Let's be honest: Dry shampoo is a little odd. It's a hair-care product that absorbs excess oil and saves you from having to cleanse your hair all the time, but it doesn't actually clean anything. It is not a replacement for shampoo but more of a stop-gap solution, a way to freshen up without going through the hassle — or the potentially damaging effects — of more regular washing/drying/styling. Still, when used properly, the best dry shampoos are a major time-saver, especially when you find the right one for your hair. "When choosing a dry shampoo, I look for a formula that's able to absorb excess oil and eliminate odors," says celebrity colorist Cassondra Kaeding (her client list includes Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, Kendall Jenner and the cast of the latest Mean Girls). "It should have lasting results allowing me to go longer between shampoos."
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
Batiste Original Dry Shampoo
Best Drugstore Find
SexyHair Big Dry Shampoo
Best for Volumizing
Kristin Ess Hair Style Reviving Dry Shampoo
Best for Brunettes
OGX Protecting & Silk Blow Dry Extend Dry Shampoo
Best for Blowouts
Klorane Dry Shampoo
Best Pro Pick
Living Proof Dry Shampoo
Best Bonus Conditioning
IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo
Best for Extra-Oily Hair
Innersense Natural Refresh Dry Shampoo
Best Dry Shampoo Gel
Hairstory Hair Powder Dry Shampoo
Best for Thin, Flat Hair
How does dry shampoo work?
The active ingredients in most dry shampoos are most often alcohol or some type of starch (such as rice starch, tapioca starch, cornstarch). Most traditional versions — like those from Amika or Batiste (see below) — come in aerosol spray bottles: You spray the product on your hair's roots (where oil from your scalp has accumulated) and the starch and/or alcohol can sop up grease. As a result, your hair looks bouncier and cleaner as the dry shampoo powder at the roots will also often give hair texture and extra body. Most dry shampoos have a fragrance, which makes your hair smell cleaner too.
Who should use dry shampoo?
Dry shampoo can be a beauty lifesaver for anyone in a time crunch (I started using it when I became a busy working mom). For those with thinning or damaged hair, these products will keep your 'do presentable while alleviating the intolerable wear and tear of overwashing and styling. Dry shampoos are also a grease-eradicating, fresh-smelling godsend for those with extra oily hair who'd otherwise need to wash every day.
How often should I wash my hair?
"With hair washing, I typically say twice to three times a week is best, so you are not stripping your hair's natural oils," says San Francisco colorist Tylor Johnson. Though for those with drier, textured hair, stylist Jamal Edmonds explains: "Someone with scalp issues may shampoo weekly, while most women with textured hair only shampoo biweekly." Edmonds, who's also the owner and creative director of the popular Washington, D.C., salon Lamaj in the City, elaborates: "There really isn’t a rule of thumb for how often you should wash your hair; it’s based on specific needs."
Is dry shampoo bad for your hair?
When used correctly, dry shampoo is not bad for your hair. As mentioned above, it's not a replacement for regular shampooing, but it will make your hair look clean and smell fresh in between washes. Experts are mixed on how often you can/should use it — some stylists I spoke with said spraying on dry shampoo every day is fine, while others were concerned that it could clog the pores on your scalp, lead to product buildup and possibly — in rare cases — cause hair breakage. Dermatologists recommend limiting dry shampoo use to one or two times a week, or, at the very least, no more than two days in a row.