Editor’s Note: On Oct. 18, Unilever voluntarily recalled several of their dry shampoo offerings, including products from Dove (a former top pick), TRESemmé and Suave due to potentially elevated levels of benzene. We have removed those products from this article, and will work to re-evaluate this category in the next several weeks. Further information on the recall (along with information on refunds if you have purchased any of the recalled products) is available from Unilever.
Dry shampoo — usually formulated with either corn or rice starch — has become a staple as a quick solution to keeping hair feeling so fresh and so clean between washes. And while the “best” of a beauty product is somewhat subjective — what works for one person might not work on another — we tasked 12 CNN Underscored staffers (from dry shampoo devotees to newbies!) to find shampoos that work across the spectrum. We chose testers with varied hair lengths, textures, types and styles to test out 21 different dry shampoos over the course of almost a month. And after rigorous testing, these three stood out from the pack for their effectiveness on any and all hair textures:
Best dry shampoo overall: DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo ($26; ulta.com, nordstrom.com or target.com)
We’ve found the popular blow-dry bar’s products to be very effective in the past, and the Detox Dry Shampoo is no exception. It’s also the best dry shampoo for oily hair — think of it as a sort of a sponge that, even when applied in a fine, veil-like mist, absorbs excess oil, sweat and dirt for even the greasier-haired among us.
One tester with thin, straight long hair felt that the product “soaked up greasiness with just a fine mist,” calling the DryBar shampoo “as absorbent as I would ever need a product to be,” while a panelist with 4b thick, coily natural hair agreed, commenting that the Detox Dry Shampoo “seemed to quickly soak up oil, and not in an unnatural way.” And while Living Proof’s dry shampoo did absorb oil just as well, the effect dissipated in less than a day; DryBar’s effects lasted several days for each tester.
While fragrance preferences are subjective and many of the other products in our test pool received conflicting (and at times downright contradictory) feedback from our testers, the DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo’s “powdery, fresh” scent universally won us over. As a panelist with thick, short hair explained, “While the scent was strong, it was actually a fresh, natural and clean smell that never overpowered.” This observation remained consistent across individuals with a range of hair textures — a tester with thin/fine hair even went so far as to say she “looked forward to using this product for its scent” by the time she was on her third round of testing.
While the Detox Dry Shampoo does leave some noticeable white residue behind during the application process, our testers generally agreed that following the instructions on the bottle and “lightly rubbing and brushing the product through hair” made this a nonissue — even those with darker hair did not see product buildup. One tester with short, thick hair commented that “you could see it for a few seconds during application, but it quickly rubbed into the hair and did not show up again.”
Some of the other products in the bunch left hair feeling stiff, dry or all-around gross, but the Detox shampoo gave our hair a bit of body and bounce, seemingly regardless of hair texture. A tester with thin, straight hair liked the way the product “created a little bit of texture and volume without veering into pageant queen territories.” A tester with short, much thicker hair also commended on this product’s ability to add “a touch of volume” without adding so much height as to make him look like “an ’80s dweeb.”
Best post-workout dry shampoo: Lululemon No-Show Dry Shampoo ($34; lululemon.com)
For those looking to keep hair fresh after workouts, look no further than the Lululemon No-Show Dry Shampoo, which our testers found to be the most effective product at eliminating all signs of sweat. While both DryBar’s Detox shampoo and Lululemon’s No-Show stood out from the pack due to their absorbency, No-Show’s fine, notably less chalky mist removed and cleansed sweat from hair rather than just absorbing it. One tester with short, thick hair described it as “a wonder to behold in action,” noting that the product “absorbed sweat pretty instantly” after workouts.
One thin, straight-haired tester who primarily uses dry shampoo post-workouts identified the Lululemon Dry shampoo as being “one of the best hair products I’ve ever tried — period,” while a short, thick-haired panelist credited the product with making him feel like “for once in my life, I had a shot at a good hair day.”
