Ask Gail: Is Dry Shampoo Bad for Your Hair?

close-up of a woman spritzing dry shampoo onto her hairThe alarm goes off and you know it’s going to be a crazy busy day. The looming question: Are you going to wash your hair

Snuggled in your cozy bed, the answer seems obvious…you want to hit the snooze button. So what’s the plan? Reach for your dry shampoo. Not so fast. While dry shampoo seems like a near-miracle, there’s surprisingly a lot of confusion around those tiny cans.

So today, we’re clearing up all of those questions once and for all...

  • How does dry shampoo work? 
  • Is dry shampoo bad for your hair? 
  • Is it healthy? 
  • Safe for color treated hair?

It may seem like magic, but the unfortunate truth is that it’s really not. Let us explain.


white powder on a wooden spoonTypically dry shampoo is formulated with alcohol or starch, which soaks up excess oil and grease in your hair, giving it a cleaner, fresher appearance.

So what does dry shampoo do to your hair? Today, most dry shampoos are aerosol sprays that deliver drying agents directly onto your hair and scalp.


The truth of the matter is, that even though it’s called a shampoo, dry shampoo doesn’t actually clean your hair. According to Gail Federici, award-winning hair product innovator, serial beauty entrepreneur and unequalled shampoo guru: 

buildup on hair follicles“At best a dry shampoo will soak up some visible oil. But in truth, you’re just adding another layer of debris on top of your already dirty hair. And that is not a’s potentially a serious problem!”

When you use a powder-based dry shampoo, the powder actually mixes with your scalp’s oil and it becomes a paste-y mixture that sticks to your scalp and can impede new hair growth by blocking follicles.


In the long term, yes. 100 percent. Using a dry shampoo is bad for your hair especially if your regular cleanser contains stay-behind ingredients (like silicones and thickeners).

These ingredients don’t easily rinse off and stick to your scalp along with dry shampoo and eventually these products clog your hair follicles (just like dirt can clog your pores). You can read all about harmful ingredients in shampoos within our guide.

Essentially, it’s a buildup nightmare.

But what about those alcohol-based dry shampoos? Those don’t cause buildup right? Technically, alcohol-based dry shampoos don’t leave powdery deposits. But they still aren’t doing your hair any favors.

Alcohol does help dry up unwanted greasiness, but it also dries up the vital natural oils that keep your hair strong, silky and flexible. So it’s taking the good stuff out of your hair, along with the bad.

Well at least they make your hair smell fresher! Sorry, but no. Just like those powders absorb grease and oil, they’re also trapping environmental odors, which could make your hair smell even worse.

Some formulas contain added perfumes but these don’t really mask odors, in most cases they blend with them, and can make scents even stronger.

So how does dry shampoo work to make your hair actually clean? Simply put, it doesn’t. 


Many dry shampoos now come in tinted formulas that are supposed to blend in to one’s hair color. But in reality they actually cloud over your hair color, making it look dull and drab. Whether they’re tinted or not, powder-based dry shampoos always leave behind downy, dandruffy-like deposits.

Gail Federici - CEO of Color Wow“I’ve been asked by friends and editors if Color Wow is ever going to make a dry shampoo,” says Gail. “While I know that they are very popular and would be good for the bottom line, the unequivocal answer is, NO.

While “convenience” is a very compelling reason to add a dry shampoo to your routine, our recommendation would be to just wash the fringe or section around hairline, which tends to look oily. That way you don’t have to blow dry the whole head of hair.”


color wow raise the root

So, what can you spritz on your hair to combat grease? One quick fix if you’re short on time is to use Raise the Root - check out Alex’s tutorial below:

When it comes to other alternatives, we hate to disappoint but the bottom line is this: if your hair is dirty, itchy smelly, oily... the best thing is to wash it.

color wow shampoo bottle with list of ingredients it doesn't containOpt for a cleanser that's going to truly clean your hair and scalp, one that doesn't contain any stay-behind ingredients. We love our Color Wow Color Security Shampoo for all hair types because it does what a shampoo is supposed to do...clean.

If you insist on using dry shampoo, then we definitely recommend using Color Wow Color Security Shampoo after doing so because it will gently remove any powder residue and unlike most shampoos will NOT leave any residue behind compounding the issue.

After you're done shampooing, cut down your styling time with these blow-dry tips and tricks.

If you do find your hair getting greasy faster than usual, why not take a look at our guide to the causes of oily hair? It’s packed full of potential reasons you might be faced with more grease than usual, as well as advice on how best to combat - both in terms of products and lifestyle factors.


Learn more about hair care on the Color Wow Blog:

  • What is co-washing and is it good for your hair?
  • Learn which shampoo ingredients to avoid
  • Discover the proper way to wash your hair
  • Gail Federici is more than just an entrepreneur; she is a trailblazer in the world of beauty, known for her knack of finding solutions to hair care challenges that had long been unaddressed.

    View all articles

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