The name "dry shampoo" is a bit of a misnomer. Available in both aerosol sprays and powder formulas, these "instant" shampoos don't actually wash hair; instead, they soak up excess oil on the hair shaft to make hair look cleaner between washings. Because they can be used without water, they're a good choice for those who are on the go or like to avoid shampooing too frequently. Users at Amazon.com, Walgreens.com and Walmart.com say that they extend the time between washings by one to three days.
Dry shampoos have other benefits, as well. Julyne Derrick, the beauty expert at About.com, recommends them for volumizing fine hair and adds that dry shampoo is "the perfect start to a long-lasting updo."
The one dry shampoo we found that gets consistently positive reviews from both experts and users is Batiste Original Dry Shampoo (Est. $9 for 6.7 oz.). Described in multiple reviews as a "cult favorite," this reasonably priced spray shows up on pretty much every list of the best dry shampoos. In blind tests conducted by Good Housekeeping, users found it easy to apply and brush out. They also said that, unlike many dry shampoos, Batiste didn't leave any powdery residue on their hair. Most users at TotalBeauty.com and Amazon.com, and other sites agree and add that Batiste does a good job removing oil, leaving hair clean and soft. Reviewers also find it helpful for adding volume.
The one factor that does generate some disagreement is the scent. Most testers at Good Housekeeping, as well as many Amazon.com reviewers, like it, describing it as fresh, herbal, or citrusy. However, a few users describe the smell as unpleasant and chokingly strong. Still, at just $6 a bottle, it's not too big a risk to try it and find out whether the smell is to your taste. Additionally, Batiste offers a number of other scents in addition to the original scent, including tropical, cherry, fresh, and others, as well as special formulations for blonde, brunette, and dark hair, most of which earn equally positive feedback from reviewers.
While most other dry shampoos receive mixed reviews, Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo (Est. $5 for 5 oz.) holds its own against the popular Batiste in Good Housekeeping's blind test, earning an equivalent rating of 4 stars out of 5. Testers say it does a good job at leaving hair looking and feeling clean, and it's easy to apply and brush out, leaving no sticky or visible reside behind. It comes in several formulations, including Volume & Fullness, Detox & Purify, and Invigorating, all of which earn similar feedback across sites like Amazon.com, Walgreens.com and Walmart.com.
Several reviewers have used both the top-rated Batiste and Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo, and most say they're of comparable quality. Users say Dove Dry Shampoo is a bit wet when first applied but dries out in a few minutes, eliminating oiliness from hair as it dries. It leaves hair feeling silky and adds volume, users say, and it leaves a pleasant scent behind-- although, once again, the scent is strong and overpowering to some. On the downside, some reviewers say it while it doesn't leave white residue behind as many dry shampoos do, it can leave a bit of a greasy feeling. Overall, reviewers say it's an affordable alternative to costlier, designer-brand dry shampoos, and it's a good option to try if the top-rated Batiste doesn't work for you.
A final note for those who would like to try dry shampoo is that, according to Derrick, simple ingredients such as talcum powder, cornstarch, or baking soda can do the job of a dry shampoo for a fraction of the cost. If you're interested in this DIY option, several videos at YouTube.com offer recipes and demonstrate how to use these homemade concoctions effectively.