Our testers also appreciated this product’s ability to be both “super absorbent” and “incredibly lightweight,” noting that it transformed sweat-soaked locks into “soft, silky” tresses in just a few seconds. A tester with thin, fine hair was particularly excited that the product “didn’t seem to build up in [her] hair the way other dry shampoos do after multiple uses,” saying that it allowed her to go three days and two workouts without causing stiffness or accumulation in the hair. One panelist with 4b thick, coily natural hair and thick, wavy mid-back extensions also “loved” the way it made her hair feel, noting that she was surprised that it felt like “it detangled [her] hair in a way. It left my hair feeling silky. Really soft, almost like it feels right after a blowout.”
The product lives up to the “no-show” promise in its name. Even our editors with thin, dark hair found that the product required little to no rubbing in. One of our testers with 4b coily natural hair noted, however, that this product’s miraculous, sweat-absorbing results didn’t seem to last. While the product worked for her on day one, she noted she’d “have to use it at least once a day to offset the additional oil buildup.”
How we tested
We read dozens of editorial reviews, parsed hundreds of user comments and injected a bit of input from editors to find the top-rated, most highly lauded dry shampoos on the market. Ultimately we settled on a broad testing pool of 21 products.
Over the course of nearly a month, 12 CNN Underscored editors and staffers (our largest testing pool to date) performed a variety of experiments to determine the overall performance of each dry shampoo.
The hair types, colors, texture and lengths of our testers included:
- thin/fine, long brown hair
- thick, short/buzzed brown hair
- straight, medium-length black hair
- wavy, long blond hair
- thin/straight, long color-treated blond hair
- 4b thick, coily natural black hair with thick, wavy mid-back extensions
- thick, long brown/black hair
- thick/straight, long blond hair
- oily, long blond hair
- wavy, thick, rose gold color-treated shoulder-length hair
- thick/wavy, dark brown short hair
- thick/coarse, short red hair
Our testers were asked to use each product they were testing a minimum of three times and perform the following tests over the duration of the trial period:
- Spray the dry shampoo before bed and see how clean the hair looks in the a.m.
- Spray the dry shampoo on dirty hair after a workout to see how well it soaks up dirt/sweat
- See how many days you can go beyond usual without washing your hair/how greasy hair looks after a few days
- A scent test, both in hand and in hair
We asked each of the dry shampoo testers to complete a detailed survey at the end of the trial period. Testers were asked to rate the quality and effectiveness of each dry shampoo across the following categories: how well the product absorbed oil, dirt or sweat; how easy the product was to apply; the level of residue the product left in the hair; how long the dry shampoo kept their hair feeling clean and/or refreshed; how their hair felt after using the product; the amount of product they needed to use in order to achieve desired results; and the scent level.
Testers were also asked to provide notes and commentary on each of the variables listed above.
Other dry shampoos we tested
Living Proof Perfect Hair Dry Shampoo ($26; livingproof.com)
The Living Proof was a longtime editor favorite dry shampoo prior to this test, but it ultimately failed to stand out as a top recommendation. This product proved its ability to soak up sweat and oil, but it ultimately failed to secure the “best overall” slot because it left some residue, the scent was polarizing and the results didn’t last as long as the DryBar dry shampoo. One reviewer with thick, straight hair summed it up: “I would use this again, but I wish it had a fresh smell rather than smelling like hair spray.”
Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo ($26; sephora.com)
This was another product that received overall satisfactory ratings, but it left a “powdered donut level of residue” in our testers’ hair and it didn’t keep all of our reviewers’ hair feeling clean beyond day one. While people generally liked (and in some cases loved) the scent, this product might not be ideal for those who are sensitive to potent fragrances. One tester explained, “I absolutely adore the smell, but it is so, so strong. I can barely spray it for one second before having to stop.”
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo ($25; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for a dry shampoo that doesn’t leave residue, this is another great option for you. But while this product was deemed “very absorbent” by our thin-haired and thick, wavy haired testers, if you have oily hair you won’t be able to count on Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo to perk you up. One tester with oily hair found that her hair remained just as oily after use: “My hair still looked greasy, especially in the back. My hair didn’t feel dryer. It didn’t make my hair worse, but didn’t make it better either.”
