A: When I hear the words dry shampoo, I think of the way I used to clean my hair in summer camp back when I was 13. The showers in our bunkhouse were so dirty, you had to wear flip-flops while you showered. Rumor had it if you didn't, your feet would be itching for weeks from a mysterious fungal infection. To avoid the need to shower often, my friends and I would often shake some baby powder onto our heads, let it sit for a few moments, and then comb out. Presto — no washing necessary! Of course, this worked for only a day or so, but to us, it was a dry shampoo nonetheless.
Dry shampoo has actually been around for centuries, but has enjoyed a recent resurgence of popularity because many beauty experts recommend washing your hair less frequently to keep it healthy. Dry shampoo can be used in between washes if you're trying to lengthen the life of your blow-out, for example, when you're dashing to the office without time for a shower, or even in situations when water isn't readily available (like when you're camping, for instance).
So what exactly is it? In its essence, dry shampoo is just that — a dry substance that cleans your hair without the use of water. Dry shampoo works by absorbing oil from your scalp and hair, and making it look and feel freshly washed again. The ingredients in the spray-type of dry shampoo are usually a mixture of aerosol propellants, absorbing agents, solvents, conditioning agents and fragrance. It is not meant to take the place of regularly washing your hair with water, but to serve as a means of lengthening time between washes or to use in a pinch.
Dry shampoos usually come in one of three forms — an actual powder, a liquid that comes from a pump dispenser, or an aerosol spray. Whichever one you choose, it's important to choose one that's a close match to your hair color — some people complain that it can leave a white residue.
Commercial dry shampoos can run anywhere from $3 to $75 a bottle, depending on the brand. You can buy them online, simply by typing "dry shampoo" into your search engine, or find less expensive brands at your local pharmacy.
If you're looking for a natural alternative to commercial dry shampoos, which often contain many chemicals to aid the absorbing process, you can buy organic dry shampoos as well, which are made from all-natural ingredients.
If you have light hair, it might even make sense to make your own homemade dry shampoo, with recipes like these, which usually use cornstarch or baby powder as their main ingredient (seems as if my 13-year-old self was on to something).
Whatever you choose, remember that dry shampoo will only help to absorb excess oil and it won't necessarily clean out the dirt and grime from a long day's work, though it might mask it with a pretty scent. Good enough for your lunch break after a quick trip to the gym? Sure. Good enough before a big first date? Probably not so much.
Related Links from MNN.com: