An Aqua Net spray can
|Product type||Hair spray|
|Ambassador(s)||The Three Stooges, Donna Mills|
|“||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...||”|
|— Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe|
Aqua Net is a hair spray brand notable for its popularity and for its marketing strategy, which aimed to make hair spray "as ubiquitous as soap". The brand is known for its distinctive large purple spray cans, and the spray itself is known for its strong hold and distinctive smell.
Aqua Net was invented in the 1950s. 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. Another states that this change happened in 1961. 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. 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.
In the 1980s, a renewed trend for big hair, and the rise of glam rock and hair metal, resulted in the widespread use of hair spray in mainstream and alternative culture alike. Aqua Net became synonymous with these trends during that decade. In the 1980s, Aqua Net was advertised by Donna Mills.
The brand was acquired from Unilever in 2006 by Lornamead, Inc. Lornamead instigated a rebranding effort intended to reference the product's heritage by reviving parts of its original design elements.
Composition and health effects
From at least 1970 through 1972, during a period in which it was manufactured by Fabergé, Aqua Net contained vinyl chloride as a propellant. Vinyl chloride exposure is associated with a raised risk of certain liver cancers.
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). Pthalates are associated with male reproductive dysfunction.
Besides hairstyling, Aqua Net has been used:
- as a fixative in microbiology, typically during staining procedures;
- as a fixative for charcoal or pastel artworks;
- by ballerinas, to reduce slippage of pointe shoe ribbons;
- for stiffening or straightening crinolines, skirts and tulle;
- as a solvent for un-gluing hair extensions;
- as a stain remover for makeup;
- as an insect killer;
- as a propellant in potato cannons;
- as an inhalant in recreational substance abuse;
- for increasing print adhesion in 3D Printing.
In popular culture
- In the film After Hours (1985), the beehive-wearing, 1960s-obsessed character Julie is shown to have a large backup supply of Aqua Net.
- In the film When Harry Met Sally... (1989), Sally Albright uses Aqua Net on her Farrah Fawcett-style hairdo. 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.
- In the television series Mad Men (2009), the lead characters' advertising agency pitches for the Aqua Net account.
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