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($48; amazon.com)
From the company named for celebrity hairstylist Oribe Canaleshis, this product is technically a texturizing spray and not a dry shampoo. It didn’t receive high marks as a dry shampoo, since it wasn’t very absorbent for several of our testers. While it didn’t do much to make any testers’ hair feel “cleaner,” everyone generally agreed that it’s an excellent styling product for adding texture and volume to hair. One tester with bleached blond, super-curly hair loved that it had “less hold than a hair spray … but fluffed up [her] curls,” and another with long, thick dark hair said that she’d “continue to use it for daytime quick fixes.” Testers also loved the lack of residue left behind by this product, and universally liked its “pleasant” scent.
Klorane Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk ($20; amazon.com)
This was a very solid dry shampoo, earning praise for scent, and it was respectable in terms of absorbency. A curly haired tester with bleached blond hair didn’t notice a significant amount of residue, while our tester with short, red hair noticed “more residue” with this product than some of the others he tried. A tester with long, thick brown/black hair agreed that the initial spray “left a coat of white residue, but after styling/combing through, it totally disappeared.” If you’re sensitive to fragrance, this could be a great option for you, though, as all of our testers liked this product’s light, pleasant scent that “quickly dissolved so you’re not left with perfumed hair.”
Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam ($28; amazon.com)
If you simply cannot stand a dry shampoo that leaves behind white residue, this is another great option for you. It received high marks for its complete lack of lingering white residue; however, the scent was a major turnoff for some of our testers. Several testers felt that the fragrance was subtle, but one noted that “it has a very strong sillage and will compete with whatever perfume you choose to wear. It smells exactly like a middle school locker room circa 2008. It is the toxic combination of overly sweet florals and acrid hair spray. The fact that it sits so heavily in the hair only magnifies my issue with the product.”
Kristin Ess Style Reviving Dry Shampoo ($14; target.com)
This dry shampoo falls in the middle of our list, and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about it. It received middle-of-the-road feedback across every test category, with one tester explaining, “I’d use it if someone gave it to me but wouldn’t buy it myself.” While this dry shampoo did remove oil from the hair and eliminate post-workout grease, it simply wasn’t as absorbent as many of the other dry shampoos we tested. While this product left our testers’ hair feeling smooth and soft, seemingly regardless of their hair texture, it ultimately didn’t perform well enough in any other categories to make up for its relatively low absorbency score.
Not Your Mother’s Plump for Joy Dry Shampoo ($4.79; target.com)
This is one of the more affordable dry shampoos on the market, and the size of the bottle makes it a good value. We generally thought the scent was pleasant too, but beyond that, our testers didn’t agree on much. One tester with long, wavy hair found that the product only kept her hair feeling cleaner for about one to two hours after use; a tester with straight, short hair thought it kept his hair feeling clean for about one and a half days; and a third tester with thick, shoulder-length wavy hair got about two days out of her hair post-use.
Freeman Psssst! Volume & Fullness ($17.49; amazon.com)
If you have thin and/or super-oily hair, this is not the ideal dry shampoo for you. For our tester with thick, straight oily hair this product “did absorb some of the oil and sweat, but not all,” and her hair didn’t feel fresher or cleaner after use. Similarly, one tester with thin, straight hair that is “extremely greasy” without a daily wash said the Psssst! Dry shampoo left her “hair feeling as greasy as it did before, and even added some stickiness and buildup that wasn’t previously there before.”
Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder ($28; sephora.com)
This is, as the name implies, a powder rather than a spray. If you’ve never used a powder dry shampoo, the application can be a bit tricky, and for our testers, the product application took some getting used to. While one tester “hated” the messy application of this product, explaining, “I tried [it] for five days, watched three YouTube videos and two TikToks on application to try and get the hang of it but to no avail,” a second tester was equally as perplexed by the application process — but, after learning how to apply a powder dry shampoo, she “fell in love with the product and now loves powder dry shampoo more than a spray.”
