Every summer I convince myself that I’m a mermaid and stock up on salt spray and embrace the no-hair-brush lifestyle. My current salt spray is nearing the end of its life so I’ve started researching for new products, and the effect that these sprays have on our hair. So I’m here to explain a bit of the science behind this trendy hair product!
salt spray ingredients
While researching different salt sprays I was surprised at the variety of ingredients found in these styling products. Aside from water, preservatives, fragrance, and coloring, I found many different types of salts, hydrating ingredients, and additives that are used in these sprays.
Aside from the typical sodium chloride (sea salt), I found that magnesium sulfate is very commonly used. Magnesium sulfate is also known as Epsom salt, which is a common treatment for soreness and is used in many bath salt mixtures. Anhydrous (no water containing) magnesium sulfate is used as a drying agent and is very hygroscopic (meaning it pulls water from the air towards itself). The inorganic salt has found its way into our salt sprays, which helps dry out hair a bit, causing it to be softer and give that beachy look.
So to balance out the drying action that’s happening due to the presence of these salts, sprays often include a variety of hydrating ingredients or humectants. Commonly used humectants are glycerin, propylene glycol,and aloe vera. These ingredients allow the hair to retain the moisture it currently has, and by not be completely dried out by the salts.
A few interesting additives that I came across in my product search include seaweed, algae, and kelp extracts. Besides giving the product that super mermaid-y feeling, these ingredients provide a lot of vitamins and nutrients to the hair, and give the marketing team great opportunities to highlight the “all natural” ingredients. Finally, and not surprisingly, many salt sprays contain essential oils. Using essential oils is a great way to provide “non-synthetic “fragrance to the salt sprays, however, it’s possible to develop a sensitivity in certain people due to the high concentrations. Luckily, these salt sprays contain essential oils in such small quantities, it would take a lot for the product to become irritating on our tresses.
salt spray’s effect on hair
A common worry about using salt spray on hair is that it will lead to dry and brittle strands. As I stated earlier, the balance of water, salts, and humectants allow the hair to remain healthy and still provide a temporary beach wave look. So feel free to spray away and pretend you’re not stuck indoors all day dreaming about the beach.
The same applies to sugar texturizing sprays, however, instead of softening and drying the hair, sugar sprays create a sticky/slick environment for the hair giving a different texture.
Have you ever tried a salt spray? What’s your favorite brand? I’d love to hear any comments or questions you have below!