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What Does Dry Shampoo Do?

7 mins

Tyler Teresi

You probably used dry shampoo at least once in a lifetime. But do you actually know how it works and what are side effects? Keep reading to find out!

Washing your hair can be a time-consuming process. Between getting in the shower, getting your hair wet, rinsing out the soap, and drying your hair, it may seem like a challenging task to take on when you are in a pinch. In this case, dry shampoo seems like a blessing. 

Dry shampoo is often used as an alternative to regular shampoo when time is at a minimum or when other circumstances prevent you from washing your hair. However, a spray that thoroughly cleans your hair may be too good to be true.

We at WOW Skin Science want to provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for your hair care. Consider the following information to decide how often you should use dry shampoo in your hair care routine and whether it is right for you.

Table of Contents:

  • What Is Dry Shampoo?
  • How Does Dry Shampoo Work?
  • Why Use Dry Shampoo?
  • Is Dry Shampoo Effective?
  • How To Use Dry Shampoo
  • Is Dry Shampoo Bad for You?
  • Are There Side Effects to Using Dry Shampoo?
  • How Often to Use Dry Shampoo
  • Alternatives to Dry Shampoo

What Is Dry Shampoo?

Dry shampoo is a hair treatment product, usually in the form of an aerosol spray, used to remove grease and oils from dry, unwashed hair. These sprays are formulated using alcohol or starch. Some dry shampoos are made using a powder that matches the hair color to make them less noticeable.

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Although dry shampoo is often considered a quick and reasonable alternative to regular shampoo, the truth may be more complicated than that.

How Does Dry Shampoo Work?

Dry shampoo works by soaking up the oil in the hair to help provide a cleaner, less greasy appearance, even if you are not able to wash it completely. In both starch-based and alcohol-based products, the active ingredients bind to the oil and grease in the hair to reduce the shine and improve cleanliness.

Unlike regular shampoo, you simply spray or apply it to dry hair without any water or additional products necessary. Because there is no water, soap, or rinsing involved, using dry shampoo is quite different from using a standard shampoo.

Few people use dry shampoo as an alternative to a regular washing routine, and justifiably so. Dry shampoo works to remove oil from your hair, but it does not clean your hair or your scalp. Unlike regular shampoo, dry shampoo does not work for completely washing the hair, nor is it intended to. Ultimately, dry shampoo works as a great temporary solution, where “temporary” is the keyword.

Why Use Dry Shampoo?

There are several good reasons that people choose to use dry shampoo. When used as a supplement to a regular hair care routine, the product can serve a very helpful purpose.

On a busy schedule, washing your hair can be a lengthy process. If combatting oily hair while facing a long to-do list, many individuals use dry shampoo to help buy some time before having to do a full shampoo routine.

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Dry shampoo can also serve a very important role if you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from washing your hair completely. The convenient aerosol spray is a great help if you are traveling for an extended period, camping where a shower is not available, or experiencing a health condition that prevents you from getting in the shower.

Other individuals use dry shampoo as a way to prolong the amount of time between fully washing their hair. Because washing your hair completely can strip it of its natural oils, many people choose to limit the number of times they wash their hair during the week.

Although dry shampoo removes oil from the hair, it is not nearly as capable as regular shampoo. As a result, some people choose to use dry shampoo to prevent the hair from looking too oily and shiny between full washes.

Is Dry Shampoo Effective?

Dry shampoo is very effective in the job that it does. If your goal is to remove oil from the hair as a temporary solution between washes, then the answer is yes, it is very effective. Many people trust dry shampoo to improve the appearance of their hair when they are in situations where washing their hair is not possible or not desirable. 

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However, if you are looking to dry shampoo to provide a deep clean for your hair and scalp, then this expectation is a bit more unrealistic. Although dry shampoo offers multiple benefits, it is not as effective as regular shampoo.

Dry shampoo is formulated to remove grease and oil from your hair using a chemical process between the active ingredients and the oil. This process does not make dry shampoo effective in removing dirt, product build-up, dandruff, or other contaminants. If you want a deep clean, you will need to look for an effective shampoo that is formulated for that purpose.

How To Use Dry Shampoo

One of the biggest reasons that dry shampoo is so widely embraced is because it is so easy to use. This convenient hair treatment is easily completed in just a few small steps:

  • Spray the product on oily patches of the hair.

Only spray dry shampoo where it is absolutely necessary. The dry shampoo formula will strip natural oils from your hair as well, so avoid using it liberally. You can avoid spraying the ends of your hair since they are typically the driest part of your hair and can cause unnecessary static.

  • Spray from at least six inches away from the scalp.

For even distribution of the product, spray from a distance. Spraying too close will also oversaturate the hair with the spray.

  • Massage your scalp to distribute the product down to the roots.

To avoid patches of your hair that are drier than others, try to work the dry shampoo into your hair and scalp as evenly as possible.

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  • Brush out any extra product

Use a hairbrush to gently remove an extra product from your hair so you can maintain a consistent texture throughout.

