Does Sea Salt Spray Damage Hair? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: June 19, 2024

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We love swimming in the sea for so many reasons. The exercise, the freedom, the feeling of cool as temperatures soar. But what do we look forward to most as beach season approaches? How our hair looks after a refreshing dip in salt-infused water! 

Feeling like a spokes-mermaid for a shampoo commercial as we soak up the sun on the sand, our only wish is that this effortlessly cool post-swim look could last all year.

Enter salt spray.

Your new favorite product in your weekly routine that offers perfect beachy waves and texture every time.

Keep reading and discover all you need to know about this miracle product, why it works so well, and how to use it safely. 

What Is Sea Salt Spray?

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If you’re thinking sea salt spray is simply a mixture of H2O and table salt, or bottled-up ocean water with a fancy label – think again! 

Whilst it does of course contain salt, most good quality formulas also provide other beneficial minerals.

Calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium to name a few. The spray has a watery consistency so your hair never feels weighed down, plus, you only need a few spritzes to really notice a difference.

What Does Sea Salt Spray Do? 

Most of us reach for sea salt spray to recreate those effortlessly pretty beach waves that remind us of sun-soaked days on the beach. And yes, it’s one of the primary benefits of this versatile styling product.

However, if you invest in a good sea salt spray with quality ingredients, you’ll find this multi-tasking product can do so much more.

So, what are the extra benefits of sea salt spray? Our favorites are…

  • Soaking up excess oils – you can use sea salt spray in place of dry shampoo to refresh your hair in between washes
  • Enhancing the natural texture of your hair – straight, wavy, or curly, the sodium chloride (salt) content will make even seemingly poker-straight tresses look instantly curlier
  • Creating volume – talk about instant texture, sea salt spray will give even the finest hair tons of body with just a few spritzes through your roots
  • Reducing frizz and flyaways – by soaking up the moisture in your hair caused by humid weather conditions, salt spray can make your locks appear sleeker and less frizzy
  • Styling short or long hair – sea salt spray works for both and you can use it in place of wax, mousse, or gel, depending on the style you want to achieve
  • Getting a better grip – styles you usually find hard to achieve or that tend to fall out will be a thing of the past thanks to the improved grip from your go-to sea salt spray
  • A matte finish – while we’re all for sleek and shiny tresses, there’s something so effortlessly cool and romantic about the matte finish you get with a sea salt spray

Does Sea Salt Spray Make Your Hair Curly?

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Yes. Even if your hair appears almost completely straight or only has a slight wave, applying sea salt spray will naturally enhance even the most subtle of curl patterns. 

How? Let’s get sciencey. 

Each strand of hair on your head is made up of proteins called keratin. Between each of these proteins are bonds known as cross-links, these help form the structure of your hair.

Sea salt spray binds to your hair and creates extra cross-links throughout your strands which temporarily changes the shape and natural pattern of your hair creating curves, waves, and curls. 

In short, you don’t need a beach trip to achieve the mermaid-esque curls of your dreams. 

Does Sea Salt Spray Thicken Hair?

In addition to all of the above, sea salt spray also expands the fibers of your hair making it appear thicker and more voluminous.

That’s what makes this spray so great for both everyday and special occasion hairstyling. Who wouldn’t want more volume both on a Monday morning and a Saturday night out?

Does Sea Salt Spray Damage Hair?

We know what you’re thinking. With all of those benefits, there has to be a catch right? Well, sort of. 

Water molecules are naturally attracted to sodium chloride. So, when you spritz a formula containing salt onto your hair, you will inevitably lose some moisture. 

If you’re only using it sparingly, and only every few days, you may not notice much of a difference. However, if you become particularly attached to this do-it-all product, which we’d totally understand, you might start to notice your hair becoming a little too dry for your liking. 

If this does happen, the first thing to do is to limit your sea salt spray usage. Moisture should naturally start to return on its own when the salt isn’t there to soak it all up.

Additionally, we recommend treating your tresses to a deep conditioning treatment, or a hair mask high in oils for an elevated moisture boost. Return it to its natural, healthy state before continuing to use your sea salt spray. 

Pro tip: this is especially important if you happen to bleach your hair because. Bleach can be incredibly drying so faux blonde locks need extra TLC. Plenty of deep conditioning treatments will help them stay soft and smooth, especially during summer. 

