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

Recreating the salty, sun-kissed, 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 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 (via StyleCraze). 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," 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," 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 practice 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 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."