How To Use Dry Shampoo The Right Way In Between Washes

Photo: Alona Siniehina / Shutterstock
woman using dry shampoo

Blowouts at the salon are expensive, and at home can be very time-consuming. That's why using dry shampoo can make a significant difference.

Dry shampoo is a genius for extending the life of a hairstyle, and using it not only keeps your hair from looking greasy but adds volume and a nice refresh.

What is dry shampoo and how does it work?

Dry shampoo is a powder-based formula that cleanses hair without water, so you can prolong your style when you feel like skipping the wash. “It boosts body and volume back into your hair, leaving hair looking clean and refreshed,” says IGK Hair co-founder, Chase Kusero.

Using a product to absorb oils is nothing new, it is just that concept being applied to hair and scalp. This may be an extreme example but, essentially, it explains how dry shampoo works on oil and on the scalp:

“Having grown up with two older brothers who were mechanics, I used to wonder why they were throwing cat litter on the oil stains in the driveway. It was because the cat litter was made of clay, and clay absorbs oil,” adds Vincent De Marco, owner of the Vincent Hair Artistry.

RELATED: How Often You Should Actually Wash Your Hair

Why should you use dry shampoo?

For those with hair that requires a great deal of time and effort, dry shampoo may be one of the best products out there.

“It’s a fantastic product to not only refresh your hair, but it also provides a lot of body and volume. You can use dry shampoo every day if you want,” says celebrity hairstylist Michael Boychuck.

Many dry shampoos used to be quite powdery, but the formulas have improved over the years, making the products lighter while still absorbing excess oil in your hair. Whenever your hair is looking flat or a little dirty, use it!

Adds Boychuck, “After three or four days you will probably want to wash your hair due to the build-up. You can even use it on the same day that you wash your hair for added volume instead of using a texturizing spray.”

What are the benefits of using dry shampoo on hair?

While dry shampoo is great for making hair in need of a wash feel and look fresher, it also has so many other benefits.

“Dry shampoo can add volume to hair that has a tendency to be flat. It's great for a spruce up after working out, if humid weather has had its way with you, and to extend the time between shampoos,” adds Steve Waldman, Director of Technical Training at Hair Cuttery Family of Brands.

Dry shampoo also helps you save money. The less often you go for blowouts, or the less often you use products to wash your hair, the less money you spend. During a recession or a particularly tight month financially, that's always a plus.

RELATED: How To (Safely) Bleach Your Hair At Home, According To Stylists & Colorists

How To Properly Use Dry Shampoo

1. Identify problem areas on your scalp.

Just as you do with regular shampoo, you don't just want to apply it directly into your hair. You will want to target specific areas that need it the most. Look for oily areas or greasy-looking hair.

“I like to focus on the hairline and the nape of the neck, where hair tends to get the most oily and sweaty,” suggests Kusero.

You should do this after you have wet your hair and it's about 90% dry, as dry shampoo just seems to work better on damp hair. As for either clean or dirty hair, it's up to you. Dry shampoo was made to be used after freshly washed hair to prevent grease before it happens, but many people use it on dirty hair to make it look refreshed.

2. Shake and spray the product.

The next thing you'll want to do is shake the bottle well. All dry shampoos have to be shaken in order to mix together the ingredients within the bottle.

Once you've shaken the bottle, spray it about half an arm’s length from your head. Spray at the roots in sections around your head where you need it. Then, wait 2-3 minutes for the cleansing powders to activate.

3. Brush it through.

Once you have spritzed or loosely applied your dry shampoo and have waited, brush it through evenly. Of course, you won't leave your hair in the brushed state and you'll loosen it back up later, styling it accordingly.

However, brushing your hair while the dry shampoo is activated will help distribute the powder evenly giving new life to your hair strands.

“Massage or brush in until all the powders disappear,” Kusero advises. "Brushing the dry shampoo throughout your hair delivers professional results.

4. Blow-dry your hair with cool air.

Once you have put in the dry shampoo product, brushed it into your hair, and distributed it evenly, use the blow dryer set on cold to loosen your hair and push it into the position of your desired hairstyle.

"Use the 'cold air' setting on your blow dryer, preferably with a diffuser nozzle," De Marco recommends. Cold air blasted from the blow dryer helps to shut down the cuticle and make your hair feel cleaner, less ruffled, shinier, and looking healthier.

RELATED: 6 Simple Tips For Women Who Want Longer, Thicker Hair

How often should you use dry shampoo?

Dry shampoo can be used as often as needed but in moderation, since some hair types generate oil quicker than others and make people reach for their dry shampoo more frequently.

Most hair experts say you shouldn't use dry shampoo for more than two days consecutively, and to take a break after three months of using it to give your hair a rest from the powder-formed chemicals.

For those who use it pretty regularly, one to two times a week is considered okay, but the three-month rule still applies.

How do you know if you've applied dry shampoo correctly?

To apply dry shampoo correctly, avoid spraying it too close to your scalp. You don't have to cover every strand of hair. Plus, spraying too close leads to product build-up and leaves a white, chalky residue on your hair.

"Only spray your roots and do it about 8-10 inches away from it," advises beauty writer Essie Button. "You only need enough to cover the roots."

Also, don’t massage the product right away. A light massage is recommended to get the most out of the dry shampoo and to give your hair the volume it needs. "You need to let the product sit for about 2-3 minutes before massaging it in," Button adds.

Is dry shampoo bad for your hair?

No, dry shampoo isn't bad for your hair. But as with any other product, this is an “everything in moderation” kind of product. Adds Gina Rivera, creator of By Gina, “Having great-looking hair is directly related to a healthy scalp.”

Dry shampoo should be used in conjunction with traditional shampoo and conditioner to help extend the life of your style. “A regular hair wash, whether with a shampoo or co-wash, is designed to cleanse the scalp of impurities and product build-up, and create a clean slate for desired styling,” Kusero says.

To ensure healthy hair and scalp, proper blood flow to the scalp is necessary, and the hair follicles need to remain unclogged. “So, while this is a great and effective product, it’s not a replacement for cleansing the hair and scalp,” Rivera concludes.

RELATED: The Type Of Hairstyle Most Attractive To Men, Says Study

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyle writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly.