Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/1/2022
Let’s set the scene.
The clock is counting down before the big date. You want your hair to look its best. But, before showering, you ask yourself: is normal or dry shampoo the way to go?
We’re always looking for ways to keep looking our best — especially in the world of hair.
And while there are innumerable remedies to pausing or even reversing the amount of hair we’re destined to lose over the course of our lives, another critical question remains for a different chunk of the population: what kind of shampoo optimizes our hair’s health, thickness and glow?
Read on, friends.
Sounds counterintuitive, right?
We’re used to hopping in the shower, wetting and washing our hair and scalp — then we’re off.
But dry shampoo is different.
Dry shampoo is a product that contains either an alcohol or starch, whose job, once applied to your hair, is to soak up the excess oils and grease on your hair and scalp.
The purpose of soaking up those excess oils and grease on your hair and scalp is not only to give your hair a good appearance, but to be a convenient, pin-point-accurate way of getting the wash you want.
Yes, simply spraying dry shampoo on your hair is quick and convenient.
What makes the shampoo dry is that the drying agents within the shampoo are often delivered in spray-form.
Yup. It’s that simple.
Oily hair, normal hair, dry hair — does it really matter what kind of shampoo we use?
The purpose of shampoo, regardless of whether it’s wet or dry, is to cleanse the scalp of dirt and a variety of other pollutants.
Further, a main component to any shampoo is detergents — the proper term is syndets — whose purpose, once they come in contact with the scalp and hair follicle, is to give you the cleanse you want.
But the purpose of shampoo isn’t simply to protect our scalp and hair. It’s to make our hair look healthy — hair that’s shinier, bouncier and fuller in appearance.
But, when it comes to wet shampoo — or, what we’ve considered “regular” shampoo — and dry shampoo, what’s the difference?
Since we’ve already delineated the tenets of the dry shampoo experience, wet shampoo has a few benefits of its own.
First, it’s essential to rinse and wash the scalp, even if it’s on an intermittent basis.
The reason for doing so is that pollutants and other chemicals your scalp naturally picks up by simply stepping outside for a morning walk need to be rinsed from you hair.
Dry shampoo cannot do the rinsing and cleansing that wet shampoo necessitates and, in the end, delivers..
So, while both kinds of shampoo can wash away dead skin cells, the more thorough the wash the better.
Hair experts believe there are, at least, temporary benefits to dry shampoo.
One of the main benefits of dry shampoo is that it’s convenient.
Just grab the aerosol canister, give yourself the required spray for satisfaction, and you’re off to your night on the town.
Further, dry shampoo is a quicker way to give your scalp a cleaning.
However, do not expect dry shampoo to perform with the same thorough effectiveness as a wet shampoo.
In fact, regular shampooing with a dry shampoo can, in fact, have more of a downside than you’d imagine.
Which brings us to the ultimate question:
In short: yes, dry shampoo may cause hair loss.
While there are a number of reasons for hair loss, dry shampoo can be a nasty culprit.
If used too frequently, dry shampoo can bring about breakage and, over time, hair loss.
Hair breakage is just what it sounds like: your hairs literally begin to split and break as the result of a two-part process.
First, since the purpose of the dry shampoo you’re using is to dry out excess oils and grease from your scalp, it’s only natural that it would also have a drying effect on your hair.
That’s when things get interesting.
Over time, the overuse of the dry shampoo you’re using to benefit your scalp may, in fact, hurt the quality of your hair by drying it out.
When your hair gets too dry, it becomes brittle. From there, any force applied to it, whether from a comb or simply by running your hands through it, can result in breakage and, consequently, total loss.
If you excessively use dry shampoo, you may also experience a fungal buildup that is always headed off at the pass by wet shampooing.
Without intermittent wet shampooing, the buildup of dry shampoo on your scalp runs you the risk of an infection, or folliculitis.
Folliculitis is a skin infection, at times a reaction to harsh chemicals within a dry shampoo.
Further, folliculitis is commonly caused by an inflamed or infected hair follicle. It can lead to pustules, itching, bumps on the skin, redness, irritation and, in some cases, hair loss.
Best to avoid that one if you can.
As previously discussed, the hair care market is saturated with products that promise healthier, fuller hair.
But what about shampoos that contain elements proven, through rigorous data and analysis, to actually thicken — and even regrow — someone’s hair?
Your shampoo is your choice. However, if you’re looking specifically for a shampoo that can help bring those lackluster locks back up to speed, there are some ingredients to keep your eye out for — all the hair thickening shampoos out there have ‘em.
Saw palmetto, for instance, is a shrub-like plant whose health benefits have been studied for centuries.
When it comes to hair, there’s evidence to suggest that when used topically (like in a shampoo), it may increase hair growth.
One 2012 study looked at 100 people experiencing mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia.
They split the people into two groups and gave one group 1 mg of finasteride, and the other group a saw palmetto extract.
At the end of the 24-month study, they found that 38 percent of the people in the saw palmetto group experienced a distinguishable increase in hair growth.
Another ingredient to look for is ketoconazole. This medication is used in many popular anti-dandruff shampoos, and there’s evidence out there to suggest it may also help restore hair health.
A 2019 systematic review found that when used topically, ketoconazole may increase the diameter of the hair shaft, which is the physical part of the hair that grows from the hair follicle. In not-so-fancy science talk, this means thicker hair.
Of course, these are just two of many ingredients to keep an eye out for. But you get the point.
There are many ways to maintain healthy hair.
Consistent diet and exercise, as well as healthy sleep habits, are ways that reduce stress, keep your mind right, your body working like a well-oiled machine and, in turn, give you the best chance at maintaining a full head of hair.
Atop the all-natural remedies we love, there are oral and topical remedies to stop hair loss in its tracks — or even strengthen your hair.
But when it comes to maintaining healthy hair?
One potentially effective tool to use in promoting general hair health is biotin.
In people with a deficiency, biotin has been shown not only to promote healthy hair — some studies suggest that consistent use of biotin can spark hair growth.
We get it: everyone’s looking for the most efficient, effective fix to getting great looking, youthful hair.
But you don’t want to go too hard in the paint on a product that can potentially dry out your scalp and hair, causing it to break and fall out.
What’s important is you choose a hair care product that, yes, makes you feel good — but the product also has to be proven to be an effective means of delivering the vibrant, healthy hair you covet.
So, do yourself a favor and find a product that works for you — body and soul — and hair.