Best dry shampoo?
October 1, 2015 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I live in a very dry climate and am trying to move towards washing my hair less frequently. However, after 48 hours, the hair near my scalp tends to get noticeably greasy and stringy. I think dry shampoo might be the solution here, but the first two brands I've tried have been a disappointment. Mefi, what's your favorite dry shampoo to combat grease and stringiness?

I have relatively fine hair cut into a chin-length sleek bob and am not really looking for volume, just something to combat that "I haven't been washed in days" greasy look right around my face. The Pantene (cheap) and TIGI (not as cheap) dry shampoos have both been disappointing--possibly because I'm not applying correctly (is there a secret method for this?). Or maybe they're just not great and I need to buy a better brand.

My ideal dry shampoo would not be strongly scented (oh man the TIGI stuff is just... really perfumed and I am choking in my small bathroom if I apply enough to make my hair look different). But I can totally compromise on that for an otherwise amazing product. Any suggestions for a dry shampoo you've really loved?
posted by iminurmefi to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I love the Alterna Caviar Dry Shampoo. It's pricy, but a little goes a long way. I usually go through a bottle every 6 months or so. It is not strongly scented at all.

I usually will put some in before bed, and massage it in but not brush it out. In the morning, I'll massage in a bit more if needed, and then brush it out. I find the nighttime application really allows it time to soak up the grease and gunk in my hair. That being said, I usually can't go more than 72 hours without washing my hair even with using this.
posted by notjustthefish at 8:05 AM on October 1, 2015

After a few products that made me unimpressed (and some that made my hair look dirtier instead of cleaner), I'm a huge fan of Batiste Dry Shampoo. The Original and Refresh scents are the lightest.
posted by workerant at 8:10 AM on October 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I've had really good luck with Batiste dry shampoos. They come in a lot of different scents, some of which are stronger than others.
posted by runtina at 8:11 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have the Not Your Mother's clean freak unscented dry shampoo. It's fine and actually unscented.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:12 AM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have similar hair to yours, and I've found that a lot of dry shampoos make my hair feel more greasy and product-coated. The best ones I've found to achieve a dry, clean-feeling result are this one (at Target) and this one, which is more expensive but even better and less powdery-looking.

In both cases, you spray it on at the roots, kind of fluff it gently around, and then let it sit for a few minutes before brushing or shaking it out. Personally speaking I'm concerned about breathing too much of any dry shampoo, so I tend to spray while I hold my breath, step out of the bathroom for a couple of minutes, and then come back in once the powder has settled out of the air. I'm probably just being paranoid there, though.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:17 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I worked on an island where we were only allowed two shower per week, lots of people used talcum powder, and there are brands with low/no perfume.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:24 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use arrowroot powder that I got really cheap at a health food store, rubbed into the roots by hand. I let it sit for a few minutes, then use a towel like I'm drying my hair. I have short hair that's currently black and you can't tell that I used white powder in it. Great texture, good volume, no greasiness.
posted by SeedStitch at 8:27 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like the Clean Freak linked above and also this Suave number which I have a little easier time finding.

1) You need a natural bristle brush to pull the oil from the roots to the ends.
2) Apply at night before bed and again in the morning if needed.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:35 AM on October 1, 2015

I have very fine, straight hair, and also live in a dry climate. I have not been able to find any dry shampoos that do anything but make my hair feel dirtier (I'm into the beauty box thing so I've tried many different kinds, including Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo, Fekkai Blowout Hair Refresher, Amika Perk Up). I'm hopeful that you find something that works but just a data point that some hair types just need frequent hair-washing. I've got to do it every day to not look disgusting.
posted by jabes at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I recently learned that the best way to use dry shampoo is to spray it in and let to sit for a while before brushing it out. As long as possible, but I usually do 5-10 minutes and it works great.

As for a specific product recommendation, I like Batiste original. Cheap, effective, and the scent isn't overpowering.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:44 AM on October 1, 2015

Out of the five or six dry shampoos I've tried, I like Batiste best. I also like Pssst and Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder. I've heard consistently good things about Klorane and want to try it next, but it's a little pricey so I'm not sure it's worth it for me. The worst I've used was Tresemme - it didn't absorb oil and made my hair sticky. The spray kind tends to be more strongly scented than the kind you just sprinkle in your hair.

If you want to try out a bunch of options at once, Sephora has this set of seven different travel sized dry shampoos.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

My hair seems to also be particularly picky with dry shampoos. Nthing Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder. Lulu Organics Lavender/Clary Sage works amazingly for me too and the lavender scent is very subtle and wonderful.

