Dry shampoos are like hair time-savers in a bottle. This genius product is nothing new, but it's well worth the hype: It can refresh hair in an instant, without having to go through the "wash, rinse and repeat" process every day.
Of course, dry shampoos are only a temporary alternative to washing hair — they won't thoroughly clean your hair the way normal shampoos would. But when you're between wash days or in need of a refresh post-workout, they can be your shining savior. So, cue the spotlight: This post is dedicated to one of the most reached-for beauty products on my shelf.
Wait — what about the dry shampoo recall?
Before diving in, it’s worth addressing Unilever’s involuntary recall on Oct. 18, 2022, for 19 dry shampoos due to elevated benzene levels. It may be scary to think that some of these household products we so commonly use might be harmful to our health. But just how bad is this ingredient, exactly?
It may be scary to think that some of the household products we so commonly use, like benzene, might be harmful to our health. But just how bad is this ingredient, exactly?
“In the last two years, almost every aerosol product was found to be contaminated with benzene, from deodorants to sunscreen to dry shampoo,” says Krupa Koestline, a clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants in Orlando, Florida.
“Benzene is a recognized carcinogen. There is still no definite cause of the benzene contamination, but it appears to occur during the manufacturing process of the propellant component, rather than in the formulation itself,” she adds.
To give some cushion of relief, Unilever stated in the company announcement that the recall is made “out of an abundance of caution” and that it has received no reports of adverse effects linked to the products.
Koestline’s advice? “It’s safer to err on the side of caution and avoid aerosols in general until the issue is solved.”
Taking all this into consideration, we’ve rounded up the best natural dry shampoos in the market today. Read on to browse the top options, along with tips on what ingredients to look for and how to choose the best one for your hair type. To make it easier, use the links below to jump to each topic in a flash.
What ingredients to look for | What ingredients to avoid | Best overall | Best budget | Best for light hair | Best for dark hair | Best organic | Best for all textures | Best for sensitive scalps | Best for volume | Best vegan | Best for gray hair | Best customized | How we chose | FAQs | Meet our experts
What ingredients to look for in a natural dry shampoo
First off, what defines a natural dry shampoo? Koestline explains, “There is no industry-wide definition for ‘natural,’ but most brands market ‘natural’ as a product formulated with plant-based ingredients. ‘Natural’ dry shampoo should also be formulated without questionable ingredients like talc, petroleum-based products (such as propane and butane), synthetic fragrances and artificial dyes.”
As for the main ingredients to look for in a natural dry shampoo? Dr. Carmen Castilla, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai, advises to seek products with starch to help absorb excess oil.
Cheryl Bergamy, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Contents Hair Care, shares the following examples: “You want your natural dry shampoo made with plant-based substitutes like rice starch, arrowroot powder and tapioca starch.”
- Corn starch
- Tapioca starch
- Rice starch
- Arrowroot powder
- Kaolin clay
“These ingredients work to refresh hair,” adds Castilla. “Honestly, they are all good oil absorbers and are pretty interchangeable.”
Witch hazel is another popular ingredient commonly used in dry shampoos. “It acts as an astringent so it can work as an oil absorber for the hair,” says Castilla. “However, I haven't seen witch hazel in powder form. It also has the potential to be overly drying to the hair shaft itself with continued use.”
For those with dark-colored hair, Castilla recommends looking for ingredients to darken the mixture to camouflage into black or brown hair.
- Activated charcoal
- Cocoa powder
Castilla adds, “Cocoa powder does have some oil-absorbing properties as well. However, the main purpose of both of these ingredients is for camouflaging [into the hair].”
What ingredients to avoid in a natural dry shampoo
When shopping for a natural dry shampoo, knowing which ingredients to avoid is key.
If someone has had a fragrance reaction before, it's best to test a small amount of any fragranced product before a full application. The best spot to try a new product is behind the ear. This area has very thin skin so any potential reaction will present itself quickly.
