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The 7 Best Setting Sprays to Buy in 2022

The 7 Best Setting Sprays to Buy in 2022

In a perfect world, we’d style our hair, and it would stay perfectly in place all day. But since the world we live in is far from perfect (and our hair won’t let us forget it), we need setting spray to achieve all-day styles that won’t fall flat, frizz up, or come undone.

What Is Setting Spray?

Setting spray, also known as hair spray or finishing spray, is the key to a long-lasting hairstyle. But many women avoid using a finishing spray because they’ve had a bad experience with it at some point. Or maybe because we can’t seem to forget that distinctive chemical smell that haunts the darkest corners of our minds. 

Whether you’re slightly traumatized from memories of your Aquanet big-hair days or just associate setting spray with stiff, shellacked, and crunchy hair, there’s something you should know. Today’s hair setting spray is worlds away from the hair spray of your youth.

The stuff we used in the ’80s and ’90s is trash compared to the products available now. Modern setting spray is:

  • More environmentally friendly 
  • Available in aerosol or pump form
  • Lighter and less sticky
  • Longer-lasting
  • Better smelling

And since most setting sprays are available in a variety of hold levels (typically light, medium, and strong/firm), it’s easier than ever to find a product that perfectly meets your hair’s unique needs. In this guide, we’re going to look at the different hold levels of setting spray and how to choose the right hold for your hair.

Then, we’ll take a close-up look at the seven best setting sprays on the market. Finally, we’ll share some helpful tips for making the most of your finishing spray. Let’s start with the different types of hold you can get from setting spray: Light, medium, and strong/firm.

Choosing Your Setting Spray Hold Level

Girl in white cami using the best setting spray on her brown hair while holding her right curtain bangs up

Fizkes/Shutterstock

Setting spray is usually offered in different hold levels, from light hold to strong or firm hold. Choosing the hold level you need for a particular style is simple when you know what each hold level is for.  

Light Hold Setting Spray

Light hold setting spray for hair is used to create natural-looking styles. When you want lots of movement, a flexible light hold is what you need. After using a light hold spray, you should still be able to run your fingers through your hair.

But the hold is strong enough to help keep flyaways in place and prevent fine hair from becoming weighed down with product. Choose light hold if:

  • You’re wearing a loose style (waves, bun, blowout, etc.)
  • You want touchably soft hair
  • You have fine to medium hair texture
  • You want to prevent flyaways
  • All-day hold isn’t important to you

Medium Hold Setting Spray

Medium hold sprays have more holding power than light hold, making them perfect for more intricate hairstyles, thick hair, or lasting curls. With medium hold sprays, you’re getting a firmer hold at the expense of a little less movement and softness.  

Choose medium hold if:

  • You’re wearing an intricate style (braids, curls, loose updos, etc.)
  • You prefer hold over softness
  • You have medium to coarse hair texture
  • You want to prevent flyaways and frizz 
  • You want all-day holding power

Strong or Firm Hold Setting Spray

Strong hold or firm hold setting spray is the strongest of the bunch. These sprays trade the flexibility and softness of light and medium hold for extreme durability and staying power.

Firm hold sprays are typically used for styles that need to stay in place all day long with no movement. Choose firm hold if:

  • You’re wearing an intricate style that shouldn’t move (formal updo, sleek ponytail, etc.)
  • You prefer hold over softness 
  • You have fine, medium, or coarse hair texture
  • You want to prevent flyaways and frizz
  • You want all-day holding power

What’s the Best Setting Spray? Our Top 7 Picks

With so many options available, choosing a good setting spray can be hit or miss. That’s why we’ve reviewed and analyzed some of the most popular sprays on the market to find the ones that deliver the best results and get great customer reviews.

These are the top 7 sprays we found in our search. Which one will work best for your hair? 

