The Best Dry Shampoo

The best dry shampoo gets straight to your roots and absorbs oil cleanly without leaving behind chalky residue. We interviewed two scientists, one product developer, a chemist, and three hair stylists to find out which ingredients made a dry shampoo safe and effective. After testing the 36 most-loved dry shampoos on multiple hair colors and types, we found the ones that’ll tempt you to skip a wash but won’t dry out your hair long-term.

The 3 Best Dry Shampoos

Best Aerosol
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
Living Proof
The simplified solution for beautiful, healthy looking hair.
Pros
Gentle ingredients
Body and volume for less hassle
Reliable
Cons
More expensive than competitors

Why we chose it

Gentle ingredients

There are a lot of great aerosol dry shampoos out there. A whopping nine out of the 13 aerosol contenders we tested got perfect marks for hair feel from our testers, giving them locks that felt cleaner and looked freshly washed, no suds necessary. When the race is that close, we get to be picky. Enter: Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo. Not only is it one of two aerosol products we tested that includes water, which helps offset the drying effects of the denatured alcohol in its formula, it also includes an extra conditioning ingredient (cetrimonium chloride).

Body and volume for less hassle

What really put Living Proof over the top was its easy application. Living Proof goes on like a translucent spray paint: in an even, clean, and uniformly wide strip. And it doesn’t lose steam gradually when you stop putting pressure on its nozzle: It’s 100 percent spray or 0 percent spray with this one, with no risk of applying too little in one area and not enough in another.

Living Proof is also one of the only aerosol products we tested that doesn’t require a brush for even application, so curls that frizz at even the mention of the word “hairbrush” won’t be subjected to disturbance. Simply massaging and shaking at roots with fingers does the job (unlike rubbing in Ouai’s aerosol mousse, which was akin to working fingernails across a chalkboard). Even before giving their hair a light tousle, testers with dark and light hair alike said there wasn’t any residue visible whatsoever.

Living-Proof-for-Dry-Shampoo

Reliable

We’re not the only ones who love Living Proof. On Ulta alone, it’s got an average of 4.6 out of five stars from 1,009 reviewers; on Amazon, it earns an average of 4.0 out of five stars from 410 reviews. With such a gleaming reputation, it’s no surprise that it crossed our finish line first.

Points to consider

More expensive than competitors

Living Proof costs $20 for four ounces, whereas other popular products like Batiste cost $6 for almost seven ounces. Living Proof’s price is pretty standard for salon-grade dry shampoos, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that you can pick up much more affordable products at your local drugstore. However, quality and preference are also important to think about — how much more per ounce are you willing to pay for an increase in quality? Batiste might not have the best track record with safe ingredients, so even though four ounces of Living Proof might not last you as long, you’re paying for quality dry shampoo.

Best Powder
Cake Beauty Dry Shampoo Powder
Cake
A leave-no-trace powder that doesn’t need brushing out, in the only powder packaging that makes using it easy.
Pros
Blendable
Easy application
Transparent company practices
Cons
Small amount of product per package

Why we chose it

Blendable

If finding the best aerosol was the final episode of American Idol, finding the best powder was the first round of auditions. In a field of dusty residue and repackaged baby powder, the Rush Brush stands out for its blendability for every hair type.

Powders are especially prone to leaving behind chunky, dandruff-like residue (ahem, Verb) that compelled testers to immediately jump in the shower — the exact opposite of what a dry shampoo should do. Cake excelled for offering natural-looking volume, a cleaner-feeling scalp, and hair that looked freshly washed. The light tan tint of the “medium” we tested blended seamlessly into the scalps of testers with black hair and blonde hair alike (that said, it also comes in “light” and “dark”).

Easy application

The Cake’s brush is attached to a store of powder, which makes getting an even spread as simple as using a glue stick. In fact, it was the only powder that competed with aerosols’ sky-high ease-of-application scores during testing. Overall, testers rated brush-based products as more convenient than any other powder packaging. By simply merging the powder and brush into a single compact tool, The Rush Brush cut way back on the mess factor. And at just bigger than a tube of mascara, the Rush Brush’s size makes it a natural fit for purses and carry-on travel.

Transparent company practices

Cake boasts that its core principles revolve around being an honest company that produces harmless products. The company doesn’t partake in animal testing, and it doesn’t buy from any companies that do, either. With 100 percent vegan products, Cake says no to sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and talc, making the Rush Brush pretty guilt-free in our opinion.

Points to consider

Small amount of product per package

The Rush Brush might be our most convenient way to apply powder, but its small size could also be a detriment. It comes with a little over a quarter of an ounce of product per package, which means it might runs out quickly for frequent dry shampooers. That said, even in its compact package, the powder will last you longer than some aerosols in the long run, since you won’t lose as much product in the air every time you apply.

