Project on the Chemistry of Hairspray. Includes bibliography, chemical structure, ingredients, how it works, and a reflection on the project.

Essay by PinkKitten05A+, May 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.0

Broca's Brain. Sagan, Carl. Ballantine Books; Reissue edition February 12, 1986.


Overall, I have learned a lot about hairspray. I now understand that it is the polymers that attach to the hair follicle. The compounds which cause "sticky" feeling which the actual spray have, mostly the alcohols, end up evaporating. This leaves the polymers to coat the hair, and provide the "hold".

The chemistry of hairspray deals quite a bit with soluble and insoluble solutions. Based on what we have learned in chemistry this year, I know that soluble solutions dissolve in water, so it makes since that at least part of hairspray is soluble. On the other hand, part also much be insoluble or else the hairspray would not "stick" onto your hair, nor would it deflect any water. This mixture of both soluble and insoluble solutions provides for the hairspray to be workable, and yet wash away easily.

It would be interesting to also look into the difference between aerosol and non-aerosol hairsprays. Why are they different? Does one provide a better hold than the other does? Is one safer? I know that aerosol was around first, and then came non-aerosol, but aerosol hairspray hasn't been completely phased out either. So, aerosol hairspray couldn't possibly be too harmful, or else it would have been completely replaced by non-aerosol.

Aerosol - A colloid in which solid particles or liquid droplets are suspended in a gas. Smoke is an example of a solid aerosol; fog is an example of a liquid aerosol.

Alcohol - any of various compounds that are analogous to ethanol in constitution and that are hydroxyl derivatives of hydrocarbons.

Colloid - A colloid is a heterogeneous mixture composed of tiny particles suspended in another material. The particles...