How to Use Dry Shampoo (And Why It Works)

hand holds diy homemade dry shampoo in glass jar and other hand holds comb and brush

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Since I've been on the time-saving, cheaper, and easier no-'poo (that's the cute name for those who skip or minimize shampooing their hair, in case you haven't heard the term before) voyage for about eight months now, I have noticed the results. My hair feels thicker, breaks less at the ends, is easier to style, and is definitely glossier. All those natural oils are doing their job and making my hair look and feel healthier.

For the record, I have fine, curly hair (but a lot of it — you can see it here) and wash about once a week or a bit less (more like three times a month) with Alaffia shampoo. The only problem I have had with the no-'poo lifestyle is that sometimes my scalp begins to itch a little, or it gets a bit greasy looking before I'm able to do a hair-washing — because it takes so long to dry, I kind of have to plan that out in advance. So, I recently bought some dry shampoo, and like most other people who have tried it, I'm a huge fan! But I wasn't sure exactly how to use it, so I did some research, tried some of what I saw and heard, and am bringing my results to you.

What dry shampoo does and how it works:

woman with long brown hair sniffs hair for leftover stinky odors like smoke

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

I knew that dry shampoo was supposed to absorb oil (which it does, stopping both the visual not-so-pretty look of oily roots and any scalp itchiness that comes along with it). But dry shampoo also absorbs odor, basically deodorizing the hair. I know my hair sucks in scents like crazy, so even if I spend a couple minutes around cigarette smoke or in a small restaurant, my hair stinks for hours — and sometimes even days — afterwards. It works really well to get those smells out of my hair.

What to look for in a dry shampoo:

woman displays homemade DIY powder dry shampoo in glass jar with makeup brush

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

I prefer powders over sprays; they come in simpler, less-wasteful containers, and I was told by a beauty expert that the sprays contain less product, so the powders are more economical. Plus, I'm always a little suspicious of sprays; a fine mist is easy for me and my pets to inhale and even if the ingredients are "safe," I don't want to be breathing any extra particles.

Speaking of ingredients, definitely look for a natural dry shampoo that's free of dyes, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, synthetic colors and other chemicals. My first try was Alterna's Caviar Anti-aging Dry Shampoo and I have been very happy with it, but many natural-products companies make their own, so look around.

How to use dry shampoo:

overhead view of woman applying homemade dry shampoo powder to scalp with brush

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Simply sprinkle the dry shampoo near your roots (not on your scalp) at your part, and then move around the head — you can part them at different places, or just apply kind of randomly. You can sprinkle directly from the container or use a poof (see video below) or an old makeup brush.

Then, give it a minute or two — I usually wash my face while I wait — which will give the powder time to soak up the oil. Then, just brush through (or work through with your fingers if you don't brush your hair). That's it!

Yes, you can make your own dry shampoo

different shades and colors of DIY homemade dry shampoo with essential oils

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

The ingredients are simple; the main one is corn starch (some like arrowroot powder, but most of us have corn starch already in the kitchen), and then some people add baking soda for deodorizing. If you have dark hair and are worried about any leftover white powder showing up, you can add cocoa powder to the mix (it will both soak up oil and turn the mixture a browner color). I have medium-brownish red hair and haven't had a problem with the white powder, but some with darker hair might want to consider it.

You can also add cinnamon or essential oils for scent if you like. This all-natural dry shampoo recipe is one that I will try next.

Have you used dry shampoo? Do you like it?