Dr. Carmen Castilla, Dermatologist and Clinical Instructor, Mount Sinai
“Make sure you do your research,” urges Bergamy. “Now, more than ever, we are finding more and more harmful ingredients that are promoted as good or safe, so it is important to be knowledgeable about what goes into your hair and scalp.”
Bergamy advises avoiding talc and benzene, which have been linked to a higher risk of cancer. Castilla adds that essential oils are also possible irritants in dry shampoos because they have a high rate of allergic contact dermatitis.
Cetrimonium chloride is another ingredient Castilla advises to avoid: “This is generally used to control frizz. However, it tends to be overly drying with continued use and also has a high rate of contact allergy.”
Both Bergamy and Castilla agree that alcohol is another ingredient to avoid in a dry shampoo because tends to be overly drying on hair. Overuse can lead to hair damage, which can then lead to brittle strands.
Fragrances can be particularly irritating for people with dry or sensitive scalps. “If someone has had a fragrance reaction before, it's best to test a small amount of any fragranced product before a full application,” advises Castilla. “The best spot to try a new product is behind the ear. This area has very thin skin, so any potential reaction will present itself quickly.”
As we mentioned earlier, to play it super safe, “avoid anything in an aerosol with butane and/or propane just to be cautious of potential benzene contamination.” Although many formulas do use the traditional spray can, there are still plenty of natural options out there that don’t.
Best overall natural dry shampoo
Verb Dry Shampoo Powder
Application: Non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Glycerin, superfruit antioxidant, tapioca starch | Scent: Like a mix of baby powder and a grapefruit smoothie
There’s a reason why I deem this the best overall natural dry shampoo. It’s a combo of everything you could want in a product to cleanse hair, give it volume and leave it smelling fresh. Plus, it’s fitting for all hair types and textures and is a breeze to apply. Just twist the cap to reveal the spray dispenser, squeeze the bottle and bask in the glory of this magic powder in action.
Just a precaution: A little goes a long way. The first time I used it, a lot of product came out at once, so use it sparingly. Many reviewers report having issues with the application the first few times around, so we suggest following the brand's advice: "Scared of looking like George Washington with all this powder? Give it a minute to absorb impurities and oils, and brush it out. Got a little too excited with the powder? Use a blow dryer to get rid of the excess," Verb says on its site.
Something to note: Takes practice to get application right due to new packaging
RAVE REVIEW: "My hair is fine and oily. The complaints about the bottle design and even distribution by other customers is legit, but I apply this at night before bed and by morning my hair looks clean, full of volume, and there is no visible residue." — Ulta reviewer
Best budget natural dry shampoo
Acure Dry Shampoo for All Hair Types
Application: Powder (twist the cap and sprinkle on) | Key ingredients: Corn starch, arrowroot powder, kaolin clay, sodium bicarbonate, rosemary oil, peppermint oil | Scent: Rosemary and peppermint
For less than $12, this Acure dry shampoo is well worth it. Use it between hair wash days to quickly absorb oil in a cinch. It does the job and does it well; no wonder there are more than 3,150 five-star Amazon ratings for this product alone. Users say it does a particularly good job at absorbing grease, and those with fine hair report that it helps then go several days between washes.
While this dry shampoo's powder formulation may leave a white cast in dark hair, reviewers say that after working it in your mane, it blends in perfectly due to how light and airy it is. Others say it also comes off clothing easily.
Something to note: White powder may show in dark hair if not worked in thoroughly
RAVE REVIEW: “I switched from an expensive spray dry shampoo to this and love it. I just use a makeup brush to apply it to my hair. A little goes a long way!” — Amazon reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for light hair
Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key Ingredients: Cassava (tapioca), cosmetic clay, organic star anise | Scent: Spicy (due to the evergreen seed of the organic star anise)
For natural dry shampoos, Nunzio Saviano, hairstylist and owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City, recommends looking for natural oil-absorbing ingredients that aren’t too heavy to avoid weighing hair down. This one from Rahua does just that.
