White powder on black hair? I never. And yet, this week’s “Chosen One” somehow makes it feel entirely acceptable—even natural.
Dry shampoo has been a thing for quite a while now. And for most of that time, I’ve been equal parts intrigued, delighted, and terrified by it. Done right, it extends the period between shampoos, adds volume, and leaves my hair smelling fresh as a daisy.
Done wrong, it leaves my hair sticky, streaky, a little greasier than when I started, and almost feathered-looking.
Truthfully, circa 1989, I was obsessed with Farah Fawcett’s voluminous, feathered hair. Or Blair Warner’s less dramatic fluffy curls on The Facts of Life, or even Kelly Kapowski’s Saved by the Bell bangs, before the dark forces at 90210 made her cut it short and don a crop top. Back then, I wish some of the lesser dry shampoos had been around.
They would have helped me master the look without that crunchy, molded effect I was all too familiar with in my teenage experimentation with hairspray. But it wasn’t, and I failed that trend miserably, just as I feared I might always fail at dry shampoo. Which, for an editor at fashion magazines and women’s websites, is a significant failing.
But then, a beauty director friend introduced me to Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo. This stuff, I could work with. Even when I over-sprayed, it didn’t leave my hair sticky. It blended into my inky black hair despite the fact that it sprayed on white (as long as I let it sit for about 45 seconds before I started to blend). It smelled wonderful. And it even worked on my bangs, which normally required a shampooing in the bathroom sink, to survive more than 48 hours between washes.
How does this dark magic work? Science, obviously. The brand focused their formula (which has been on the market almost two years now, since 2015) to target both sweat and oil, rather than just oil.
According to Dr. Nazanin Saedi, Associate Professor of Dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University, the chemical composition of sweat is different from oil in that “sweat is composed of hypertonic saline (concentrated salt water!) whereas oil is composed of sebum which is what leads to a greasy appearance.”
So it follows to reason that the same substance couldn’t tackle both. According to Betsy Patel, the Product Development Chemist who formulated this product over at Living Proof, “all dry shampoos work by using powders to absorb oil from the hair, and Living Proof’s is no different in that sense. Our PhD Dry Shampoo, however, contains a unique blend of powders that absorb both oil and sweat.”
But that’s only partially valuable if the shampoo absorbed your sweat and then just sat on your head. So, where does it go? Patel says, “the key that allows you to remove it all is our patented Healthy Hair Molecule, OFPMA. It works by reducing the surface tension on the hair, which makes it much easier to remove the powders from your hair after they’ve absorbed the oil and sweat. Thus when you use your fingers to massage your hair and remove the powders, the absorbed oil and sweat leave the hair along with the powders,
So essentially, when you spray the dry shampoo onto your hair and scalp, it bonds with the oil and sweat molecules in the 30 seconds that you let it sit—although Dr. Saedi recommends letting your hair rest for closer to a minute to allow enough time for the process to work properly.
And then, when you shake or brush it out, the shampoo residue that’s now bonded with the oil and sweat should come out (kind of gross, when you think about your poor hair brush, but alas, a small price to pay for clean-looking, post-workout hair). And presto change-o! Clean(ish) hair, here you come.
Of course, none of this does anything to reclaim my Farah Fawcett-inspired hopes and dreams. But clean hair without a daily shampooing? That’s real. And it no longer requires a partial shampoo in the sink.
A full-size 4 oz. bottle is $22 and travel-size 1.8 oz. bottle is $12. Go ahead, get yours.