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Dry Shampoo

New Mom Toolkit: How to Use Dry Shampoo

By Amalah

Oh, dry shampoo. You are the savior to tired, rushed women everywhere. A new mom essential that I continue to use well past that new-mom stage because WHO HAS THE TIME, some days.

But here’s the thing: dry shampoo was much more straightforward when I was a blond (and an ashy, dirty blond at that). It blended in easier, maybe only leaving a little bit of a gray-ish hint to my hair that I was okay living with, because slight grayish tint vs. an extra 45 minutes of sleep? Not even a competition. Some days I’d just use baby powder or corn starch and be done with it.

Bounce Back ArchivesBut then I dyed my hair red and the dry shampoos suddenly didn’t work as well. My beloved Oscar Blandi powder made me look like I was wearing a damn powdered wig. I assumed I needed a tinted version — which are available (Bumble & Bumble’s Hair Powder and Buttercream’s Shampowder), but are often more expensive than the untinted versions — or some in applicators that I dislike. (The aerosol cans, for example, run out MUCH faster than loose powder, are prone to clogs and a lot more wasted product.)

Turns out, I really didn’t. I was just using it wrong. FOR ALL THIS TIME!

The Right Way to Use Dry Shampoo

If you haven’t taken the plunge and tried dry shampoo, or tried it and weren’t thrilled with your results, here are some of the stupid-obvious things I’ve learned:

1. Use it at night, NOT in the morning. I know, I know. Sometimes you plan to wash your hair but oversleep and want the dry shampoo for this purpose, but I swear, it works soooo much better if you use it the night before. It will actually work to PREVENT excess scalp oil overnight, so you aren’t trying to fight an uphill battle the next day to absorb it all. (My hair also has more volume the next day, thanks to less oil.) Your head rubbing your pillow really works it in too, completely eliminating that powdery-white residue problem.

2. Rub it in vigorously with your fingers (nothing else will really activate the product and rub it fully in), but wash and dry your hands thoroughly first. And no hand cream until AFTER you’re done.

3. Watch those brushes! When you do go to comb it through, remove all excess shedded hair from your brush — this will just put oil back in your hair and/or suck the dry shampoo onto the brush. Shampoo your brushes every now and then, when you can remember. Clean brushes = clean hair.

4. Spot-treat ONLY in the morning. I do touch-up with the dry shampoo in the morning — usually the back of my head or behind my ears need a little more help. While I apply it generously at night, I’m very light-handed in the morning, usually dispensing it into my palms first instead of putting it right on my scalp.

5. Embrace the hair spray. While I’m not a fan of the aerosol dry shampoos from a cost/how-long-they-last basis, I DO like the added volume and root-cleansing they can give. But a good aerosol hair spray (I like Big Sexy Hair) will give you the same effect. (My hairdresser usually advises me to blast my roots with hair spray before bed to fight the oil, but I prefer the more gentle, nourishing dry shampoos then.) But if you do use a dry shampoo and still notice a little oil in the morning, a blast of hair spray will sometimes do the trick WITHOUT that pesky powdery look.

6. Put some shine back in. This remains the one Unsolvable Problem that applying dry shampoo at night still didn’t fully solve: unwashed, powdered hair is going to look dull, dull, dull. Your color might be a little muted. It’s fine if you’re just bundling your hair up in a clip, but if you’re trying to look pulled together enough for business meetings, you might want to try (VERY VERY CAREFULLY) to touch up your ends with a shine product. I have always gotten great lightweight results from BedHead’s Headrush. Just don’t spray it anywhere near your roots — ENDS ONLY.

7. Unshampooed hair shouldn’t always be unconditioned hair. I have the worst combination hair in the world — crazy oily roots and dry, breakage-prone ends. And it’s all super-fine. So sometimes the spray shine isn’t enough and I need a leave-in conditioner to keep my ends from frizzing the hell out. I like Fredric Fekkai’s Glossing Cream and I love (LOVE LOVE LOVE) Sebastian’s Potion 9 Lite. (But definitely check that you’re buying the Lite version, if your hair is fine or oily.) Wet your hands, then dab or spay a teensy bit into your palm and apply only on your roots.

8. Day One of unwashed hair will usually look worse than Day Two. Or even Three. So don’t give up, and DON’T YOU JUDGE ME.

Whew. That’s a lot of steps for something that claims to be a time saver, but really, it is easy. And time-saving! And now, thanks to dozens of drugstore brands coming out with their own versions, you don’t even have to go to Sephora for a decent one.

(Again: most come in aerosol cans, which I personally dislike for the clogging/waste problems I’ve encountered [i.e. a spray can of Oscar Blandi runs out after a couple weeks; the loose powder bottles lasts for MONTHS], but hey, if the can is only costing you a couple dollars, this might not be such a big deal, provided it doesn’t clog up on you on the worst. possible. morning. when your alarm didn’t go off and you forgot about that one meeting and the baby is already up and gaaaaahhhhdamn you aerosol can!!)

(This may or may not have actually happened to me once or twice. I’ll leave y’all to guess which.)

More Advice Smackdown

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Published July 20, 2010. Last updated December 31, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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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