What is Dry Shampoo?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Dry shampoo is a powdered substance that is used to absorb oil in the hair when it is not possible or practical to use water and traditional shampoos. There are a number of commercial products available, and simple recipes can be used to create it at home. Some people choose to use it between regular washings, preventing the need to restyle the hair, in many cases, and avoiding exposing it to excess heat. It is also not unusual for households to keep a small amount of on hand as part of an emergency hygiene kit. In the event that water is not available, the compound can be applied and provide at least a partial cleansing of the hair.

Wet shampoo cleans hair better than dry shampoo.
Wet shampoo cleans hair better than dry shampoo.

All homemade and commercial dry shampoo products contain some type of powder, which is often worked into the hair in a way similar to the application of wet shampoos. This allows the powder to begin absorbing the excess oil present on the surface of the hair follicles. After leaving the shampoo in place for a short period of time, the residue is brushed or combed out. The end result is that the shampoo removes excess oil and the hair will appear healthy and manageable for several hours.

Some dry shampoo comes in aerosol form.
Some dry shampoo comes in aerosol form.

Since the 1970s, dry shampoo products have been available as powders that are sprinkled into the hair as well as sprays that are sold in aerosol cans. Along with these commercial products, it is possible to make home versions using items such as talcum powder and various herbs and spices. While some of the home versions may leave behind tiny particles that dull the sheen of the hair, there are home recipes that provide a temporary luster to the hair that is very similar to that of using a good quality wet shampoo.

Talcum powder, which can be used to make a home version of dry shampoo.
Talcum powder, which can be used to make a home version of dry shampoo.

Most hair experts do not recommend using dry products as a permanent substitute for wet shampoos. While it works very well for the occasional application when shampooing using water is not an option, it does not clean as thoroughly as wet shampoos. Over time, the hair will build up a residue that powdered shampoos are unable to absorb properly. For this reason, dry shampoo should only be used from time to time rather than on a daily basis.

Long-term use of a dry shampoo may cause residue buildup.
Long-term use of a dry shampoo may cause residue buildup.
Dry shampoo may help hair appear healthy and manageable for several days.
Dry shampoo may help hair appear healthy and manageable for several days.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@rallenwriter-- Why don't you read some product reviews? I don't use a dry shampoo right now but used it regularly for a while several years ago. I was working at a coffee shop and my hair constantly smelled like coffee. I don't remember the brand though.

I know that there are a lot of dry shampoos on the market that just don't work. And they're not very cheap either. So don't just randomly buy one. Read reviews and if you find one that has a lot of good feedback from users, go for it. Otherwise, you will have to test a lot of products until you find a good one.

I bought three or four back then until I finally stuck with one.


I've never tried dry shampoo but I feel like it won't work for me. I don't think I would feel that my hair is clean even if I used this product.

@anon138350-- Yea, there are a lot of people, like military personnel who don't have the opportunity to wash their hair often.

I personally have the opportunity but don't have the time. I have extremely long hair which requires about two to three hours in total to wash, dry and style. I honestly don't have that much time to spare every day. So I wash my hair every other day or in winter, once every three days. In between, I use dry shampoo to keep it oil-free and smelling nice.


Recently I tried a new brand and I like it very much. It is Faciano Dry Shampoo, and cleans pretty well on my hair. It stops itch, order, also cleans away my oil and dirt. No powder for you to clean at all.


I tried this one and it is really good. It would stop itch and oil, and cleans wonderfully: Faciano Dry Shampoo.


@anon138350: In response to "Just wash your hair like everybody else, what is wrong with you?"

Did you ever stop to think that this is useful to people in the Military? Oh, you didn't? What's wrong?


@anon138350: It's actually not healthy to wash your hair daily because it strips your hair of the natural oils. It's better to only wash your hair every other day. This is also an alternative for people when they go camping, or have water restrictions.


What? Holy crap, people. Just wash your hair like everybody else. What is wrong with all of you?


Do a search on shampoo bars. You'll find a ton of options.


@rallenwriter -- I haven't used Bumble and Bumble, but I tried that Batiste dry shampoo for a while, before I realized that I actually had most of the dry shampoo ingredients at home -- why don't you try making a homemade dry shampoo instead of shelling out for a brand name one?


I've heard everybody raving about this Bumble and Bumble dry shampoo -- has anybody actually used it? I've tried Pantene and Algemarin dry shampoo before, but now I'm really curious to see what Bumble and Bumble can do.


@anon72912 -- That's the good thing about dry shampoo is that you don't have to use water with it. Then you don't have to worry about the airline travel restrictions.

If you really want one to mix with water, then I'd suggest cruising some dry shampoo reviews -- they should be able to tell you the best dry shampoo to mix with water.

Or you could even try a dry shampoo spray -- that way you could get the water feel. Of course, that too would be limited on an airplane, and they don't allow aerosols, so I'd say your best bet is just to find a regular dry shampoo.


I travel a lot. does anyone make a dry shampoo to use with water. (air travel is restricted to only a couple of oz of liquids)

Post your comments
Forgot password?