Do you know how to use dry shampoo the right way? Even if you’ve been using this *miraculous* hair care product for years, you’ll learn something new from our guide. We’ll show you the proper steps and our top picks for the best dry shampoos — read on to learn all you need to know.


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Considering Dry Shampoo?

For a piece on how to use dry shampoo, a woman uses this type of hair product while standing in a camisole
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Maybe your hair’s looking a tad greasy, but you’re not ready to shampoo it just yet. Maybe it’s fresh and clean, but needs a volume boost. Or maybe you need a little extra grip for a style like a braid or updo.

Dry shampoo the answer to almost any hair dilemma.

Using dry shampoo seems straightforward enough – point the nozzle at your head and spray away. But if you’re not following the right steps when you use dry shampoo, you’re not getting the full benefits.

Applying dry shampoo the right way will improve the results – promise – and leave you with hair that looks clean, smells fresh, and is better suited for any style you want to wear it in.

Even if you consider yourself a dry shampoo connoisseur, there’s always room for improvement, right? Right. We’ll show you the step-by-step instructions that will help you make the most of your hair the next time you skip the shampoo.

Oh, and spoiler alert.

Something pretty amazing happens when you use dry shampoo on wet, clean hair. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to use dry shampoo!

What Is Dry Shampoo?

Woman applying dry shampoo to her hair while grinning
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It sounds like an oxymoron, but dry shampoo is a product that every woman keeps on standby. Dry shampoo is an oil-absorbing hair product that is either in aerosol or powder form.

It works by soaking up excess oil in the hair and on the scalp. The result is hair that looks and smells clean, although the oil hasn’t actually been removed from the hair and scalp.

With aerosol dry shampoo, the oil-absorbing ingredient is sprayed onto the hair with the help of fast-evaporating carrier ingredients. There’s also a gas propellant in the mix that pushes the product out of the can and onto your strands.

You’ll see dry shampoo formulas that promise to increase body and volume, add texture to the hair, leave a nice fragrance, and even tint or enhance the hair color.

But this product is not new. Dry shampoos have been around for a long time. It was sold commercially for the first time in the 1940s. Today, dry shampoo is a staple in most women’s hair care routines.

How to Use Dry Shampoo

You might know how to use dry shampoo, but do you know the best practices? We found out how to use dry shampoo for the best possible results. Here’s your step-by-step guide to looking fresh without excess washing.

Step 1: Prepare Your Hair

Before you start spraying or shaking your dry shampoo into your hair, you need to do some light prep work. Dividing your hair into sections makes it easy to target the roots and scalp.

I recommend using a comb to section the hair into roughly equal parts. Use small clips to hold the sections separate from each other.

  1. Brush or comb through the hair to remove tangles.
  2. Use a comb to part hair down the middle (or off to the side you part on), then into 4-6 sections by parting down the sides.
  3. Clip each section to keep them separate from each other.

Step 2: Spray Or Shake It On

Once your hair is tangle-free and sectioned off the way you want it, you’re almost ready to apply the dry shampoo. If you’re using an aerosol version, don’t just start spraying it on, though!

I used to spritz dry shampoo very close to my head because I thought intense coverage did a better job at absorbing grease. Turns out, it was just leaving me with a lot of unnecessary buildup.

You’ll get all the oil-absorbing properties minus the grimy feeling of buildup if you spray it at he recommended 6-12 inches from your hair. Yes – an entire foot away from your head is still close enough to give you clean-looking locks!

  1. Shake the bottle well (if using aerosol).
  2. Hold the can 6-12 inches away from your hair.
  3. Spray the product onto the roots where you’ve parted your hair, avoiding the mid-shaft of the hair as much as possible.

If you’re using a powdered version, just sprinkle a small amount along the parts where you sectioned off your hair.

Step 3: Allow It To Absorb

Here’s another area where most of us go wrong with shampoo of the dry variety: Not letting it sit and absorb the oil before working it in. This is step that you can skip, but your results won’t be as good.

Without allowing the product time to absorb the excess sebum in your hair, your hair might still look a little flat or greasy. After applying the dry shampoo, leave your hair in the sections you created and wait 2-5 minutes.

This gives it time to absorb oil and let the carrier ingredients evaporate (in aerosol versions). I like to use this time to brush my teeth or finish my makeup. When I’m done, I know it’s time to start working the dry shampoo in.

Step 4: Work It In

Once you’ve allowed the dry shampoo to sit on your hair for a good 2-5 minutes, it’s time to work it in. You can either use your fingers or a brush to do this. For curly and wavy hair, fingers are best because they won’t disrupt the curls or waves.

I like to use a “squeezing” motion to work mine in. Start with an open hand and place your fingertips on the scalp. Now, bend and curl your fingers to slide them back and forth at the roots, moving your hands around to ensure all areas are worked in.

For straight hair, a brush can help you evenly distribute the product at the roots and down the hair shaft and ensure there’s no buildup at the roots. I recommend tossing your head upside down while brushing for the best results.

  1. Remove the clips from the sections you created.
  2. Use your fingers or a brush to work the shampoo into the scalp and roots and down the strands.
  3. Throw your hair upside down and tousle through it with your fingers to finish working it in and add a little volume.

Dry Shampoo Don’ts

For a piece on what is dry shampoo, a woman applying this type of product to her hair in excess
Natali_ploskaya/Shutterstock

You’ve read the dry shampoo do’s – what about the don’ts? Applying this product isn’t rocket science, but you can cause problems that range from residue overload to intense scalp pain if you apply it the wrong way.

You can’t be a pro until you know exactly what not to do. Whatever you do:

  • DON’T spray it too close. Spraying it at a distance less than 6 inches away results in uneven coverage, more buildup than necessary, and doesn’t make your hair look any cleaner.
  • DON’T immediately brush or massage it into your hair. It absorbs grease quickly, but not instantly. Wait a few minutes to allow it to work its magic before working it into the hair.
  • DON’T forget to work it in. While you shouldn’t immediately work the dry shampoo into your hair (give it a few minutes to absorb oil first), you can’t skip the step of brushing it throughout your hair or massaging it into the roots with your fingers. Working the product in will erase any traces of white residue and give your hair more body.
  • DON’T use it for more than 2 days in a row. Repeated use of dry shampoo without washing in between can clog the pores on the scalp, resulting in a dull scalp pain that some describe as feeling like the hair “hurts.”

My Favorite Dry Shampoo Hack

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but using dry shampoo on damp hair is my favorite lesser-known hack. It sounds counterintuitive, but the results are so noteworthy it’s worth trying.

It makes your hair voluminous and full of body without feeling heavy or full of product. It also gives your hair a little extra grip for styling.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Let your clean hair dry most of the way – about 80% to 90%.
  2. Section your hair off and clip each section.
  3. Spray your product at the roots and a bit down the hair shaft.
  4. Blow dry your hair until it is completely dry.

I like to blow dry upside down after using this kind of product on damp hair. It gives my hair more voluminous results this way. Just make sure you don’t over-apply, which can result in a gunky buildup that has to be washed out.

Best Dry Shampoo: Top 5 Picks

Now that you know how to use dry shampoo, we’ll cover the best ones to buy. To find these, we scoured the web and shopping platforms to find the highest-rated shampoos.

1. Batiste Original Dry Shampoo

Batiste Dry Shampoo, Original Fragrance, 10.10 fl. oz.
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You’ve almost certainly heard of Batiste dry shampoo, but if you haven’t used it, you’re missing out. It’s available in a range of scents and varieties, but the original is an old favorite for a reason.

The oil-absorbing powder in the formula works really well! It absorbs any excess sebum while making your hair look and smell so fresh and so clean – like lavender, powder, and musk.

It’s a little pricier than some of the other well-known brands, but it’s high quality stuff. More than 14,800 reviewers on Amazon agree. This is perfect for fine and medium hair textures and will work on straight, wavy, or curly hair.

2. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Dry Shampoo

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Dry Shampoo
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There’s a beach babe inside everyone. If you want hair with lots of texture and body that smells of sweet toasted coconut, this is the dry shampoo that will make it happen.

I keep a range of dry shampoos on hand for different occasions and needs. This one does a great job adding a little tousled texture into my hair while making it smell amazing.

It’s best used if you’re planning to wear your hair down and wavy or if you want to add texture to a ponytail. This variety works equally well on fine, medium, or coarse hair textures.

You can use it if you have straight, wavy, or curly locks. Since it texturizes the hair, it leaves a bit more residue than other types. So don’t use it more than 2 days in a row!

3. OGX Coconut Miracle Oil Dry Shampoo

OGX Extra Strength Refresh Restore + Dry Shampoo, Coconut Miracle Oil, 5 Ounce
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Curly hair needs a little boost of moisture in between shampoo and condition days. This product delivers. You’re getting sebum absorption, hydration, a great scent, and revived curls when you use it.

Even if your hair is wavy and not fully curly, this will make a big difference and highlight your waves. While other products can weigh curls and waves down between washes, this one does the opposite. It adds body and bounce to curls.

It’s best for medium and coarse hair textures – fine hair can get a little weighed down by this one. The light vanilla coconut scent is to die for. And the boost of hydration it offers will leave your curls feeling so soft and touchable!

4. Batiste Dry Shampoo Plus Beautiful Brunette

Batiste Dry Shampoo, Beautiful Brunette Dry Shampoo (3 pack)
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Women with a darker hair color can get the dreaded gray tint when using a regular dry shampoo because the powder is white. But this tinted option eliminates the problem!

The brunette shade works for hair from auburn to jet black. The powder is tinted to ensure there’s no white residue on the hair. It smells like peach, bergamot, and vanilla – absolutely delicious.

And it is perfect for soaking up excess grease to leave your hair looking clean as a whistle. I recommend this one for any hair texture – fine, medium, or coarse. Of course, anyone with blonde or gray hair color shouldn’t use it because of the brunette tint.

5. Hair Dance Dry Shampoo Volume Powder

Dry Shampoo Volume Powder. Natural and Organic
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For those of you who prefer a powder to an aerosol spray, this is the holy grail. It’s got an adjustable cap so you can control how much powder comes out. Choose from grapefruit or lavender scents that leave your hair smelling clean.

It only takes a tiny bit to work its magic! The small bottle it comes in will last for months.

Bonus: It’s paraben, phtalates, baking soda, and talc free, plus it’s 100% vegan!

It offers a great boost of body for any hair type. This one is silica-based, so it does a fantastic job at absorbing excess sebum. You can experiment with the amount you need.

If you’ve been using an aerosol spray, you’ll be shocked at how little of this product you’ll need in comparison!

The Takeaway

For a piece on how to use dry shampoo, a woman holding powder shampoo in her hand and a strand of her hair in another
Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock

You probably already knew how to use dry shampoo, but maybe you didn’t realize how important it is to hold the can at a proper distance from your head (6-12 inches).

Or perhaps you had no idea you could use it on damp hair for amazing body. Maybe you hadn’t considered sectioning and clipping your hair to get the best root coverage, or opting for a tinted version that matches your hair color.

I hope this guide has been helpful in showing you how to properly use this beauty and hair care staple. When you take the time to prep your hair and apply it the right way, your results will be so much better.

And no one needs to know that you’ve skipped a couple wash days. With fresh-smelling, bouncy, voluminous hair like that, they’ll never guess.

Debra Carpenter
Author: Debra Carpenter

Debra is a Nashville-based content creator and strategist. As the daughter of a long-time hair stylist and salon owner, she’s spent most of her life as a guinea pig for new color and cut techniques. Writing for respected publications like Forbes and HuffPost, she’s committed to bringing her passion for great hair to the masses.