my hobbies include skin-care

I Tried Four Dry Shampoos and None Held a Candle to My Favorite Regular Shampoos

Photo: Christian Anwander

Dry shampoo is a bitch.

I was interested in using it as part of my travel regimen, spraying it on after a long flight to look modestly human again. The kinds I sought to try all came highly touted, so I plunged ahead, again using my wife, Lisa, as a trusted assistant. She did such a fine and fearless job assessing deodorants, braving crevices no wife should ever sniff, I could not resist asking once more for her expertise.

I am sure the four brands I wanted to like deserve their positive testimonials, but I can’t recommend dry shampoo under any circumstances (out of fairness I will not name what I tried). It is just a pain in the ass. The application alone is an art form — not quite Picasso’s, perhaps, but far more complex than the Koons assembly line. I sprayed copiously, which was my first mistake. I sprayed too close to my head, my next mistake. I did not sufficiently get at my hair’s roots where all the oils are said to build up, likely my biggest mistake of all.

Owing to these mistakes, my initial application left certain patches of hair standing at strict attention (the “Alfalfa Effect”), so I sprayed more copiously and even closer to my head. That left me with white powder all over my hair, and the more I tried to rub it in, the worse the Alfalfa Effect and my White Powder Head got. Lisa’s response to my test of the first brand was “Chemical,” and to the second, she said, “Yeech.” As for how I looked, she said the effect of either was okay, as long as I didn’t mind looking older. As if life isn’t insulting enough. I stopped experimenting then and there.

It was only after spending what seemed like several years on the internet did I discover that White Powder Head is a common result if you don’t apply correctly. I watched a video, which went on for eight minutes. There are many things you can do in eight minutes; the application of dry shampoo should not be one of them. I love skin and hair care, but it has to be practical and easy to administer.

So, for now, I’m sticking to the basics — or the three regular shampoos I love, the reasons for which I expand on below. (To those wondering, I don’t use conditioners.) As for dry shampoo, it definitely has its uses: Some of the kinds I tried contain butane, so the next time you run out of lighter fluid for your charcoal grill, you might consider giving it a shot.

My favorite shampoo

This is the regular shampoo I like the most. It came recommended by my kick-ass hair stylist, Leanna. The lather is luxuriously thick; I can literally feel my hair responding to it — give me more, give me more! I’ve tried countless shampoos in my life, and although virtually all of them clean, most leave my hair feeling flat and lifeless. Oribe really does give me volume. It is sulfate-free and formulated with a mixture of coconut and extracts of watermelon, litchi, and edelweiss flower. Its combination of lupine protein and saw-palmetto extract promise to stimulate the follicles, resulting in thicker hair. I use it when I want to feel beautiful.

Other shampoos I like

This is a fine alternative shampoo. It feels a little bit lighter on the scalp than Oribe and isn’t quite as lathery. But it is gentle and fresh, and its feature ingredient of carob extract also helps thicken, according to the
manufacturer. I use it when I want to feel almost beautiful.

When I want my hair to smell exceptionally great, this is my go-to. It is made with Verbena extract, giving the shampoo a citrusy scent. It is not as lathery as my other two favorite shampoos, but it leaves my hair shiny and squeaky clean. It also has a nice price point.

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 acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

I Tried Four Dry Shampoos, None Beat My Beloved Regular Ones