What is in styling products?
The two styling products I will focus on are hair gel and hair spray. The main ingredient in hair gel is a polymer such as polyvinyl pyrolidone and vinyl pyrolidone. These polymers give hold while still being water soluble enough so they can be washed out of the hair. The next ingredient in hair gel is carbomer which acts as a thickening agent. The rest of the ingredients in styling gels include colorants, solubilizers, solvents, emollients, spreading agents, preservatives, and colorants. Hairspray is also made of polymers. The solvent in hairspray used to made of CFC's or chlorofluorocarbons but after the discovery that these were harmful to the ozone, they were replaced with alcohols or hydrocarbons.
How do styling products work?
Hair gel is a styling product that usually comes in several holding strengths, from light to strong, and provides a wetter look than mousse or hairspray. The hair gel forms a clear film between each hair strand, attaching the hair strands to one another. It also strengthens the cuticle allowing for further shaping of the hair. When gel is placed on wet hair, it absorbs water quickly so when the gel and hair dry completely, it forms a fixed connection between hair strands, to give the desired shape. In hairspray, the polymers place a film over hair which holds it in place, much like the hair gel. The film attaches to the film of the other hair particles and connect to form a unified section of hair, holding it in the desired place.