Everything you need to know about dry shampoo

From reviving limp hair and banishing greasy scalps to boosting voluminous roots, dry shampoo offers a magical promise to users: fresher hair, no soap and water required.

And with summer fast approaching, that promise is more alluring than ever.

Stylists and consumers alike turn to dry shampoo sprays, foams, powders and pastes to help hair look and feel cleaner in between washes, whether they're dashing to work with no time for a shampooing session or extending their blowout one extra day. However, there are downsides, with online reports circulating about the dangers of overusing the products, leading to scalp problems or even hair loss. And with a wide range of brands available on the market, choosing a dry shampoo that's friendly on both the scalp and wallet can be difficult.

But we're here to help, with a breakdown of healthy-use guidelines, styling tips and hair-friendly product recommendations.

How to use

While the majority of dry shampoos on the market are aerosol sprays, other forms include flour-esque powders and frothy mousses. Though the receptacles may differ, dry shampoos work in similar ways, containing starchy active ingredients that absorb oil and grease.

"Most people spray in the root and crown area after day two or three of styling to help extend their blowout, as it absorbs excess oil and is a dry way to refresh hair,"  said celebrity stylist George Papanikolas.

Many hairstylists agree that dry shampoo, not a complete replacement for washing hair, can be an asset to men and women alike to refresh limp locks and oily scalps.

“If your hair gets oily, then this is a great way to refresh your hair without having to actually wash and dry it,” Papanikolas said. “Spray about 16 inches away from the hair so that you don't get white spots, and use a boar bristle brush to distribute through hair so it can absorb excess oil, and give hair more volume and texture.”

Styling with dry shampoo

Dry shampoo isn't exclusively for dirty hair.

“My favorite styling tip (whether your hair is clean or dirty) is to use dry shampoo to give your hair more body,” said Dominick Pucciarello, celebrity hairstylist with Bernstein & Andriulli. “Simply spray the dry shampoo on the root area and then use your blow dryer on the cool and low settings and go directly at the root. It's a really easy way to refresh or just to add some volume.”

It can also be invaluable for accomplishing all those summer braids and updo's on your Pinterest board.

“If you want to do an updo on clean hair, it can be very slippery," Papanikolas says. "By spraying dry shampoo, you give the hair more grip and texture so that it can stay in place."

Dry shampoo and natural hair

According to Nancy Twine, the founder of the natural hair product line Briogeo, dry shampoo banishes oil, which can create issues for people with natural hair. "Curly hair types typically don’t use a ton of dry shampoo because natural oils from the scalp are often beneficial in keeping their curls soft and hydrated," Twine explained.

"If someone with textured hair does want to use a dry shampoo, to maybe control oil production, ours is a great one because of the fact that it’s not just an oil absorber, but there are also ingredients in there that will help the scalp as well," she said, pointing to Briogeo's natural oils-infused Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo as a potential option.

Additionally, Twine explained, dry shampoo with specific components can also help refresh hair that's been weighed down by other styling products. "Curly hair girls tend to use a lot of product, and product can cause buildup, and buildup can cause itchiness and irritation, so ingredients like the tea tree oil can be soothing."

But is it safe?

Unfortunately, some dry shampoo ingredients are less healthy than others. "A lot of dry shampoos on the market contain talc powder, which (can be) linked to cancer," Twine said. "Instead of talc powder, we actually use rice starches to absorb oil at the roots (and) tea tree oil, a natural antimicrobial which helps to kill harmful bacteria that causes your scalp to be itchy and smell."

Twine and Papanikolas agreed that, while dry shampoo is safe for use several times in between showers, the products don't actually cleanse the scalp. Using too much dry shampoo can dry out hair and cause buildup on the scalp, clogging hair follicles and worsening conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.

Briogeo's dry shampoo is one of many brands that use talc alternatives, sharing its charcoal elements with Hask's Charcoal Purifying Dry Shampoo and its rice starch with amika's Perk Up Dry Shampoo. Taking the science of dry shampoo a step further is Living Proof Perfect Hair Day, which freshens up hair with its patented Healthy Hair Molecule (called OFPMA) created by MIT scientists.

While many of these dry shampoos retail over $20,Pucciarello recommends TONI&GUY's Dry Shampoo among his favorites ($14.99) and Papanikolas name-drops Matrix' Style Link Mineral Play Back Dry Shampoo (currently on sale for $8.99).

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