I still remember when I learned about dry shampoo. Growing up with fine, straight hair, I had to wash it every single day, or else it would look lank and stringy. I was tired of waking up early to wash and style my hair. So when dry shampoo entered my radar, it felt like a godsend. But I soon found out that not all dry shampoos are created equally. In fact, some dry shampoos have been found to contain toxic ingredients, which has made many consumers wary.
I’m guessing you’re in the same boat if you're reading this post. You’re looking for a natural dry shampoo that’s good for your hair, scalp, and the environment. If that’s you, keep reading! In this post, I’ll introduce you to non-aerosol dry shampoos. Then, I’ll show you how to find the best powder shampoo and give you my best tips on how to use dry shampoo.
What Is Dry Shampoo?
Dry shampoo is a hair product that uses starches, clays, or powders to help absorb excess oil from the hair and scalp, leaving them refreshed. Dry shampoo is helpful for anyone who wants to extend the time between hair washes or for situations where washing your hair with water isn’t convenient.
Traditionally, dry shampoos have come in aerosol formulas that use a propellant and a spray nozzle to deliver the product in a fine mist or spray form.
But recently, new powder dry shampoos have come onto the market, and they’re already giving traditional aerosol sprays a run for their money. These non-aerosol dry shampoos are packaged without a propellant, and you can usually apply them using a sifter cap or spray (I’ll talk more about how to use dry shampoo later in this post).
Pros and Cons of Using Dry Shampoo
Regardless of whether you use non-aerosol dry shampoo or a more traditional formula, there are some pros and cons to consider.
- Dry shampoo makes hair look clean instantly, which is especially helpful for those of us with greasy hair or oily scalp.
- Dry shampoo allows you to extend the time between hair washes, which can help protect your hair from fading or drying out.
- Dry shampoo provides airiness and volume to limp and greasy strands.
- Dry shampoo is practical and easy to use (provided that you know how to use dry shampoo!).
- It’s perfect when you are in a hurry or on the go and don’t have time to shower. It’s also helpful when washing your hair with water isn’t possible or convenient, like when you’re traveling or camping.
- Depending on the formula and application technique, dry shampoo can create a build-up or white residue on your hair. This is especially noticeable if you have dark hair. (Make sure you read our section on how to use dry shampoo to minimize this.)
- Aerosol dry shampoos are harmful to the environment. The good news is you can use a non-aerosol dry shampoo to mitigate this con.
- Aerosol dry shampoos can be toxic depending on how they’re formulated. Luckily, many non-toxic dry shampoos are available.
Can Dry Shampoo Be Harmful?
As I mentioned before, aerosol products have their cons. Aerosol dry shampoos in propellant bottles can be harmful to the environment due to the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and greenhouse gasses as propellants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These substances contribute to air pollution and can deplete the ozone layer, negatively impacting the environment and human health. Additionally, the aerosol containers themselves can contribute to waste and potentially release harmful chemicals if not disposed of properly.
Aerosol dry shampoos can also be harmful to humans due to the potential presence of toxic chemicals, such as benzene. Long-term exposure to benzen has been associated with an increased risk of health issues. In addition, inhaling aerosolized benzene or other toxic chemicals from hair products can pose a threat to respiratory health and overall well-being.
In 2022, an independent lab, Valisure, tested 148 products from different brands and found 70% of the tested aerosol dry shampoos to contain toxic benzene. As a result, many products were recalled from the shelves. That made many consumers (including me!) to stop using aerosol dry shampoos altogether.
Luckily that doesn’t mean that you have to stand greasy hair. The simple solution is to use a non-aerosol dry shampoo (also known as a powder dry shampoo) that is formulated with fewer, cleaner, and more natural ingredients. These non-toxic dry shampoos work just as well and are safer for you and the environment.
What Is Natural Powder Dry Shampoo?
Like traditional dry shampoos, non-aerosol dry shampoos use absorbent ingredients like kaolin clay to remove excess oils from the hair and scalp. The most significant difference is that these non-toxic dry shampoos are packaged in sprinkle bottles, pump bottles, squeezable bottles, or as a loose powder that can be brushed onto the hair. Note that dry shampoo powders differ from volume powders, although they may come in similar packaging.
For this reason, non-aerosol dry shampoos require a different application technique than aerosol sprays. So if you’ve never used a powder dry shampoo before, make sure you read the section on how to use dry shampoo.
Products tailored for your hairTake test
The Best Powder Dry Shampoos
If powder dry shampoos are new to you, shopping for one can feel overwhelming. To find the best powder dry shampoo, I recommend looking for the following:
1. Natural active ingredients
Ingredients like kaolin clay and tapioca starch have natural absorbent properties that sop up excess sebum, refreshing the hair and scalp. They are the secret to the purifying effect of dry shampoos.
2. Scalp soothing ingredients
Sometimes excess oil can be a sign of a dry or irritated scalp. Anti-inflammatory, moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera or oat extract can help improve the scalp's health in the long term.
