapefruit ) seed extract, vegetable glycerin, potassium sorbate, essential oils.


For hairspray I made a mix of lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and refrigerated it in a spray bottle and it was great. I think it was from Debra's book...Non-toxic, Natural and Earthwise which I don't have at this location so I may be wrong. Only problem is I don't remember the proportions. However, I used it because OTC chemical were making my head sensitive, itchy, and I had dandruff. I think the fresh lemon juice and vodka may have been 1:1 (1/4 cup each?) and the sugar added just a tablespoon or two. If someone remembers this (like Debra maybe they can clarify the recipe and its correct proportions).

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: It's on page 212 of my book Home Safe Home.

POSTED BY ROGER :: OKLAHOMA USA :: 11/02/2009 11:04 AM


Return to Q&A Blog

Debra's List ~ 100s of links to 1000s of nontoxic, natural & earthwise products
Debra's Free Newsletters ~ website update, natural sweetener recipes, words of wisdom
Debra's Bookstore ~ recommended reading on health and the environment
MCS Recovery ~ resources for recovery from multiple chemical sensitivities
Sweet Savvy ~ how to choose and use natural sweetners (lots of recipes)
Talk With Debra ~ call for a personal consultation (fee)

Copyright ©2004-2007 Debra Lynn Dadd - all rights reserved.