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Here’s Exactly How to Use Dry Shampoo for That Just-Washed Look (Even on Day 3)

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Photo by AndreyPopov/Getty Images

When it comes to hairstyle extenders, dry shampoo wins every single time. It’s the answer to oily hair, helps boost volume, amps up texture, builds bounce, and comes in clutch on those days when you’d rather do anything other than wash and blowdry your hair. Dry shampoo makes it okay to rock unwashed hair and even makes second (or third) day unwashed hair a total vibe. It’s easy to find, user friendly, and comes built in with all kinds of hair benefits—like the ability to regulate oil production, deliver powerful nutrients to your hair and scalp, slow down color fading, stretch out a blowout, and preserve overall hair health. While blasting your hair with dry shampoo seems pretty straightforward, getting the best refresh takes a little more than a point and spritz. We talked to Eliut Rivera, hairstylist and owner of Eliut Salon, for the lowdown on how to use dry shampoo the right way.


About the Expert:
Eliut Rivera is a hairstylist and owner of Eliut Salon in New York City.

How To Use Dry Shampoo

Step 1: Choose the right dry shampoo formula.

Ever spray your scalp with dry shampoo only to be greeted with a chalky mess of white residue? When it comes to dry shampoo, not every formula is one-size-fits-all. The key is taking your hair type, texture, color, and oil-absorbing needs into consideration. Got an extra greasy scalp? Thin hair? Dry shampoo is your new bestie.

“I totally recommend dry shampoo for oily hair, especially fine hair,” says Rivera, who advises on picking a volumizing dry shampoo formula for hair on the finer side. But if your hair is prone to dryness, you may want to skip it. “If you have hair on the dry side, I don’t recommend using dry shampoo since it can make it brittle,” explains Rivera. Instead, focus on keeping your hair hydrated, healthy, and avoid over-using dry shampoo. Now that you’ve identified your hair’s wants and needs, it's time to choose your formula.

Powder

While dry shampoos formulations are continuously evolving, powder dry shampoos are here to stay (and for good reason). Powders are perfect for targeting application of your dry shampoo right where you need it without having to worry about weighing down your hair or being too heavy handed. Even better, powder dry shampoos work wonders at giving life to limp strands. Pro tip: Rub some dry shampoo into your roots after a fresh blowout to extend the life of your look. River recommends EARTHLING CO. Dry Shampoo for its mess-free application.

Foam

Blessed with super thick strands? Make foam your go-to. “Foam benefits people with curly and thick hair by helping to absorb oil and remove buildup,” Rivera tells us. Foams also come in moisturizing, hydrating formulas that easily work into thick or curly hair to help refresh and add shine without over-drying.

Tinted

If you’ve ever reached for dry shampoo in a rush only to spend even longer trying to blend it into your dark roots, consider tinted dry shampoo the answer to your hair prayers. A tinted dry shampoo makes refreshing your roots a breeze and comes in a variety of shades for those with dark hair. Our fave? BATISTE Hint of Color Dry Shampoo, which comes in tailored shades like blonde, brunette, and black.

Aerosol

Aerosol dry shampoos have been the gold-standard since dry shampoo became a thing. The good: Aerosol sprays are great for refreshing your hair on-the-go without having to worry about residue from a powder or foam formula. They come built in with shine-boosting, moisturizing, and even scented benefits in clear and tinted formulas. The not great: Aerosol sprays need to be spritzed from a distance (of at least 6 inches away) from your roots, or you can risk weighing down your hair even further. Pro tip: Hold your aerosol dry shampoo at an arm length and start spritzing as you inch closer to your scalp to avoid concentrating too much product in one place.

Step 2: Pick your dry shampoo.

The dry shampoo that’ll work best for you depends in large part on your unique head of hair. Check out our fave picks for a variety of hair types and textures below.

