Is Dry Shampoo Bad for Your Hair and Scalp? Here's What Trichologists Say

It's all about moderation.

There's no denying dry shampoo is a genius product. We've all had those moments when we pushed washing our hair one too many days and relied on using dry shampoo to revive our oily, greasy strands. According to Penny James, a certified trichologist and founder of Penny James Salon, dry shampoos are typically formulated with ingredients like starch, alcohol, or talcum powder and work by absorbing the oil and grease on the scalp and along the hair shaft.

While it doesn't clean the hair or scalp, it's pretty helpful in those moments when you don't or can't wash your hair. Dry shampoos are also available in many options, including sprays, powders, and foams. As more formulas hit the market, questions about the safety of dry shampoo and its impacts on the hair and scalp have been raised. We consulted two certified trichologists (hair and scalp doctors) to find out whether dry shampoo is bad for you.

Is dry shampoo bad for your hair and scalp?

When used in moderation, dry shampoo is OK to use. However, dry shampoo can change the scalp microbiome over time, says William Gaunitz, a certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology. "If used daily, it can create problems including dryness, flaking, inflamed scalp, and aggravate other conditions, like Demodex (human hair mites) or seborrheic dermatitis if they are already present," he says.

Additionally, because dry shampoo doesn't clean the scalp, with continued use, it can clog your hair follicles and cause folliculitis, says James. Folliculitis is a scalp condition where the hair follicles become inflamed. When this happens, it can cause itchy and tender skin along with clusters of small red or white-headed pimples on the scalp.

"Some people may also have sensitivities to the chemicals or ingredients within the dry shampoo, so they should not use it regularly," says Gaunitz.

What is the best way to use dry shampoo?

Both trichologists say that dry shampoo is safe to use twice a week at most. "I typically do not recommend using dry shampoo regularly," says Gaunitz. "If someone is using it for the ease-of-use and volumizing aspects, once or twice a week would be my maximum recommendation."

James agrees. Ultimately, if you're keeping your scalp clean and healthy outside of using dry shampoo, there shouldn't be any negative impacts on your hair or scalp. Issues arise when you are exclusively relying on dry shampoo, says Gaunitz. So rest assured knowing that you can continue to use dry shampoo on those days you need to extend your blowout, don't want to wash your hair, or want the volumizing effects of most formulas.

If you find that you're still experiencing excessive oiliness, despite taking care of your scalp, James says to consider whether you're shampooing often enough. If the answer is yes, then the culprit could be stress or hormonal issues. "There is almost always a reason to have an oily scalp," she says. If you're unsure, try scheduling an appointment with a trichologist or dermatologist to find the right treatment plan for you.

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  1. Chiu CH, Huang SH, Wang HM. A review: hair health, concerns of shampoo ingredients and scalp nourishing treatmentsCurr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015;16(12):1045-1052. doi:10.2174/1389201016666150817094447

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