Here, hair pros explain the eight most common dry shampoo blunders, and share their tips on how to make the most of the time-saving product. (Want to pick up some healthier habits? Sign up to get daily tips and more delivered straight to your inbox!)
Mistake: Expecting it to work miracles.
Despite the name, dry shampoo isn’t a true substitute for lathering up. “It’s not formulated to replace actual washing; it’s meant to be a refresher between shampoos or to extend the life of a blowout,” says celebrity hair stylist Kristan Serafino, and it does this by absorbing excess oil. “Dry shampoo will not cleanse the hair and scalp of dirt and chemical build-up (like the defrizzing cream you use before blow-drying). The purpose of dry shampoo is to create the appearance of neat and voluminous hair.”
Mistake: Spraying it too close to your scalp.
“Spraying dry shampoo directly on your roots can leave a white powdery residue,” says Jennifer Matos, stylist at Rita Hazan Salon. Hold the sprayer 8 to 12 inches away from your hair, then lightly spritz the roots. It’s better to start with too little product and add more if need be versus coating your strands in dry shampoo and looking like you’re coated in chalk. That said, some dry shampoos are better than others at not leaving behind that telltale white residue, like Serafino’s favorite, Rusk Deepshine Color Care Invisible Dry Shampoo ($12.50, drugstore.com). “It absorbs excess oils without drying out your scalp, has a pleasant scent, and is talc-free so it leaves an invisible finish—no white residue,” she says. Even with a clear formula, you still want to avoid spraying too close to the roots to avoid product build-up, which will make your hair look and feel stiff and dried-out.
Mistake: Using more than you need.
Dry shampoo can be sprayed on the entire head, but you may not need to. Certain spots tend to get oilier than others, like your bangs or the area around your temples, and you can spot treat them. To do so, says Serafino, “lift sections of hair and apply the dry shampoo underneath to reach the roots, allow it to absorb the oils for a few minutes, and then finish with a quick blast from a hair dryer to bring strands back to life.”
Mistake: Only using it on dirty hair.
Dry shampoo does much more than simply de-grease strands. It can give clean, flat hair a boost, pumping up the volume and texture thanks to its starch content, which surrounds the hair shaft, making locks appear fuller. It can also add a subtle hold to hair, reduce static, and control fly-aways. Matos recommends Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($44, oribe.com), which refreshes and lifts day-old hair while providing texture and a hairspray-like hold to keep your style in place.
Mistake: Rushing through it.
Give dry shampoo a minute or two do its job and then massage it into your hair. “Always work the product thoroughly into the roots,” says Serafino. “This will ensure the dry shampoo is evenly distributed on the hair shaft, particularly nearest the root where the natural oils originate, and eliminate any white residue buildup.”
Mistake: Not brushing or blow-drying after.
Even though you’ve massaged the dry shampoo into your roots, stylists recommend going one step further to make sure the product is distributed evenly by brushing your hair. Or use a blow-dryer on a cool, low setting, suggests Matos.
Mistake: Only applying dry shampoo during the day.
If your second-day hair looks greasy before you even get out of bed, apply dry shampoo preventatively, suggests Matos. Spray it on before bed and let the product fight excess oil while you sleep.
Mistake: Ignoring your ends.
The problem with unwashed hair is that it often has a split personality: greasy at the roots and dry at the tips. Matos recommends applying a drop or two of hair oil or serum only on the ends to infuse them with hydration. Try Nexxus Oil Infinite Nourishing Hair Oil ($22, ulta.com), which contains moisturizing marula and babassu oils. Or use dry shampoo’s partner in crime: dry conditioner, which smoothes strands without weighing them down. Apply it from mid-shaft to the ends to combat dry, frizzy hair. Try Pureology Fresh Approach Dry Condition ($24, ulta.com), which contains antioxidants and protects against UVA and UVB rays, or Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Conditioner ($25, beauty.com), which has argan oil to soften and smooth hair.