Aqua Net

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Aqua Net
A purple aerosol canister with a white cap
An Aqua Net spray can
Product typeHair spray
OwnerLornamead, Inc. (Meiyume)
Ambassador(s)The Three Stooges, Donna Mills
"We had high hair anyway... We used a lot of Aqua Net."[1] - Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes

I dyed my hair platinum blond; Leah liked to help me fluff it up by teasing it and using Aqua Net hairspray—it would be just towering, six to eight inches high...

Aqua Net is an aerosol hair spray created by Rayette of St. Paul, Minnesota. The company brought the product to retail stores in 1961.[3] By 1964, hairspray had become the top-selling beauty product in America.[4][5] and for its marketing strategy, which aimed to make hair spray "as ubiquitous as soap".[6][7] The brand is known for its distinctive large purple spray cans, and the spray itself is known for its strong hold and distinctive smell.[8]


Aqua Net was invented by the Rayette Company of St. Paul, Minnesota[3] in the 1950s.[9] Rayette was founded by chemist Raymond E. Lee [10] in 1935 and specialized in professional hair care products including shampoo and hair coloring as well as curlers, dryers, rollers, brushes, and hairnets.[10] By 1959 the company had annual sales of over $11 million. Mark L. Arend [10] and George Barrie took over the firm in 1959. Barrie immediately began an aggressive marketing campaign and increased sales by 700%[11] The company acquired Faberge in 1963 for $20 million.[12] Sources differ on its availability around this time. One source describes it as being initially available only in hair salons and not offered directly for sale to the public until the late 1950s.[13] Another states that this change happened in 1961.[14] Yet another says that it was on the market as early as 1953, but does not specify whether that included direct sale to the public, or only to salons.[15] Regardless of how they obtained it, those who did have access to it in the 1950s and 1960s found it suitable for facilitating the bouffant hairstyles popular in those decades, such as the beehive.[16]

In the 1960s, Aqua Net was advertised by The Three Stooges.[17]

In the 1980s, a renewed trend for big hair, and the rise of glam rock and hair metal bands like Mötley Crüe and Cinderella resulted in the widespread use of hair spray in mainstream and alternative culture alike.[18][19][20] Aqua Net became synonymous with these trends during that decade.[21][22] In the 1980s, Aqua Net was advertised by Donna Mills.[23][24]

Around January 1989, Fabergé entered talks to sell a number of brands, including Aqua Net, to Unilever.[25] The sale was completed in February 1989.[26]

c. 1989-1992, Aqua Net was the subject of a product safety lawsuit, Nowak v. Faberge USA,[27] that has since entered legal textbooks.[28]

In the 1990s, Aqua Net was used by punk musicians such as Lars Fredriksen and Michelle Cruz Gonzales.[29][30][31]

The brand was acquired from Unilever in 2006 by Lornamead, Inc.[32] Lornamead instigated a rebranding effort intended to reference the product's heritage by reviving parts of its original design elements.[13][33] Li & Fung acquired Lornamead in 2012.[34] Lornamead is currently part of Meiyume, owned by a joint venture between the Fung Group and Hony Capital called LH Pegasus.

Composition and health effects[edit]

Aqua Net's ingredients include dimethyl ether, SD alcohol 40-B, and aminomethyl propanol.[8]

From at least 1970 through 1972, during a period in which it was manufactured by Fabergé, Aqua Net contained vinyl chloride as a propellant.[35] Vinyl chloride exposure is associated with a raised risk of certain liver cancers.[35][36]

In 2002, during the period in which it was manufactured by Unilever, Aqua Net was reported to contain the phthalates dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP).[37] Pthalates are associated with male reproductive dysfunction.[37]

Alternative uses[edit]

Besides hairstyling, Aqua Net has been used:

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the film After Hours (1985), the beehive-wearing, 1960s-obsessed character Julie is shown to have a large backup supply of Aqua Net.[51][52]
  • In the film When Harry Met Sally... (1989), Sally Albright uses Aqua Net on her Farrah Fawcett-style hairdo.[53][54] The use of a well-known product with a strong "set" may have been chosen by the film's writers in order to add a subtext.[55]
  • In the television series Mad Men (2009), the lead characters' advertising agency pitches for the Aqua Net account.[56][57]
  • The song AquaNet by Yelawolf


