5 Mistakes You're Making With Your Dry Shampoo—And 4 Natural Brands To Try

Dry shampoo can be a tricky tool in your haircare arsenal, but it can also be amazing if you use it correctly.

May 16, 2017
woman with bad hair

Dry shampoo is an easy go-to for freshening up after a workout, an office bathroom pick-me-up for those days when you miss the alarm, and an environmental positive, too.

(Slash your cholesterol, burn stubborn belly fat, solve your insomnia, and more—naturally—with Rodale's Eat For Extraordinary Health & Healing.)

How? The average shower uses 2-5 gallons of water per minute, so easing up on your everyday hair washing ritual can save gallons. Pair that water conservation with skipping the excess electricity use from blow-drying your hair after your shower, and you've already started your day being good to the planet. 

Plus, dry shampoo can actually be awesome for your hair, allowing your strands to mesh with your scalp’s natural beneficial oils that traditional shampoo strip away. And the extra grit and oil-soaking nature of dry shampoo can lend itself to better second (or third or fourth) day styles with more volume and texture.

Related: The Most Toxic Stuff In Your Drugstore Makeup—And 8 Organic Brands To Try Instead

But dry shampoo isn’t always user-friendly. Some missteps in the application process can lead to even limper, greasier, stickier strands than what you started with. We checked in with pros to ask for the common mistakes people make when using dry shampoos—and their favorite tips to combat them, plus 4 nontoxic brands to try. 

woman spraying hair
You're getting too close

“One common mistake people make when using dry shampoo is spraying it directly on the root, as opposed to doing it an arm’s length away,” says stylist Jana Rago, who has tousled the tresses of Victoria’s Secret Angels, when not helming her chair at Boston’s Salon Acote

“Spraying it right on the root will cause build-up on the scalp, making the hair look crunchy and grimy over time,” she notes. “Distribute the shampoo near the root, but not on it.”

Related: I Finally Embraced My Gray Hair—And It Changed My Life

dry shampoo in hand
You've got a heavy hand

Too much dry shampoo can turn your locks into a dull, chalky mess. Instead, start small and add as needed. For powder products, start with a quarter-sized pour for the entire head. For sprays, spritz lightly along your greasiest edges, like your natural part and around the hairline, and then add more as needed. 

Make sure that product makes its way around. “The biggest mistake people make is using too much product in a single spot,” says Tara Foley, founder and CEO of Follain, a zero toxin beauty e-tailer with brick and mortars in Boston, Nantucket and New York City. “For the best result, you need to segment your hair into four quarters—from the center of your scalp—and use a very small amount of product in each segment.”

Related: 23 Organic Beauty Buys Under $15

hair with dry shampoo
You’re not distributing the product thoroughly

“I make the mistake of having a baby under one arm and shaking some in and then running,” laughs Jana Blankenship, founder of Captain Blankenship, an organic, eco-friendly hair and beauty brand from upstate New York. “The truth is, it takes a little time and effort for the product to be manually mixed through your hair.” 

She recommends taking the time to brush through your strands, letting it soak up the excess oil before really working the product into the scalp. Or for shake-on products like Captain Blankenship’s Mermaid Dry Shampoo, she also offers this hack: “Mix it in, and then use a hairdryer on the roots to distribute the rest.”

Related: 4 Natural Steps To Getting Rid Of Split Ends For Good

woman massaging hair
photo by Dave Moore/getty
Or maybe you get too handsy

Not a deal breaker, but Rago says using your hands to massage the product into your roots could cause for even more grease and residue.

“Your hands will just add more oil,” she adds. “Instead, I prefer a Wet Brush to distribute dry shampoo.” (If you don't have a Wet Brush, you can snag one on Amazon for between $15-25.) 

Related: How To Make Your Own Shampoo

hand in hair
Emma Early / EyeEm/getty
You need to build up your tolerancce

While we’ve all heard tales of chic women with lustrous hair who can go a full week without washing, just remember: that didn’t happen overnight. If you’re used to washing your hair every day, you probably shouldn’t expect five days of dry shampoo resuscitation. 

“The thing with dry shampoo is there’s an adjustment period, if you wash your hair every day it’ll take a while for it to get used to it,” explains Blankenship. “It’s only after you get into a rhythm [with using dry shampoo] that you can go for those extended periods.”

Right off the bat, you can expect to stretch dry style for about three days with daily dry shampoo touch-ups; but reaching that week-long lifespan could take “a couple months,” says Blankenship.

Below, our four favorite non toxic dry shampoos:

dry shampoo
Photograph courtesy of Captain Blankenship
Captain Blankenship

Sprinkle on this blend of organic, all natural powders—arrowroot powder, Kaolin clay, baking soda, rice powder—to soak up excess oils and add texture. Rose geranium and Palmarosa provide for a sweet but not saccharine floral scent.

Try it:Captain Blankenship’s Organic Mermaid dry shampoo, $29

dry shampoo
Photograph courtesy of Lulu Organics
Lulu Organics

Perfect for popping in your purse or gym bag, Lulu Organics’ talc- and gluten-free, cult fave dry shampoo is available in their four addictive fragrances: jasmine, lavender and clary sage, patchouli and amber, and vetiver and black pepper. 

Try it:Lulu Organics travel-size hair powder,$12

dry shampoo
Photograph courtesy of One Love
One Love Organics

A Georgia kaolin clay, hyaluronic acid, and bamboo extract make for a lightweight, nourishing, oil-busting trio that won’t weigh down your locks. They recommend tapping some in unwashed hair before bed and letting the dust do its work overnight. 

​Try it: One Love Organics’ Healthy Locks dry shampoo, $29

Photograph courtesy of Klorane

Klorane’s SLS-free, vegan dry shampoos have been the secret weapon of cool French girls for years, but their natural tint version kicks their effortless chic factor up a notch. Their cleaning starch and oat milk spritz is specially formulated for brunettes, blending via beige mineral pigments so no trace is left behind.

​Try it: Klorane Dry Shampoo with oat milk, $20