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You can only skip a shower so much before things start to get well… gross. But if you’re out at a campsite, at a festival, or maybe staying in a particularly rundown hostel sans showers, you’ll have to make do with some adequate alternatives.
While there are a number of effective body wipes you can use to clean and deodorize your body, it’s a little trickier when it comes to washing your hair. That’s where a good dry shampoo comes in. These waterless shampoos help to removes oil and grease from your hair, giving you a fresh clean feeling when you can’t get to a full shower, or when you just need a quick refresh.
The best dry shampoos go on like a hairspray or leave-in conditioner. To use, simply spray the product into your hair or squeeze a small amount into the palms of your hands. Use your fingers to work the dry shampoo into your strands, massaging lightly if needed to spread the product out evenly. For those with long hair, you’ll want to section off your locks and spray from about 12 inches away, creating an even mist that you can then massage into the roots with your fingertips. After your dry shampoo is applied, towel dry if necessary, then brush or style normally.
Dry shampoos work by using alcohol, starch and other ingredients to absorb oil, dirt and odors from your hair. Rather than masking dirty hair, dry shampoos actually help to clean and refresh your hair, removing impurities and leaving your hair feeling lighter and more manageable. The latest dry shampoos also contain additional ingredients to help moisturize and condition your strands (think coconut oil and vanilla bean extract), while natural scents like lavender and musk leave a subtle scent.
The best dry shampoos not only help to keep your hair clean when you don’t have access to a shower, they also help extend the life of your hair between washes. For those with fine or color-treated hair, a dry shampoo is a good alternative to over-washing your hair, which can cause breakage or dry out your strands. A dry shampoo is also a great way to refresh your hair, say, before a date, or after a particularly sweaty workout or run. In addition to removing sweat and smells, a dry shampoo adds back volume and texture too.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite dry shampoos for men and women. These shampoos work with all hair types and lengths, and deserve a place in your overnight bag or toiletry kit, so you stay prepared and never have to be caught with gross dirty hair again.
1. Batiste Dry Shampoo
This unisex dry shampoo instantly refreshes your hair with subtle notes of lavender and musk, while the waterless formula sucks up dirt and grease.
Unlike some dry shampoos, which simply mask dirty hair with fragrance, the Batiste shampoo works from the roots up to remove excess oil that weighs down your locks. The result: lighter, shinier, cleaner-looking hair with added body and texture.
This set comes with three bottles.
PROS: Vegan-friendly ingredients and not tested on animals.
CONS: Take caution when using the bottle to make sure it’s misting rather than spraying; you don’t want to end up with white residue all over your hair.
2. No-Rinse Shampoo Cap
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: this is a shower cap that contains dry shampoo inside. Sounds strange, but it’s actually a convenient way to keep your hair clean if you’re camping, backpacking or at a festival where you might not have easy access to a shower or water. This shampoo cap is also great for those with limited-mobility, eliminating the need to reach for shampoo or conditioner in the shower.
How it works: put on the cap and massage your hair through the cap for 15-20 seconds, working up a good lather. Once hair is wet, remove the cap and towel dry. The waterless shampoo cap is great for getting rid of odors and oils, while leaving a light, clean scent.
PROS: The shampoo cap is latex-free and safe to use on all skin types. Made in the USA.
CONS: Those with longer hair may need 2-3 minutes to work the product in.
3. No-Rinse Shampoo
Used by everyone from models and stylists to NASA astronauts (no really!), this no-rinse shampoo is a safe, fast and efficient way to “wash” your hair, without needing water.
Use it like a regular shampoo and work a small amount between the palm of your hands and massage into your hair. Apply until hair is completely wet, then towel dry thoroughly.
Your hair will feel clean and be free from excess oils, dirt and odors. Because the solution is alcohol-free, the shampoo won’t dry out your hair. And we like that it’s pH balanced to be mild and non-irritating, making it great for people with sensitive scalps.
What you get: soft, silky, more manageable hair with no water or rinsing necessary.
PROS: Safe for color-treated hair as it won’t strip color.
CONS: Some found the product to be a little watery.
4. OGX Coconut Miracle Oil Dry Shampoo
This dry shampoo uses natural ingredients like coconut, tiare essence and vanilla bean extract to help absorb oil, eliminate odors and restore texture to your locks.
Squeeze a quarter-sized amount into your hands and work the dry shampoo through your roots using your fingers. Comb and style as necessary. OGX says the product will add volume, softness and shine to your hair — all without needing water.
This dry shampoo even works for those with coarse or curly hair, and it’s gentle enough to be used on color-treated hair as well.
PROS: Works great as a leave-in conditioner too.
CONS: Best for thicker hair.