Best, Mediocre and Worst: Drugstore Dry Shampoos

Monday, September 17, 2012

I have posted an updated version to include dry shampoos from L'Oreal, Aveeno, Garnier Fructis and Nexxus. Click here!

If there's any beauty product that I consistently rely on, dry shampoo is unquestionably it. In fact, given the number of times it's saved me from showing my oily roots to the world, it may even be my favorite product ever. In the five years since I've first started using it, I've tried quite a few, but quickly realized that paying for more expensive ones was ridiculous since drugstore haircare brands caught on to the trend and launched their own versions. (We've seen this in action with all the hair oil/oil spray hype). I think I've just about tried them all by this point, so here's your cheat sheet!

Best: My gold standard against which all other dry shampoos are compared: fine, easy to work with powder with a no-fuss nozzle that doesn't turn my dark hair a funky gray. I'm especially particular with how comfortable it feels in the hair, which is tied to the consistency of the powder (the chunkier the product, the thicker it piles into the roots). Bonus points if it smells good!

1. Batiste Dry Shampoo: It's long been my favorite for a reason, as there isn't a single aspect that I don't love. The powder is fine and blends in easily, it doesn't turn my dark hair ashy or chalky, the nozzle provides great control, and it feels almost weightless in my hair. I can run my fingers through my roots over and over again, and they never feel dusty (from the powder) or full of product. They're also the clear winner scent-wise, as they do a Blush, Tropical, and Fresh--my favorite, though I can only find that one at Ulta. Batiste does colored versions as well, which are supposed to help blend into your hair color, but I don't particularly like those and again, these never change my hair color. I must have gone through at least 30 cans of this stuff by now, with many more to come!

2. John Frieda Dry Shampoo: I reviewed this recently, and if you read that post, you'll know how very close this was to beating my beloved Batiste. The powder here is finer and thus absorbs and rubs in more quickly. I might even venture to say that it's more finely milled than Klorane. My problem here is with the nozzle, as it tends to squirt the product a bit too haphazardly, and as my hair is oily in specific areas, I need more control. Some may prefer this to the Batiste, though, especially if they have finer hair and don't like the feeling of product "sitting" in the roots.

Mediocre: The great majority of drugstore dry shampoos fall into this category for me. Yes, they get the job done but not in any sort of impressive way (especially when you've tried the above two!).

1. Got2b Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo: If we were going off consistency of the powder alone, this would probably be in the first category. This stuff is just as easy as the Batiste to rub in, and the powder even feels soft and almost slippy, making in an absolute breeze to work through the hair. But once again, the nozzle completely ruins it, as a small spray comes out in a big puff! That creates a bit of a directional issue, but mostly it's just annoying to have no control over how much product comes out. This dry shampoo also creates heavier fall-out (might have to do with the texture of the powder), so you definitely don't want to wear black while spraying this in.

2. Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo: The scent is actually what's most memorable about this product--intensely floral without being grandma-ish, and it lingers just beautifully. You may not even need perfume! That aside, nothing about this dry shampoo is extraordinary. It absorbs oiliness without a white cast, and the nozzle is strong and sturdy (with maybe a slightly finer spray). My one particular complaint here is that the powder is on the heavy side, and you can feel it sitting in the hair. It's not nearly bad enough to land it in the Worst category, but it definitely feels like there's some product build-up. 

3. Pssssst! Instant Dry Shampoo: Ah, the original, and the very first dry shampoo I ever tried. It's still not a bad product today, but like the first of anything, it's surpassed by newer and better formulations. This is probably the most bread and butter of all dry shampoos, as it definitely works, but the powder takes more effort to rub in. I don't believe it contains fragrance (which might make it the only unscented dry shampoo on the market), and while I'm unsure if the formula changed, next to what I tried in high school this is greatly improved. Again, it doesn't rub in as well, so there will always be some chalkiness lingering, but it doesn't turn my roots white like the version I first used did!

4. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo: Strangely enough, this gave me the most volume--even more than the likes of Batiste. But all of that lovely root lift comes at a price, and here it's the sort of tangly and rough feeling in your hair. It actually feels like someone took regular dry shampoo powder and added some volumizing/Backcomb in a Bottle-esque powder, and then bottled it--which is absolutely genius. That coarse and stiff feeling in the roots isn't as bad as using one of those volumizing powders, but for someone as sensitive as I am, it's a bit uncomfortable. I definitely like this, though, as it still gets my hair looking clean (though I don't particularly enjoy the slightly spicy, masculine scent). If you like volume, this could be your favorite dry shampoo, and on days when I want some height at my roots, I'll suck it up and use this anyway. 

5. Suave Dry Shampoo: This one straddles the line between the Mediocre and Worst categories. It's not nearly as bad as the ones you're about to meet, and it does get my hair looking fresh, but not completely. If I use it when I've skipped a wash (as you would do with any dry shampoo), the powder removes some of the built-up grease, but not all of it. My hair doesn't look as dirty as it previously did, but it's not 100% clean, either. The best way to use this is when your roots are just beginning to look a little weighed down, but not full-on oily. For that purpose, it works very well, but since it can't actually mimic the clean look, it's at the end of the Mediocre list--also the overly citrus scent is borderline nauseating.

Worst: These dry shampoos commit a few grievances for me: they either make my hair look and feel dirtier than it originally was, and/or make my roots feel stiff and loaded full of product. What exactly is the point of a "shampooing" product that only results in dirtier hair?

1. Tresemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo: I first tried this years ago and couldn't believe how much filthier it made my hair look. Flash forward to me trying it again in the interests of this post, and I still cannot believe how much filthier it makes my hair look. It's oddly wet--for a "dry shampoo!"--and gunks up my roots in a hideously uncomfortable way. It also seems to tangle up my hair wherever I spray it, as I can never comfortably run my fingers through, or even comb it out. I know some people actually like this stuff, but I have no idea why, since every time I force myself to use it I have to wash it out as soon as I can.

2. GOSH Dry Shampoo: This was like a slightly less bad version of the Tresemme. Same dirty, matted kind of look, same weight at the roots and almost sticky feel underneath. It really just gunked up my hair and was unpleasant to feel sitting on my scalp. Another one I have to wash out right away!

3. got2b Fat-tastic Dry Shampoo: This performed satisfactorily enough in terms of getting my hair to look clean, but the texture of it is so horribly grainy. Something about the powder feels coarse, rough, and almost sharp (!), so it's unpleasant to rub in and then have sitting in my hair. Volume-wise, I didn't see any difference in comparison with the average dry shampoo, so that's clearly useless marketing shtick. The absolute worst part about this, though, is how the powder flew all over the place when I first sprayed it in. I've had some fallout with dry shampoo before, onto my shoulders and shirt, but never like this. My dresser literally looked like I had sprinkled powdered sugar all over it. Nightmare to clean up, and not fun to apply either--definitely skip it!


That was a lot, but one last thing! The most vital part of using dry shampoo is giving it a chance to absorb the grease before you go in with fingers or a brush. I know it sounds obvious, but a lot of people skip that step and it makes a world of difference!

I hope some of you found that helpful! 

And if you agree or disagree on the dry shampoos above, (or want me to review another one) just leave me a comment!

Have a fantastic week!


  1. I just found your blog by accident while researching Mason Pearson brushes and I'm your newest biggest fan - based primarily on your post about status handbags on very young women in sweatpants (totally agree!) and your review of the hot mess that is Tresemme dry shampoo. I'm bummed that the stores are closed right now so I can't go buy Batiste or JF dry shampoo rightthisveryminute. I've tried the Ojon (meh), the Oscar Blandi (clogged after one use and smelled like lemon cleaner), the TiGi (meh), and the (ack) Tresemme. I'd given up on the whole concept, but I'm so excited to hear there are actual decent options out there. My hair needs it. Thanks!

    1. Ah, Anon, you've just made my day!

      What a nice comment!--and I totally agree with you on the dry shampoos you mentioned (the Oscar Blandi in particular). I'm thinking I need to do a similar post on high-end brands?

      Thanks for the pick-me-up, and it's so nice to know another dry shampoo junkie!

  2. All I've tried is tresemme, and it is AWFUL.
    Thank you so much for this post, I'm gonna head to an ulta and look for batiste!

    1. Ugh, I know, Tresemme is horrendous.

      Jealous of your Ulta excursion--wish I could go now! They've got a decent selection of Batiste, but I like Fresh best.

      Let me know how you like it!

  3. Just picked up some Batiste after reading this blog, and it is FANTASTIC. Thank you. I was using Tresemme before and knew it was bad, but I didn't know how bad until now.

  4. I have to say thank you for your reviews! I bought a can of Batiste to test out and love it! Mine even came with a mini can which will be perfect for my purse. I have tried Tresemme and hated it, the smell was as bad as my hair afterwards. I was using Suave Keratin and while that helped somewhat, kinda.... It was definitely not a huge improvement. I figured it was just what to expect from a dry shampoo since so many people rave about it. But one use of this has me sold. I can actually have second day hair! I was shocked that on the third day my hair was still looking great. I never make it half way through second day hair without looking like a grease ball.
    Thank you for turning us on to such a great product.

    1. You're very welcome, Anon. I'm so glad you love it!

      Thanks for the lovely feedback--comments like yours always make my day!

  5. Also a good one I recommend is nexus dry shampoo!! I bleach my hair so I don't wash it everyday and my hair still gets oily fast and this is the dry shampoo I've ever bought! It's kinda spendy but worth the price!!! I've never heard of the first one you posted.... What stores carry them?

    1. Which Nexxus dry shampoo are you talking about, Anon? I reviewed the Youth Renewal one (in the pink bottle) in the updated version of this post--link is at the top--but I don't know of any other dry shampoo Nexxus makes.

      I'd love to hear which one you're referring to, and possibly have another drugstore dry shampoo to check out!

      You can find Batiste at Ulta and most CVS's (at least where I live). It's getting to be more and more readily available, but if you can't find it in your area, I know Amazon carries it.

  6. Is there a dry shampoo with less fragrance? I've used dove dry shampoo as my first dry shampoo and that left with a headache. I'm trying to look for one that doesn't have a strong scent.. :/

    1. Hmmm, this is a bit difficult Anon, because most dry shampoos are perfumed to not only cover the look of dirty hair, but cover the smell of it as well.

      Psssst is the only one that is actually fragrance-free (that I know of), but Batiste in the original scent is fairly mild, and I think the John Freida is too.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Klorane has no scent that i can discern. I quite like it.

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  8. Daily shampooing is effective for oily hair. Choose the best shampoo for your oily hair. At the time of shampooing message the scalp smoothly, don’t hurry at least 5 minutes before washing. Repeat this process if hair is predominantly oily.

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  10. The excess is always should use too much shampoo.If you use too much, you will have many problems. Such as skin problems hair loss,etc.So you should follow the medical model or the company's guideline.

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