Dry shampoo 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 different 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:
The DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo scored top marks across the board. It was the best at absorbing oil, aptly removed sweat and dirt and had the most pleasing scent, leaving our panelists’ hair feeling cleaner and smelling better than any other dry shampoo we tried.
Lululemon’s No-Show Dry Shampoo is made specifically “for workout warriors,” and after a month of testing, our editors found it to be the only dry shampoo that, no matter how tough or intense the workout, genuinely absorbed all traces of sweat — though it did leave more traces of oil than DryBar.
Dove Beauty Refresh + Care’s lightweight formula and adequate absorption of oil and dirt make it a great pick for those who simply cannot fathom spending a lot of money on a hair product, or for those who might just be looking for a little extra time between washes.
DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo
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. Think of it as a sort of oil-absorbing sheet for your hair — a sponge that, even when applied in a fine, veil-like mist, sops up 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 for those with darker hair. 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.”
Lululemon No-Show Dry Shampoo
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.”
Dove’s Refresh + Care dry shampoo is, as one tester described it, “a solid option for those on the lower end of the budget scale.” While the product didn’t impress our testers as much as the Lululemon or DryBar dry shampoos, it did outperform a number of similar products in our test pool that were more than quadruple its price.
As one editor with thick, dry hair summarized, Dove’s dry shampoo “did a solid job” overall, “but compared to more expensive options it left a bit to be desired.” While this product didn’t tackle oil and grease nearly as well as the DryBar formula and failed to eliminate sweat the way the Lululemon formula did, it was moderately absorbent of both oil and sweat. Multiple testers with hair types and textures ranging from short, thick dry wavy hair and 4b thick, coily natural black hair with thick, wavy mid-back extensions to thin, fine straight hair noticed that this product left their hair feeling “soft” and “clean” after use.
One of the major downsides of this product, however, was that its results didn’t have consistent, lasting results. The Dove Dry shampoo provided a “clean, light” feeling for only “a day, maybe two” according to a tester with short, thick nonoily hair, while the results held up for two days for a panelist with long, thin straight hair. Our tester with long, wavy mid-back extensions and 4b thick, coily natural hair found that the product lasted “the longest out of all the dry shampoos tested,” leaving her hair feeling “fresh” all the way from Monday through Thursday.
Testers also had conflicting feedback on this product’s “fresh coconut” scent, which, according to the bottle, was meant to “refresh hair with the scent of coconut and sweet lime.” One tester, with a self-described sensitivity to strong fragrances, thought “the coconut smell would be overpowering” but actually found that she “loved the smell.” A second panelist agreed that it wasn’t as “overly lingering” as some of the other dry shampoo scents in the bunch, but also noted “chemical undertones led me to wonder if anyone at Dove ever truly smelt a ‘fresh coconut.’” A third editor also noticed “slightly toxic undertones” to this product’s fragrance, concluding, “I didn’t hate it, but I could see some who are sensitive to smell being bothered by the harsh chemical tinge.”
While it wouldn’t be our go-to product on a daily basis due to its shortcomings in the absorbency category and its failure to provide long-lasting results, our test panel said they’d be likely to purchase it again. One editor with thin hair felt that the Dove formula was “a really solid backup option for its price point,” and a second panelist with thick, wavy hair said she’d purchase the product “to have on hand for emergencies and touch-ups.”
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 Claire Brucker/CNN
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.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Dry Shampoo ($26; livingproof.com)
The Living Proof is a longtime editor favorite 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)
This product, which is technically a texturizing spray and not a dry shampoo, 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 t
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