≡ Menu

Why is Sebastian Shaper hairspray so freaking good?

Update: If you’re looking for a lower cost hairspray without water, try Tresemme Tres II Extra Firm Hold or L’Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Lock It Bold Control.

Cindy’s sassy about Sebastian…What’s up with Sebastian Shaper Hairspray? Everyone I know who uses it just freaks out about this stuff but I can’t even find it because it’s always out of stock. Is there something really better or different about this hairspray compared to other brands?

The Right Brain responds:

Actually, Cindy, there is a simple answer to your question. Many hairsprays are formulated with a chemical that is TERRIBLE for your hair style. This chemical causes your hair to droop and lose its style almost the instant it is applied. Sebastian wisely chooses to NOT use this chemical in their aerosol hairspray and that’s one of the primary reasons their product is so good.

Sebastian Shaper’s secret

The secret to Sebastian’s formula is: WATER. That’s right. simple H20. Many companies use water in their aerosol hairsprays because it’s much cheaper. But when water contacts the hair, it loosens some of the internal bonds and causes the hair to lose its style. If you can avoid water in your hairspray you’ll get a much better style. (Of course there are other ingredients in the formula that control how well the hairspray holds. You can read our series on Adorable Aerosols if you want to learn more.)

Hairsprays that are “all wet”

If you like the way Sebastian makes your hair feel, you’ll want to avoid these brands that formulate their hairsprays with water:

  • Pantene Pro-V Texturize
  • Suave Max Hold
  • Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing
  • Got 2b Styltini
  • Garnier Fructis Style Volumizing Anti-Humidity
  • Dove Hairspray, Extra Hold
  • Rusk W8less Plus Shaping and Control
  • Aussie Instant Freeze

The best two holding polymers

The other secret is to look for styling polymers that provide high humidity-resistant hold with flexibility. Many hairsprays use only one type or the other other. But the BEST hairspray used a combination. Look for these two ingredients on the label:

  • VA/Crotonates/Vinyl Neodecanoate Copolymer
  • Octylacrylamide/Acrylates/ Butylaminoethyl Methacrylate Copolymer

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Water is bad for your hairstyle but if you can’t afford Sebastian shop around for other hairsprays that don’t use water. How can you tell? Turn the can over and read the ingredient list!

What’s YOUR favorite hairspray? Leave a comment for the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Courtney (The Beauty Cat) February 20, 2014, 4:07 pm

    So I went and looked at the hairspray I have at the salon and Redken’s Control Addict 28 has both of the “good” ingredients (listed as 3rd and 4th) but then is followed by water (as the 5th ingredient)… what do you make of this? I do think it’s a pretty strong hold hairspray but do you think it would be even better without the water? Do you think the water is affecting the hold much even if it’s listed after the “good” ingredients?
    Thanks, Beauty Brains!

    • Randy Schueller February 20, 2014, 4:34 pm

      @Courtney: I can’t find the ingredient list online. Do you happen to have a link to it? Or maybe take a picture of the ingredient list and post it? Thanks!

  • Courtney (TheBeautyCat) February 21, 2014, 9:07 am

    I don’t see how to attach a photo so I’ll type it:

    Alcohol Denat., Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, VA/Crotonates/Vinyl Neodecanoate Copolymer, Octylacrylamide/Acrylates/ Butylaminoethyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Aqua/Water/Eau, Aminomethylpropanol, Parfum/Fragrance, PEG/PPG-4/12 Dimethicone, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Calcium Pantothenate, Hydroxycitronellal, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Citronellol, Geraniol, Smithsonite Extract (D54742/2)

    (What does that serial number indicate?)
    Thanks again, Beauty Brains!

    • Randy Schueller February 21, 2014, 10:06 am


      I believe the reason that water shows up on the ingredient list is that a small amount is carried in with the alcohol. You can buy alcohol at 95% or 99% pure so little water can be carried into the formula that way. So no water is added separately and it’s probably not enough to interfere with the holding properties.

      The serial number is a color hex code and I have no idea why it’s on the package. Perhaps it refers to the color of the Smithsonite extract (which is a mineral) or maybe it’s some kind of packaging color code (although, it would be unlikely to be part of the ingredient list then.) Very odd.

      • Courtney (TheBeautyCat) February 21, 2014, 3:12 pm

        Thank you, Randy!!!

  • Van Ram September 16, 2014, 11:27 am

    Aveda Control Force. Use the force!

    The only product that seems to do anything for my hair in 90% humidity Singapore.

  • Christopher October 4, 2016, 10:28 am

    Do either of these polymers also provide heat protection?

    • Randy Schueller October 4, 2016, 1:22 pm

      No, these are styling polymers. They do not lubricate like a good heat protecting ingredient should do.

      • Christopher October 10, 2016, 1:25 pm

        Do cationic conditioners help with heat protection? The Ployquats and the “..omium somethings”? Or is it only things like propylene glycol?