Best Widely Available Dry Shampoo
Bare Republic Eco-Active Hair Care UV Protecting Dry Shampoo
Bare Republic
A powder with just as many positive effects as our top pick, but in a less convenient package.
Pros
Clean hair, no residue
Widely available
Eco-friendly
Cons
Tough application

Why we chose it

Widely available

Great hair shouldn’t require a trip to the salon or waiting for your online order to arrive. Bare Republic's Eco-Active Dry Shampoo is the only product in our top picks that can be bought at your local Target, which makes it more convenient (and slightly cheaper per ounce) than our other picks.

Clean hair, no residue

The results you’ll get from Bare Republic are identical to Cake’s; the powders even have the same faintly sweet smell. Once the tan powder is worked in, hair looks like it was just washed. As one tester (with dark, thick hair) eloquently said, it “successfully simulates the not-so-shiny-it’s-dirty, not-so-dull-it’s-dead look of clean hair.” Alongside Cake, Bare Republic was the only other powder dry shampoo we tested that didn’t leave a white, powdery trail in its wake.

Eco-friendly

Bare Republic claims that it always has Mother Nature in mind. The company boasts biodegradable, reef-friendly, cruelty-free, and naturally scented products. Not only will the UV-protecting dry shampoo keep you from burning your scalp, it’s also sulfate-free, phthalate-free, perfume-free, non-GMO, and vegan.

Points to consider

Tough application

Our one complaint about Bare Republic is the packaging. Its shooting pump can leave you with an uneven application; some spots may be heavily powdered and others totally untouched. That means you’ll have to work it through your hair a bit more with your fingers before the tan powder blends into your scalp. Users with natural hair or curly hair that’s vulnerable to frizzing should take note of that extra work; you’ll be better served by the Rush Brush.

Guide to Dry Shampoo

How to find the right dry shampoo for you

Look for big-name brands

Our experts convinced us that the bigger the brand, the safer the product. This is because larger companies usually have more time and resources to put products through rigorous testing before they hit the shelves, and there’s more at stake if they create a shoddy product or put consumer health at risk. Granted, we can’t speak for every large company out there — just read this New York Times piece.

Decide what type of dry shampoo you want

Dry shampoos come in two major forms: powders and aerosol spray cans. They each have their pros and cons. Aerosols are more popular because of their convenience, but powders generally contain gentler ingredients for hair that’s prone to drying out. The characteristics of each break down like this:

Aerosol Powder
Easy to apply accurately and evenly Takes more work to apply accurately and evenly
Little to no mess on hands, counter, or shirt after application More product ends up on hands, counter, or shirt after application
Tend to be stronger scents Tend to be more subtle scents
Product runs out more quickly Little product lost in the air, lasts much longer than aerosol
Harsher ingredients Gentler ingredients

Take advantage of samples

Our experts concluded that you can only know what works best for your hair by trying it yourself. If you’re having trouble deciding, we suggest buying the mini sizes to test them out.

Make sure you like the scent

In online reviews, the smell of dry shampoos is one of the most talked-about topics. If the one you buy has a scent, you need to love it enough to walk around with it on your head all day. But we can’t tell you what “the best” smell out there is — some people love rose, others like that citrusy Lemon Pledge vibe. Here’s how we rank the scents of some of our favorite dry shampoos from testing:

Scent Intensity Chart

Powder dry shampoos are typically much less fragrant than aerosols.

Dry Shampoo FAQs

How effective is dry shampoo?

As much as we wish there were piles of research on the effectiveness of dry shampoo ingredients, the experts we talked to made it clear that there’s not much — if any — being done. In fact, Dr. Trefor Evans, the Director of Research at Textile Research Institute (TRI) Princeton, has been in the hair care business for almost 25 years and told us, “They’re a bit of a niche product in a way, and to date haven’t attracted much attention in the hair research world.”

How often can you use dry shampoo?

It’s typically best to avoid using dry shampoo more than is recommended. Our experts advocated on behalf of traditional shampoo and washing your hair regularly, rather than letting dry shampoo become a direct substitute. Dr. Evans even went so far as to say that “the ‘No Poo’ movement is a bunch of poo, basically.” He told us that while dry shampoo soaks up oil, it won’t do much to break down the polymers that styling products leave behind.

Are there any side effects of dry shampoo?

You may have read the horror story that was all over beauty websites in 2016, in which a girl shared a photo of the hair loss she attributed to using dry shampoo. We hear about those stories because they’re rare, but it’s a good idea to follow bottle instructions on how often you should be using dry shampoo — use it as an occasional supplement to washing your hair, rather than as a replacement.

The Best Dry Shampoo: Summed Up

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
Cake the Rush Brush Dry Shampoo
Bare Republic Eco-Active Hair Care UV Protecting Dry Shampoo
Best Aerosol
Best Powder
Best Widely Available Dry Shampoo
Price
$22
$10
$13
Size
4 oz
0.28 oz
1.75 oz
Scent
Clean
Vanilla, caramelized sugar, hint of lemon
Mango
Application Type
Aerosol
Powder
Powder
Gentle Ingredients