Your Ultimate Guide to Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo isn’t exactly new (one of the OG brands, Batiste, has been around for over 40 years), but it really only took the beauty world by storm a few years ago. And instead of quietly fading alongside other trends, it carved out a permanent spot for itself on our bathroom shelves—and in our hearts. Why we love it: Initially formulated to cleanse hair without water, it now does way more, from prolonging blowout lifespans to adding gritty second-day texture to squeaky-clean hair. But that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. These are the key things you should know, whether you’re a dry shampoo devotee or new to the game.
Shake Before You Spray:
In the everlasting words of Taylor Swift, you’ve gotta shake, shake, shake, shake, shake—the dry shampoo can, that is. “The product might separate and settle in the bottle. This mixes it up again so it’ll be evenly distributed once you spray it,” says TRESemme celeb hairstylist John D. He suggests pausing every few seconds to shake the bottle to guarantee good coverage throughout your hair.
When Using It to Cleanse:
If your roots are crazy greasy, technique is key to cleaning them up with dry shampoo while keeping your style or blowout intact. “Use your fingers to loosely lift and section the hair, and focus on spraying the root area,” says John D. “Keep the can six to 10 inches away from the scalp when applying. This way, you distribute it not just on but also around the roots.” (The only exception is for curly hair, since it’s denser—get right up to the roots for that.) Let the dry shampoo sit there for a minute or two to give the formula time to soak up all the oil and grime. Then, use your hands to massage it into your roots and then rake any excess out. Boom. You’ve just hit refresh on your hair.
When Using It to Style:
On the other hand, when you want to boost overall texture and volume—or if you’re working with freshly washed hair—there’s no need to focus on your roots. Once your hair’s dry, just add a few spritzes of dry shampoo. “Keep in mind that a little goes a long way,” says hairstylist Edward Tricomi, cofounder of Warren-Tricomi Salons. “Turn your head upside down and, holding the can a few inches away, spray the dry shampoo.” He recommends starting with two or three sprays, because going overboard can make hair look dull (if that happens, just brush it out). Once you flip your hair back, it’ll look tousled and textured—like you just woke up with the best bed-head ever.
Like any other product in your cabinet, dry shampoos vary widely. Some are formulated for super-oily scalps, while others offer hair-healthy ingredients like keratin. And there’s no shortage of options for different hair colors. (Check our recs below!) If you have very dry or damaged hair, follow your dry shampoo with a dry conditioner like Oribe Soft Dry Conditioner ($36, barneys.com). In the same way that dry shampoo functions like its traditional liquid counterpart to cleanse roots and give hair a rough texture, dry conditioner conversely smooths it and imparts a healthy sheen. Used in tandem, they’re almost enough to sub for a real hair-washing—the key word being almost.
Wash It Out:
Sadly, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. If you find that you use your dry shampoo more than your actual shampoo, you may have a problem. “I always compare the scalp to the face. Could you imagine if you didn’t remove makeup and dirt from your skin and instead only added a little powder to soak up the oil?” says New York dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., and Clear Haircare expert. “Dry shampoo is okay in a pinch, but not ideal for regular use.” If you go too long between washing your hair, you may experience scalp issues like irritation (in the form of itchiness and uncomfortable tightness) and even bacterial growth, which can give off a weird smell. If you’re a dry shampoo diehard, use a scalp scrub like Christophe Robin Purifying Scalp Scrub with Sea Salt ($52, sephora.com) once a week, or DIY it by adding a tablespoon of sugar to your shampoo and massaging the mixture into your scalp (don’t worry, the sugar melts out).
Dry Shampoos for Every Hair Type and Situation
1. Best Postgym:
Spin class is no match for this powerhouse, which sops up dirt, oil, and sweat alike. Plus, it’s lightly scented so you head can out without worrying that you stink. Definitely a game-changer.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Dry Shampoo ($22, ulta.com)
2. Best for Curly Hair:
Unlike most dry shampoos, which give hair a matte finish, this one is laced with Abyssinian oil to prevent frizz and amp up shine.
Sephora Collection Dry Clean dry shampoo ($14, sephora.com)
3. Best for Dry or Damaged Hair:
This overachiever packs a hair-strengthening combo of keratin and vitamin B-12 for smoother, stronger strands.
TRESemme Fresh Start Basic Care Dry Shampoo ($6, ulta.com)
4. Best for Fine Hair:
Instead of heavier starches, the primary absorber in this is actually volcanic ash, which is so lightweight that it won’t weigh down fine hair.
Unwash Dry Cleanser ($28, unwash.com)
5. Best for Brunettes:
Dry shampoos can have a white or grey tint, which stands out (not in a good way) on darker hair colors. Some dry shampoo brands offer a range of shades to fix that, but this goes above and beyond with options for different brunette tones.
Batiste Hint of Color Dark and Deep Brown Dry Shampoo ($7, target.com)
6. Best for Normal Hair:
Good for cleansing, adding texture and boosting volume, this versatile option does whatever you ask of it.
Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo ($23, sephora.com)
The sequels to the Olsen twins’ hit fragrances, vanilla-spiked Nirvana Black and floral-heavy Nirvana White, these dry shampoos make for super-luxe hair cleansing. Perfume need not apply!
Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black Dry Shampoo and Nirvana White Dry Shampoo ($28, sephora.com)
Related: How to Make Your Hair Look Fresh Between Shampoos: