We know we're not the only ones who have a love-hate relationship with our dry shampoo. On the one hand, we love skipping our regular washes in lieu of a quick spritz session. But on the other hand, deciphering the world of powders, pastes, mousses, and aerosols can be difficult. And how do we avoid those dreaded white spots? Fear not. We tapped six celebrity hairstylists for their tips on using dry shampoo (in every medium) the right ways. Ahead, a step-by-step guide for using dry shampoo, plus common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Meet the Expert
- Kathleen Riley is a hairstylist with a client roster that includes Sofia Richie, as well as a creator for Mane Addicts.
- Mark Townsend is a Dove Hair celebrity stylist and the man behind the hairstyles of Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Johnson, and more,
- Laura Polko is a hairstylist with clients among the likes of Candice Swanepoel, Gigi Hadid, and Lucy Hale.
Step One: Choose Your Formula
- Foam: Foam is great for controlling exactly where you're applying dry shampoo since you deposit it directly onto your hair. Townsend likes Dove Care Between Washes Foam Dry Shampoo ($5) because it "allows [him] to get right in at the roots without having to spray powder near my client's face. A great hack if makeup is already done."
- Powder: Lawless says, "I don't use aerosol dry shampoos because you have to be the perfect distance away from the hair; otherwise, it can make your style look and feel worse." Rather than load up on the aerosols, he keeps Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk in the Loose Powder Formula ($20) on hand. If you're still concerned about the annoying residue, he tells us, "there's a trick for this." Lawless explains, "point the product straight up and let it fall through the hair, rather than pump it directly onto the root. Doing this ensures an even application."
- Mist: "A dry shampoo mist is a dry cleaner for your hair," explains Garren. The celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of R+Co says a mist is a perfect product for when you want to refresh your hair without disrupting the style or texture. For instance, he says, "this product is great for women who braid their hair because you can get close to the scalp without disrupting the style." He adds, "I generally don't like to tell people to use dry shampoo on top of styling products for curly hair. You can, however, use R+Co Spiritualized Dry Shampoo Mist ($28) on the second or third day, as it won't disrupt the texture of your hair." Byrdie editors also love Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo ($24).
- Paste: "A dry shampoo paste gives hold and has a pinpoint application, unlike a dry shampoo spray," says McLaren. Because it's applied with the fingers, you have control of exactly where it goes. Pirano tells us, "I first emulsify about a nickel- to a quarter-size amount in my hands, then go directly to the scalp, because it gives a lot of texture at the root. Then, I run my hands through the hair so that it's all over." Finally, Garren adds, "with traditional dry shampoo, your hair blows with the wind, but with Badlands, your hair has more structure and hold—so your waves will stay in place with this product."
- Tinted: When even the most careful application still leaves you with white residue, consider switching up your products for one that caters to your root color. Polko suggests finding a dry shampoo that works for your hair color. "I love Klorane's Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($20) for blondes." If you love the formula but have dark hair, it also comes in a tinted version for brunettes. However, Polko says her favorite dry shampoo for beauties with dark hair is Batiste Hint of Color Divine Dark Dry Shampoo ($8).
Step Two: Spray 8-10 Inches Away From Roots
If you're the type to take an aerosol can to your roots and drown your oil-soaked strands in dry shampoo, it's time to take a step back. "I section the hair and spray each section to make sure all areas are getting the attention they need and spray from about eight to 10 inches away," says Riley. "Make sure you're spraying from far enough away from your roots, so the spray isn't too concentrated," otherwise you'll end up with white spots. This rule is true for most dry shampoo formula types except foam, which is applied directly to the root and hair.
Step Three: Wait a Few Minutes For the Formula to Work Its Magic
Chances are, you spritz your hair quickly and shake your head out before frantically running out the door. We're guilty too. However, massaging it in right away defeats the purpose of its oil-absorbing powers. Riley says, "one of my biggest tips is to let dry shampoo sit for a few minutes—it'll brush out, but it also needs time to soak up the oils," says Lawless. He tells us he gives hair at least 10 minutes to work.
Step Four: Massage Formula Into Scalp and Crown
Some dry shampoo formulas require you to massage your scalp/crown in order to activate the formula. Regardless of your formula's specific instructions, massaging the formula into your scalp is always a good idea. "I like to spray Dove Care Between Washes Volume & Fullness Dry Shampoo ($5) at the roots of the crown and massage to create lift, says Townsend. This will also help to more evenly distribute the formula.
Step Five: Run Your Fingers (or a Brush) Through Your Hair to Distribute
Next, "Run your fingers throughout the hair to separate and add more volume," says Townsend. "There are so many different ways to use dry shampoo, but my favorite method is using it throughout the hair to create volume while styling." Et voila!
Meet the Expert
- Howard McLaren is the co-founder and creative director of R+Co.
- Cash Lawless is a celebrity hairstylist and creator for Mane Addicts, with clients among the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Bella Hadid, Jenna Dewan, and more.
- Garren is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with Hollywood names like Kate Upton and Lana Del Rey.
Common Dry Shampoo Mistakes
- You're Only Using Dry Shampoo on Third-Day Hair: You don't have to be on third-day hair to bust out your favorite dry shampoo. In fact, a few spritzes on clean hair could do wonders for your texture. Riley says, "dry shampoo can also double as a texture spray if you use it correctly—you can use dry shampoo whenever you feel like your roots are falling flat." However, she says to be careful not to overuse it; otherwise, you'll end up weighing the root down instead. Townsend adds, "dry shampoo is great for styling because it adds texture and grit, allowing the hair to look less 'done,' while still holding shape."
- You're Not Spraying Your Hair Accessories: As if dry shampoo hasn't already proved to be more versatile than you thought, Townsend says you can "spray dry shampoo on hair accessories, like clips or bobby pins, before putting them in your hair. The added grit from the dry shampoo will prevent the accessory from slipping out of your hair."
- You Don't Know When It's Time to Wash Your Hair: Lawless says, "dry shampoo is a great alternative if you don't want to wash your hair, if you feel like it doesn't smell as fresh as it could, or if you just love the texture it gives you." Even Townsend says, "I'm a fan of using dry shampoo more frequently than regular shampoo on my clients. In fact, day-two hair is my favorite to work with." However, Riley urges you to break up your dry-shampoo sessions with a clarifying shampoo to break down buildup. "The overuse of dry shampoo will remove too much of your hair's natural oils, making it dry and more susceptible to breakage," she explains. Keep an eye on your scalp. When you notice product collecting on the scalp, it's time for a good shampoo session.