It isn't unusual for me to go three to four weeks without shampooing my hair. Not because I'm lazy or trying to preserve water (though every little bit counts); however, my curly 'fro looks better and gets bigger if I chill out on sudsing up every week. And many hairstylists and dermatologists support this "no 'poo movement," claiming that washing your hair too much can strip away healthy oils and lead to dry, damaged locks. So what's a girl to do when her sexy, lived-in hair has turned up limped and lifeless? Enter dry shampoo.
Dry shampoos have been gaining popularity in the last few years, but they first showed up in the 1960s and Twiggy starred in an early ad. Either powder or aerosol, the starch or silica-based formulas are used to soak up excess oils in between shampoos and give a longer life to hairstyles.
I'll admit that I wasn't sold on the ideal of "cleaning" my curls with dry shampoo. But after hearing so many of my beauty blogging friends sing its praises, I thought I'd give it a go. My first mistake: holding the can like it was oil sheen and spraying it too closely to my scalp.
Desperately in need of a crash course on dry shampoo, I tapped into the expertise of celebrity hairstylists Larry Sims and Jacqueline Bush. Read on to find out what to do when you've sprayed on too much, how to get that fresh, clean hair smell and when it's time to go the traditional route. Click through the slideshow below to find out what happened when five Stylelist editors skipped the suds for three days.
What are the top dos and don'ts of using dry shampoo?
DO spray at least six inches away from the roots. "This will lightly and evenly distribute the product without creating buildup," says Sims.
DON'T spray on damp or wet hair. It's called dry shampoo for a reason.
DO wait about two minutes before styling. Bush adds, "I think women panic when they see that it comes out white. And they don't really let the product sit long enough, nor understand that they need to comb or blow-dry through."
DO use on roots and ends to add a modern matte texture.
DON'T worry if you get dry shampoo on the mid-shaft. Bush explains, "This gives extra grip to the hair and provides more volume, decreasing the too-soft feel fine hair can sometimes have."
Is there a major difference between spray and powder dry shampoos?
"Both essentially do the same thing: soak up excess oil," says Bush. "The force of the spray of powder helps soak up the oil a little better in my opinion. However, with the powder version, you don't have to deal with the odor and what it does to the air. I use the powder version on people who are very sensitive to odors and particles in the air."
What is the absolute longest a woman should go without washing her hair?
If you need to reach for dry shampoo after a third use, it's time to take a shower, according to Sims.
How do you suggest recreating the scent of fresh, clean hair?
"Take an essential oil like grapefruit, eucalyptus or peppermint, add a few drops to your fingertips, then run lightly over hair. I also like to do this at the base of the neck and behind the ears," says Bush.
Can women of color truly benefit from dry shampoo?
"The natural oils from your scalp weigh down your hair, giving a greasy look," says Sims. "Dry shampoo is great for all hair types, including women of color, because it dries out the oils on your hair, not the oils in your scalp."
In related news, guess which out-spoken designer swears by dry shampoo.
Road Test: Dry Shampoo
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that dry shampoos have been gaining popularity in the last few years, but they first showed up in the 1970s.