*Updated* Best, Mediocre and Worst: Drugstore Dry Shampoos

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This post was originally published on September 17, 2012, but has now been updated to include dry shampoos from L'Oreal, Aveeno, Garnier Fructis and Nexxus. 

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. 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. L'Oreal EverStyle Dry Shampoo: This dry shampoo is a bit wet (surprisingly not unusual for a "dry" product) which almost always means stickier and thicker texture. Luckily the wetness is minimal, so the dry shampoo was comfortable and easy to have in the roots. The most notable feature here is actually the strength of the nozzle, as it releases significantly more product. It's just about unavoidable to apply too much powder, and then have to spend more time trying to blend it in. In my nearly pitch-black hair, this left a bit of a gray-white cast, which is probably due to the too-powerful nozzle (and maybe too white of a powder?).

2. 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.

3. 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. 

4. 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!

5. Garnier Fructis Volume Extend Dry Shampoo: This is yet another that is firmly planted in the "meh" category. It's not any more volumizing than the average dry shampoo, (nice try, marketing team), and the product is on the wet side. This one in particular tends to cling to the hair more, so it's difficult to fully rub in. But its biggest problem is that it doesn't make your hair look completely clean. My roots still look decent, but if you look closely, you can kind of tell that my hair was dirty and I've just tried to cover it. Not exactly ideal when the purpose of dry shampoo is for nobody to know that your hair isn't clean!

6. 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. 

7. Suave Dry Shampoo: This one straddles the line between the Mediocre and Worst categories. It's not nearly as bad as the last section on this list, 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.

8. Aveeno Pure Renewal Dry Shampoo: This is another one that is between Mediocre and Worst, though it may veer slightly more towards the latter. This stuff sprays out wet and thus requires a longer waiting time (for it to dry) to avoid sticky and matted roots. Obviously waiting longer is not ideal for an express product like dry shampoo, but even after doing so, the texture isn't great. My roots felt thick and a bit heavy with product, and my fingers couldn't run through my hair easily. It wasn't terrible (especially in comparison to the dry shampoos you're about to meet), but it definitely wasn't comfortable. It did ultimately make my hair look clean, but not without leaving a tremendous amount of fallout down my shirt as I blended the product in.

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. Nexxus Youth Renewal Dry Shampoo: I dedicated a whole post to venting about this product, so I'll just give you a recap. This is another one of those wet, sticky, gunked-up dry shampoos, though it's not quite as bad as the above two. It tangles up my roots, and is nothing short of uncomfortable to feel in my hair. This is another one that I have to wash out, as attempting any sort of styling is impossible with such stiff and heavy roots. As if all of that wasn't bad enough, the real insult here is the $18 price. Please, Nexxus, tell me you're joking?

4. 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. What a great post! I found it after googling for the best drugstore dry shampoos. My fave is actually Prive volumizing dry shampoo, although I suspect you wouldn't like it because it does rough up the roots a bit--I call it "cotton candy hair." But I love the texture and the way it blends in without adding any color to my brunette hair. Second fave is Batiste--I agree with you there! I just bought some Biosilk dry shampoo and it is AWFUL. Please review it if you want to write another scathing review! I literally don't think there's any dry shampoo in the can--it's like spraying straight perfume on your hair. Tons of scent and not a drop of oil-absorbing anything. Hate it. Haaaaaate.

    Okay. That's all. Love you site, air kisses.

    1. Yes, I know some people love the texture and thickening effects of some dry shampoos, but it's just not for me.

      I didn't even know Biosilk made dry shampoo, but now I certainly won't try it. I actually don't hear good things about their line, except the Silk Therapy serum, of course.

      Thank you for the sweet compliments, Liz!

  2. Do you know where else I can get Batiste Dry Shampoo other than Ulta? Ulta is far from me ; ~ ;

    1. These days you can find Batiste at just about any drugstore. I just mentioned Ulta because they're the only ones that carry my favorite scent (Fresh). If you check your local CVS and the like and still can't find it, Amazon carries it for around the same price.

      Here's the link!


  3. This is EXACTLY the kind of post I was looking for. I currently use Got2b Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo, and I tried Suave Dry Shampoo. I appreciate knowing there are better products in the drugstore! Thanks so much for doing the hard work!

    1. My pleasure!

      Give Batiste a go and you won't regret it, I promise ! =)

  4. 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.. :/