I’ve Tried Dozens of Dry Shampoos and the Best Costs $8

By

I’m a good candidate for dry shampoo. My hair color is light, so even formulas that leave a whitish cast are relatively forgiving. And though my hair is medium oily, and I work out regularly, I know better than to wash my hair too often. All that is to say that I’ve tried a lot of dry shampoos, liked a lot, and found a handful to be totally, 100 percent useless. After a good decade of being a super-tester, I found the best one last summer, recommended to me by a colleague who bought it on a lark while she was traveling.

What Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo lacks in a name, it makes up for in both cost and effectiveness. Because I’ve worked as a beauty editor, dry shampoos are usually free for me, which means I’ve tried ones that cost upwards of $60 a can. Those are usually overly sticky, likely because of a desire to be extra. (Fragrance! Silicone smoothers! Hair-spray-like lacquers!) I’ve also found that expensive sprinkle-on powders, while effective at sopping up grease, tend to prop up my roots a little too much, leaving my hairline looking, with all due respect, like I’ve had a Golden Girls-style roller set. I like Klorane’s culty dry shampoo, but it doesn’t quite stand up to heavy-duty grease — I use it for texture rather than cleansing. Most cheaper formulas basically do nothing at all. You spray them on hopefully, rake a brush through, and immediately see greasy track lines forming behind each bristle.

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo has a clean and neutral scent, so if you’re layering it atop stale, smoky, or sweaty hair, you’re covered. I hold the can a true foot from my head — a hairstylist once gave me this tip, as distance is essential for sprays to aerate properly — and mist straight back from the hairline in four to five rows. I let it set for a second to work (this part I’m sure is superstition) before combing through with a mixed-bristle brush. My hair is immediately un-shiny and degreased, though not in a showy, starchy, or stiff way. Rather than feeling heavy or chock full of product, it feels clean and smooth, not unlike, well, if I’d actually bothered to wash it. Because the stuff actually works, a can lasts awhile, too. (I’ve bombed through others in under two weeks.) No, this is not my mother’s dry shampoo — maybe because she’s unaware of the category altogether, but also because her hair is textured similarly to broom bristles — but I’d recommend it even to her.

Other Strat-approved hair sprays

Adam Glassman, the creative director of O, the Oprah Magazine, loves his Serge Normant dry shampoo for darker hair: “There are some days that you don’t want to wash your hair because it’s better when it’s not shiny and too clean, but you also don’t want to have bed head. I have brown hair, and a lot of dry shampoos make you look like George Washington in a powdered wig with the white residue, but this one doesn’t.”

Writer Lucy Sykes is all about Ouai wave spray for beachy hair: “Anyone who goes to the Hamptons knows that it’s so difficult to have a blow-dry, so everyone puts this in their hair, and it gives surfer-girl chic. And in New York, urban surfer chic is the new look, so it’s just messed up enough. Plus, the smell and the name — I was sold. It works so well.”

Aubrey Plaza discovered the Oribe spray from a hairstylist and never looked back: “I have a little travel-size thing of this in my bag always. My hair doesn’t do anything ever. It’s the most boring hair, so I’m constantly flipping my hair over and spraying it with Oribe so I have something going on. It’s really the only hair product I have. It just gave me so much volume and texture that I decided I needed it at all times.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best hair care essentials, whitening toothpaste, very black mascara, tinted lip balm, acne mask, magnifying mirror, and all-natural deodorant. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

Get the best of The Strategist delivered to your inbox.

I’ve Tried Dozens of Dry Shampoos and the Best Costs $8