How Often Can I Use Sea Salt Spray? 

Is sea salt spray bad for hair if you use it every day? Probably.

The high salt content is prone to drying out your locks so limit your spritzing to every other day. Or, a couple of times a week to be on the safe side. 

And remember, a little goes a long way with this product so, depending on your hair type, apply it sparingly for subtle added texture rather than soaking your locks in the stuff. 

Can I Use Sea Salt Spray Instead Of Dry Shampoo? 

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Who has time to wash and blow-dry their hair multiple times a week? Not us, and we’re guessing not you either. That means we reach for dry shampoo almost every week to absorb the excess oil in our hair. 

The only problem? Even some of the best dry shampoos on the market leave a powdery residue behind. They also tend to make our roots feel laden with product… not all that appealing to the touch. 

Most are scented too which can be a welcome addition, but if you’re not all that taken with the fragrance (which generally seems to be some type of coconut mixture) you might wish for a lighter, simpler, perfume-free alternative.

That said, if you’re all about that tropical scent, there are plenty of sweet-smelling sea salt sprays out there to suit your preference. 

So, yes, you can use sea salt spray in place of dry shampoo. The main function of this product is to absorb excess moisture, in this case, oil from your roots. This leaves the hair looking and feeling fresher and more voluminous.

The salt content in your favorite salt spray will soak up the oil in your hair and work as a more natural freshener when there’s just no time for a full wash and blow dry. 

How To Apply Sea Salt Spray To Hair 

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Now that we know all the benefits, let’s talk practically about how to use sea salt spray.

As is true for almost every hair product, how, where, and how often you use your sea salt spray will depend on the length and, more importantly, the texture of your hair.

While some may be working with cascading lengths, spiral curls, and tons of volume, others have poker-straight, lip-length tresses that are much finer and need all the volume they can get. 

First things first, can you use sea salt spray on dry hair? While you can apply this formula to dry hair for noticeable results, we really don’t recommend it.

Firstly, your hair is already dry so the salt will suck out even more moisture, potentially leaving your hair looking and feeling limp and brittle. Secondly, sea salt spray works best on damp hair so the formula can work its magic allowing your curl pattern to reform and volumize as it air dries. 

As a rule of thumb, longer, thicker tresses can take a little more product whilst finer locks need just a few spritzes.

As for where you should apply your salt spray, we have some advice on that too.

Unless you’re using yours as a dry shampoo alternative, try to apply the formula only to the mid-sections and ends of your hair. This will prevent dryness at the roots, stop the formula from clogging up the hair follicles on your scalp, and give your hair the best outcome in terms of curl pattern. 

If you use it to freshen up the hair between washes, use it sparingly on your roots. Again, a little goes a long way when it comes to soaking up excess moisture so go in with a few gentle spritzes, massage it in, then re-apply in ten minutes only if you really need to.

Where Can You Buy Sea Salt Spray?

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Looking for the best sea salt spray on the market? We have you covered.

Googling ‘sea salt spray’ presents a seemingly endless array of options, so we’ve scoured the results to bring you the best and widest selection depending on your desired results.

The best-smelling sea salt spray

Sachajuan’s ocean mist seas salt hairspray, as you might have guessed, smells just like the ocean.

Subtle, fresh, and gentle, the lightly scented spray gives natural-looking beach waves with a matte finish suitable for long and short hair.

The best budget sea salt spray 

We’re all on some sort of budget these days so finding a well-reviewed product at a lower price point is always a win. For us, that product is the Fudge Urban sea salt spray

This mineral-infused formula is easy to apply and delivers high-quality results at a low cost.

The best vegan sea salt spray

Opting for vegan products is always a good idea and the award-winning, refillable sea salt spray by Alott happens to be one of the best on the market. 

Effective for all hair types and gentle enough for everyday use, every sale of this salon-quality bergamot scented spray means a donation to charity too.

The best high-end sea salt spray

Moo & Yoo’s sea salt spray leaves your hair looking and feeling super soft with a host of naturally sourced, luxury ingredients and minimal chemicals. It also protects hair from UV rays and is anti-inflammatory to benefit both your hair and scalp. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Moo & Yoo collaborate with One Tree Planted, planting a tree for every online purchase. The takeaway? This sustainable product is well worth the slightly higher price tag.

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