Is dry shampoo damaging your hair?

The answer might surprise you...

dry shampoo damaging
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(Image credit: Andreas Kuehn/Getty Images)

Is dry shampoo damaging? It's never a question we thought we'd ask of the beauty hero that gives women across the UK sexy second-day hair and an excuse to hit snooze on their alarm. 

But it seems that we should be.

Our dependence on saturating unwashed hair in powdery sprays reached new heights during the pandemic.  Over a third of UK women were already thought to use dry shampoo pre-lockdown, only resorting to 'real' shampoo three times a week. 

Covid-19 meant shoppers shunned shampoo even more as consumer goods giant Unilever reported a slump in sales back in March. Then the #nohairwash challenge went viral, with some of the less committed only 'shampooing' with the powdery stuff and the occasional rinse of water.

But is there a downside to frequently using the best dry shampoos

The do's and don'ts of dry shampoo

There is a downside if you're replacing wet shampoo with dry shampoo for more than three days in a row. 

"You could find yourself dealing with a sore, irritated scalp," says trichologist Anabel Kingsley. "Repeated scratching as a result can weaken hairs at the root and cause them to shed more than normal."

Another way dry shampoo can affect how well your hair grows is by upsetting the delicate balance of the scalp's microbiome - the surface layer of skin that is home to hundreds of micro-organisms that create the perfect environment for healthy hair. 

Product build-up from dry shampoo can be read as the enemy and cause an imbalance of bad bacteria.

If you've ever dragged your fingers through your hair after spraying on dry shampoo you'll relate to how hair can feel stiffer than dry ramen noodles. This makes it harder to detangle, which can leading to hair snapping off - an issue exacerbated by the way dry shampoo stops the scalp's oils from travelling down the hair shaft to hydrate the ends.

Ultimately, your scalp is also an extension of your forehead, so it's important to treat it with the same diligence as you would your skin, says Kingsley. This means, regularly cleansing to lift away dead skin, excess sebum and daily grime as you can also get painful spots on the scalp.

As a general rule, use dry and wet shampoo on alternate days. "Ideally you would wash your hair daily, but every two days is fine as long as you only use dry shampoo alongside proper washing ," says Kingsley.

Use a scalp scrub once a week to deeply clarify and remove any leftover product build up and switch to kind-for-scalp dry shampoos.

Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo contains skin-soothers such as zinc and bisabolol from camomile to keep irritation at bay.

Meanwhile, Klorane Tinted Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk contains powdered corn and rice starches that are gentler than regular dry shampoo formulas.

An extra 30 minutes in bed every other day isn't too much of a compromise if the end goal is healthy, happy hair.

Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo, £20, Feelunique

dry shampoo, Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo, £20, Feelunique

(Image credit: Feelunique)

Klorane Tinted Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, £9, Lookfantastic

dry shampoo, Klorane Tinted Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, £9, Lookfantastic

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.