When To Apply Hairspray

Using hairspray
Photo: Cherries/Shutterstock
Q: Should you add hair spray before or after you style your hair? Are there different types of hair spray or do they all do the same: just keep your hair in place?
A: The "when" of applying hairspray depends on the style you are trying to create.
If you are combing out a roller set and want to give the curls/wave some extra hold, you would apply hairspray afterward. However, if you are planning to curl the hair with a curling iron or straighten it with a flat iron, you can lightly mist the hair with hairspray beforehand to improve the results of the heat styling and give the hair (whether curls or straight locks) a crisper finish.
You want to think of hairspray as just another styling product with variable uses. The polymers in hairspray help to hold the style and can help make the hair moisture-proof and keep it smooth against humidity and wind-displacement.
As a rule of thumb, applying the hairspray during the styling process usually means using it to coat the hair strands and protect or enhance their styled finish or look. Applying hairspray after styling is finished is usually meant to act as an adhesive to hold the style intact.
The different formulas of hairspray are generally meant for different hair types and types of style. Light hold sprays are best for fine hair types and styles that are soft and meant to move freely. Medium hold styles are for hair that is average in density and texture and styles that are perhaps harder to control so that they can look better longer.
Finally, the extra hold and extra firm formulas are great for hard to hold hair and styles that are very involved - such as up-dos and very curly styles which have lots of definition and which you want to keep looking crisp and neat.
See also:
The difference between a non-aerosol and aerosol hairspray
Hairspray to keep your hair in shape on humid days
Hair texture and density
Hair products related questions and answers