Dry shampoo has gotten a lot of attention in recent times, and not all of it is good. Everything from it making a young woman develop a bald spot to frantic beauty lovers afraid that with talcum powder turning out to be a carcinogen, they believe that dry shampoo might be one, too. Never fear! I’ve done some digging, and I’ve compiled answers to many, many questions.
What is Dry Shampoo?
Dry shampoo is either a spray or a powder that you apply to your hair to absorb excess oils so you can go longer durations without washing your hair with shampoo, which can harm your precious hair follicles.
They come in a variety of scents and a variety of colors to match your hair. The sprays are in aerosol cans, like hairspray, and the powders are in canisters that you shake very much like baby powder canisters.
How Does Dry Shampoo Work?
Even though different brands of dry shampoo have different ingredients, they all work pretty much the same. Every single one of them has some form oil-absorbing component to take your hair from greasy and wet-looking to dry and ready to go.
Your scalp naturally produces an oil called sebum on a daily basis to protect your hair from all sorts of things like pollution, sun damage, and even physical damage from ponytail holders and barrettes. However, while the hair works really hard to protect itself, it can begin to look unseemly if we’ve missed our regular wash.
Most of the brands use a form of starch to soak up this oil to hold our hair over until we can properly wash it. The most commonly used starches are rice starch and corn starch, but I’ve seen everything from potato starch to tapioca starch to a combination of starches.
I’ve also seen a few that are starch-free and use alcohol to soak up the oil, but I strongly urge against going this route, as alcohol can severely damage the hair by drying it out too much.
How Do I Use Dry Shampoo?
This is one of the biggies. I’ve heard many accounts of women giving up their dry shampoo because they hated either how it made their hair look or feel. After hearing their accounts, I can honestly say that most of the problems arise from using it incorrectly.
Dry Shampoo Spray
Divide your as if you were going to make pig tails. Then, sectioning your hair from the bottom up, lightly dust your roots with the spray. Hold the canister at least 8 inches away from your roots and lightly spray your hair. I like to tap the nozzle instead of holding it down. If you see your roots plastered in white powder, you’ve used too much! (However, if you have an incredibly oily scalp, you can try to remedy this by applying more than normal!)
Once you have dusted all of your roots, pull your hair out of your face (I throw mine in a messy bun) and do something for 10-15 minutes depending on how oily your hair is. This step is super important! You want to leave it on for a minimum of 10 minutes so that it can properly absorb your oils, dry, and be able to come off properly. So, toss your hair up, and do your makeup for the day, grab a magazine, or just zone out.
Now, once the dry shampoo has been sitting for the proper amount of time, take it down. Don’t be alarmed if your hair is stiff, we will take care of that. Gently start massaging your scalp all over. You know how we like to fluff our hair after we take it out of a ponytail? It’s the same motion. Fluff out your hair, being sure to really fluff out any areas where the dry shampoo may be visible – your part, around your face, and around your ears. If you put on the proper amount of dry shampoo, you probably won’t even need to brush it out, but if you put on a tad too much, and you can still see the dry shampoo clinging to your roots, grab a wide brush and gently brush the rest of the dry shampoo down the hair shaft all the way to the ends.
Then, style as usual!
If you use too much dry shampoo, don’t let it sit long enough, and don’t distribute it properly, you may wind up with hair that is greasy, gray looking, dull, or have a nasty texture.
Dry Shampoo Powder
I’ll admit that I am not the biggest fan of dry shampoo powder. Not that it doesn’t work, I’m just not a fan of how messy it can be following the manufacturer’s directions (basically, shake it on your hair instead of spray and follow the same steps as above). However, I discovered an efficient way to use the dry powder that is not nearly as messy (thank you, Pinterest!)
Divide and part your hair as you would if you were using the spray, but instead of sprinkling the powder onto your scalp, grab an old fluffy makeup brush, swirl it around in the powder (it’s easier to tap some into a shallow bowl or plate for this part!), tap off the excess powder, and gently dab it along your roots.
Throw your hair up into a bun, hang out for 10-15 minutes, and then fluff out your hair as written above.
Can Dry Shampoo Make Me Go Bald?
First of all, there is not a lot of definitive evidence that it was actually the dry shampoo that made that young woman develop a bald spot. I read the original story and all consecutive stories, but there were holes in the reporting in every one. In one, she seemed to have used dry shampoo and only dry shampoo, in another, some suggested that perhaps she had a hereditary condition that caused bald spots prior to using the dry shampoo.
Regardless, I looked up professional opinions about this topic. I also encourage you to do your own digging as well; new information and scientific studies are being done every day.
