Natural non-aerosol hairspray formula?

I’m trying to create a line of unscented natural salon-quality hair products and am having trouble finding any private label or custom manufacturers that make non-aerosol hairspray.  It doesn’t have to be totally organic, but as natural as possible would be ideal.  Is this possible?


  • You can easily make pump hairspray yourself with 100% ethyl alcohol 2-5% PVP, polyvinylpirrolidone fragrance but IDK if you'll consider polymers as PVP to be organic or natural Hairspray without polymers will have virtually no hold.
  • I’m not an expert by any means, but I am a hairdresser for 25+ years and can offer my opinion. 

    Im not sure how many “natural” hairspray formulas there are available that work like the ones with the good ol’ fashioned highly effective polymers. I’m sure there’s good reason we don’t have a Natural Hairspray Craze right now!? But even just speaking of regular old hairspray- There aren’t really many (if any) non-aerosol hairsprays on the market right now (at least not in salon brands). Styling products are very trend-driven and right now there just wouldn’t be the sales to support a pump “hairspray” as consumers would know it. There are lots of other non-aerosol products used on dry hair though! Sprays for texture, for shine, for volume, and they all offer hold. (So, basically hairsprays, just called something new). So I think that finding the right marketing story for your product is key. And you may find that many available products are actually basically hairsprays with other qualities added to support the current styling trends. You may just have to find a natural element to focus on instead of an all-natural product. 

    I worked as as an educator for a professional salon brand for 15 years (10 of it we were owned by P&G), and I learned that styling products come and go and marketing is king.  And when something new has to come out (always!), the product with the least sales is the one to get discontinued. And some of the really good formulations just come back with a different ingredient story, name, use to support current trends, etc. And old hairspray becomes Super Shine Texture Spray or Thermal Protection Memory Mist or - you get the picture. 

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is, look for your hairspray by another name. And think about how to market it in a way that will sell. Some people will always use hairspray, but it is viewed as “old lady” products or as outdated by many more. Even saying it is reinvented for the flexible styling we desire currently or something that makes it NOT the Scrunch Spray of the ‘80’s would be good! Do some market research- I can tell you most of my clients think pump spray is for perms?.  

    Good luck with your search! And keep us posted- I would love to know what you create!
  • Thanks so much! 

    @Colorfuljulie , I'm a hairdresser for 18 yrs and totally agree about the marketing! 

    The unscented part is the most important part to me. I have sensitivities to synthetic fragrances so I'm stuck with essential oils for scenting.  I can't add fragrance to an aerosol can, so I need the pump. 

    Would Carbomer 940 work for the PVP in @Gunther 's suggestion?  It's typically used as a suspension or gelling agent in its product description.  Not sure the difference between 940 and other carbomers. 

    Could I also add PDM 20 Silicone for added shine or would that break down the carbomer or even break down itself in the alcohol?

    And to try to make it a LITTLE natural, could I use organic vodka as the alcohol or would that have too much water??

    If all these things work, what ratio/formula would you recommend, allowing room for some EO's for fragrance?

    Thanks again!!

  • Carbomer is used to make gels, but I’m not aware of its use in a hairspray for hold. I don’t think it would give you what you are looking for. You need to research some polymers and test some to see what type of hold you are looking for. PVP and VP/VA copolymers (and a few others) are pretty inexpensive and work well in spray form. (Makingcosmetics has them in small amounts if you want to experiment!) Silicones could go either way- some people think they are not “natural” enough, although if you’re making a spray with shine or frizz control claims silicones are a good way to go. I’m not big on “natural” hair products because of the performance gap. I always choose the ingredient that performs over anything else.  I haven’t used PDM 20, but it seems like it may be similar to phenyl trimethicone available at Lotioncrafter and waaayyyy less expensive! I use it in a leave in conditioner spray and it makes a great deal of shine at .5% while still being light enough for very fine hair. I’m on the Texas Gulf Coast and fine hair has a serious love/hate relationship with silicones!

    As far as alcohol, I don’t think it’s legal to sell products with drinking alcohol in them, but I could be wrong. This is why you see denatured alcohol in beauty products. If it’s only for personal use, then Everclear is a pretty cheap and easy way to use alcohol in your products though! 

    How many private label companies have you researched for a hairspray? It’s crazy that you can’t find one! It does seem the best way to go if you could find one you could private label and then only have to get your fragrance right. 

    Maybe someone with more knowledge will chime in to help you. There are so many generous minds here, and I’m sure they know a lot more than I do! 
  • @Colorfuljulie ; I'm with you 100% on performance over natural.  After all, I can't give them perfect highlights naturally, right? :wink:  Plus, with styling products in particular, they just wash off.  They're not meant to soak in like skin care.

    The fragrance-free private label would be ideal!  I have searched what seems like all of them... I run into either they require 5000 units (or $5000 - something about 5000 is their magic number) or they're all natural and don't carry hairspray or strong hold gels.  Or, they carry what I want, but won't do fragrance free. 

    Currently I use a private label place for shampoo, conditioner & body wash that I like (and they're natural).  Sometimes I have to buy them in 5 gallon drums, but that's ok.  I use a private label company for styling products, but they don't do fragrance-free or offer any changes to the product at all.  I just put my label on their pre-packaged items.   

