The Myth About Dry Shampoo:
About ten years ago, I was walking down the road with my mum and sister, when we came across two people struggling with their shopping. I went over and offered to help. They invited us in for tea. Their names were Ann and Julian, and I hope they’re still alive and well and cosy somewhere in the world.
Ann had the most beautiful plaits, one either side of her hair. When I asked her how she got them so neat, she replied “my home carer does them for me when she comes round, once a week.”
Obviously, my next question was “doesn’t it get greasy, being in the same style for a week?”
Her answer wouldn’t change my life for several years. She said, “I use dry shampoo after day two.”
When I was training as a teacher, I was grateful to Ann on a near-daily basis for her advice so many years ago, as dry shampoo kept me able to go into school and hold my head high.
I love dry shampoo, it’s the absolute best thing for sprucing up your hair on days when you didn’t have time to shower – it makes sure (as long as you don’t run out) that you can look and smell fresh and clean every day; it’s like deodorant, but for hair.
Around that same time, I discovered that dry shampoo was really taking off around the haircare set. Now everyone seems to use it for everything. Hair limp? Dry shampoo it. Lacking volume? Dry shampoo. Need a ‘fro for a stage show? Backcomb with dry shampoo. Hair roots on a photoshoot? Dry shampoo. It’s everywhere, doing everything that gel, spray and mousse have done in the past when there were fads for those. Yep, I said it. Dry shampoo is great, but it’s become a hair fad.
Given some of the inappropriate uses for a can of Batiste I would hardly be surprised to see somebody, somewhere on the internet declare “need to carve a turkey? Use dry shampoo!”
The myth that I want to tell you about is really a labelling falsification – dry shampoo, is not, in fact, shampoo. It doesn’t make your hair clean. It doesn’t get rid of the dirt. It just hides it. It would be like calling a plaster “cut finger healer.”
In fact, because dry shampoo is a spray-on powder, that absorbs grease, it actually makes your hair MORE DIRTY. Have you ever mixed flour and olive oil? You get a sticky mess that takes far more time to wash off a spoon or out of a mixing bowl than if you tried to get rid of either of the two individual components. Dry shampoo is your flour, hair grease is your olive oil.
On top of that, the grease is now unable to do its job at all, it can’t get to the ends to coat them, and so it can’t protect the hair shaft because it’s been absorbed by the powder, so your hair is more vulnerable and you’re more prone to split ends. When you dry shampoo, you’re not even protecting your hair from washing, because you have to actually wash it more to get the hair to be clean.
Test what I’m saying: Spray a coloured dry shampoo on your hair (brown shows this best) and see how many wet shampoos it takes to get the water to run clear.
When I had brown hair, every time I used the brown dry shampoo, it took at least two shampoos to get my hair clean, otherwise it was left dull and greasy after every hair wash, which of course would prompt a lot of people to use more dry shampoo. Add to that an avoidance of sulphate shampoos (another fad) and it could take up to three washes to get rid of a day’s worth of dry shampoo (see my article on sulphates to find out why). So, instead of saving your hair, you’re putting it under more stress, because it takes more harsh cleaning agents to get the hair clean in the places you’ve used dry shampoo – and those cleaning agents will obviously affect your lengths and ends when it’s being lathered and rinsed out, and dry shampoo is predominantly used on the roots, where the grease is. This will also make your hair more vulnerable and more prone to split ends.
It’s a great invention, and I am so glad it exists, but like chocolate, cake and alcohol, dry shampoo is not as healthy for you as some people believe, and should be used in moderation.
Take care, and go easy on the dry shampoo!