Volumizing Sea Salt Spray Might Not Be The Holy Grail Product You Thought

Recreating the salty, sun-kissed, and beachy tresses of a summer day spent lounging on the shore is desirable for obvious reasons. The nostalgia a bit of sea salt spray invokes is almost intoxicating – particularly if it's mid-February when you and your hair haven't seen the sunshine in a painful number of months. But could the sea salt spray designed to reimagine beachy waves and a crunchy hair texture be doing more harm than we're aware of? Sadly, it appears to be a yes from most hair experts.


"Salt damages our hair structure by extracting its water content," Erica Conan, director of education for ColorProof Haircare, told Mane Addicts. "Hydration is essential in keeping our hair supple, shiny, and resilient and our scalp healthy and thriving." But don't fret and throw your favorite sea salt spray into the waste just yet. There are a few alternatives to consider, and as they say, everything's fine in moderation, right?

Salt spray is drying and fades color

The problem with everyone's beloved sea salt spray is that salt damages the hair cuticle, making for an ultra-rough hair shaft – which is also what contributes to the beachy look. The volume and texture sea salt spray provides are understandably desirable. But, sea salt is osmotic, drawing out water from the hair. This action leaves the hair feeling brittle, dry, and unhealthy. What's more? Many sea salt sprays have alcohol in them, which, you guessed it, dries the hair out, too. So, overall, the product is just not supportive of healthy, shiny locks.


And when it comes to color-treated hair, sea salt spray can really reverse all your hard work. "When natural moisture is removed, hair not only feels rougher and less manageable, but it is a lot more susceptible to breakage, dandruff, and color fading. Salt can also act as an exfoliant, which directly affects hair color," Erica Conan told Mane Addicts.

Consider sugar spray instead

While the unfortunate news is a serious bummer for those who love that carefree, windblown look, there is still hope. Enter sugar spray. This alternative produces a lot of the same effects as sea salt spray but doesn't draw moisture out of the hair shaft. Sugar still holds a wave and provides texture, but you aren't going to experience that unwanted brittle, breakage you do with sea salt spray. This is really as close as you can get to the original sea salt experience, while still preserving the hydration and health of your locks. Sugar also doesn't build up in the hair, which can be tricky to reverse and mend.


"So, if you have even slight wave, curl, or texture in your hair, sugar will help activate it with a soft hold that lasts longer. Sugar will provide texture in the hair with no damaging effects to your color or the integrity of hair's structure," Erica Conan told Mane Addicts.

Minimize salt spray use and detox hair

If you just can't seem to let go of your prized sea salt spray, try limiting use to once or twice a week and practicing preventative care also. You may be able to find a sea salt spray with healthier ingredients and a substitute for alcohol. But if you don't have any luck, be sure to strip your hair of the build-up caused by the sea salt and replenish your hair's natural oils with a nourishing moisturizer.


"After you use a sea salt spray, thoroughly shampoo and condition hair," Halli Bivona, lead stylist at the John Barrett Salon, told Byrdie. "I also love to add a lightweight oil such as coconut or camellia oil to wet hair to help along the hydrating and healing process. Olive oil works great for extra dehydrated hair." Let your hair have periods of healing, sans any products to breathe and recover, just as you would with your skin.

Try a DIY salt spray

If sugar just isn't doing the trick and you can't find a nourishing sea salt spray without alcohol, it may be time to take matters into your own hands. All you need for this concoction is 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil, 1 cup of warm water, and a spritz bottle. Combine the ingredients until the salt dissolves and pour into your bottle. If you'd like to personalize it with a scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. For additional moisture, 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel could be added to the mixture. 


"If you want to mix your own at home, I use one cup [of] warm water and one tablespoon of sea salt," celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson told Byrdie. "If you think [about] what salt is, it can be very, very drying on the hair and rough up the cuticle. So an essential oil or oil, in general, helps to add moisture to the hair."

Is it all bad news for sea salt spray?

It's easy to point an accusing finger at all the downsides of a product, especially if it's a fan favorite falling from grace. But in the interest of fairness to sea salt spray, are there any upsides that can make this potentially damaging product still worth using?


Apart from the beachy styling vibe that so many users crave, it turns out that sea salt spray may also provide extra benefit to individuals with oily or grease-prone locks. See, commercial sea salt sprays contain more than just water and salt — these products often include additional minerals like magnesium and potassium. This combination of ingredients means that sea salt sprays can absorb oil from your hair strands. Additionally, this makes sea salt sprays perfect for mattifying and volumizing second- or third-day hair, especially if you're trying to avoid the adverse effects of dry shampoo.

Sea salt sprays can also be handy styling tools, adding subtle grip and texture that makes it easier to keep slick styles like braids and updos firmly in place. Even if you have frizzy hair, sea salt sprays can help keep flyaways in check with a more natural-looking hold than heavy-duty hair sprays, gels, or pomades. So, if you're willing to counteract potential salt-spray-induced dryness and damage by supplementing your routine with extra hydration and nourishment, sea salt sprays might still have a role to play in your haircare lineup. As with all things, it comes down to understanding your hair and knowing how to best take care of it.