What is Dry Conditioner?

Erica Stratton

Dry conditioner is a salon product that can be used to condition hair without using water. It comes in a spray bottle and can be applied like a hairspray. Instead of moisture, the conditioner relies on oils and chemicals to help condition hair.

Dry conditioner often comes in an aerosol can.
Dry conditioner often comes in an aerosol can.

Dry conditioner often comes in an aerosol bottle. To apply, the conditioner is sprayed on the hair, then is combed through so that the oils spread evenly throughout the hair. It can be applied after a traditional water shower or after the hair has been treated with a dry shampoo.

Dry conditioner can be used as a de-frizzing solution.
Dry conditioner can be used as a de-frizzing solution.

Ironically, many kinds of dry shampoos were already on the market before the creation of dry conditioner. Where dry conditioner is an aerosol, dry shampoo is usually a powder that is shaken on the head and brushed out of the hair. Though hair tends to become oily between washings, thus mitigating the need for a conditioner, the companion product was created to address the needs of those with extremely dry or chemically-treated hair.

Dry conditioner can contain many different ingredients depending on the manufacturer. It often uses oils, vitamins, or Quaternium, an umbrella term for several types of chemical compounds used in many different kinds of cosmetics and hair care products. For instance, Quaternium-15 is a preservative derived from formaldehyde, while Quaternium-80 is a silicone-based conditioner that can help smooth and soften the hair. The use of Quaternium in hair products is controversial, since some users have reported allergic reactions to it.

Dry conditioner is used by models, actors and many other people who have high-maintenance hairstyles. Using a dry shampoo and conditioner cuts down on the time someone would need to restyle their hair every time it got damp or wet. For some hairstyles, this is a process that can take up to an hour or more.

People with naturally curly hair also can benefit from using dry shampoo. For example, once curly hair has been straightened, almost any moisture can cause it to curl up again. The conditioner can also be applied as a de-frizzing solution to smooth curly hair and re-define curls.

Those with extremely dry hair may also find dry conditioner useful because traditional conditioners can leave hair feeling "heavy." Dry conditioner may also owe its creation to the "no-poo" movement, where those with curly or dry hair experiment with using products other than traditional conditioners and shampoos to improve the look of their hair.

A woman who uses dry conditioner.
A woman who uses dry conditioner.

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Discussion Comments


@oopart28-Go with TIGI’s Dirty Secret Dry Conditioner. It is a great leave-in dry conditioner. It will totally refresh your style. You can use it on any hair type. It smells great, too. It’s also less expensive than some other brands.

This dry conditioner conditions without weighing hair down. That can really be a bonus when your hair has gone flat after a day or two. It also adds shine while taming fly-aways.


@oopart28- I spend a lot of time heat-styling my hair, too. With all the effort that goes in to creating a smooth, frizz-free style, dry shampoos and conditioners really come in handy. I have tried a few different products.

I would say the best conditioner for use on dry hair would have to be Orlando Pita Renew Dry Conditioner by T3. It is very lightweight. I love the instant addition of shine and moisture.

It’s non-greasy and doesn’t leave a noticeable finish. I really like how it keeps my hair smooth and adds luster. The dry conditioner also has a wonderful smell.


I have naturally curly hair. When I style it, I have to wash, blow dry, and use a flat iron to get the straight look that I want. I don’t always have the time to do this, so any product that can help keep my hair clean and conditioned without water sounds awesome! What is the best conditioner for use on dry hair?

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