If your dry shampoo isn't working, you're probably applying it wrong—here's what to know

Is it ever right to use dry shampoo on clean hair?

A girl dancing with wild hair in moody light
(Image credit: Getty Images/Jessie Casson)

After shampoo and conditioner, dry shampoo is hands down one of the greatest hair inventions ever, hands down. How one survived without dry shampoo before its invention is a serious question and paints a picture of a life that I can't even begin to imagine. Dry shampoo is my favourite lazy-girl hack and the only way I get away with beating greasy hair and washing it twice a week (by the way, if you're not sure how often you should wash your hair, we've got you).

And yet, I hear so many people say they don't like dry shampoo or that they can't get it to work. This got me thinking—is there a right (and a wrong) way to use dry shampoo? And if so, how do you use dry shampoo properly?

It's a question that's been on my mind for the past few weeks as each day I see someone new on TikTok using their dry shampoo on clean, freshly washed, sometimes even wet hair.

To get to the bottom of it, I've asked some of the best hair stylists for their top tips on how to use dry shampoo. According to the pros, dry shampoo can be doing so much more. We're talking added volume, texture and it can even help to hold styles for longer, particularly on thin hair.

Keep scrolling for your ultimate guide on how to use dry shampoo to get the most out of your favourite formula. 

An expert guide on how to use dry shampoo

Let's start with the basics before we move on to how to use dry shampoo for volume or on curly hair. How you apply your dry shampoo is just as important as choosing the right formula for your hair. While we love dry shampoo for helping us save on time, white residue and a lacklustre look means you need to make sure it's used correctly. 

1. Shake the bottle 

This instruction is on every bottle, and it's a vital first step. Dry shampoo is usually made from starch, which is one of the key components that absorbs excess oil. Starch can settle at the bottom of aerosol formulas, so it needs to be shaken to make sure the formula is working at its best, giving you the best results. 

2. Separate hair and spray 

Instead of spraying all over the head, separate your hair into sections (to find the greasy spots) this helps to cover all bases and really get to the root of the hair. 

"Take even sections before spraying into the roots holding the can at least 20cm from scalp" says Emilie Venturini, Artistic colourist at Gielly Green.

"With Dry Shampoo it’s important not to overload the spray onto your hair as it can potentially leave white residue," Lisa Bidessie, Drybar Harrods Manager tells us. If white residue has been an issue before, stick to keeping your dry shampoo at least arms-length away.  

3. Let it sit 

This is a step that's easy to miss when running out of the door (I have no shame in letting it sit throughout my tube journey to the office, mind you). Before brushing your dry shampoo out of the hair, it's important to let the formula sit in order to work its magic and soak up the excess oil.

4. Brush it out 

"To prevent white residue, brush lengths through with your fingers while you spray. Then, use a brush to distribute the dry shampoo evenly and stop too much residue being visible," Venturini advises. 

5. Use it overnight

Know that feeling of when your hair is super greasy, but nothing is making you want to wash, dry and style your hair late in the evening? Well, turns out you can apply your favourite dry shampoo at night. In fact, experts say it means it gets to sit and absorb oil for longer and stops your hair from getting even greasier overnight. 

"Use the Batiste Overnight Cleanse Dry Shampoo to save from waking up with oily hair, a true hair hero if you have early meetings or a school run," hair stylist, Samantha Cusick tells us. "If you don’t yet know about Batiste Overnight Cleanse Dry Shampoo, it's time you were introduced. This is one of my favourite ways to save time in the morning as well as getting that ‘I woke up like this’ feeling. Spray into the roots of your hair before bed and wake up with hair that looks refreshed and oil free," she continues. 

How to use dry shampoo for volume

"If your hair is feeling flat, a little hair-hack I swear by is to use your dry shampoo to give a little lift. Spray into the roots and massage in for an instant boost—and it helps you go longer between washing, win-win," says Cusick.

And the formula of dry shampoo you use might make a difference, too. "My clients often ask me how they can easily add more volume to their hair at home, especially for day two and three hair, when everything is looking a bit flat. My advice is always Batiste Heavenly Volume Dry Shampoo. Spray into the root hair and massage in to create volume fast."

There you have it, volume in a flash. 

How to use dry shampoo for texture

Usually focused on the roots, dry shampoo can add texture to your lengths too. With summer not too far away, we predict beach waves will be on the agenda. Cusick suggests using dry shampoo on your ends, too, for that beachy, textured look. "I like to spray through the mid-lengths and ends as a texturiser to add more definition—it's great on day-two beach waves," she says.

How to use dry shampoo on curly hair

"Looking after your scalp is an important part of ensuring your curls are on point," says Michele Scott-Lynch, founder of curly-hair brand Bouclème tells us. "The curly community has always found an effective dry shampoo hard to find, and the innovative Bouclème Foaming Dry Shampoo formula transforms people's curls and routine," she says. The formula is a water-based foam, which is best used by shaking and massaging one or two pumps over the scalp. The product will dry naturally, but if it's volume you're after, diffuse to dry. 

How often should you use dry shampoo?

"Try not to over use dry shampoo as it can block the hair follicle. Spray into roots and brush through lengths no more than once a week I would say," says Venturini.

For curly and coily hair, Scott-Lynch says, "We wouldn't recommend using any dry shampoo every day as it can lead to follicles becoming clogged leading to inflammation and hair loss. We would recommend using a dry shampoo once or twice a week and then making sure you thoroughly cleanse once or twice a week." 

If you have been overdoing it on the dry shampoo, a detox scalp scrub or serum can do wonders. 

Should you use dry shampoo on clean hair?

The pros are divided on this one. "I would not recommend using dry shampoo on clean hair. It can add volume, however you don’t want to disrupt your natural oil production for your scalp," says Venturini.

However, Bidessie doesn't mind the idea. "You can use dry shampoo on clean hair. The action of just blending the product with your fingers can add lift at the root. Having said that, it can allow you to get away with an extra two or three days without washing your hair, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for washing your hair," says Bidessie. 

So there you have it—how to use dry shampoo just like your stylist would. 

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.