SOS: Volume and Hold Hairspray

Since moving to Washington, D.C., I’ve struggled to find hair products that can stand up to the heat, humidity and air pollution.  Nothing ruins your morning quite like spending an hour in hot rollers only to have your style deflate like a poorly-made souffle the second you step outside.  So should you splurge or save on your volumizing hold hairspray?

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Splurge.  Years ago, I used a wonderful, powerful hairspray called Freez-It.  Shortly after L’Oreal brought its Elnett hairspray to the States, Freez-It disappeared from shelves.  Now, I would hate to think that these two events were connected…but it always struck me as curious.

Whatever the reason for the loss of my beloved Freez-It, I started using Elnett but my heart was never in it.  And while it stood up to the humidity better than most hairsprays, I was never truly happy with it.

Last month, I switched to Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Harder Firm Volume ($18).  I spray a bit on the roots before I roll up my hair in curlers, and then, I spray it afterwards.  It holds the curl and the volume, even when it’s wet outside.  I’ve had more good hair days during the past month than I’ve had since I moved to D.C. in 2005.

Save.  I was looking for a drugstore alternative to my $18 hairspray, when I came across Herbal Essences Body Envy Max ($4).  The Interwebs touted the sprays “weightless hold,” its ability to stand up to humidity and its lustrous sheen.  Unfortunately, I didn’t experience any of that.

I was struck first by the overwhelming, artificial citrus scent.  After two days of use, I noticed the acne forming around my hairline and the residue build up on my locks.

Verdict.  The Big Sexy Hairspray is great.  I love it.  It isn’t sticky or smelly.  It doesn’t weigh my hair down, and it preserves both curl and volume well.  So I would definitely splurge and buy the $18 hairspray.

If you need something less expensive, hopefully, some other readers will have a suggestion.  Because I’ve used a lot of drugstore hairsprays–and salon hairsprays–and none can touch Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play.



  1. Ms. B says:

    The one good thing to come from the recent trip to Kansas City. The stylist who recommended it was nice too. KKnew EXACTLY what would do the trick.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Dr. Juris says:

    As a former pageant girl myself, I really like the Garnier “extreme” hold hairspray. Your hair isn't as soft, but it holds and helps with humidity (I'm living in Louisiana). Maybe that could be your cheap alternative.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  3. Elle W. says:

    You can get the Big Sexy Hair spray for dirt cheap at most Marshalls. I think the large bottles go for less than 10 dollars.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  4. Andrea says:

    I used to pay the big bucks for Bix Sexy Hairspray, and then I discovered Suave Professionals hairspray… I use the “Touchable Finish” Extra Hold and it costs somewhere around $2.99. And, I kid you not, I think it works just as good (if not better) than the expensive Big Sexy brand. Not to mention it saves you a ton of money. My hair holds just as well with the Suave Professionals brand, and it's never caused me any breakouts. I will never go back to Bix Sexy…

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  5. N says:

    I agree on the Suave. Their products really are amazing for the money. The Suave dry shampoo is also the best I've used. The smell isn't gross and it not only works for greasy hair days, but also provides texture or helps if you need to to work with freshly washed hair but it's having trouble holding a style.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  6. saramel says:

    I bought Freeze-It recently at Wal-Mart. You can also order it online.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  7. Jen says:

    Ditto on the Suave Professionals touchable finish. It's great. I hate feeling like my hair is dirty after I use hairspray, and this is light enough to keep my newly washed hair feeling fresh.

    However, the most recent can I got seems to be must more stiff feeling. I wonder if there are different kinds??

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  8. Elle says:

    I was going to mention that you can almost always find Big Sexy products at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, but it seems another Elle has beaten me to it!

    Still, it's worth saying again, because they sell this for like half the price when they have it in stock.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  9. Dallas says:

    I'm with the Elles — Marshalls and TJ Maxx are where it's at for the Big Sexy products!!!

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  10. Parker - Boardroombelles says:

    I second Suave Products, especially the remark about their dry shampoo. Since I've discovered it I go wash-less every other day and don't feel gross at the end of the day.
    And yes, Freeze It is available online – It's sold in bulk, but Belle, if you're that big of a fan …I bet it also makes a great blog giveaway 😉

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  11. E says:

    They sell Freez-It at Family Dollar, also. In a NYE emergency I ran out of hairspray and the closest store to my house is Family Dollar. I grabbed Freez-It in a hurry, and love it. Now I feel like I should go back and stock up on it.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  12. Alli says:

    Ulta often has sales where you can buy two Big Sexy products and get one free. It's still $18, but at least there's a free one in there….

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  13. ETD says:

    Kenra Volume Spray 25 is the best hairspray I've ever found, but it's PRICEY! But my curls held in July, which is unheard of in DC.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  14. salina says:

    Got 2b
    Smooth Operator with Cashmere Smoothing Hairspray
    is great! I'm a totaly product junkie and have tried everything under the sun….this stuff is my go-to “save” for hairspray hands down!

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  15. Andrea says:

    I really like John Frieda Luxurious Volume hairspray. They sell it at Target, Walgreens, etc for around $6.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  16. Whitney says:

    I've tried just about every maximum hold hairspray in existence, including the Big Sexy Spray & Play Harder, but my heart belongs to Elnett. It truly does have maximum hold that lasts all day – without stickiness – that brushes right out. Big Sexy smells a lot better, though.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  17. Leigh says:

    Nordstrom Rack also carries Big Sexy hair products for discounted prices.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  18. Tierney @ The Preppy Leopard says:

    I'm curious what kind of rollers you use? I have really hard-to-curl hair, and I've been wanting to invest in some good hot rollers since they seem to be the only thing that works… but I have yet to find a set I really like.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  19. AD says:

    I know we're supposed to be discussing inexpensive hair spray options here, but I really can't live without Aveda Control Force. It's expensive, but man it works down here in Louisiana. It's currently monsoon raining outside and Control Force + NorthFace rainjacket hood + umbrella = my hair is still bouffant, not sticky and my naturally stickstraight hair still has Kate Middleton curl at the bottom. Obsessed with this stuff.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  20. A says:

    For those of us in the DC/Nova area I have only been able to find Freeze-It is at the Kingstown Wal-Mart. Granted, it is always a hit or miss on whether or not they are sold out. Inevitably I end up buying 2 or 3 bottles to stash at home. When I can't find Freeze-it and am all out I find that Bead Heads hairspray works as a good alternative.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  21. Lindsay says:

    I love the Nexxus Maximum hairspray! It is great against the Houston humidity.

    January 10, 2013/Reply
  22. questioneverything says:

    My hairstylist just talked me into Mizani HRM Humidity Resistant Mist. ($13) It definitely is humidity resistant and is not cowgirl glue like some heavier sprays. I told him I wanted something light and this is it. The only down side is I now know how much is enough and too much. Too much and you smell like the denatured alcohol. If this stuff had a light hint of a feminine smell (something like a vanilla rose) it would be perfect.

    January 11, 2013/Reply
  23. Kimberly says:

    Have you used Hold It! Super Hold Freeze Spray? At Sally Beauty, where there are often sales, and less than $9 a can on Amazon. I have tried everything for my thin, fine hair, which I wear short and “poofed out”, and I keep coming back to the Hold It! Elnett was I very disappointed in – that did nothing – and the John Frieda Luxurious Volume Hairspray was just OK. Hold It! is the only thing that really locks everything in.

    January 11, 2013/Reply