If it made your hair two shades lighter, you're probably doing it wrong.
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Woman with Dark Hair
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Second- and third-day hair has come a long way. Gone are the days when we would douse our strands in baby powder, leaving a snowy trail over any and all nearby surfaces. Style-extending dry shampoo may have been thoughtfully designed, refined, and perfected over the years but the same cannot necessarily be said of our technique. It's possible, and actually quite easy, to find yourself in a dicey situation when it comes to dry shampoo application. Whether you're a dry shampoo pro or find yourself asking, "What is dry shampoo, anyway?" our tips will help you hit good-hair-day status in no time.

Regardless of which brand of dry shampoo you use (we have a few suggestions on the best dry shampoo here), you can achieve the best results by following these tips for how to use dry shampoo.

How to Use Aerosol Dry Shampoo

Step 1: Shake, Shake, Shake

The first step in using an aerosol dry shampoo is always to shake that bottle up. You'll want to disperse all the ingredients to make sure it applies as evenly as possible.

Step 2: Spritz

It's always a good rule of thumb to consult the usage instructions on the back of your bottle for the most accurate instructions, but we've found that holding the can an average distance of 8 to 10 inches from the scalp returns the best results. Spritz in short spurts—do not use your Aqua Net technique—on sectioned hair.

Step 3: Give It a Minute

Once you've hit all the key areas, specifically your hairline surrounding your face and the crown of your head, let it sit for a minute. This allows the formula to dry just enough to make dispersing the product a bit easier.

Step 4: Blend, Blur, and Style

Use your fingertips to work the dry shampoo into your scalp and throughout your strands. Grab your brush and give it a few strokes as well to make sure you don't have any patches of product hiding away. When used correctly, dry shampoo can provide a boost of volume, lightweight hold, and even add polish or texture (depending on your technique and dry shampoo of choice) to your style.

How to Use Powder Dry Shampoo

Surprise, surprise! There are multiple forms of dry shampoo, so it's essential to know the difference between them so that you master your second- and third-day hair routine. We spoke with Lauren Rowley, stylist, and the founder of Bella Hue Haircare, to learn her secrets to accomplishing a fresh hair look with powder dry shampoo. Rowley worked in the haircare industry for over 16 years before founding Bella Hue Haircare, a haircare company offering organic, salon-quality products.  

Step 1: Tap

The first step in using powder dry shampoo is to make sure you're gently tapping the applicator brush in the powder container, Rowley says. You don't want too much powder on your applicator, or you'll end up having a lot of excess later in the process.

Different formulas may also have aerosol-free pump bottles and shaker bottles, which require just a light squeeze to deposit the product on your hair.

Step 2: Swirl

Next, take your applicator brush and swirl the product around any areas in your hair where you'd like to add volume or absorb excess oils.

Step 3: Give it a Minute

Just like aerosol dry shampoo, you want to let the product sit temporarily to ensure it absorbs any oil in your hair. This also makes it easier to disperse in the next step.

Step 4: Massage and Style as Desired

After letting the product sit, massage the dry shampoo into your scalp. You can brush out excess, or lightly blow dry any areas that may have a bit too much product, Rowley says.

Dry Shampoo Secret Tips

Use It on Wet Hair for Added Volume

While this technique may seem a bit odd, dry shampoo can be used the same way that you'd use a texturizing spray or mousse. "The key is waiting for your hair to be damp – not wet – and applying just at the roots before finishing off your normal blow dry session," Rowley says.  

Apply It to Clean Hair, Too!

"This is my #1 pro tip I like to tell people," Rowley says. "Applying dry shampoo to clean hair not only helps to pre-absorb excess oils, but also helps to extend the life of your style."

Apply Before Bed

This method gives the dry shampoo more time to absorb oils, leaving you with clean hair in the morning, Rowley says. She recommends applying your powder base dry shampoo without brushing it out until the morning. Securing your hair in a loose high bun with a silk or satin sleeper scrunchie will keep it out of your face and help to build volume. 

Now that you have the basics down, just be sure to avoid these common dry shampoo mistakes.

Dry Shampoo Mistakes

Using the Wrong Color

While most of the dry shampoos you'll encounter at the drugstore or supermarket are designed to work on any hair color, there are specific formulas created with hair color in mind. If you're having a hard time avoiding a powdery-looking result from a universal dry shampoo, you might want to give one of the color-forward bottles a try. The most popular brands should work on just about any hair color though—it's all about the application.

Aerosol dry shampoos are designed to coat and stay in the hair, while powder dry shampoos are designed to pull out oils before being brushed, Rowley says. If an aerosol dry shampoo isn't working for you, considered a color-matched option or give powder dry shampoo a try.

Relying On It a Little Bit Too Much

Should you have washed your hair four days ago? Is your scalp starting to itch? Does your hair feel heavy and grimy? These are all signs you've taken the convenience of dry shampoo a bit too far. Unfortunately, dry shampoo is not a substitution for a good old-fashioned hair wash.

Skipping the Scalp Care

For whom much is given, much is expected. The same can be said of your dry shampoo habit. If you're going to use dry shampoo, you are probably going to need to kick up your scalp care. Dry shampoo can cling to strands and clog up your scalp so it's best to use an exfoliating treatment or mask weekly if you find yourself dry shampooing fairly regularly. Give this one a go and your strands will thank you.