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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.
See also 
- Aerosol spray
- Microbacterium hatanonis, an extremophile bacteria found to live in hairspray
- Ben Selinger, Chemistry in the Marketplace, fourth ed. (Harcourt Brace, 1994).Abigail Saucedo (2008)
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