The general consensus is that if you use dry shampoo how it’s supposed to be used (i.e. only used every few days as needed, and not every day), it probably won’t make you go bald. I’m not as well versed on those who have skin irritations on the head, but you should be talking to your doctor about any products that you would actively apply to trouble areas anyway (and if you are not, 1 – shame on you, and 2 – you should!).
Now, can dry shampoo cause breakage in the hair? Yes, but this only happens if you use lots of dry shampoo and never replenish your hair’s moisture. A good way to do this is, when you actually do wash your hair, is to invest in a good hair mask or super moisturizing conditioner. I have a weekly hair routine that helps me maintain my hair, keep it moisturized and healthy, and keep my curls manageable.
- rinse out any and all residue/grime in my hair
- slather on a luxe hair mask
- put my hair in a shower cap
- take a bath/shower like normal, saving hair for last
- rinse out the mask
- shampoo and condition like normal
- apply Lush’s Hair Rescue (love this stuff!!!) and leave it in
- style hair like normal
Can Dry Shampoo Cause Cancer?
First of all, the carcinogenic ingredient that made headlines is talcum powder, talc for short. It can cause cancer through inhalation, however, there are two versions of talc powder: talcum powder that contains asbestos and talcum powder that does not. Not much study has been conducted over the asbestos-free talc powder other than the consensus that asbestos-free talc (found in your every day consumer products that contain talc like baby powder, makeup, etc.) may cause cancer in large doses.
That being said, if you are like me, you steer clear of anything that even might cause cancer. Which brings us to our lovely dry shampoo.
First and foremost, you should always be checking labels of anything you eat or apply to your body. There are so many “safe” chemicals in consumer products that can still cause cancer; be sure you are aware of them.
Now, this is a simple matter of finding a dry shampoo that does not contain talc or any other potentially carcinogenic ingredients. Always be on the lookout for potentially dangerous chemicals. Here is a list of all known carcinogens.
Why Does Dry Shampoo Make My Hair Greasier?
This one is another biggie. So many of you told me about this problem, and I was shocked to see that there is not that much of a conversation about this out in the beauty and fashion world. From observation and personal experience, I can say that it all boils down into two things:
Quality is what counts & Know your hair
Not every dry shampoo is made equal, sadly, but that does not mean that the best quality ones are the most pricey. I’ve had some fabulous hair days using Batiste’s dry shampoo (and I can’t wait to get my mitts on their new Strength and Shine dry shampoo), and it only costs about $7 at Ulta. I’ve also had some terrible hair days with more ‘higher end’ dry shampoos from Target.
However, I know many people who don’t like Batiste dry shampoo and other dry shampoos because they don’t soak up the amount of oil that their hair produces. In many cases, the amount of oil that the scalp produces in the span of a day or perhaps even an hour is too much for some dry shampoos to absorb and cover up.
If this is an issue you are struggling with, I strongly recommend possibly testing out some of the ‘heavy hitter’ dry shampoos. Here are a few that I recommend to try that took the internet by storm for being the best at oil absorption:
- Dove Refresh and Care Dry Shampoo, $4-5
- Lush No Drought Dry Shampoo, $8
- Bumble and Bumble prêt-à-powder, $12
- Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PhD), $22
In some cases, once the scalp feels as though all of the oil is gone, it will go into overdrive to try to replace this oil. It doesn’t mean that your hair is betraying you; it is just trying to do its job in protecting your hair. As annoying as this sounds, it happens to many of us. If you’ve tried all types of dry shampoo, and it just doesn’t work for you, I recommend looking for nourishing dry shampoos. Fair warning: they can get a little pricey. Here are the top nourishing ones that I’ve been keeping my eye on:
- Batiste Strength and Shine Nourishing Dry Shampoo, $7
- Moroccan Oil Dry Shampoo, $26
- Macadamia Professional Style Extend Dry Shampoo, $25
I’ve Done All I Can, but Dry Shampoo Just Doesn’t Work for Me
If your scalp is just producing too much oil for dry shampoo to work, it may be overcompensating for something that is drying your scalp out. If you are on some medications or if you need clinical strength, prescription antiperspirant, dry shampoo may not work for you.
Remedying this can be as simple as going to your local dermatologist, or better yet, your local trichologist – a dermatologist who works exclusively on the scalp and head. They may be able to pinpoint why your scalp is overproducing sebum and help find ways in which to combat this production.
But, sadly, dry shampoos aren’t for everyone. If you find yourself having adverse reactions to dry shampoo, or it just doesn’t seem to work no matter what you do, perhaps your holy grail dry shampoo hasn’t made it’s debut yet. Don’t give up in your search, but for the time being, just wash and style your hair like normal until you find the perfect dry shampoo match for you.
If you have anything that you would like to add, or have a question that I did not answer, please feel free to leave your comments or questions down below!