What is Spray Shampoo?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Spray shampoo is a product that is used instead of shampoo to make the hair look cleaner and less oily. The product does not actually remove dirt from the hair but, instead includes a product such as talc that helps to absorb oil that has built up around the roots. Some people use it when they are traveling and are not able to shower for a day or more. Others use it to maintain hair that has been professionally styled for a few extra days. Spray shampoo is also sometimes used by people who are injured or ill and unable to bathe on a daily basis.

A can of dry spray shampoo.
A can of dry spray shampoo.

To apply spray shampoo, the nozzle of the bottle is directed at the roots of the hair. When the scalp and the roots of the hair have been coated to the user's satisfaction, the product is left to sit for a few moments so that it can absorb the oil. Then the hair is brushed and styled again, at which point it should look cleaner and less limp. Brushing the hair helps to remove the product and the oil it has collected from the hair, but some people find that it is impossible to remove all of the product from their hair until they eventually wash it with water. Some companies that manufacture spray shampoo recommend that people who use the product use a brush with natural bristles.

Another term that is often used for spray shampoo is "dry shampoo." This product might come in an aerosol can but also sometimes comes in a bottle with a slotted opening that resembles the top of a baby powder bottle. When the product is applied to the hair using this sort of bottle, it must be sprinkled into the roots. Some people find using spray shampoo more convenient because it is easier to angle the product directly at the roots.

Depending on the formula of the spray shampoo, the product may or may not be made with fragrance. Some people prefer to use spray shampoo that has fragrance as they believe that the scent helps them to feel fresh as though their hair had been washed with water. Others prefer to use unscented versions of the product because they prefer to use their own perfume or cologne as a fragrance. There are also spray shampoos that are formulated for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@candyquilt-- I agree that spray shampoo isn't meant to replace washing hair. And I don't think anyone uses it if they don't have to.

After my surgery, I was not allowed to shower for a little over a week because my incision was infected and water would have made it worse. I could not bear sitting around with dirty hair so I used dry shampoo during this time. Of course, I would have preferred to wash it but it was just not possible.

There are also very sick people or people with disabilities who can't take a shower or bath regularly. So in these situations, dry shampoo comes to the aid. Hospitals also use it for their patients.


I discovered this product recently. I wish I had discovered it sooner because it's great. I study and work at the same time and sometimes, there is just not enough time to wash my hair in the morning. So I use spray shampoo on those days and my hair looks great. It smells good too.


I don't think that any spray shampoo can replace a real shower. As much as these manufacturers want consumers to believe that using this product will make hair feel totally fresh and clean, it doesn't exactly worth that way.

Yes, spray shampoo reduces oil and can get rid of the limp look and any odor. But that's about it. A shower is still necessary at the closest opportunity. Moreover, this product does build up in hair. So if used regularly, it makes hair heavy and stiff. So I don't think it should be used twice in a row. Hair needs to be washed sometime in between applications to get rid of the build-up.

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