Is Dry Shampoo Bad for You?

Dry shampoo is not inherently bad for you and is generally safe for all hair types, but it can be over-relied on. Dry shampoo is not as bad for you as much as not washing your hair is. The formation of habit of not washing your hair is probably the most negative effect of dry shampoo for many. However, dry shampoo as a product can still have some negative effects on the hair, especially when used a lot.

Are There Side Effects to Using Dry Shampoo?

When used in small amounts, dry shampoo is rather harmless, especially when you are using a starch-based product. On the other hand, alcohol-based sprays are likely less innocent. The treatment will likely have little risk unless used regularly. The following are some of the most likely side effects of overusing dry shampoo.

  • Scalp Irritation

Irritation of the scalp can be caused by a couple of factors when relying on dry shampoo. The first factor is that any time your hair and scalp face considerable build-up from dirt, oil, and other pollutants, the scalp can end up dried out or irritated. This build-up often clogs the pores and allows contaminants to irritate the skin. Since dry shampoo is not effective in washing the hair, it does not remove the build-up and eventually leads to discomfort.

The other factor that can irritate the scalp is the ingredients in the product itself. For those with sensitive skin, alcohol-based products are far from ideal. Alcohol can dry out the scalp and cause general irritation. If you notice itching, dandruff, or discomfort, you may want to cut back on your usage.

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  • Hair Damage or Breakage

This alcohol-based formula can have several other negative effects on your hair. Alcohol has intense drying properties. By using dry shampoos consistently, you are reintroducing the ingredient to the scalp over and over. Eventually, this can be very harmful to the hair, leaving your strands dry and starved for nutrients. When your hair becomes too dry, the risk of tangles, split ends, and breakage increases greatly.

  • Stunted Hair Growth

Between allowing the considerable build-up of contaminants on the scalp and the potential harshness of the dry shampoo formula, the product does not do any favors for your hair growth.

An irritated scalp and dried-out roots can cause inflammation and unhealthy hair, and both of these factors contribute negatively to your hair growth.

Dry shampoo also does not provide any vitamins or nutrients to your hair when you use it. By minimizing the amount of time that you wash your hair, you also decrease your hair’s necessary nutrition, which supports healthy growth.

How Often to Use Dry Shampoo

Because of the side effects, dry shampoo should be used sparingly, if at all. These sprays and powders may be a relieving option when your hair is greasy, but they are not intended to serve as a complete replacement for shampoo or regularly washing your hair. As a result, you should only use the product when necessary.

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Try to avoid using dry shampoo more than a couple of times a week at most. Certainly, you should not plan on using dry shampoo several days in a row, as the benefits will grow to be non-existent, and the side effects will start to take over.

Alternatives to Dry Shampoo

To keep your hair happy and healthy, you should wash it with a nutrient-rich shampoo at least once every 7 to 10 days, depending on your hair type. Whether you have overly oily hair or struggle with dry hair, you have several great options for shampoos that refresh your hair while cleaning it.

WOW offers excellent shampoo options for any hair type, especially those that need extra hydrating power. To completely cleanse your hair of impurities, especially after a long period of using only a dry shampoo, try the following products.

  • WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

If your hair is suffering from considerable oil and dirt build-up, then WOW’s Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is the perfect option for cleansing all the way down to the roots. This clarifying shampoo is full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients that provide a deep cleansing with scalp soothing and hair-hydrating properties.

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WOW’s Activated Charcoal and Keratin Shampoo is an excellent choice for the toughest build-up. Formulated with charcoal, this shampoo works to detoxify your hair and scalp from dirt, oil, and other pollutants. In addition, this formula includes argan oil, almond oil, and aloe vera, giving it advanced moisturizing power in addition to its powerful clarifying abilities.

  • WOW Green Tea and Tea Tree Shampoo

Through either overuse or the effects of alcohol as the main ingredient, dry shampoo can irritate the scalp while also leaving it less than clean. Fortunately, WOW’s Green Tea and Tea Tree Shampoo offers the perfect formula for soothing the scalp and providing advanced cleaning power. These ingredients mixed with shea butter and argan oil make this shampoo rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and other vital nutrients.

green tea and tea tree shampoo

Dry shampoo offers a few considerable benefits for oily hair when used occasionally, but it is not designed to have more responsibility than that. When you overuse the product, you risk drying out your hair and causing breakage. Ultimately, there is no replacement for regularly washing your hair and treating your hair with the nutrients it needs.

To keep your hair vibrant and healthy, you should maintain a consistent shampoo routine. WOW Skin Science is here to help you do just that, offering 100% plant-based and all-natural products that do wonders for cleansing and nurturing your hair. Explore our complete collection of hair care products to build a routine that leaves your hair lively and beautiful.

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Tyler Teresi

Tyler is a content writer specializing in blog writing, landing page content, and website copy. He is passionate about health and wellness, travel, and B2C content. When not writing, Tyler is riding his bike, playing his guitar, or hiking in the mountains.

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