The Best Dry Shampoo for Fine Hair: You’ll find a rundown of the top dry shampoo picks for fine hair in our complete guide, but we especially love R + CO’s Spiritualized Dry Shampoo Mist. It’s amazing when it comes to removing buildup, due in no small part to its revolutionary micellar formula with suspended cleansing powder. This powerful dry shampoo will leave your hair and scalp feeling fresh and invigorated, while giving limp hair an immediate boost.

The Best Dry Shampoo for Thick Hair: PANTENE Cheat Day Dry Shampoo Foamis a unique, foaming dry shampoo that’s perfect if you have thick hair. Instead of using an entire bottle or can of dry shampoo to coat all your strands, all you need is a ping-pong ball sized amount to refresh your strands and add volume, bounce, and shine without any stickiness or powdery residue.

The Best Dry Shampoo for Absorbing Excess Oil: If you tend toward an oily scalp, try IGK’s First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo. The charcoal powder in the formula eliminates oil, dirt, and odor, all while helping to strengthen your hair follicles. It’ll ensure that you can go longer between washes and workouts without ever worrying about stringy or greasy hair.

The Best Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair: Finding the right dry shampoo for darker colored hair and brunettes can sometimes be difficult, because a lot of dry shampoos can leave behind a powdery white residue. Thankfully, CAKE BEAUTY’s The All Powerful Tinted Dry Shampoo Powder comes in a variety of shades that you can match to your exact hair color. Get second-day-and-beyond hair with this weightless powder, which blends seamlessly and makes styling a breeze. Check out more of our picks for dark hair in our guide to the best dry shampoo for darker hair colors.

Step 3: Apply your dry shampoo by following these steps.

Now that you know which dry shampoo is right for you, it’s time to learn how to properly apply it. Sure, it might sound easy enough, but we're here to take out any guesswork, so you don’t have to worry about uneven application or product buildup (which can be detrimental to your hair health).

Separate Hair

To apply dry shampoo, you'll want to start with dry hair. Lift your hair up so your roots are exposed. Align your pointer finger with your ear, and then part your hair into two sections. You can either separate top and bottom sections, or separate into a back and front section—whichever is easiest to get your entire scalp accounted for!

Apply Product

If you’re using a spray, keep the nozzle at least six to eight inches away from your roots and scalp to avoid product build-up. “Apply it on the scalp and roots which is the part that gets oily. Spray about eight inches away from your scalp by lifting up with fingers,” says Rivera. If you’re using a powder formula, you can either tap the dry shampoo directly into your roots or tap some into your palms, rub them together, and massage the product carefully onto your scalp. 

No matter which product you use, it’s best to apply into two-inch sections of hair at a time, moving parallel to your natural part. Always start with a small amount of dry shampoo and work your way up as you need it. 

Massage and Blend

To make sure your product is blended in, massage and rub with your fingertips until you can no longer see any powder or residue. If you want extra volume, just flip your hair upside down and gently shake out your roots, making sure to run your fingers through your hair to blend towards your ends.  

Brush and Style

Gently brush your hair from the roots to the tips to make sure the dry shampoo is evenly distributed, or finger-comb your curls into place. And that's it! Your dry shampoo is applied and you're ready to rock second or third-day hair (maybe even fourth–we don't judge)!

How many days in a row can I use dry shampoo?

It ultimately depends on your hair type. For fine or curly hair, you may want to keep your dry shampoo usage at about once or twice a week (on second and third day hair), or you risk weighing your hair down even further. Thicker, coarser textures can likely use it three to four times per week. However, overusing dry shampoo can also seriously risk drying out your hair and scalp, leaving it looking dull and lacking shine. Alternatively, applying dry shampoo to clean hair (instead of waiting until the second or third day) can help extend the life of your wash and require you to use less product, too. If your hair feels like it needs some extra TLC, treat it to a hydrating scalp scrub (like CHRISTOPHE ROBIN Cleansing Purifying Scalp Scrub with Sea Salt), and a moisturizing mask on wash days for healthy hair that’s full of bounce and shine.

Want more hair tips from the pros? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated May 6, 2022 12:00 AM