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Detox Your Haircare: Dry Shampoo Edition

In October 2022, Unliver alongside Health Canada issued a recall for more than 1.5 million dry shampoo products manufactured by Dove, Bed Head and Tresemmé that were sold in the country between January 2020 and October 2022. This was due to detection of benzene, a human carcinogen, that was found to be in the propellant. Safe and healthy ingredients are our passion here at Hair Holistic, and we especially love the conversation of dry shampoo, so today we're diving deep into this topic.

What is dry shampoo?

Dry shampoo is a haircare product created to absorb the excess oils on our scalp, so that we can extend the time between our wash days. It can be a real life-saver after a sweaty workout or on a humid day, especially for those with oily or fine hair types. Despite the name, it is not actually a shampoo. The ingredients in both natural and non-natural dry shampoo products do not cleanse your hair or scalp, but rather help you transition to washing your hair less and can create volume, texture and hold. Be sure to wash after a few applications to avoid product and oil build up on hair and scalp. There are a couple different types of dry shampoos, that we will get into below.

Is dry shampoo bad for you?

It all depends on what's inside

As you can see from the above recall, there are specific concerns right now as to what is inside some dry shampoos (and in many other recalls from these companies). Benzene is can cause certain blood cancers such as leukemia, and is usually found in propellants such as propane and butane. They are supposed to be purified to ensure that they are not contaminated (although, we don't think the above should be included at all!). While this recall includes Bed Head, TIGI, Dove and Tresemme products, an independent lab in the US tested 148 batches from 34 brands of spray-on dry shampoo and found that 70% contained benzene. Products tested include Not Your Mother’s, Batiste, Sun Bum and John Paul Mitchell Systems.

These are not the only concerning things in dry shampoo. Many traditional brands also contain ingredients that are shown or suspected to harm human, animal and environmental health but are allowed under our current regulation. These include but are not limited to: fragrance, butane, propane and talc. All can trigger migraines, asthma and irritation, while very likely to also be contaminated with toxins. Their exposure is concerning as it can be inhaled, as well as absorbed through the scalp depending on concentration and use.

Choosing good ingredients

At the end of the day, the toxic ingredients we just talked about are very concerning, but, they also are not supporting a healthy scalp or hair! Our philosophy is that every ingredient in a product should be useful and intentional. We love a well made dry shampoo as a useful tool in your haircare routine. We look for non aerosol products (more on the types below), that are in powder form. This makes them more concentrated and effective at absorbing oils and adding texture to the hair. Many clean companies have simple ingredient lists containing tapioca starch, corn starch and arrowroot powder that will do no harm.

Why use a dry shampoo?

Extend time between wash days 

If you have naturally oily hair and scalp or you feel the need to wash your hair everyday, dry shampoo can work wonders for you. A natural dry shampoo works to absorb some of those oils without harming your scalp. It can be particularly beneficial for those who often use heat tools after every hair washing, by encouraging you to wash and style less leading to less heat damage.

Give you volume and texture 

    The ingredients in dry shampoo have properties that both absorb oils and create volume and texture. Oils tend to weigh hair down and ingredients like tapioca starch and arrowroot powder absorb those heavy oils creating a texture that creates a light lift at the roots.

    Helps to hold style 

    Those same ingredients that help with volume and texture are going to help keep things in place. The ingredients found in natural dry shampoos are powders and starches, that tend to hold structure and shape once applied.

    Different types of dry shampoo


    As we discussed above, aerosols are problematic for many reasons, and we don't recommend using any aerosolized products in your life! They contain propellants such as butane, isobutane and propane that can actually make up 70-90% of the finished products. So not only are you paying for a filler, they also dilute the ACTUAL ingredients that will absorb oil and boost volume. They also often contain toxins that are harmful to our health as well as the planet.


    We love powder dry shampoo, and now you can choose between shake on and pump applicator! Powders contain a high concentration of exactly what makes the product effective, meaning they will last you longer, and work better. There are many clean brands out there, and they include ingredients like arrowroot powder, kaolin clay, tapioca and corn starch. We look for products formulated with high quality ingredients, and free of toxins, and synthetic perfumes.

    Foam to Powder

    New on the scene, the foam to powder dry shampoo! This starts as a foam mouse and within minutes will transition to a soft powder, as you work it into the hair. This is an amazing product for curly refresh. The initial moisture will lift and bring back curls, and it blends into all hair colours beautifully!

    How to use a dry shampoo properly

    Morning vs Night

    Dry shampoo can be applied either in the morning or at night (or mid day!) and what you choose will depend on what works for you! Applying in the morning means you'll simply use it as you need, we find some folks that have trouble with the powdery look on dark hair prefer it at night so it has more time to absorb. Just remember that the more product in your hair at night, the more you should be changing out your pillowcase to avoid your skin being impacted.

    We recommend applying your dry shampoo in sections, at the root, massaging it in a little with clean hands, then letting it sit at least 5 mins. This allows it to sit on the root and absorb excess oil before you take a brush, or your hands for the curly folks, and brush or lightly shake your root area. This is going to really melt it into the hair, and usually takes care of any powder left over.

    Dry shampoo we trust

    We stock two different types of dry shampoo, and they each offer different benefits!

    Souldeo Naturals

    • best basic dry shampoo 
    • powder puff applicator
    • great for all hair types
    • slightly volumizing

    Souldeo is the best dry shampoo if you're looking for your basic powder product. It simple, effective, completely toxin free and will help add a slight texture and volume. You really can't go wrong with this one! They recently launched their puff applicator which means that you don't have to shake it on. Simply press down on the top and a puff of powder comes out. It comes in two natural scents: Peppermint + Rosemary and Vanilla + Coconut, and two sizes! They're working on a refill as well, which should launch 2021. We love that!

    Souldeo is a Canadian company based in Manitoba.

    Innersense Refresh

    • foam to powder product
    • great for curly and/or fine hair
    • can be used as a volume styler as well

    Refresh is an organic foam-to-powder dry shampoo that eliminates excess oil, builds body, creates texture and renews second-day hair. This product is created for all hair types but we love this one most for those wearing their hair in a natural curl, as the foam starts slightly liquid and can help to rejuvenate your texture! This dry shampoo is on the milder side, so if you have finer hair and just need a little help to get to wash day it's lovely! And side note - we also love this as a volume product on damp hair before blowdrying. It's a great hack that can also prolong your style!

    We hope you now have all the knowledge you need to choose the right product for your hair and your health!

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