  1. ^ Yaeger, Lynn (22 May 2007). "Winehouse Rules: Amy channels Ronnie Spector's high hair and Cleopatra eyes". Village Voice. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  2. ^ Neil, Vince; Sager, Mike (2010). Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back With One Of Rock's Most Notorious Frontmen. Hachette UK. ISBN 9781409111313.
  3. ^ a b "RAYETTE - FABERGE PROFIT HARVEST". Investors Reader. 1966. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  4. ^ Sherrow 2006, pp. 183
  5. ^ Sherrow, Victoria (6 July 2018). Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313331459 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Uris, Auren (1 January 1969). The strategy of success. Macmillan. ISBN 9780026212007 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Media/scope". Standard Rate & Data Service. 5 July 1968 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b Stall, Sam; Harry, Lou; Spalding, Julia (17 September 2018). The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1001 Things You Hate to Love. Quirk Books. ISBN 9781931686549 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Popoff, Martin (15 August 2014). The Big Book of Hair Metal: The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade. Voyageur Press. ISBN 9780760345467 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b c "Acquisitions Give Rayette Broadest Base In Field". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 3 May 1964.. p. 5. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Rayette Shows 700% increase". Minneapolis Star. 27 January 1960.. p. 47. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Rayette Purchase of Faberge Cost Firm $20 Million". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 28 June 1963.. p. 10. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ a b "Before & After: Aqua Net".
  14. ^ "10-K Transcript". 5 July 1977.
  15. ^ "Faberge Will Provide Aqua Net For New Line". Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  16. ^ Stern, Jane; Stern, Michael (17 February 1990). Sixties people. Knopf. ISBN 9780394570501. Retrieved 27 July 2018 – via Internet Archive. aqua-net.
  17. ^ Lenburg, Jeff; Maurer, Joan Howard; Lenburg, Greg (2012). The Three Stooges Scrapbook. ISBN 9781613740859.
  18. ^ "Classic Tracks: Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls"". December 2007.
  19. ^ Guarnieri, Anne-Marie (13 April 2012). "Nostalgia: When Hair Was Big".
  20. ^ Heaton, Michael (12 January 2015). Truth and Justice for Fun and Profit: Collected Reporting. Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 9781938441691 – via Google Books.
  21. ^ a b c d e "The Return of Aqua Net: How the 80s Hairspray Became a Fashion Phenomenon—Again". 27 May 2014.
  22. ^ See, for example:
  23. ^ "Television/radio Age". Television Editorial Corporation. 1 November 1986 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ "Product Marketing for Beauty Industry Retailers & Manufacturers". U.S. Business Press. 1 January 1987 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ Reuters, From (11 January 1989). "Unilever Seeks to Acquire Faberge". Los Angeles Times.
  26. ^ SANCHEZ, JESUS (11 February 1989). "Faberge to Sell Cosmetics Units to Unilever : Arden, Brut, Aqua Net Among Firms Included in $1.55-Billion Deal". Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Nowak v. Faberge USA, Inc., 812 F. Supp. 492 (M.D. Pa. 1992)".
  28. ^ See, for example:
  29. ^ Smith, Rj. "What's in a Mohawk?". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  30. ^ Gonzales, Michelle; Sorrondeguy, Martín (19 February 2016). Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band. PM Press. ISBN 9781629632551. Retrieved 5 July 2018 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ "Punk Is Gone But Not Forgotten At 950". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Jatania brothers snap up Unilever hair care brands".
  33. ^ "Aqua Net Gets A Makeover". 14 March 2015.
  34. ^ "Li & Fung acquires Lornamead". Li & Fung. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  35. ^ a b Peter F. Infante, Stephen E. Petty, David H. Groth, Gerald Markowitz & David Rosner (2009). "Vinyl Chloride Propellant in Hair Spray and Angiosarcoma of the Liver among Hairdressers and Barbers: Case Reports". International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. 15 (1): 36–42. doi:10.1179/oeh.2009.15.1.36. PMID 19267125.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  36. ^ "Beauty throwback: The story behind hairspray". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Download Limit Exceeded". 2002. CiteSeerX {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  38. ^ "Stain Technology: A Journal for Microtechnic and Histochemistry". Williams & Wilkins Co. 5 July 1970 – via Google Books.
  39. ^ Leonard S. Kaplow (1971). "Commercial Hair Sprays as Fixatives for Hematological Cytochemistry". Stain Technology. 46 (4): 177–182. doi:10.3109/10520297109067850. PMID 4105506.
  40. ^ Rickles, N. H. (1 May 1972). "Oral Exfoliative Cytology: An Adjunct to Biopsy". CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 22 (3): 163–171. doi:10.3322/canjclin.22.3.163. PMID 4625568. S2CID 44654146.
  41. ^ Carr, Kathleen Thormod (6 July 1997). Polaroid Transfers: A Complete Visual Guide to Creating Image and Emulsion Transfers. Amphoto Books. ISBN 9780817455545 – via Google Books.
  42. ^ "The Return of Aqua Net: How the 80s Hairspray Became a Fashion Phenomenon—Again". Vogue.
  43. ^ Tarantola, Andrew (19 May 2012). "How To Turn PVC and Hairspray Into a Force of Destruction".
  44. ^ Dice, Mark (27 May 2014). Causing Trouble: High School Pranks, College Craziness, and Moving to California. Mark Dice. ISBN 9780988726833 – via Google Books.
  45. ^ "Bill Gurstelle Teaches Science With Trebuchets". 17 May 2010.
  46. ^ "Splorg Potato Cannon".
  47. ^ Currie, Elliott (5 July 1991). Dope and Trouble: Portraits of Delinquent Youth. Pantheon Books. ISBN 9780394561516 – via Internet Archive.
  48. ^ "Aqua Net Hair Spray (for Bed Adhesion) - 3D Print General". 3D Print General. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  49. ^ "Miracle Print Adhesion Improver by phineasjw". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  50. ^ "Improving 3D Prints With Hairspray". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  51. ^ Connelly, Marie Katheryn (27 July 1993). Martin Scorsese: an analysis of his feature films, with a filmography of his entire directorial career. McFarland. ISBN 9780899508450 – via Google Books.
  52. ^ O'Neal, Sean (22 July 2008). "Interview: Teri Garr". The A.V. Club.
  53. ^ Michel, Lorin (2015-02-02). "Celebrate Something | The many uses of Aqua net". Live It Out Loud. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  54. ^ "Things I Love About "When Harry Met Sally…"". 27 July 2011.
  55. ^ Diner, The Fine Art (20 January 2012). "THE FINE ART DINER: Fate vs Chance: When Harry Met Sally".
  56. ^ "AMC's "Mad Men" Serves Up a Stunning Surprise - And a Modern-Day TV Triumph". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  57. ^ Insider, Business. "How Mad Men ads compare with ones that actually ran in the 1960s".