There’s a controversy brewing in the haircare world, and it’s over an unexpected ingredient… salt. Is salt spray good for your hair? Is it bad? Some make the case that salt is damaging and should be avoided, others say, stop the anti-salt rumors. Valerie George—Vice President of Research and Development at John Paul Mitchell Systems—makes the case for keeping it salty. Discover why sea salt spray may not be all that bad for your hair below!
Why Salt Is Thought to Be Damaging?
While the origin of the “avoid salt” idea is unknown, Victoria believes it stemmed from a Brazilian straightener company. They advertised their maintenance products as salt-free to help a smoothing service last longer. “I think the thought is that salt is the damaging component to hair comes from the advice not to go swimming in oceans after a smoothing service. However, there is no evidence that salt in any product is damaging to keratin or decreases the longevity of your smoothing service. I think water is the most damaging thing for hair. That will do more to your than any salt would in a shampoo or salt spray,” she says.
So, what’s in a salt spray? “Salt sprays typically contain water, magnesium sulfate (which is a salt, like Epsom salt), and other goodies for hair,” explains Victoria. “The magnesium sulfate acts as a texturizer in the product to give you that beachy look. I believe the salt forms a little crystal layer on the outside of the hair, helping stiffen the hair fiber and giving it that voluminous, textured look. The hair may feel a little stiff and dry, but that will go away when the hair is wet again as the salt dissolves and rinses off.”
Aside from that, salt is meant to mimic the sea and create the same effect. “Salt sprays are typically solely used for adding texture and volume to hair, much like a dip in the ocean would do. Because the salt dries on the outside of the hair fiber in a little film, it is primarily used for its styling properties.”
How to Use a Salt Spray
Be judicious about salt sprays, but there’s no need to banish the element from your hair. “Using a salt spray to texturize the hair every day should be fine,” Victoria says. “But, I would definitely wash the hair to remove them before you try to brush or restyle the hair for a new look.”
Ultimately, Victoria warns to be wary of salt-free claims—especially in shampoos. “There is no scientific evidence that demonstrates salt in our products is our damaging hair,” she emphasizes.