What Is A Dry Shampoo & How To Use It Properly

Ladies, it’s happened to all of us. You awake suddenly to realize that you’ve fallen back to sleep after turning off your alarm. If you don’t leave for work in just a few minutes, you’ll be late. But your hair is a mess! In times like this, dry shampoo can be your best friend. Keep reading to learn when and how to use dry shampoo.

What is it?

Dry shampoo (DS) is exactly what it sounds like: a way to clean hair without using water. This product is your best option if you need to freshen up but don’t have time to take a shower. You can purchase this water-free shampoo in powder form or as a spray (more popular and easier to use). You can find these products in any drugstore. The price for a bottle ranges between $3 and $10, with some luxury and name brand products being as expensive as $75.

This type of shampoo has been available since the 1960s, but there has been a rise in popularity during the last few years. Formulas are either silica or starch-based. Most spray versions are a mixture of aerosol propellants, solvents, absorbing agents, fragrance, and conditioning agents. Without the help of water, this type of shampoo soaks up the oil in your hair (the stuff that makes your hair feel greasy), but not the healthy oil on your scalp. Did you know that greasy feeling comes from a combination of sweat, little pieces of dirt, and cell debris? Ick! As a bonus, dry shampoo will leave a fresh scent and add volume.  All hair types can benefit from a dry wash, but this method is absolutely perfect for women of color and for hairstyles like braids and dreadlocks.

Why should I use it?

There are several reasons a person should try dry shampoo, one of which is saving water. Did you know that nearly 80% of Americans take daily showers? This might not be a good thing. According to many dermatologist and hairstylists, shampooing every day can lead to dry and damaged hair (washing too frequently strips away natural oils). Simply put, washing without water can save time and help keep your locks healthy.

When should I use it?

You can wash with DS virtually any time, but especially consider it in the following circumstances:

  • When your scalp is producing too much sebum (oil)
  • If you don’t have time to take a shower
  • Camping trips
  • During a power outage 
  • You don’t want to spend the time styling your hair
  • During the summer when you’re sweating
  • If you want a volume boost
  • When you want to add longevity to a hairstyle
  • You’ve been at work all day and you’re about to go out for the evening
  • If you have easily damaged/fine hair
  • If you went to the gym during your lunch break

Washing without water is also a great option if you’re feeling dry and you don’t want to go through the styling process again. This method of cleaning hair works great on processed hair, colored hair, and extensions.

How do I use it?

Holding the can about 6 inches from your head, spray your roots. Use your fingers to massage in the shampoo and spread throughout your locks. Sometimes you’ll notice white residue. Let the product sit for a few minutes and then blow dry, comb through, or blot with a paper towel. Finally, finish by styling.

If using powder DS, simply sprinkle it on the roots and massage in. Use the powder version if you are sensitive to odors. After use either blow dry, comb, or blot to remove the oil that the shampoo has soaked up. Make sure not to use this product if your hair is wet or damp. Don’t wash without water more than twice before a wet wash (you do need to get that dirt and grime out of there eventually).

Tip: Add a matte texture by spraying DS on the ends and the roots.

Tip: You can also freshen up your locks by applying a bit of essential oil, like grapefruit or peppermint, to the tips of your fingers and then running them throughout.

DIY: People have been washing hair without water for centuries. To do this for a fraction of the cost, you can rub cornstarch or baby powder on your roots and then brush the substance through.

Remember, dry methods should not completely replace showering. We recommend alternating between dry and wet washes every other day. If you feel you can go longer, it is acceptable to dry wash on day 2 and wet wash on day 4.

Recommended Brands

Whereas some dry shampoos can be a lifesaver, there are others that will only magnify the problem! Some of the top brands include:

  • Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing DS ($4.74)
    • Great for making styles last
  • Dove Refresh+Care Invigorating DS ($4.89)
    • Works great and costs less than $5
  • Umberto Beverly Hills Dry Clean DS ($9.99)
    • Adds lots of volume and is perfect for fine hair
  • Klorane Gentle DS with Oat Milk ($19.50)
    • Leaves a pleasant scent and produces that just-styled look
  • Lush No Drought DS ($13.95)
    • High-rated, smells amazing, and makes your hair look and feel clean
  • Batiste DS ($7.99)
    • Produces a just-washed look and is great for dark hair because it doesn’t leave white residue

Stay away from the following two brands. They are known to leave sticky, white residue that looks like dandruff:

  • Oscar Blandi Pronto DS Spray ($11)
  • Tresemmé Fresh Start Volumizing DS ($5.49)


Cleaning the hair without the use of water is a great addition to anyone’s haircare habits. DS is convenient, easy, healthy, works on all hair types, saves resources,  and saves time. There’s really no reason not to use it! Another way to keep your locks healthy is to use a diffuser when blow drying. Click here to learn more.

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