3. Practical packaging
While I have to give credit to brands that manufacture non-aerosol dry shampoos, many just aren’t practical. For example, many powder dry shampoos are loose, making the application more difficult and time-consuming. If your goal in using a non-toxic dry shampoo is to save time, you need a product that can be applied quickly and easily.
Opting for a fragrance-free dry shampoo is advantageous as it reduces the risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions, especially for anyone with sensitive skin or allergies.
5. Vegan and non-toxic
Choosing a powder dry shampoo that is vegan and formulated without silicone, parabens, mineral oil, or talc offers several benefits. It ensures that the product aligns with ethical and environmental values while minimizing the potential for product buildup, scalp dryness, and potential harm from certain ingredients commonly found in hair products. In addition, vegan products are made without animal-derived ingredients, and they’re not tested on animals, so you can feel better about the products you choose.
My Choice for The Best Powder Dry Shampoo
My pick for the best powder dry shampoo is Refresh Powder™ Dry Shampoo. With no aerosol propellants, this natural dry shampoo is eco-friendly and travel-friendly. This non-toxic dry shampoo utilizes tapioca starch and kaolin clay to absorb excess sebum without drying out the hair or scalp. Additionally, aloe vera and oat extract soothe and moisturize irritated scalps. Refresh Powder™ Dry Shampoo is suitable for all hair types, from straight to coily. Plus, it’s sulfate-, silicone-, paraben-, and mineral-free. That’s why it’s the best powder dry shampoo, in my opinion!
How to Use Powder Dry Shampoo
If you’ve only used aerosol dry shampoo before, powder dry shampoo is slightly different. But don’t worry; it’s still easy! Here’s how to use dry shampoo with a powder formula:
- Twist the cap to expose the nozzle.
- Aim the nozzle towards your roots, holding the bottle about 10 cm or four inches from the scalp.
- Squeeze the bottle to puff out the natural dry shampoo, aiming towards any areas of greasiness. Avoid applying directly to the parting and front hairline, but instead lift the hair slightly so that the powder is distributed parallel to your parting. This way, the powder is distributed evenly and completely invisible.
- Massage the natural dry shampoo into your roots and allow it to sit for at least one minute to work its magic.
- Brush through with a bamboo brush to apply the product evenly and remove residue. Any remaining residue can be easily removed with a quick blast of a hair dryer at the roots.
Common Mistakes with Using Dry Shampoo
Struggling to use natural dry shampoo to remove extra oil without leaving a residue? These are the most common mistakes I see:
Don’t apply too much on the same spot.This can lead to excessive product buildup, leaving the hair looking powdery or dull in that area and defeating the purpose of using dry shampoo for a refreshed look - even if you use the best powder shampoo. A little goes a long way when it comes to natural dry shampoo.
Not Brushing Your Hair
Remember to brush your hair to apply the product evenly.Brushing will also help to remove white residue from your hair.
Skipping Too Many Washes
Make sure to wash your hair regularly with shampoo and water. Remember that while natural dry shampoo can help extend the time between washes, it can’t replace good old shampoo and water. If you use a lot of natural dry shampoo, do a clarifying wash once in a while to avoid build-up. I recommend clarifying with Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub, which uses plant-based ingredients to buff away build-up, sebum, and dirt to leave the hair and scalp refreshed. Read our blog post on the best clarifying shampoos to learn more about clarifying your hair.
Other Natural Hair Styling Products
Besides using natural dry shampoo, I also recommend these products for an all-natural hair routine that’s good for you and the environment:
Mineral Clay Wax
This 100% natural styling product provides hold and texture and leaves a matte finish. Mineral Clay Wax is a perfect hybrid of hair wax and hair clay. I find that it’s especially great for styling short hair, though anyone can use it.
Thermal Shield™ Heat Protectant
If you use hot styling tools, a good heat protectant is necessary! Heat tools can dry out hair and leave it broken and damaged. Thermal Shield™ Heat Protectant is an organic certified and silicone-free heat protectant that uses botanical ingredients to shield the hair against damage. Use it any time you style your hair with hot tools.
Ocean Water Sea Salt Spray
This lightweight, moisturizing styling spray is my go-to for beachy waves. Ocean Water Sea Salt Spray is perfect for those wash days when you don’t feel like styling your hair – just spray and scrunch! The organic-certified formula does the rest, adding volume, body, and texture for all hair types.
Final Touch Hair Spray
This isn’t your mother’s hairspray! Final Touch Hair Spray is a non-aerosol hair spray that uses natural ingredients to create an invisible, long-lasting hold on hair. I love that it also makes my hair shiny and reduces frizz.
Non-toxic dry shampoo is a must for any healthy (and low-maintenance) hair care routine. By using the best dry shampoo and following the proper protocol on how to use dry shampoo, you can lengthen the time between wash days. That means less damage and fading for your hair and more time for you!