Best for Blowouts: Sebastian Shaper Zero Gravity Hair Spray

Best for Blowouts
Sebastian Shaper Zero Gravity Hair Spray, 10.6 oz
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If salon-quality blowouts are what you’re after, Sebastian Shaper Zero Gravity Hair Spray will help you get there. This setting spray offers an ultralight, flexible hold that is just strong enough to prevent frizz and flyaways from ruining your blowout. 

Since the formula is so lightweight, it won’t weigh down even the finest hair. In fact, you can use it for a boost in volume at the roots and all over. This spray will give your blowout that professional look without making it feel stiff and gross. 

With an average customer rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, this is definitely a crowd favorite. If your blowout needs a little boost, Sebastian Shaper Zero Gravity Hair Spray is just what you need. 

Most Helpful Review

Hold: PERFECT for me as I don’t need a glued, board-stiff hold, just something to help me keep the volume after I blow dry it. It holds, but I can still put a brush through it or readjust and respray. 

Tip: I fluff it and push my hair in place while leaning to the side I am spraying, which helps give it more oomph and volume. Also, if you spray, let dry, brush, fluff it up again and respray, it makes hair thicker and fluffier!

I really don’t care for many scents in hair products, but this is light, pleasant and doesn’t linger strongly. DOESN’T FLATTEN my hair style! This is really important especially if you have fine hair, that when you spray, it doesn’t go on too heavily.” -Pleinelune on Amazon

Best Scent: Moroccanoil Luminous Medium Hold Hairspray

Best Scent
Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray Medium
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A bad, chemical odor can ruin a good setting spray. Who wants to walk around smelling like a 1980s salon? That’s not even a concern with Moroccanoil Luminous Medium Hold Hairspray

This aromatic hair spray breaks the mold with a formula that doesn’t just cover the smell of chemicals with a fake floral scent. This stuff actually smells delicious.

It has the signature Moroccanoil scent – a woodsy, vanilla musk with a hint of citrus. It offers a somewhat firm medium hold, so you can be sure your style will be locked in place for the day without sticky residue or the need to reapply. It gets 4.7 out of 5 stars because users really love this stuff. 

Most Helpful Review

This hairspray is amazing. I used to work in a salon and used this hairspray. People used to ask me what perfume I was wearing because it smelled so good. Not to mention the hold is incredible without being crunchy or gunky. My hair holds a curl for days, literally, with this hairspray. I have fine curly hair but a lot of it. I can’t say enough about this product. It’s well with every penny.” -Rpinck on Amazon

Best for Curls: Nexxus Maximum Hold Finishing Hair Spray

Best for Curls
Nexxus Maximum Hold Finishing Hair Spray
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When you have curly hair, frizz, flyaways, and humidity are your sworn enemies. Enlist Nexxus Maximum Hold Finishing Hair Spray in the battle, and you will emerge victorious with defined, lasting curls. 

This firm hold setting spray coats your hair with an invisible shell to protect it from humidity and moisture (the common frizz culprits). The formula is strong enough to define and hold curls in place with all-day hold. 

While many firm hold sprays leave hair with a gunky or glue-y texture, this one won’t. Even fine, thin hair can achieve lasting curls that won’t fall out with this spray. This hair setting spray gets 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon thanks to its supreme holding power, sheerness, and relatively lightweight. 

Most Helpful Review

I have long, thick hair that is curl and hairspray resistant. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have a product that allows my hair to hold a curl the full workday. I live in Florida, so this winter, the product has allowed me to have curls whenever I want. I have found that Florida’s humidity is a challenge.

I use just this hairspray and a curling iron for day-long curls. Before using this product, I’ve not had curls ever last all day–most are gone within two hours of starting the work day. Especially if you have thick, straight hair–this product works and works all day.” -M. Brooks on Amazon

Best for Fine, Flat Hair: John Frieda Volume Lift Hairspray

Best for Fine Hair
John Frieda Volume Lift Hairspray for Fine or Flat Hair
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Fine, flat hair that lacks volume can be a pain to style – especially when all your efforts fall flat within an hour or two. If this sounds all too familiar, check out John Frieda Volume Lift Hairspray. It’s the secret to achieving healthy volume that won’t flatten as the day wears on. 

