When you have flat, fine, and pretty much lifeless hair, you probably dream of having bouncy, shiny, and voluminous hair. Big hair might be your goal. As someone whose hair is stick straight, is flat all the time, and can never hold a curl, I can definitely say those dreams and goals are true for me.
I’ve tried a lot of things to give my hair a little more oomph—shampoos, mousses, hair sprays, texturizing sprays… you name it. I’ve found a few that have worked for me, but I’m always searching for that holy-grail product. Well, recently, I discovered a secret weapon that can create a lot of volume without weighing your hair down: dry shampoo.
I have to be honest and say that I’m not a regular dry shampoo user, so I always thought that it was made to be used in between washes, and that’s it. Well, some hairstylists have schooled me on the fact that dry shampoo is actually a multitasking product that’s also a styling tool.
“Dry shampoo is quite the versatile product for fine hair,” says celebrity hairstylist and groomer Jillian Halouska, whose clients include Julia Garner and Chloë Grace Moretz. “It can be used anywhere from adding texture, creating volume, zapping up oil, creating a base for updos, and even help with curl hold for hot tools.”
The product’s powders and starches help lift your roots to create long-lasting volume and a foundation. Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend, whose clients include Gal Gadot and Dakota Johnson, says it’s the most-used product in his kit. “The biggest key is hair spray sticks hairs together, which can actually make your hair look even thinner or even finer, whereas dry shampoos have powders and starches in them that keep the hair separated, so it does give you thicker-looking hair,” he says.
If you want to use your dry shampoo for something other than keeping your unwashed hair in check, there are a couple of ways to “hack” the product to give your strands a volume boost and help with the styling process. Both Halouska and Townsend shared some tips.
1. If you’re starting with washed hair: “When hair is damp, apply on your roots in both front and back of hair, adding a bit extra just below the crown,” Halouska says. “After, add throughout the hair, making sure to lift the hair to get the underneath. Take two big claw clips—one to grab a big root section of hair from the middle back and crown of hair and the other just at the top of your head, both leaving out the ends of hair. This allows less weight on your hair to dry and the roots to dry upward to help with volume. Rough-dry until roots are dry. Take out clips and style as desired.”
2. If you’re starting with days-old hair: Townsend recommends refreshing your scalp a little bit at first. “Spray the dry shampoo on a flat brush and make sure it’s natural or mixed bristle,” he says. “Brush all the way through. I put the dry shampoo from root to end as the very first thing if I’m starting with dry hair. Then, I’ll go back with a blow-dryer to smooth it out—an iron for pieceyness and to give it a soft wave. Then, I’ll go back on top and spray some dry shampoo and do teasing in one- to two-inch sections. You’re really just teasing the roots.”
3. Use it before bed: “I love the idea of adding before bed for few reasons,” Halouska says. “Not only is it a proactive defense against next-day oil, but it will also help give hair a lived-in, effortless vibe the following day.”
4. Use it for styling: “You can also add just before an updo for hold and tease a dry-shampooed root area to make a bed the bobby pins can grab,” Halouska adds. “Lightly spray before and after a curling iron or flat iron for texture and hold. Add before a blow-dry to amp up volume. Use before braids to create grit and hold, or pull out pieces and spritz for a carefree flow. Spray on thin bangs for diminishing oil, adding volume, or on wet bangs to enhance curl. Spritz on baby hairs to add wispiness or freshly washed dry hair to add manageability.”
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind when using dry shampoos. Like many beauty products, it’s all about application and technique. Here’s what to keep in mind.
1. For unwashed hair: If you’re using the dry shampoo on your unwashed hair, you’ll want to spray it directly on your scalp, massage it in, and brush it out. “It really needs to be brushed out because what will happen is those powders and starches will just mix in with the oils, and it becomes like a clay on your scalp, and that can block the pores and lead to more thinning hair,” Townsend says.
2. For styling: When you’re using the dry shampoo as a styling product, you’ll want to spray it on the root, not the scalp. Then, you can tease or back-comb the roots to create volume.
3. Spray from a distance: “A general rule is you need to hold all dry shampoos a good 10 inches away,” Townsend says. “If you hold your dry shampoo too close, it almost turns into a waxy kind of product because the starches and powders didn’t dry enough before it got on the hair.”
4. Know when your hair needs a wash: While dry shampoo can get you through a couple of days without washing your hair, you can’t hold off forever. “Once your hair starts to feel sticky, heavy, dry, or flaky, it’s time to suds up in the shower and refresh,” Halouska says.