Made with cassava (tapioca) starch, cosmetic clay and organic star anise, it cleanses hair while adding major volume and texture. Instead of spraying it as you would with an aerosol can, squeeze both sides of the bottle to release a puff of product and comb it through with your fingers. Saviano adds, “It’s very travel-friendly, so you can use it on the go.”
Something to note: Takes practice to master application (users advise to apply with a gentle tap to the top of the head, instead of applying to hands first)
RAVE REVIEW: "My hair gets oily quick and it makes my hair look like I just [washed] it. It doesn't leave a white cast on my hair at all; it blends in well. I have brown roots and blonde balayage. It's a great product if you're looking for something with clean ingredients." — Amazon reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for dark hair
Supercrush Super Powder Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair
Application: Powder (think salt and pepper shaker-style bottle) | Key ingredients: Rice powder, arrowroot powder, activated charcoal, organic cocoa powder, lavender essential oil, bergamot essential oil, Andean salt | Scent: Lavender bergamot
As someone with dark hair, I appreciate that this natural dry shampoo has activated charcoal and organic cocoa powder so it doesn’t leave any visible white powder marks. Although the formula is tinted with a grayish-brown color, it did surprisingly come out white when I sprinkled it on my roots. Don’t worry, this is normal. Just wait two minutes for the powder to absorb your hair oil then massage it into your scalp. I used it after going out for a run and was pretty happy with the results: My hair felt refreshed and more voluminous.
If your scalp is sensitive, take Castilla’s advice and test a small amount of any fragranced product and apply it behind your ear to check for any adverse reactions before going all out and using it throughout your hair.
Something to note: Not for those sensitive to essential oils
RAVE REVIEW: "I’ve been using this dry shampoo for several weeks now and find it holds up just as well as the aerosol dry shampoo I had previously been using. I also love that there’s a dark hair option and find it blends into my natural dark roots super well! Checks all the boxes that matter to me: clean ingredients, long lasting, and doesn’t make my hair feel gross." — Supercrush reviewer
Best organic natural dry shampoo
Captain Blankenship Dark Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Glacial marine clay, organic arrowroot powder, organic raw cacao powder | Scent: Organic rose geranium and palmarosa essential oils
Captain Blankenship's dry shampoo is one of Koestline’s favorites: “[It] utilizes organic glacial marine clay, arrowroot powder and charcoal powder to absorb excess oil and scent,” she notes. “The fragrance is light and not overwhelming, and sourced from organic flower oils.”
For those with dark hair, this one’s for you: The organic raw cacao powder in the formula seamlessly blends into your hair upon massaging. The smart design of the bottle makes it easy to spray the powder without using aerosol and chemical propellants.
Something to note: Some reviewers say that the price is a bit steep for the amount you get
RAVE REVIEW: "This dry shampoo works great. The pump works great to distribute the product where you want it. I have blonde hair and it is easy to blend/rub in with fingers. Makes my scalp and hair at my temples look fresh a few days after I shampoo." — Credo reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for all hair textures
Act+Acre Plant-Based Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Tapioca powder, rice starch, rice powder, fulvic acid | Scent: None
Applying Act+Acre’s plant-based dry shampoo is the closest thing you can have to instantly feeling like you’ve just walked out of a salon. The oil-absorbing, volume-boosting, benzene-free formula blends invisibly into hair, leaving no chalky residue.
“In addition to a blend of oil absorbers sourced from organic rice and tapioca, it contains a fulvic acid to help balance the scalp’s microbiome,” says Koestline.
Something to note: The bottle is quite small for the relatively high sticker price; some say it dispenses inconsistent amounts of product
RAVE REVIEW: "Love it! I feel like I've tried every dry shampoo out there. It has been a challenge to find a clean, non-toxic, non-excessively-hair-drying, non-alcohol formula that is easy to apply and actually works. Other clean formulas don't have this air pump delivery system. It's awesome! It disperses the dry shampoo in a fine, powdery mist and distributes evenly. The biggest win: It's good for my scalp and protecting the overall health of my hair. Worth it!" — Act+Acre reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for sensitive scalps
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Organically harvested oat milk, corn and rice starch, naturally absorbent microspheres, and silica | Scent: None
When asked which natural dry shampoo she would recommend for sensitive scalps, Castilla’s No. 1 is this plant-based Klorane formula.