This medium hold spray will set your style easily and make it last the full day. It’s firm enough to prevent frizz and flyaways, but light enough to be workable and brushable. This spray gives hair a little texture and makes it look thicker while adding volume. 

This spray is unscented, so it won’t compete with your other scented products. It’s also lightweight, so even ultra-fine strands will have plenty of movement and bounce. If you’re looking for lift and hold, it doesn’t get much better than this! 

Most Helpful Review

I have baby fine hair. Like: if you run your fingers through it before I put any product in it, you’d barely sense anything. It needs STUFF to give it any body and keep it from flopping a few minutes after I leave the house. So I tried this John Freida and honestly, it’s amazing. It has incredible lift, all day, but isn’t heavy or sticky. No fragrance, no scalp zits, no fuss, just really great hold. -Marmoxmag on Amazon

Best for Waves: SexyHair Healthy So Touchable Weightless Hairspray

Best for Waves
SexyHair Healthy So Touchable Weightless Hairspray, 9 Oz
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If you tend to gravitate toward loose, wavy hairstyles each day, investing in a good setting spray that fits the bill will make a huge difference. Achieve long-lasting, touchably soft waves when you use SexyHair Healthy So Touchable Weightless Hairspray

This feather-light spray leaves behind a sheer film that delivers a light hold. This means you’ll still be able to run your fingers through your hair and brush through it. For natural looks where you don’t want your hair to look overly shiny and shellacked, this is the ticket. 

It’s a fan favorite for sure, earning 4.6 stars overall from users. Many rated it highly for its scent, lightweight, and sheer/invisible look when applied. 

Most Helpful Review

Lightly scented with tremendous workability. Tons of shine with just the right amount of light hold for my loose curls. The canister states: Shine Level 7 & Hold Level 3. Will definitely continue to use this quality product!” -Nothin’ Could Be Finer NC on Amazon

Best Budget Pick: L’Oreal Paris Lock It Bold Control Hairspray

Best for Budgets
L'Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Lock It Bold Control Hairspray 8.25 Ounce
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Penny-pinching, building your savings, or just hate spending too much on hair products? You need a setting spray that is priced like a bargain but works like a professional product. L’Oreal Paris Lock It Bold Control Hairspray is precisely that. At less than $4, this is a steal, and the reviews are incredibly positive. 

There’s no water in this formula, so it’s great for preventing frizz and flyaways while protecting against humidity. The extra strong 48-hour hold is powerful enough to lock hair in place for a wedding, prom, or formal event. It’s even strong enough to keep those pesky baby hairs slicked back when you want a super-sleek ponytail look. 

It gets 4.6 stars on average with almost 12,000 reviews online. That’s an indicator that this is one of the best setting sprays you can get! And for the price, it’s unbeatable. 

Most Helpful Review

My new fav hairspray. Joico and Nexus hairsprays were my 2 favorite & I used for years. I decided to try the L’Oreal hairspray when I came across it on Amazon. I have fine hair but a lot of it,and it’s very limp & flat. I spray this on my roots after I blow it out. Also use it to hold my curls after I curl my hair. The results are amazing. Better than any texturising or bodybuilding product I ever used.

-The hold lasts 2 days!
-Strong hold without being stiff or crunchy
-I can comb it out & it doesn’t flake.
-it does not make my hair or scalp feel like I have a ton of product in it.

It does not spray wet like regular hairspray. It’s more of a dry hairspray. Drys super quick. I can’t say enough good things about this hairspray. It replaced three products I normally use & at a fraction of the price. I wish I had this hairspray in the 80s.” -Donnie on Amazon

Best for Shine: Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray

Best for Shine
Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray, 9.5 Ounce, Pack of 2
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If you like using setting or hair spray for shine, we found a real gem: Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray. This is the improved, modern-day version of Aquanet. Think incredible hold and lots of shine minus that stiff, crunchy feeling and chemical scent.  

