Just Wondering: Is Dry Shampoo Bad for My Hair?

Seriously, we need to know.

dry shampoo

Photo via Getty Images/Deagreez

As I’m sure most of you fitness enthusiasts can agree—dry shampoo is an absolutely essential gym bag necessity. As I’m also sure most of you have played the “Can-my-hair-last-just-one-more-day-without-washing-it?” game. So when I was informed by a co-worker, after dishing about our favorite powdery sprays, that they’re actually not good for your hair at all I had to do some digging.

But please, before we go any further, go ahead and take a collective sigh of relief with me. The answer isn’t that bad. However, there are a few things you must know about using dry shampoo that we picked up from talking with dermatologists and hair dressers in the Boston area.

First things first, let’s discuss what dry shampoo is actually doing when you spray it on those greasy second day roots. Joyce Hoot, a dermatologist and the director of the Contact Dermatitis Clinic at Tufts Medical Center, tells me dry shampoo is not an actual shampoo and it doesn’t actually clean your hair. “The goal of dry shampoo isn’t to wash it, it’s to make it look less oily,” she explains. “So in essence you’re really just putting another product on your scalp that will eventually need to be washed out.”

Herein lies the problem. And it hammers home the saying that too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing. Hoot says if you leave dry shampoo in for too long it can cause build up and clogged pores. This can cause problems like dandruff, acne, and other irritating skin conditions. So it’s important to regularly wash your hair every week. Bottom line: don’t rely on dry shampoo as the only way to clean your locks.

But we get it. The reason dry shampoo is so popular is because it saves you way more time on styling in the morning. Because for those of you with thick curly hair, washing and blow drying all the time can be a nightmare. “It’s about striking the balance of cleaning without stripping,” Hoot explains. There are oils on your scalp, and in your hair, that are actually vital to shiny, strong, and healthy hair she tells me.

Lana Soussan, a master hairstylist at James Joseph Salon on Newbury Street, says she’s a big fan of dry shampoo. She warns that if you’re not properly shampooing your mane you could be drying it out. Using a clarifying shampoo once a week is a great way to remove all the buildup, she says.

If you’re one of those people who’s trying to go a little more au naturale and are wary of the ingredients in your beauty products, Vivian Wong, dermatologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, recommends not using products with talc (a.k.a. baby powder), parabens, or sulfates. “Some talc products may be linked to cancer,” she says. “And anyone with an ongoing scalp issue should avoid dry shampoo all together.”

So, unfortunately, it comes back to a game of trial and error to see what’s going to work best with the strands you were so generously given at birth. If you need a place to start, Soussan is a fan of Oribe Gold Lust dry shampoo. And if you have a favorite, keep on keepin’ on. Just make sure you wet your tresses every now and then and actually give them a good scrub.