“It’s made without ingredients that are likely to cause irritation,” she notes.
Created with organically harvested oat milk, it soothes and protects your hair and scalp. Corn and rice starch cleanses hair, while natural absorbent microspheres and silica get rid of excess dirt, oil and odor. Another big benefit: It helps extend the life of blowouts and hair color.
Something to note: May leave a white cast if you dispense too much at once (users suggest using small, fast squeezes instead)
RAVE REVIEW: "I have tried a number of dry shampoos, and this is the best. It is easy to get too much, but if you vigorously massage it into your hair, it quickly absorbs oil. I have dark blonde hair, and it doesn't leave a white residue in my hair." — Amazon reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for volume
Hair La Vie Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a nozzle bottle | Key ingredients: Meadowfoam seed oil, soap nut, black clay, corn starch, bamboo | Scent: Peach, coconut, lavender, sage, honey
This 100 percent natural, vegan formula is filled with good-for-you ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil, soap nut, black clay, corn starch and bamboo, to cleanse, detoxify and volumize your hair. The super soft formula is ultra-sheer and fitting for all hair types and colors.
Leave it on for two minutes and amp up the volume by massaging it on your scalp and using a brush to evenly distribute the product.
Something to note: Some reviewers say it's difficult to dispense product evenly because of twist nozzle; one of the pricier products on this list
RAVE REVIEW: "Absolutely love this stuff! I've always used aerosol dry shampoo in the past, so I was hesitant to use this type of application, but so glad I did. The powder gives so much better oil absorption than an aerosol. And this product doesn't leave a white residue as others do. It smells fantastic as well. Best dry shampoo ever!" — Amazon reviewer
Best vegan natural dry shampoo
Maria Nila Cleansing Powder
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Rice starch | Scent: Lily and rose
Say goodbye to grease and impurities with this sulfate-free cleansing powder, which 40 out of 51 Amazon shoppers rated a perfect five stars. Inspired by the founder Ann’s great-grandmother Maria Nila, everything from the brand is 100 percent vegan and animal-friendly. This cleansing powder adds light texture and volume to your hair and doubles as a fresh light floral fragrance.
Something to note: Many reviewers dock a star for its high price, but a few say that for how long it lasts, it's worth it
RAVE REVIEW: "Oh my gosh, this is perfect. I wasn't happy with my last non-aerosol dry shampoo so I switched to this one. I was wary of the steep price, but it's hard to find a vegan and cruelty-free dry shampoo for less than this a lot of the time, so I went for it." — Amazon reviewer
Best natural dry shampoo for gray hair
Arey Wait A Sec Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key ingredients: Mica, silica, aluminum starch, dehydrated antioxidants | Scent: Light cedar and sage
I applied this powder dry shampoo to my bangs on second-day hair and the super fine formula instantly refreshed the strands. What makes this science-backed dry shampoo different is that it does double duty: The dehydrated actives and peptides can also help delay and re-pigment gray hair. The brand adds that the mica in the ingredients help add a subtle tint, as well.
Use it with the brand’s signature Not Today, Grey daily supplement (filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) to keep gray hair at bay while also helping it grow thicker and fuller.
Something to note: Currently only available on the brand's site; one of the highest-priced shampoos on this list, but you do save 25% if you subscribe for delivery either every 30 or 60 days.
RAVE REVIEW: "I love putting this in knowing it's going to work not just for that day but a couple days after with minimal reapplication. Plus one little bottle will easily last you 30 days+! I was worried it was gonna be gone fast, but I find powder dry shampoos lasts a lot longer for me." — Arey reviewer
Best customizable natural dry shampoo
Prose Custom Dry Shampoo
Application: Powder in a non-aerosol bottle | Key Ingredients: Depends on your customization (anything from tapioca starch to white clay) | Scent: None
The beauty of the Prose Custom Dry Shampoo is, yes, the fact that you can customize it according to your specific hair type and lifestyle. I took the quiz to see how the process works and was impressed by the questions that made me take a moment to think about how I style and take care of my hair.