In the reviews for this spray, we found many 80s babies delighting in this better version of the hair sprays they knew and loved in the days of big hair. It protects against humidity, allows you to ensure every strand is perfectly in place, and won’t make your hair feel hard or stiff. It leaves a natural but noticeable shine when you use it (and you’ll get a little boost in volume, too).   

This setting spray has earned an almost unheard-of 4.8 out of 5 stars from users on Amazon. For incredible, natural shine and a flexible, lightweight hold that is stronger than you think. 

Most Helpful Review

I have naturally curly hair but it occasionally gets in my eyes and irritates me. As a teenager in the 80’s, I’ve tried a lot of hair sprays. This Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece has the same hold as the old-fashioned good stuff like Freeze-It and AquaNet, but it’s brushable, soft, and adds the most intense shine to my highlighted hair. It also adds incredible volume when styling. The scent reminds me of fresh pineapple and is lovely. I’ve used it in dry and humid Texas weather and it has not disappointed. -Deb Rebisz on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Using Setting Spray

Woman in a salon with a hairdresser using the best setting spray she has to give long and wavy locs

DuxX/Shutterstock

We’ve looked at the best light, medium, and firm hold setting sprays for hair. Hopefully, you found one that will perfectly meet your needs! But before you start using a new spray to maintain your style, there are a few things to consider. Here’s what you should know before you add setting spray to your hair care routine. 

  • Make sure you’re using it properly. If you haven’t used setting spray before, or if it’s been a while, a quick refresher can help. You don’t need much hairspray to lock in your style! Hold the can 6 to 8 inches away from your head and spritz in short bursts where you need it. Don’t just coat your entire head in a layer of it – that can result in the dreaded helmet o’ hair. 
  • Don’t use setting spray in place of heat protectant. Sure, hair spray will help you achieve longer-lasting curls and waves with a hot tool, but it can also fry your hair due to the drying alcohol as one of the main ingredients. Always follow heat styling with hair setting spray – don’t use it instead of a heat protectant.  
  • Achieve more volume with the right technique. If you’ve chosen a volumizing setting spray, you can make it even more effective with the right application technique. The idea is to create the shape you want, then spray the product in to help hold the shape. Try parting your hair and lifting sections of hair at the root. Spray between the sections toward the roots before tousling or fluffing with your fingers for a big boost in volume. 
  • Try using it on damp hair for a better blowout. While hair setting spray is typically used on dry hair, did you know that you can spray it into damp hair to improve your blowout? Spray your favorite product all over damp hair (towel-dried is fine) and blow-dry as usual. You can finish with a few more blasts of spray for curl definition or root volume. 
  • Wash it all out to avoid buildup. Working a good setting spray into your hair care routine is smart, but it can result in gross, shine-dulling buildup that leaves your hair limp and greasy if you don’t ensure you’re washing it all out. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to ensure you’re stripping any remaining setting spray from your scalp and strands. 

Once you’ve put the effort in to create a beautiful hairstyle, the last thing you want is for it to fall flat because you didn’t set the style. Investing in a good setting spray will fix the problem and ensure your style stays in place all day long.

So, What’s the Best Setting Spray?

We looked at the difference between light, medium, and firm hold sprays and what each hold level is best used for. So if you’re into natural, loose styles and want soft, flexible hold, grab one of the light hold sprays on our list. These are also best for fine or thin hair.

If you wear buns, braids, curls, or structured waves more often, you’ll need a medium hold. And for the most intricate styles that need maximum staying power, you’ll need a firm hold. Today’s setting sprays are a big improvement over their ’80s and ’90s counterparts.

If you’ve been avoiding using them in fear of making your hair look dated, crunchy, or stiff, there’s no need to worry. Today’s sprays are all about leaving your hair soft and touchable while providing the right amount of hold for the style you’re wearing. Give one of the products on our list a try and you’ll see the difference.

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