Dry shampoos make your hair look cleaner — but feel cleaner? Not so much. Even if you try brushing them out, the ingredients that soak up oil tend to cling to your roots, leaving them feeling gunky or looking white. “I’ve formulated dry shampoo and I only like the feeling of freshly washed hair,” says Betsy Patel, product development manager at Living Proof. Ninety-one percent of us are in the same boat, avoiding dry shampoo altogether, according to Patel, so her team was tasked with creating a dry shampoo for dry shampoo haters, one that would “actually clean hair and make it feel like you just shampooed,” she says.
It took 70 formula iterations over the course of four months to strike the perfect balance of oil-absorbing rice starch and ingredients that would condition, smooth, and add shine to mimic shampoo and conditioner. There are some clever powders in here, dressed up in “a coating that feels soft, to give you that feeling of smooth, clean, shiny hair,” says Patel. The bottle’s nozzle dispenses a fine coating of the dry shampoo that’s easy to brush out, says Dobos. “Packaging engineers are just as important as us chemists and I was really impressed with the spray,” she says. Usually, powders in dry shampoos clog spray nozzles unless they’re roomy, but that also means you wind up with powder overload. “There’s some fancy technology in their nozzle that makes it a fine mist so it took very minimal brushing to look very natural in my hair,” adds Dobos. “It’s a really unique approach to dry shampoo, with materials that target different issues you might experience [after] not washing your hair for a few days.”
When you brush the dry shampoo out, for example, “hydroxypropyl arginine lauryl/myristyl ether HCl is an antistatic agent so you’re not going to have a static charge or flyaways, and cetrimonium chloride is a hair conditioning ingredient that will stick to hair.” And if you’ve been cooking and your hair smells more like sautéed onions than roses, “cyclodextrin, the same technology in Febreze, is a ring-shaped molecule that forms a cage around odor-causing molecules to prevent you from being able to smell them.”
All of that adds up to the best shower-free way we’ve found to get seemingly clean hair. “It gives me that just-washed-my-hair feeling. After I spray it on, I give it a few seconds to absorb, brush it through, and there’s no trace of the product in my hair. While absorbing excess oil, it also adds volume,” says Stables. It’s helped Allure digital news editor Nicola Dall’Asen get healthier hair by letting her go longer between shampoos. “It is oil-absorbing but not drying, and volumizing but not gritty,” says Dall’Asen, who holds the bottle a few inches from her roots and sprays in sweeping motions before shaking out her hair. “The barely there formula sinks in immediately to eat up just the right amount of oil and it stays that way all day,” she adds. “It’s the kind of formula you can spritz on before going to bed or first thing in the morning. Either way, you’re getting that clean feeling without looking or feeling dusty. And after I shake out the product, I get the added benefit of a little extra volume at the base.”