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Flashback Friday: Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo

By Amalah

psssssst.jpgFlashback Friday is an occasional feature where I test out products I used ages and ages ago to see if they are as good (or as bad!) as I remember.
I should start this one off by admitting that I never used before, but I distinctly remember my older sisters having it around and using it before they went out on dates and such, usually right before they yelled at me to get the hell out of their room, like, moooooooooooom she’s bugging me again.
The idea behind Psssssst is simple: it’s essentially talc in a aerosol can that absorbs the extra oil that can build up in your hair throughout the day. It’s not really shampoo, but more like a freshener.
For someone with hair like mine, it sounds like a freaking lifesaver, especially in the summer. My roots can get pretty oily, and I routinely brush cornstarch or baby powder through them to stay presentable. And I absolutely MUST shampoo every morning. Trust me, I’ve tried going every other day and oh my lands. So bad. Psssssst sounded like a great alternative to the messy whiteness of powder…and maybe powerful enough to use on those mornings when I’m not able to shower first thing but would still like to not look like a greasy mess if the UPS guy shows up.
It took me awhile to track it down (mostly because I couldn’t remember how many sssss to type for a decent web search) (six!). I knew it was still available, but it’s no longer advertised and nobody else seems to remember it. But I finally found some on a bottom shelf of a CVS and almost died when I saw the packaging. It’s still exactly the same! It’s all 1970s and stuff! My hair looks more Marcia Brady-like already.
It’s also ridiculously cheap — around $5. Why don’t we hear anything about Psssssst anymore? It’s the bargain of the century!
Oh. Because it sucks. That could be it.
A few reasons why Psssssst dashed my little dreamy dreams:
1) The smell. It claims to be unscented, but there’s a definite odor. (One of the ingredients listed IS fragrance, so I don’t understand why they label it as unscented.) I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it smelled like until I read a user review at that likened it to the way your dog smells after coming home from the groomer. Yes, that is it. And no, thank you.
2) The look. I don’t know why, but I was expecting it to at least be a LITTLE different than talc or baby powder. But that’s pretty much what it is, and it’s just as white and gives my hair the same greyish/ashy color. I’d actually say it’s WORSE than using cornstarch, which at least blends in after I brush it in. If you’ve got dark hair, don’t even think about this stuff. It’s granny-hair in a can.
3) The feel. My hair feels extremely dry afterwards. The ends (even if I take care to only spray my roots) feel like straw. And after a few minutes, my scalp starts to itch. Then my neck and shoulders itch. An awful, burny-type itching. So…I’m guessing I’m allergic to something in it. (And with ingredients like “Isobutane, SD Alcohol 40, Aluminum Starch Octenyl Succinate, Propane, Cyclomethicone, Fragrance,” take your pick of what it could be.)
4) The very-quickly-running-out-ness. I have the same complaint about Psssssst as I do about Bumble & Bumble’s (insanely overpriced) Hair Powder. You have to use a lot more than you think, and thus the can runs out (or it simply clogs and malfunctions) really, really quickly. I like a lot of things about — the tinted shades, the oomph-y volume — but I simply cannot spend close to $20 on a 1 oz can that gives you maybe four or five applications. Obviously at $5, Psssssst isn’t quite the brazen insult to your wallet, but still. A freaking bottle of cornstarch will last you years, not days.
5) AND OH YEAH. THE WHOLE NOT-WORKING THING. Seriously, I just didn’t see much of a difference. As soon as I start brushing it though, the oil in my roots reappears. Forget about looking presentable in the mornings pre-shower. Psssssst isn’t nearly strong enough. As for freshening up mid-day or before going out at night, it still only does an OK job. I actually think my hair started to overcompensate for the dryness (this could be tied into the allergy, for all I know) and has been producing extra oil since I’ve been testing out Psssssst. No, thank you, again.
I don’t think I need to go on for you to get the picture. (And no, there will be no pictures documenting the oil slick on my poor, irritated scalp. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Tere

    August 31, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Well, now I’m no longer curious about Psssssst! (seriously, I had to retype that 3 times because I kept losing track of the “s”es), so thank you!
    And If I came upon a can of this in the bottom shelf of my pharmacy, and it looked just like it did in the 70’s, I would have no choice but to conclude that it’s been sitting there untouched for 30 years.

  • jen

    August 31, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    alas. any ideas on what to use in lieu of the crappy Psssst and the oh so expensive b&b? I have a similar issue and have been hunting for a fantastic cure.

  • jodifur

    August 31, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    I have the same hair you do w/ oil and volume issues. I have also tried the B and B and didn’t like it. Try this.-
    I use the one for darker hair and I think it really works. I found it because it was in the post a few months ago. It has a great smell and really takes the oil out of your hair.

  • Anne Glamore

    August 31, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I like Stila’s hair powder. It does a much better job than Psst, which my Mom was devoted to in the 70’s. She liked it almost as much as she liked her mai-tai’s, which she made by pouring an envelope of powdered something into a glass of rum and then adding ice.
    I think the cocktail explains why she didn’t notice that PSST wasn’t the greatest.
    If you’re needing a SCENT (like, your boys’ hair stinks) PSST still isn’t good, but Febreze is great.
    PSST is fun to spray on your hand (cold!), watch it dry, and then scrape off with your fingernail. That is its highest and best use, other than nostalgia.

