Every time you use a hairspray you’re destroying the atmosphere and speeding up global warming, thus sending human civilization crashing toward extinction.
At least that’s what some people would have you believe. In reality, hairsprays and other aerosols are safe and effective product forms used in thousands of beauty care products worldwide. This is the first installment in our four part series that explains what aerosols are and how they work. (And you can check out The Consumer Aerosol Products Council if you want the truth on aerosols, the ozone hole, and global warming.)
What is an aerosol?
Scientists define an aerosol as a “a self-contained, pressurized spray system designed to dispense various solid, liquid and gas products. This fancy definition really boils down to four basic elements that all aerosols have in common: The formula that the product delivers (e.g., a hairspray or a mousse); a container capable of withstanding high pressures; a propellant that forces the product out of the container; and a valve mechanism that seals the container and controls how the product is dispensed.
By adjusting the chemistry of the product/propellant mixture and by using different types of packaging, aerosols can dispense any thing from liquids, to foaming gels, to powders.
Types of aerosol products
In the context of beauty products, aerosols are used to dispense hairsprays, breath spray, mousses, deodorants, sun tan oils, shaving creams, contact lens sprays, dipilatories, and fragrances to name a few. They`re also used for household products like air fresheners, paints, disinfectants, cook sprays, oven cleaners, insect repellants and hundreds of others. It`s estimated that Americans use more than 1500 different kinds of aerosol products at work and home. They range in size from the giant Sebastion Shaper hairspray size to the tiny purse tote size and everything in between.
History of aerosols
The first aerosols were pesticide sprays developed in the early 1940s to protect soldiers in War II from disease carrying insects. These early aerosol containers consisted of large steel tanks that had to be strapped on the soldiers` backs. (Compare that to the purse-size hairspray you have today!) After the war, the beauty industry realized that this pressurized spray technology could be used to deliver other products and the first aerosol hairspray was born. By the early 1950s, hairsprays, colognes and shaving creams were commonly sold in the U.S. Now, over 50 years later, aerosols are still a popular and effective delivery system with billions of units sold every year.
In the last half century, aerosols have had their ups and downs, however. In the 1970s, a common hair spray solvent, methylene chloride, was banned for health reasons. In the 1970s, CFCs, were banned in most aerosol applications because they were shown to contribute to the hole in the ozone layer. And in the 1990s, US air pollution regulations lead to restrictions on VOC`s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in aerosol products. Despite these setbacks, aerosols continue to be widely used in beauty products.
Over the course of this four part series we`ll talk about the types of packaging used in aerosols (yes, they are recyclable!) as well as the ingredients used to make the products. We`ll even tell you how these things are made! So keep checking the Beauty Brains for the next installment of Adorable Aerosols.