Elle Woods famously said, “The rules of haircare are simple and finite.” But that was before Instagram turned every chignon into a tutorial, and every product into a fierce game of 10 Ways to Use It. After mousse and hot rollers got their chance in the sun (or at least the Lumee phone case), hairspray is coming for its due—and this time, it’s for curly girls.
Despite being told since basically birth that hairsprays (like dry-brushing, boar bristles, and long extensions) are textured strand’s forbidden fruit, Tressemé has blithely changed the game with its micromist formula (which releases 50% less gas than regular hairsprays and lives in a smaller recycled aluminum can). The brand also brought on board a professional styling star to show us how it works.
She’s Justine Marjan, the hair artist behind Kim Kardashian, Ashley Graham, and every single style on the Project Runway catwalk, and when she wields a can of hairspray, it’s a little like She-Ra Princess of Power with her Sword of Protection—you just can’t lose.
Tip #1: If water is the first ingredient in hairspray, stay away.
“Hairspray is actually great for curls,” Marjan explains to me in Los Angeles, where she’s gently separating my own corkscrews for a dry-style. “It can help stop frizz, preserve length and body, and even keep your hair under control in the rain. But—and this is a big but—you’ve got to check the ingredients. If the first one is water, it’s not for curly hair. It’ll just make your hair sticky and might even break it. You can do better than that.”
It couldn’t get much worse than Halloween 2010, when I went as Clara from The Nutcracker and shellacked my hair into a shiny, plasticine ballet bun that would give the Center Stage cast some serious competition (clearly, I would be “the one in the middle—bad feet. But just look at her!”). It held all night—but dented my curls and snapped my ends so severely, I had baby hairs instead of side bangs. After that annihilation, I swore off hairspray the way hungover college girls dump out all their Everclear—but Marjan urged me to give it another try.
Tip #2: Spritz hairspray on damp hair before using a curling iron
“Spray it at an angle when your hair is still damp after the shower, or after you’ve styled it while dry,” she advises, urging me to use another thing I always thought was a no-no—a ¾ inch curling iron!—to transform fuzzy waves and curls into more defined ringlets, or revive dry hair after sleeping on it (guilty), jumping in the pool with it (double guilty), or coming home from the gym 30 minutes before a date (ok, is she spying on me?).
Work in some heat protectant ahead of time, then use a medium heat setting to prevent damage and soften the shape.
Tip #3: Embrace hair accessories
This article first appeared on ELLE.