Depending on your answers, Prose will come up with a formula to best fit your hair goals and package it up for you in a non-aerosol bottle with your name on it. How cool is that?
Something to note: A pro tip from the brand: "For all-over coverage, spray custom dry shampoo directly onto a brush or fingers, then run through roots and lengths."
RAVE REVIEW: "The care [Prose] puts into figuring out the perfect formulas is impressive (even asking about the environment you live in) and it really shows with the results. My scalp, which I've struggled with for a while, is already doing better, my hair is noticeably shinier, softer, and my curls are more defined. The products don't leave my curly hair crunchy or weighed down which has been a problem with all other products I've tried in the past. My hair isn't *perfect* yet, but that's okay too because the Prose team regularly asks for feedback so they can tweak the formulas." — Prose reviewer
How we chose the best natural dry shampoos
Why trust us? The Shop TODAY team spent hours researching, interviewing experts (two hairstylists, a dermatologist and a cosmetic chemist, to be exact), testing products ourselves, and combing through product reviews to find the best of the best natural dry shampoos out there.
Questions on natural dry shampoos, answered by experts
What’s the difference between hair texture powder and dry shampoo?
Saviano explains, “Hair texture powder is more of a styling product and used to create certain looks and textures, such as matte or separation. It does not usually benefit the condition or health of the hair. A dry shampoo can help with volume, but it is more of a temporary refresh to the overall hairstyle that has become flat, lifeless or too greasy in appearance.”
How can someone know if a dry shampoo is all-natural?
“Find a retailer with strict ‘clean’ guidelines and a thorough vetting process, like Credo or Beauty Heroes,” Koestline says. “They’ve done the homework for the consumer, and they’ve also defined what ‘natural’ means to the retailer. It’s not a perfect system, but at the moment, since natural and clean are not regulated terms, it’s up to each brand and retailer to define them.”
What exactly classifies as an "organic" dry shampoo, and how is it different from a typical or natural dry shampoo?
“Organic” is a term regulated by the USDA, and products must show that agricultural ingredients were produced to meet the conditions set by the USDA.
“Labeling standards must also be followed, as there are FDA regulations for labeling,” Koestline says. “With dry shampoos, it just means that if it uses a plant-based ingredient, it was sourced organically.”
How does the application of natural dry shampoos and non-natural dry shampoos differ? How does their formulation affect application?
“With all dry shampoos, the key is to apply it on the scalp and root of the hair where there is the most excess oil,” Koestline notes. “Leave it for at least one to two minutes, massage it with your fingertips and brush out the excess. Application for all formulations is actually very similar.”
Meet our experts
- Cheryl Bergamy is a celebrity hairstylist and founder of Contents Hair Care. She specializes in textured hair, hair extensions, wigs and men’s grooming. She has worked with various celebrity clients, from actors to TV personalities to musicians. Bergamy has also worked with brands such as Tory Burch, Valentino, Coach and Loewe.
- Dr. Carmen Castilla, MD, is a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai. She specializes in personalized treatment plans in both cosmetic and medical dermatology. The NYU graduate (with a degree in studio art-photography) was inspired to pursue a career in medicine after serving as a volunteer in an emergency room.
- Krupa Koestline is a clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants. In her work, she combines her background in biology, biochemistry and biotechnology with her lifelong practice of Ayurveda. Her specialties are creating formulations for brands including Kopari, May Lindstrom Skin, Tower 28 and more. Koestline also consults for brands and retailers on improving their clean beauty guidelines.
- Nunzio Saviano is a New York City-based hairstylist and founder of Nunzio Saviano Salon. He has over 20 years of experience creating personalized styles and has earned many accolades since. Saviano is also the creator of Oxilogica, a hair innovation that treats hair and scalp with plant and herbal-based elixirs crafted in Milan, Italy.