  • Isabel

    August 31, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I had never heard about this product and was so excited when I started to read this post…thinking that maybe, just maybe, I will find something to cure my damn greasy hair.
    Alas, my heart broke a little when you said it didn’t work.
    …off to try corn starch…

  • BaltimoreGal

    August 31, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I also enjoy the Stila hair refreshing powder- you don’t need a lot to get the job done, so it lasts pretty long. The smell is nice but not overwhelming

  • Jaycee

    August 31, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to sing this to you all, “Clean your hair instantly, with PSSSSSST!” Has been running through my brain on and off forever and now you’ve brought it back! How old are your older sisters? ‘Cause that stuff is ancient like me–next do ‘Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific’ or that beer shampoo. Ooh, ooh–or Dippety-Doo! (Sorry, very old.)(And crochety)

  • Jezer

    August 31, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Oh, my hell. I had completely forgotten about that stuff. Back in my oily adolescent years, I brushed Ammens powder into my roots more than once, I know. But I think I tried to talk them into buying me some Psssssst! My parents weren’t the type to buy something that Ammens could most certainly cure. Got acne? Rub some Ammens on there! Oily scalp? Ammens! Athlete’s foot? Sprinkle some Ammens in your shoe? Depression? You’re not using enough Ammens, clearly. My dad was with Ammens the way that dude in the Big Fat Greek Wedding is with Windex.
    I’m just thankful that now I have short, only-oily-after-3-days-without-washing-it hair.

  • Imaginary Grownup

    August 31, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Wow! Ya’ll, I just bought this stuff at Sephora and it is actually pretty awesome! It is by Ojon and it is called Rubout or something and it is pretty fantastic. I was really freaked out by what it was made out of, but I got over it when I saw what it did to my hair. It made it less greasy and all kinds of voluminous! Plus, it is Sephora so if you don’t like it, you can take it back!

  • The Muse

    September 3, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve been abnormally curious about the Psssssst! for sometime as well — unlike Amalah, my hair is curly/wavy and so frakkin’ dry at the ends, it almost hurts. (Blame the occasional need to straighten it… and maybe some precious blonde highlights on my naturally brown hair.)
    After reading dozens of poor reviews about Pssssss! on, I decided against it. So when my wonderful bf got me a gift card to Sephora a while back, I figured I could indulge in the Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo…
    Which? I LOVE.
    Yes, its $23. And yes, every time I use it I’m painfully aware that its only 3.2oz, and seeing as I’m currently unemployed, I may not be able to quickly replace it.
    But? As I mentioned, I have brown hair, and while if I spray too much, too close to my roots, I do get the white-powdery look, its not disturbingly noticable.
    The key is to spray UNDER the layers of your hair where your part is, let it set for a few minutes, and then brush it through. MAGIC.
    So yes, ladies, I love it.
    Though, I think Amalah should do a cage-match between the Sephora-priced brands and something like Algemarina or Kloraine Dry Shampoos that you can find on…

  • Meramoo

    September 3, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Amalah, have you ever tried washing your hair with just conditioner? I do that about every other day now and it really helps keep it from drying out so much.

  • David

    July 31, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Alrighty, well I’m 16 and I was at a camp for four days and one of my friends told me about her exciting discovery of spray PSSSSSST shampoo. She pretty much didn’t bathe for two days straight, opting to use this dry shampoo in place of washing it. Honestly, her hair remained oil free and clean looking when she was using this product. So, I decided to buy a can when I got home. Being the lazy bum that all teenagers are, I have been opting to use PSSSSSST every other day. I have gotten complements on how nice my hair looks. I really am in love with this product. Now, I could understand how this could be a problem with darker hair color (I’m blonde and my friend has light brown hair), as it does seem to have a lightening effect. But then again, my other friend who has a very dark black colored hair, uses this product and is just fine. I really think if you take the time to brush and fluff your hair like the directions say, it works fine. So, I’m sorry about your poor experiences with this spray shampoo, but I LOVE it because it suits my sleep until the last minute and then wake-up and go lifestyle so well. Hope you all find something that makes you as happy as PSSSSSST makes me 🙂

  • robin

    December 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    the product is cheap enough… you may as well just try it and decide for yourself! i really love the product. i have ridiculous hair that requires two hours to blow dry and straighten and this gives me an extra day between blow outs. i have medium golden brown hair and i apply it as you would a root booster, just lift sections and spray at the root… just a little each spray, never on the top- then finger massage it through the rest of the scalp. it works for me! i don’t see any color, notice any odor and it does the job. perhaps it just doesn’t work for everybody… but it does work great for some :O)

  • NewC

    January 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    How embarrassing! I know how many sss there are in Psssssst! because I can still remember they spelled out the product name in the jingle for the TV commercial.
    I’m writing my memoirs and because my memory is fuzzy on when I first saw this product (& tried it w/ horrible results), I’m looking for the year this product was introduced.
    So, Amalah, if you can remember when your sisters used this product, please let us know here. … (and anyone else who remembers this from when it first came out, please tell us what year you remember seeing/trying it).
    What I remember places its introduction anywhere from 1968 to the summer of 1971.