What are the dangers of aerosol hairspray?

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Aerosol hairspray is one of those beauty products used on a daily basis without a second thought. Hairspray keeps unruly tresses in place, sets styles and gives hair a finishing shine. Many hairspray users are unaware of any potential dangers posed by this cosmetic product. People who use aerosol hairspray on a regular basis should consider a few safety pointers for comfortable and continued use.

Hair damage

Using hairspray on a daily basis may damage your hair, depending on the ingredients contained in the aerosol spray. Ethanol, a form of alcohol found in some hairspray, can dry your hair and irritate your scalp. Excessive use of hairspray may also cause product build-up on your hair, leading to flaky particles and a dull look. Certain sprays may cause scalp allergies. Choose a conditioning hairspray or one that contains vitamin E, and make sure you regularly rinse the hairspray from your scalp.

Eye irritation

When hairspray comes into contact with the eye the result is irritation but it is unlikely to cause serious damage. However, relatively harmless substances such as aerosol hairspray may cause problems if they are not removed from the eye in a prompt manner. Rinse the affected eye well, flooding the eye with water for up to 15 minutes. If you wear contact lenses use hairspray before you insert them, or close your eyes when spraying, as the product can coat your lenses.

Lung problems

Hairdressers who work all day with hair spray and people who use the product excessively may be at risk of lung irritation and disease, according to a 2010 study from the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Iran published in the Journal of Respiratory Care. Almost half the hairdressers in the study reported respiratory symptoms including cough, breathlessness and wheezing and said hairspray was one of the most irritant chemicals they used. In addition, one 1981 report published in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine describes “lung disease due to abuse of hairspray”.


Aerosol products, including hairspray, are highly flammable and pose a significant fire hazard if not used correctly. The flammable product combined with a propellant that spreads the cosmetic over your hair creates an explosion if the can is punctured or exposed to fire or intense heat. Direct sunlight may cause a can to explode. Pay attention also to the risk of spray mixed with the naked flame of a cigarette lighter or match and do not light up immediately after using hairspray.


While hairspray may be safely used for the purpose intended, inhaling aerosols is substance abuse and can severely damage your health. Inhaling aerosol hairspray produces similar effects to drinking a lot of alcohol including dizziness, mood swings, vomiting and blackouts. Long term aerosol abuse can cause heart attack as well as brain, liver, kidney and muscle damage. Mixing aerosol gas with alcohol also leads to an increased risk of death.

Most recent