I have black hair and have been advised not to try Batiste because it leaves a white residue.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 9:15 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Batiste! I like the one with an animal print on it, but YMMV. I find the flowery ones too strongly scented. It also comes in colors, so if you are brunette or a redhead, you can get one that won't leave your hair quite so powdery white.

BUT here's my biggest dry shampoo secret: spray it in the night before. It's changed my life! Rather than spray the morning of, and then have to try and work all the white powder into my dark hair, I give my roots a good coating before going to sleep, and don't even bother brushing it out. While I sleep it gets absorbed, and I wake up with great, non-oily, non-powdery hair. Sometimes it might need a little more touch-up but usually I'm good to go. Seriously, try it.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 9:20 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Molecular biologist who works with the regulation of things like cosmetics chiming in:

Have you tried just using (corn / rice /etc.) starch? That's all these products are: a starch and either propellants or agents that prevent the starch from caking together with the added fragrances and fillers.

Starches have a component (amylose) that tends to form a sort of spiral shape that likes to grab on to oils on the inside of the spiral and grab on to water on the outside of the spiral. During the period when you avoid washing with water, the starch molecules that grab on to oil will tend to stay in place unless you mechanically sift them out of your hair. As other mention, this means things like applying the starch at night, allowing time for it to contact and trap oils, then in the morning giving your hair a vigorous brushing or rough toweling. This won't get all of the oil-bound starch out, though, meaning you'll eventually need to wash them out.

I've tried dry shampoos in the past alongside rice and corn starch and found no difference, to be honest. Marketing is marketing, though, and people seem to feel weird buying a $2 box of starch instead of a $22 tiny bottle of something with totally made-up "Age-Control Complex® Enzymetherapy®", because the latter sounds so confidently like something that's going to perform differently than that $2 year-long supply of starch.

Good luck!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2015 [31 favorites]

I came in to make a different suggestion: I also live in a dry climate and I'm African American so my hair is naturally dry but because of products I use, my scalp can get greasy. I co-wash a couple of times a week using Shea Moisture's Coconut co-wash. Devacurl and Ouidad also make really nice co-washes.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

No contest. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.
posted by WalkingHorse at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was going to say what late afternoon dreaming hotel did: I use good old Johnson and Johnson Cornstarch. I've never found any notable difference between it and Batiste, which I also sometimes use if I want one that has dark brown color added. My hair is dark brown, but if I'm careful to brush the cornstarch all out it doesn't show.
posted by holborne at 10:00 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've tried a lot of dry shampoos but I always come back to Klorane dry shampoo with oat milk. Specifically the oat milk, I think their nettle one smells awful.

It's a little pricey but worth it to me because it doesn't have much of a scent, feels quite light and absorbs the oil and grease well.
posted by thecitymiddle at 10:03 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also have fine straight hair. I agree with everyone who recommends Klorane (and I also like the oat milk kind). The only other brand that I've used and liked is the Target store brand (that someone else upthread also recommended!) which is about half the price but works well for my hair. Other brands I've tried have made my hair more greasy looking.

I also have this powder kind that I use when traveling (because aerosols and airplanes don't mix, I hear) and I like it but it is more annoying to use.
posted by aaanastasia at 10:29 AM on October 1, 2015

I use dry shampoo daily and honestly don't notice much of a difference between brands. I generally go for psssst because it's cheap, but batiste works fine too. The only ones I've found to be truly bad are the herbal essences one, and one by tresseme. Suave works well. Don't shell out a lot of money on this, it's not the type of product (in my experience) where more expensive == better product.
I'm intrigued by late afternoon dreaming hotel's answer. I'm going to dig out my box of cornstarch and try it with a fluffy makeup brush..
posted by pintapicasso at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2015

Response by poster: Potentially dumb question: if I try the plain corn starch (already in my cabinet, so zero cost to attempt!), how do I apply it to my hair? I like the idea of not spraying a bunch of aerosolized tiny particles into my air supply, but I'm not quite sure how it works if you have just a handful of powder. How much do you use and how do you apply?
posted by iminurmefi at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2015

My first choice among commercial options is Umberto Dry Clean (mentioned above - I get it at Target). It performs well and has no scent. The strong and persistent scents of the other options (I've tried lots of them) are a horror to me. I can't handle smelling them all day long. Yuck.

I also put cornstarch in a powdered sugar dispenser (the kind with a fine mesh screen as a lid) and use that. Best results are when I sprinkle it in the night before and work it in a bit with my brush. I brush it out again in the morning. I've also found that using a light-hold hairspray helps my hair to not get greasy as fast. I start with the hairspray when I have clean hair and reapply daily. If you have bangs, you may want to consider washing those every day.
posted by quince at 10:49 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I use powdered dry shampoo, I sift it into a small bowl and brush it around my hairline and crown using a big kabuki brush, like what you'd use to apply mineral foundation.