Our testers also had vastly different experiences when it came to the level of residue this product left behind. For our tester with dark hair, it left a chalky residue, creating a grayish tinge after application. On the other end of the spectrum, a tester with blond hair felt that the powder formula actually seemed to leave less residue in her hair than spray formulas.
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo ($24; sephora.com)
While our testers agreed that this product did an excellent job absorbing oil, sweat and dirt, the packaging and difficult-to-apply powder formula left this product with a low overall ranking. The application was inherently difficult, but it was made even more challenging by a complete lack of information on the packaging. One tester, who was a newbie to dry shampoo, explained, “Worst application process. There’s no clear indication on the bottle that it is, in fact, a powder — so color me surprised (in fine white powder, that is) when I finally decoded how to reveal the dispenser and a nice spurt of powder went all over me.”
Even for a more experienced dry shampoo tester, the application left a lot to be desired. “This powder product applied in super-uneven spurts, even after I learned how to use the somewhat confusing bottle. The worst thing about it was its inconsistent application, which seemed to build up on specific parts of my head and collect in my part while missing other areas of my head entirely.”
If you can get past the baffling application, this product can really absorb sweat, oil and dirt after workouts. According to one tester with 4b thick, coily natural hair, “This was the most oil-absorbing formula I tried! I used it before working out and it helped with sweat post-workout, especially on my natural hair.”
Garnier Fructis Volume Extend Instant Bodifier Dry Shampoo ($10.49; amazon.com)
Garnier’s dry shampoo is supposed to create “volume” for those with thin, flat hair, and one thin-haired tester was pleasantly surprised that the product delivered on its promise, even going so far as to say that it “delivered similar results as some of the more expensive dry shampoo brands” she has tried. If you have any other hair texture, however, this dry shampoo is unlikely to impress you. For our testers with thicker, wavier hair, the product simply left hair feeling greasy, added an oily residue and generally left their hair feeling “grosser” after use.
R+Co Skyline Dry Shampoo Powder ($29; amazon.com)
This dry shampoo didn’t absorb dirt, sweat or oil for any of our testers, and none of them could say that it left their hair feeling any cleaner. Like some of the other powder formulas we tested, the application process confused several of our testers. This product also left a significant amount of white, dusty residue in their hair.
While there was a clear consensus around absorbency, testers had a range of opinions regarding this product’s scent — one described it as “refreshing and beachy,” another thought it was “nonexistent” and a third described a “powdery, chalky” scent that was “very unpleasant” but dissipated quickly after application.
IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo ($29; ulta.com)
This product didn’t provide lasting results, particularly for one tester with long, thick black/brown hair, who noticed her hair was greasy again within an hour after use. It didn’t leave much residue in that same tester’s hair, but our panelist with lighter-colored red hair noticed a “slight white film” on his hands during testing. A third tester with curly, bleached blond hair had slightly more success, saying she would purchase this product because it added some nice volume and she likes that it has SPF. This dry shampoo’s biggest merit is its scent, which users described as “light” and “clean and refreshing.”
Batiste Original Dry Shampoo ($6.49; amazon.com)
This dry shampoo worked well for one bleached blond tester, who liked its lack of residue and its even spray, but it didn’t absorb well into our other testers’ hair, applying as a thick layer and leaving behind a powdery film. It didn’t provide long-lasting results for any of our testers, and even our blond tester noted that it never really made her hair feel “clean.”
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo ($23; amazon.com)
We liked this product’s fine mist and the fact that it was easy to apply to hair in an even layer, without leaving behind any noticeable chalkiness. Other positives: It added “great texture” without any “noticeable buildup.” This product didn’t rank among our top selections, however, due to the fact that it didn’t provide lasting results. One panelist simply called the Gold Lust dry shampoo “the least effective” product she tested, and a second tester agreed that, while he liked the product, the results weren’t impressive enough that he’d actually spend his money on it.
Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: