View Full Version : Experience of HAIRSPRAY yellowing?

09-17-2005, 06:06 PM
I'm very new to the joys of pastel, in an effort to conserve money, i've been fixing with a cheap non perfumed (no b vitamins) Hairspray from the supermarket. A large can is about £0.50 pence. A can of W&N fixative is about £6.00, so i'm making a considerable saving.

I've not had any problems with yellowing, but as I say i'm new.

I understand that the chemical compostion of hairspray is the same as the fixative we buy at 6 times the price. I would be interested if anyone can confirm that.

My question is, what experience do you have of the archival quality and indeed the finished looked of a pastel that's been fixed with hairspray as opposed one that has been fixed with a fixative produced for the purpose?



09-17-2005, 06:14 PM

I've never used hairspray for my pastels.
You may think it's expensive - and probably it is having in account it's composition - but if one thinks that a can of fixative will last 6 months (unless you do lots of pastels, or lots of layers) for insteance, I guess 6 pounds is not that much.
But then again when you buy a brand snickers or expensive shoes, how much do you think it was their manufacturing cost ? :-)
I cannot tell you if the pastels will yellow, I guess you'll have to wait a couple of years maybe.
You can also mke your own fixative, but I suppose it would become more espensive than the hairspray.
One more thing : I prefer Talens pastel fixative 064



09-17-2005, 07:32 PM
Thanks for the information, interesting.
You like Talens pastel fixative, give you have a preference in the brand make, it rather indicates you've noticed a difference. Perhap you would expand on that please.

What differences in brands of fixative have you noticed?



09-17-2005, 07:51 PM
Hi Brad

Sorry to have to tell you this, but it is my understanding that hair spray does indeed yellow and darken the pastels. It will also eventually attack your surface and eat right through the paper with time (not sure how much time, but I'd not want one of my clients to learn that the hard way!) :eek:

That's not to say a beginning artist can't use it for anything they don't want to preserve or market because it is less expensive that the "good stuff". However, you won't learn more about color and how the natural pastel colors respond to one another if you do use it even occassionally.

What papers do you use? If it is of sufficient grit, you won't often need a fixative if the pastels are properly applied, and when you've finished you "smack" the back of the paper very firmly until all loose pastel falls off.

Sometimes I do use fixative though for many different reasons. I like the workable Lascaux or the Daley Rowney brands because they have a consistently fine mist & darken the pastel the least of any others I've tried. I use the Grumbacher nonworkable as a final finish on some pieces. Unfortunately, they aren't the less expensive kind, but a little bit goes a long way.


On the abstract paiting below, I used the Grumbacher nonworkable fixative when I put the first colors down to seal that particular color in an underpainting. I worked on the Art Specturm paper (white). I didn't fix with anything after that initial time.

09-17-2005, 08:44 PM
Hi again,

It seems to me that the Talens one doesn't have so much affect on the colours.
I've read that good brands are also : Sennelier's Latour , Lascaux and Krylon.
Never read any comment about it, but I suppose that Schminke ones must be also good since it's a brand with a reputation to defend.



K Taylor-Green
09-17-2005, 08:51 PM
Hi Brad, and welcome to the pastel forum. I don't use fixative of any kind. I use a sanded paper or a velour surface and a fixative isn't needed. Once you get the piece framed under glass, it is all the protection it needs. Most fixatives discolor the pastels, and I'm afraid that hairspray does indeed yellow.

09-18-2005, 12:40 AM
Yes, hairspray will yellow, and it will make your paper brittle. I bought a can aof fixative 8 months ago to use on my graphite works, then used on early pastels, I still have half a can. It doesn't take much spraying to do the job. With pastels, I just don't fix,not even with lightly toothed papers, though I usually use one of the gritted papers. I don't like what it does to the colors nor the brilliance. I work in layers, each one drawing some of it's color and luminosity from the one beneath so dulling the under layers affects the top layers as well.

Laura Shelley
09-19-2005, 11:45 PM
Many centuries ago (when I was in high school) I used hairspray as a fixative on a number of pencil drawings. I'm not sure I recall the brand, but I think the art teacher said you couldn't use just any kind of hairspray for this purpose. :) Could have been Aqua Net. I haven't used hair products for art in a long time--I just use Krylon Workable fix now--but my mother still has some of those drawings, done in the late 1970s, and none of them have yellowed yet. Don't take that as a rigorous study on permanence...just my $0.02.