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Hair spray products are a blend of simple industrial polymers that provide structural support to hair. These frequently include copolymers of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and polyvinyl acetate (PV). This copolymer mixture is usually modified to achieve the desired physical properties (adhesive strength, foaming, etc.), using plasiticers such as aminomethyl propanol, surfactants such as Benzalkonium chloride, and other agents like dimethicone.
These active ingredients make up only a small portion of a hairspray (aerosol can). The majority of a canister is filled with volatile solvents necessary to solubilize and aerosolize the copolymer mixture. These include simple alcohols like ethanol or tert-Butanol to solubilize the active ingredients, and Dimethyl ether or mixed hydrocarbons as propellants.
The copolymer mixture, solubilizing agents, and propellants are usually highly volatile and flammable (like most aerosols). For this reason, hair sprays have been classically used for combustion in potato cannons, and have been banned as carry-on items by most airport security agencies.
Hairspray became common after the patent of the aerosol process and the making of the aerosol spray can during the 1940s. The first to package it was Chase products (an aerosol manufacturer) in 1948, as the beauty industry saw that the aerosol cans used in WWII for insecticides could be used as a dispenser for hairspray. It thrived and became increasingly popular and mass-produced, as up dos and other such hairstyles were created. By 1964, it became the highest selling beauty product. However sales declined in the 1970s as hairstyles were now predominately worn straight and loose. By the 80s, hairspray’s popularity came back as big hairstyles resurged with the punk rock scene. Today, hairsprays are formulated as flexible, medium, and maximum hold, as there is much more of a liking towards natural hairstyles
- Aerosol spray
- Microbacterium hatanonis, an extremophile bacteria found to live in hairspray
- US patent 2305356, Luckenbach, William F., "Dressing of Hair", issued 1940-4-4
- US patent 2464281, Peterson, Durey H., "Cream Hair Treating Preparations", issued 1945-3-7
- Liz Suman. "The History of Hairspray." About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. <beautysupply.about.com/od/Hairspray/a/The-History-Of-Hair-Spray.htm>
- Victoria Sherrow, "Hairspray." Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.
- Ben Selinger, Chemistry in the Marketplace, fourth ed. (Harcourt Brace, 1994).Abigail Saucedo (2008)
- Victoria Sherrow, "Hairspray." Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006. 183-84. Print.
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