If you aren’t familiar with dry shampoo or its abilities, then get ready for some hair-raising facts, literally: Dry shampoo is a game changer for people of all hair lengths and textures, and despite its name, dry shampoo will prevent your hair from drying out (as opposed to overwashing).
Read on to learn all about dry shampoo, how it works, how often to use it, and our favorite dry shampoo options.
What is dry shampoo?
In short, dry shampoo is a powder-based product—which can be a spray, lotion, cream, or a pure powder itself—that substitutes for your routine in-shower shampoo. It absorbs oils and excess grease at the scalp, which in turn helps the hair stand a little taller, prevents excess grease and shine, and builds an extra buffer before requiring another full-on washing.
The idea for dry shampoo comes from the fact that regular (wet-application) shampoo dries out the hair and scalp. There is a general understanding that you do not need to wash your hair every day, since you probably aren’t getting grimy enough to justify a daily hair parching. Yes, it’s the “wet” shampoo that dries out your hair, due to all of its cleansing properties. (This is also why it’s imperative to follow each wash with a conditioner, to revive, relax, and fortify the hair strands after the cleansing.)
How often to use dry shampoo
How frequently you use dry shampoo is up to you, but most regular users deploy it 1-3 times a week. This amount will change based on how often you shampoo, how oily your hair gets, and the hairstyle you hope to achieve (for example, dry shampoo can give you hair a little extra life and movement, but too much might can really volumize it, which may not be your overall intent).
One of the best gauges for whether or not you need a full shampoo or just dry shampoo is whether or not the mids and ends of your strands look greasy. Dry shampoo will only target the scalp and roots, so if you’re greasy all along the strand, it’s best to wash fully.
But, taking a step back, the next thing to do is assess how much you need to actually use regular shampoo. Every second or third day is the sweet spot (wherein you do a full-water rinse or a conditioner-only rinse on the between days). And it’s on these between days where you would consider using dry shampoo.
Let’s say you wash your hair on morning 1. On morning 2, is your hair looking greasy, or could it be fine with a water/conditioner rinse? Depending on whether or not you want to get your hair wet, you could incorporate dry shampoo here. Otherwise, if you don’t want to wash until day 4 (so, 3 days after the previous wash), then day 3 is your dry shampoo sweet spot, where you need that little extra push to the finish line—to absorb excess grime without rendering your strands untenable by shampoo.
All of this is also predicated on the notion that your preferred hair looks best on the second or third day. Because some people’s hair actually looks best after a thorough washing and a thorough conditioning. It’s all a matter of testing different intervals, different scenarios, and finding what works best for you.
How to apply dry shampoo
Dry shampoo application differs depending on the actual product in play, but two things remain constant:
- You need to target the scalp, since this is where the sebum is originating, and where it’s weighing down the strands.
- Dry shampoo should not be applied to wet hair, nor to hair with existing product in it. (It should have been rinsed clean the night prior, or moments prior, and then blown or air dried.)
Types of dry shampoo
If you have a pure powder dry shampoo, then you need to carve out some defined hair parts, and sprinkle the powder along this divide. Then, using your fingers, massage the powder around the scalp at the base of the shafts, so that it disperses evenly across your dome. Assuming it’s a white powder, make sure the product is fully absorbed so that you don’t go about your day with any white residue on display.
Our favorite powder dry shampoo: VERB volumizing + texturizing powder. Get it from Amazon from $18.
For a lotion or hair cream/paste dry shampoo, first target the roots of the hair as you apply the product. Massage it around, and feel free to comb or disperse it throughout the mid sections of the hair, too, depending on the product’s use case. If it’s a half-styler half-dry shampoo, then the type of product will dictate its use. (A wax stays at the base of the hairs, while a paste can be distributed along the entire hair.)
Our favorite scalp lotion dry shampoo: R+Co Bleu lotion-to-powder dry shampoo. Get it from R + Co for $65.
Our favorite styling wax dry shampoo: Hanz de Fuko Quicksand. Get it from Hanz de Fuko for $23.
Our favorite hair paste dry shampoo: Cremo dry shampoo paste. Get it from Amazon for $9.
For a spray dry shampoo, you want to define a part in the hair, just like the powder. Spray it directly onto the part (at a distance designated by the product label) and then massage into the hairs. Depending on the tint of the spray (since some come darker for brown and black hair tones) make sure to massage it fully into the hair so that it doesn’t leave a chalky residue on display.
Now, don’t forget about the ultimate conditioner, a hair mask.
Photos via Brands