November 20, 2011

Cliniderm: an excellent hairspray for those with sensitive skin

Day 324 of Vintage 365

To say that I have sensitive skin would be a massive understatement. So temperamental and adverse to most products is my skin that, in chatting about this topic, I can't help but rely the story of when, one day several years, my husband playful blew a shot of condensed air (of the kind used to clean computer keyboards) onto my arm, I got a rash! (yes, a rash from air - it's rather funny, I know.)

My skin was always highly sensitive, but became even more so around when I hit puberty and then again when, at the age of 18, I first became chronically ill. In the years since then I've discovered, through trial and error (and plenty of trips to the doctor to help take care of the ensuing skin irritations), which products I can and cannot use when it comes to everything from laundry soap to face cream, shampoo to even dish soap.

While (knock wood!) I've had relatively good luck with make-up (I can usually wear most better drugstore and department store brands with little to no issue), when it comes to hair care products, things turn ugly very, very quickly.

As a child I suffered in silence with a ridiculously itchy, often red scalp due to the run-of-the-mill shampoo and condition my parents bought for the family. As soon as I was old enough to do so, as a teenager, I began buying my own and experimenting with many brands, but few (even those from the health food store) were of much help in this department.

But, bad as shampoo and its hair care partner in crime, conditioner, were, it was products like mousse, gel, hairspray, hot oil, and volumizer that (generally speaking) seemed to irritate my ridiculously sensitive skin the very most.

From scaly rashes (sorry to be frank) to weeping, open sores after one application (Garnier Fructus, I'm looking at you!), by the time I hit my twenties, I'd had no choice but to pretty much stop using all styling products (which, as you can image, makes wearing one's hair – especially when it’s very fine and straight as a pin like mine –  in vintage styles pretty tricky a lot of the time).

{As this elegant 1957 ad for Revlon Satin-Set hairspray clearly demonstrates, hairspray is often required to achieve the beautiful vintage hairstyles we adore, however for those with highly sensitive skin, finding products that don't bother you can be a significant challenge. Image via clotho98 on Flickr.}

Never one to give up a fight easily though, I kept trying brands (many of which were "natural" or organic) that were designed for sensitive skin. A few were less bothersome than their mainstream counterparts, yet it wasn't until 2009 that I discovered a Canadian brand called Cliniderm at a local Rexall drugstore that I finally found a shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray I could use with virtually no irritation.

At first I almost couldn't believe it. After each shower or time I applied hairspray, I kept waiting for the usual itchiness and redness of contact dermatitis, the dry flaking scalp and/or rash around my hairline and down my neck, but nothing happened. It seemed like a small miracle to say the least.

For over two years now I’ve been using Cliniderms hair care products with great success. Their shampoo and conditioner (which are free of parabens, dyes, perfumes, lanolin, formaldehyde and proteins) are great (though, not overly moisturizing - however one can find plenty of homemade, all natural hair mask recipes online to help counteract the issue of dry hair), but it's their hairspray (which I'd peg as being medium hold) that's saved the day, so to speak, the most.

Thanks to it, I've been able to wear a multitude of hairstyles that require styling product once again. As I was fixing my locks in place recently, I began thinking about how some of you may also be in the same boat, and wanted to share about how I found (and have since used) Cliniderm's hairspray with all of you.

Though it's not that easy to find (to date I haven't found any Shopper's Drug Mart locations here in Toronto that carry it, however some of the Rexall drugstores do), and is a tad pricy (about $16 plus tax per bottle), if you have highly sensitive skin and cannot use most (or any) styling products, Cliniderm's hairspray (pictured below) may be the answer you've been looking for.



According to Cliniderm's official website, their products can be found at several different chains across Canada - and some, though not the hairspray for whatever reason, can be ordered online through the site

I know that what works for one sensitive skinned person may not work for another, but as someone with both sensitive skin and multiple chemical sensitivies, I feel that Cliniderm's products are the best (from a sensitive skin standpoint), least irritating I've come across so far in my whole life and thus really wanted to share this helpful line with my readers.

As one never know though, how long a product will be on the market (especially a niche item like all natural hairspray), if you have highly sensitive skin and have had success with other brands (such as Suncoat, Kettle Care, Beauty without Cruelty, Organic Excellence, or Free and Clear, all of which are US brands that I've not been able to test out yet myself) I'd love to know about your firsthand experiences.

While having sensitive skin can create many beauty routine challenges, if one is diligent and willing to play the role of guinea pig sometimes, there are often solutions to be found out there that can work for you.

It took about 25 years, but I eventually found Cliniderm and now have the ability to wear hairspray without my super sensitive scalp going into a tizzy – which, let me tell you, makes me a very, very happy vintage hairstyle loving camper!


  1. You must have read my mind, I'm about to have my hair set for a photo shoot and have the issue you mention with product, it would be wonderful if they ship to the UK! Thanks for the flag up and poping over to My Passport To Style! Sharon xx

  2. I have had terrible scalp issues with chronic Eczema that has been affecting me for many years. Shampoos and conditioners can be a problem for me too. For other gals with these issues another thing that has been a Big issue for me was when we moved into ouR house we had well water and three years of well water (see so being allergic to air is not such a big surprise to someone that was allergic to their water) my hair was breaking off at collar length and my scalp was an awful mess. Just another thing to check out if you are having hair and scalp issues irritations is your water source.

  3. just discontinued this hairspray... do you know where else we can buy it?

    1. Hi there, unfortunately - much to my sincere chagrin and disappointment - it's not just who stopped carrying this hairspray. Cliniderm themselves have discontinued producing it. I suspected as much when it vanished from shops and online retailers, so I emailed the company and received a brief reply quite a few days later saying that they had discontinued it due to lack of sales/demand.

      At present (here in Canada at least) I have not found a substitute hairspray that works as well or is as safe for ultra sensitive skin, but have been using Live Clean's Green Earth Firm Hold Styling Spray for the past few months (since I stopped being able to find Cliniderm's hairspray anywhere). It's a very nice product, but I don't find it holds as well - or for as long - as Clinaderm. Still, it hasn't completely "freaked out" my skin yet, so for now I'm sticking with that as my hairspray of choice (here's a link to the official Live Clean page about that product:

      Hope that helps you - and I hope that perhaps one day Cliniderm will reconsider and produce their excellent hairspray once again.

      ♥ Jessica

  4. Hey Jessica,
    Thanks for your reply. This always seems to happen. Whenever I find a sensitive product or fragrance-free product, it inevitably gets discontinued. Frustrating! When I read your post it made me laugh because I seem to have allergic reactions to random things as well.

    Thanks for the suggestion about Live Clean! I'm not good with essential oils or scents so I might have to find something else. I actually went on a research blitz and found some other products, not sure how they will hold up, but thought I would share!

    Here's what I came up with:
    Free & Clear hairspray:[begin_at]=15&cHash=89a2951623b39d651d011d512a726fbe

    Clinique (supposedly fragrance-free)


    With your sensitive skin, what makeup products do you use?


    1. Hi Erin,

      You're very welcome, thank you in turn for your reply and those links. I've tried two of those products before and neither worked for me, but I Free & Clear is not one I've used yet. I'm going to see if either of the local health food stores here carry it or could bring it in for me.

      I'm usually very sensitive to scented products, too, and avoid them like the plague, but that Live Clean hairspray has very little scent and has not bothered me (so far).

      Miraculously, while hair products, soaps, laundry soaps, body lotions, etc usually drive my skin bonkers, I've had far better luck over the years with cosmetics. I tend to use an assortment of Clinique, MAC, Red Apple Lipstick, Cover Girl, and Maybelline. I love makeup, but am not one of those gals who buys a ton, as I'd prefer to just purchase what I know I'll use all the time and spend (most of) my pocket money on vintage fashion instead :)

      Thanks again for the links and your reply!
      ♥ Jessica

  5. I was glad to read your page about clinderm hairspray. About 6 years ago I became allergic to everything that contains any kind of formaldyde and Clinderm hairspray is the only one I have been able to use with no side effects. When I heard they were going to discontinue it I bought 6 bottles and am now on the last one. I wish the company would reconsider. someone told me about Free and Clear so I might try it but I am wondering if you can buy it anywhere in Canada. I have found eyeliner and a mosscara (for mascara) I can use. It is made by Aveda and I have had great results. My allergy was so bad I looked like something from a horror movie. Finally my dermatologist told me it would be trial and error. For those looking for soap the only one I can use is pears. If anyone has any other suggestions I am all ears.

    1. Dear Norma, thank you for sharing some of your challenging experience with us. I'm deeply sorry that you've been struck by such severe skin allergies/sensitivities. My own skin is wildly sensitive, too, though I've always had better luck on the make-up front than with other beauty products.

      Last year I emailed Cliniderm's customer service team (who took quite a long time to get back to me) and was told point blank that their hairspray had been discontinued due to a lack of sales several months before (my message to them, that is). Unless a store here or there still has some bottles kicking around in their stock room, I fear that (sadly) Cliniderm hairspray is a thing of the past now.

      On the very (very!) off chance I ever see any (it's probably been 1.5 years now since the last time I saw it in a shop) around here, I will buy every bottle they have in stock, and comment again here. You can then some from me if you're interested.

      I haven't tried Free and Clear myself, but I know that you can buy it online from a small number of US sellers who ship internationally, such as Dermacare )

      Again thank you for sharing your story here.

      Wishing you positive health,
      ♥ Jessica

      *PS* As I discussed in this post (, the only soap (bar or body wash) I've been able to safely use for many years now has been Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin.

  6. Hi there,
    I recently began suffering at the hands of my styling products. To be blunt, my scalp began to develop redness, and then open, weeping sores. It was a nightmare. I began using Clear and Free shampoo and hair gel. I love the shampoo, and will probably never use anything else. The gel is not fantastic for my hair, but only because it does not provide enough hold. I've not tried the spray, but I'd recommend it based on the other products.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment and for sharing about some of the challenges that you've faced with hair care products as well. I'm sincerely sorry that you also have a wildly sensitive/reactive scalp (I've had those same types of weeping sores before, too, and know how challenging they can be). Unfortunately, Cliniderm discontinued their hairspray completely quite some time ago now (I emailed the company and was told they did so because it wasn't selling as well as most of their other products). Luckily though, I believe that their shampoo, conditioner and gentle cleanser (wash) are all still on the market.

      Wishing you positive health & a great autumn,
      ♥ Jessica