    I have family in FL and we all have fine hair, so I totally get the love/hate with silicones in humidity. :)

    What I'm really trying to do is carry the products by the gallon in fragrance free, and offer fragrances they can add at the time of purchase.  It's going well with the shampoos, conditioners and body washes so far.  I also offer custom made perfumes.  The idea is they can have their chosen scent added to their entire routine so they don't have all these conflicting scents, and instead have one, signature scent that has gone on in layers.  The liquid, gel and cream styling products are the final piece - especially the hairspray.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    No - Carbomer will not provide hold.

    No - You can't make (to sell) products using drinkable alcohol
  • Hi stefarama, 
    How many units are you looking for? I'm the cosmetic chemist for a contract manufacturer and might be able to help. 
  • Hi!  That would be fantastic!  Ideally I'd like to purchase either by the gallon or by the 5 gallon drum (or multi gallons in gallon containers) and go from there.  I have packaging materials and a professional label printer, so I don't NEED that to be part of the process.  Or I can always provide packaging and labels if that's easier?  If that's an option, I'd love to hear more about your company!  Is it easier to call or email me directly?  Is that allowed?
  • For pump sprays you need it to be water-thin
    carbomer will thicken it, so it won't get atomized by the pump.

    IMO the best, mild hold, quick dry spray
    is just a silicone dissolved in cyclomethicone, diluted enough to make it water thin
    but that won't likely be considered natural.
  • I'm still trying to figure this out.  I've spent months trying to find someone to make this for me but no-one will do less than 20 gallons, which is like a 3 year supply for me.  So I'm ready to give this a try on my own.

    I'm fine with using PVP and non-natural ingredients to get the proper function. As long as I have more natural ingredients than not, it'll still fit my marketing story. 

    @Gunther I love the simplicity of your suggestions - easy for a newb like me to follow. :)  I'm interested in trying your idea of ethyl alcohol to 2-5% PVP but I have many questions... sorry in advance. :)

    1. I'm wondering if I could add a few natural extracts, hydrosols or additives for the natural appeal... like calendula extract, lavender hydrosol, etc.  Since they are (or could be) water-based, how does that affect the ratios of ethyl alcohol to PVP, if at all?   I'm guessing that the 2-5% PVP is overall, so if I add other things, the PVP goes up to maintain that percentage, right?  And PVP doesn't need a neutralizer if I remember correctly?  

    2. This is my perfume base: SD40 Alcohol, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Caprylyl Capryl Glucoside.  Can I use this instead of the ethyl alcohol?  I ask because I know it will hold the fragrance once added without needing a polysorbate.

    3. I also like the idea of a silicone for shine.  If I use the PVP for hold, can I add the cyclomethicone on it's own or do I still need to dissolve another silicone into it?  If I do need to dissolve another silicone into it, could I use dimethicone? And also if I need to dissolve it into it, what's the ratio I should use?  I do want to be careful not to be creating build-up on the hair over time.

    4. If I do add the water-based extracts or hyrosols, at which point do I need to add a preservative?  (like once I reach x% water/additives, now I need to add a preservative) Or do I always need one even if I did the straight alcohol and PVP?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I'm finally ready to order my ingredients and give this a go!  Exciting! 
  • Anything with water will need a preservative.

    Essential oils/hydrosols can be allergenic/sensitizing in their own, and they can be costly/time consuming to make on your own.

    Use percentage for any formula. PVP stays the same, you adjust the amount of water/base in percentage. PVP/VA would be a better choice for hold. PVP comes in powder form which you will have to hydrate, or pre-mixed usually 20% solution. Does not need to be neutralized unlike carbomers.

    I would definitely take some time to research heavily before making any purchases. Many silicones will not mix together or with other ingredients. 

    Switchcrafty Monkey and many other online tutorials will help you, plus digging around here on this very forum.
    Not all INCI names are created equal as well...
  • @Dirtnap1 Thanks so much for the quick reply!! 

    I have been working with EOs for 2.5 decades so I have some good sources now and know to use them accordingly.  I don't make them from scratch... yet. ;)

    Good to know about the PVP solution.  I found a powder form... would that dissolve in the alcohol?  Will I need a neutralizer if I add the VA? I did find a natural (sugar-based) VA that doesn't need neutralizer that I'm looking into.

    Good to know about the silicones.  Any experience with dimethicone?  It seems to be in everything so I'm hoping that means it's friendly to work with?

    I will check out Swithcrafy Monkey, too.

    Thanks so much for the tips!!
  • You will need a PEG Dimethicone for water based products. i.e. Peg-12 Dimethicone for example.

    PVP will need to be disperesed in water if purchased in powder form. Will not hydrate in alcohol to my knowledge. PVP K-30 is what you will want for sprays as it is thinner than K-90.

    It's always best to test the pH of your finished products to determin if you need to adjust.

    The amount of silicones and humectants will greatly reduce the holding power of your sprays. So you will have to formulate and test the amounts you choose to use. 

    Save you a little time-

  • If you want to DM me I can get you a starting formulation.
  • Thank you!!  

    This is the powder PVP I found:
    It says it's soluble in alcohol, but I of course haven't tried it.  It also appears to be the k-90, so if I used it would I need to dilute it further to get it thinner or would that negate the hold?

    I can check out the one you mentioned, too, but wondering how they might compare.

  • PVP K-30 dissolved fine in 95% alcohol for me.
    Just check your local Volative Organic Carbon VOC regulations to see how much alcohol you can use (if it's meant to be sold to customers)

    IDK if PVP K-90 is less soluble than K-30.
  • Thank you!
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