My methodology for applying sprays is: spray it around hairline and at crown. Go do something else for five or ten minutes. Massage around roots (try not to mush it into your scalp). Brush out, preferably with aid of a blow dryer set to cool. If I use a powder, I start at step two after applying with a brush.
posted by padraigin at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you use straight cornstarch (or rice, or arrowroot), which I would recommend, you can also add a bit of coco powder to it, so it doesn't look too light if you have dark hair (I also use this for face powder).
posted by Vaike at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's how applying my homemade powdery dry shampoo stuff works for me: dump about a teaspoon or so on the fingertips of one hand and distribute between those and the fingertips of the other hand. Then flip hair over and use powdered fingertips to apply to roots, sort of finger-combing/patting through and mostly in the more visible front and top areas. Flip back over and comb. I use this recipe, as found on the Green.
posted by Leona at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2015

When I use thee things, I pour out a bit into my palm, sprinkle it along my part, brush in, then smoosh my (dry) fingers through my hair at the scalp. Repeat as necessary, pause for the oil to absorb, then rub/dust out my hair with a hand towel. I do the dusting out part outside (my bathroom has a door to a little patio, so it's easy for me to do and otherwise I can get a bit sneezy).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2015

Instead of dry shampoo, I sometimes apply a mattifying face powder to my roots and find it works for a day or so. (Apply it with a brush like you would on your face.)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:27 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I sort of rub my fingers into the cornstarch so they are coated, and then rub my fingers into my scalp like I am... shampooing. Let it sit, then brush it out!
posted by raspberrE at 2:32 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use straight up baby powder and I've got proper dark hair. I just like, let it sit on the oily areas for a bit then rub it in a little and brush out/shake off the excess.
posted by hejrat at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2015

An old-fashioned approach, which you might try if the dry shampoo doesn't work out, is just extended brushing, preferably with a boar-bristle brush. You don't have to go all the way to Mason Pearson; I got mine off the Amazon for twelve dollars (just an example, not a recommendation).

The brushing distributes oil from the scalp along the entire length of the hair, so that instead of grading from greasy at the roots to dry elsewhere, all of your hair gets uniformly greasy at a slower rate.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:54 AM on October 2, 2015

my absolute favorite dry shampoo is the fat and the moon dry shampoo, which is just arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, kaolin clay, and a little bit of lavender essential oil. it smells great but not too strong and works wonderfully, especially for brunettes like me! i usually apply it with a makeup powder brush, let it sit for a little, and then comb through.

i also usually keep a travel-sized baby powder in my car in case my bangs start looking greasy during the day; i'll just shake it on and then ruffle my hair around until i can't see white anymore

if you're looking for volume as well as grease-fighting, Psssst! (which is my fave dry shampoo name) is awesome and cheap at most drugstores. on the pricier side is the sachajuan volume powder. i used to use then when i worked in a salon that carried sachajuan products, which are awesome but pretty frickin expensive. i think the volume powder actually comes in a dark color now too, which is great. it gives amazing volume to limp dirty hair, but it makes my hair feel kind of stiff and every time i sleep with it in my bangs gets stuck in crazy shapes
posted by burgerrr at 11:40 AM on October 2, 2015

I think this is one of those YMMV things because I've tried some that others have loved (at just about every price point) and loathed them. That being said, this is my favorite. Like $4 at Walmart.
posted by getawaysticks at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2015

Cornstarch PLUS cocoa powder mixed together works well and is not visible in my dark brown hair.
posted by illenion at 4:17 PM on October 2, 2015

My current favorite dry shampoo is Blowpro Faux Dry Shampoo, which is actually non-aerosol but has a genius nozzle design that keeps you from overapplying and getting powder all over the place. Unfortunately it's also pretty pricey, $20 for 1.7 oz.

Second favorite is the Klorane Oat Milk that someone recommended upthread, although I want to try the Klorane Nettles version which is supposed to cut grease/oil even more. It comes in a travel size which is airplane-friendly and cheaper than the full size bottle if you just want to try it out.

Some dry shampoos I've tried previously and did NOT like, including ones recommended upthread (YMMV): Dove, Psssst, Not Your Mother's Clean Freak, Salon Grafix Invisible Dry Spray.

Contrary to others, I have found that dry shampoo quality--at least in terms of lasting all-day grease control, which is my main priority--does correlate positively with price. I expect dry shampoo to mattify visibly greasy hair within a few minutes, and I haven't found any drugstore aerosols which achieve that for me. (I have black hair, straight, average thickness.)
posted by serelliya at 2:14 PM on October 17, 2015

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