The struggle was definitely real with dry shampoo: Kids today are lucky enough to have never bootlegged some baby powder to use on their strands. Before we first learned how to use dry shampoo, we all started with the real stuff, a.k.a. talcum powder.
Although our enterprising ancestors took to the use of clay powder and starch to deodorize their wigs in the 1700s—giving birth to the first-generation dry shampoos—it regained popularity in the 1940s when women started looking for ways to refresh their elaborate hairstyles without ruining them with water. Then came the matte-everything trend of the 1990s, where clever girls and guys took to sprinkling baby powder directly on their crowns to revive and punkify locks without that freshly-rinsed sheen.
Cut to today’s iterations, which include both aerosol and simple powder versions, which are used primarily for mopping up excess grease on our scalp without wetting—a literal dry-clean, if you will. Read on to learn how to use dry shampoo and peep some of our top dry shampoo picks:
How to Use Dry Shampoo: A Simple Tutorial
Start with unwashed hair.
It’s best to use dry shampoo on hair that is in need of a refresh. Use it after the gym, or when you just don’t have enough time to get a hair wash.
Using a comb or a brush, part your hair into small sections, focusing on your the oiliest areas.
Hold your dry shampoo about 8 inches away from your head and spray to the sections you parted.
Massage product in.
Now that you’ve sprayed all your sections, massage your head and allow the product to fully absorb any oil and greasy residue.
Et voila: you’ve taken care of any greasy strands and can now style your hair any way you like.
Dry Shampooing Tips
Dry shampoo usually comes in a powder form and typically has starch or alcohol as its main drying ingredient. A lot of brands now come administered in an aerosol formula, which is super effective when using the product to revive your hair and scalp during a particularly muggy day—it sprays on much more evenly, without the mess of powder shampoos of yore.
- For revitalizing your blowout (with a super-addictive scent to boot): Dove Refresh+Care Detox & Purify Dry Shampoo
- For after the gym: Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist
- For refreshing freshly-dyed hair without washing: Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Color Care Dry Shampoo
- For plumping up those bangs: TRESemmé Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo
A few dos and don’ts when using dry shampoo:
Do use only a few times each week, and only as a reprieve from the cleansing benefits of regular shampoo or as a midday refresh. Although your hair might benefit from the occasional break from water-washing, its effects can plateau after a certain number of uses, usually after three days.
Don’t use dry shampoo on dripping wet hair. Its main advantages come from sopping up excess oil, and not as a styling product on wet hair.
Do let the product settle on your scalp, and don’t panic at the sight of white. Spraying the product too close to your head (< 6”) can give quite a potent burst of product at the onset; feel free to tousle your roots once this happens, and rest assured the product will disperse accordingly. Ed’s tip: Try forming a capital letter L with your arm; this is approximately the right distance.
Do keep an emergency mini-bottle in your purse, gym locker or office drawer for an on-the-go root lift. This can prove especially handy, particularly during long busy days where a shower is nowhere in sight.
Do start by lifting your hair and spritz the product on the roots. This helps focus its drying properties directly on the scalp while providing some bounce and lift at the same time.
Do use dry shampoo as a fast and easy bang degreaser. A fringe is particularly susceptible to getting oily and stringy because it lays flat on our actual foreheads. A simple spritz of the product onto the hairline of a fringe can refresh and reinvigorate your locks.
Hairstyles to Create with Dry Shampoo
1. Gym-Worthy Braids
If you love to work up a sweat in the gym but hate it when your go-to style falls out mid-rep, dry shampoo could help save the day!
Whether you choose a quick and easy top knot or a more elaborate plaited style, spraying your strands with dry shampoo before styling will give extra grip to your hair, extending the lifespan of your ‘do. Plus it’s also a great preemptive attack on sweat and oils that could ruin your look.
2. Night-Out Beehive
Got a hot date this weekend? Or perhaps you’ve planned to have a girl’s night out? Either way, a plumped-up beehive will see you through in style.
Simply grab your Love Beauty and Planet Radical Refresher Citrus Peel Uplifting Dry Shampoo and learn how to create this timeless night-out look with our step-by-step tutorial.
3. Messy Bun
You know it, we know it, everyone knows it: a messy bun is the holy grail of speedy hairstyles!
Throw it together for a casual Sunday brunch or use to dress down a formal outfit. Just remember to spritz your hair with dry shampoo first to give it that extra undone-and-fabulous vibe.
4. Textured Waves
Now it’s not all about updos and braids, oh no! If you’re a life-long lover of curls and waves – and want a way to give them a more textured, beachy vibe—a dry shampoo will give you instant gratification.