Instant shampoos have been around for decades, but they have recently seen a resurgence in popularity. Instant shampoos are available in both aerosol sprays and powder formulas and contain ingredients that soak up excess oil on the hair shaft, without requiring any water. They are designed to be used between washings, for those who are on the go or like to avoid shampooing too frequently.
Several companies market these dry shampoos, in all different price ranges, but most of them are quite similar. These products often contain oil-absorbing ingredients like cornstarch and/or silica, and many formulas are infused with fragrances to give hair a fresh, clean-scented finish. Most of these shampoos contain alcohol, however. While the alcohol allows the product to dry quickly (much like hair spray), this ingredient can also be aggravating to the hair and scalp. There is not a lot of expert opinion available on dry shampoo right now, but many users at Drugstore.com and MakeupAlley.com say that they extend the time between washings by one to two days and can add extra volume to fine or limp hair.
Overall, reviewers love Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo (*Est. $6 for 4 oz.). Enthusiastic users rave that it is a bargain compared with pricier salon versions, and many say it works just as well. Its active ingredient is aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, which works much like corn starch and talc. Editors at Allure magazine also say it does an excellent job of soaking up excess oil quickly. Users at Drugstore.com and MakeupAlley.com agree. Several give it high marks for leaving a nice, soft texture on hair that looks and smells clean. However, one writer at MakeupMoxie.com, a beauty blog, complains that Psssssst can leave a whitish residue on hair, which may not bode well for dark-haired users. She explains, though, that using smaller amounts and working it into hair with the hands makes the formula less visible.
Some consumers, however, prefer a tinted instant shampoo, such as Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder (*Est. $35 for 8 oz.) or Psssssst's new Volume + Color Instant Spray Shampoo (*Est. $8 for 6 oz.). Both of these dry shampoos come in a spray formula and use cornstarch to absorb excess oil. Bumble and Bumble does better in user reviews at MakeupAlley.com, but quite a few users say they actually prefer white powder formulas. That's because the colored powder of these products can rub off on hands and can flake throughout the day. Users do say, however, that Bumble and Bumble does an excellent job of absorbing oil and adding volume to hair. Psssssst Volume + Color, on the other hand, gets mediocre ratings at Drugstore.com, where several users say the color doesn't blend well with their hair color. Neither of these shampoos is tested in any professional reviews.
Julyne Derrick, beauty guide for About.com, says that baby powder and corn starch can work just as well as dry shampoos for a fraction of the cost. Interested in this DIY option? Several videos at YouTube.com offer a recipe and demonstrate how to use these ingredients effectively.