Is Dry Shampoo Damaging Your Hair?

The internet is abuzz with rumors that the product causes hair to fall out and color to fade. Is it true?

March 16, 2016
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I have always loved volumized hair. I come from a family of women with “big hair,” in fact. But my thick, heavy locks aren’t naturally able to hold volume at the root. No product did much to help this. Mousse made things sticky. Hairspray only matted my style down on top after, oh, about 10 minutes.

What’s a girl to do? Discover the magical power of dry shampoo, of course.

Once I found at least three affordable dry shampoos I was obsessed with—Batiste, Garnier, and Dove—everyone started asking me what my secret was. I’d just pull a travel bottle of the stuff from my purse and excitedly share its wonders. Last summer, on a humid July day, you could also find me touching up random strangers’ lifeless ‘dos in the bathroom of my local beer garden. It is that fabulous. It also might damaging hair…?!

There have been a lot of whispers surrounding the product for past month or so. Like that it causes hair to fall out. Or that it dulls your color. Or that it even clogs follicles and impedes the regrowth of hair. (Which all sounds pretty terrifying, actually.)

What’s the deal with dry shampoo?

According to dermatologist Angela Lamb of Mount Sinai Hospital, dry shampoo works sort of like this: “It is basically powder that absorbs oils and dirt,” she explains. “When you shake out the powder, the oil and dirt go with it.” Voila! Yes! This is why my hair gets an instant lift every time I shake, spritz, and massage that mist through my roots. Woo!

But is it dangerous? It is not, in fact, causing your hair to fall out or any of the scary stuff mentioned above. If you see an abundance of hair fall out at once, it’s probably because the dry shampoo’s slight tacky effect was holding strands against your scalp, so when you wash your hair, you might see some “extra” fall in the shower. This is not abnormal, actually, nor more hair than what you might have lost otherwise. You’re just dropping a bunch at once instead of losing it over a period of days.

The danger, says Dr. Lamb, is the hygiene issue. You can start to think that your almighty dry shampoo is a substitute for actual hair washing. You do not have SuperHair, she insists: “You can stretch shampoos and freshen your hair between washes—but you can try and stretch it too much, and then your hair just gets too dirty. It is also very drying.”

To have a healthy scalp (or any skin for that matter), you need to get the product, bacteria, and germs off your skin. Dry shampoo doesn’t do that. Real shampoo does. You’re going to have dirty, dull hair if you simply keep spraying stuff in it—even if it does remove oil.

What’s the bottom line?

You can use dry shampoo for a quick lift or to extend washes so that you’re not shampooing every day (if you tend accumulate shine at the roots). Lamb says to “use it conservatively” and wash your hair as you normally would. Every other day or every couple days is generally a good benchmark. “Generally, I recommend dry shampoo for people that exercise a lot or have oily hair,” she says.

At the end of the day, I feel better spritzing this stuff as a volumizer, and I’ll keep telling people how obsessed I am with dry shampoo. It is the secret weapon for volume! It’s just not the secret weapon for clean, healthy hair. Keep washing, kids.

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