Does Dry Shampoo Cause Hair Loss? Find Out The Truth

Believe it or not, the idea of dry shampooing the hair isn’t anything new. People have used clay powder and starch for centuries to keep their hair fresh between washes. However, its use is not without controversy, with recently, many people asking, “does dry shampoo cause hair loss?”

The first dry shampoo that came out in the 1940s was targeted at women and children who were sick in bed and couldn’t go for a wash. It was also for any “surprise dates.” However, these days, it’s for a little more than that.

It allows you to keep your hairstyle for a little longer, rush to your office a little earlier by saving time in showers, or do away with daily wet washes.

People with dry hair, who can’t wash their hair daily (as it can cause damage and hair loss), achieve a refreshed, clean look with the help of dry powders. This may give credence to the claims of “yes, you can reverse hair loss from dry shampoo.”

In today’s fast-paced world, where more and more people have less and less time in their hands, dry shampoo is a Godsend. However, is its use safe for you and your hair? Before finding the answer to does dry shampoo cause hair loss, let’s first understand what it is.

What Is A Dry Shampoo?

Before anything, you should know that even though “dry shampoo” has “shampoo” in it, it is not a substitute for it.

Traditionally, a shampoo elicits the idea of a product that actually cleanses the hair, which is how it truly works. But with dry shampoos, no cleansing is taking place. It’s only a temporary measure to change the way your hair looks.

Usually made out of starch (rice, corn), alcohol, or clay, dry shampoo works by absorbing the oil in the hair, making it look less greasy. Most of them also contain fragrances to provide the whole shampoo experience of a clean smell.

Some people also talcum powder/baby powder as a cheaper dry shampoo substitute. While you may think that it’s a way to wash the hair without water, remember, no “washing” is taking place.

One very visible problem with dry shampoo is that some of them can leave a white residue, especially if you have dark coloured hair. Whenever you pass your hands through your hair to “set them”, you might come off with white powder on your hands.

Some of it may also be visible on the scalp around the roots of the hair. Fortunately, tinted dry shampoos are available, so you should buy one that best matches your hair colour.

Another important consideration when buying dry shampoo should be your hair type. Since dry shampoos work by absorbing oils, people who have curly/textured hair (which is on the drier side) can end up over-drying their hair. These problems may arise as a result of wrong application.

How To Correctly Use Dry Shampoo?

The correct application involves:

  • Holding the shampoo 4-6 inches away from the scalp.
  • Spraying it to the roots, instead of the hair or scalp itself, and getting the greasiest areas such as the hairline and temples.
  • Letting the shampoo sit for 2-3 minutes so that it can absorb the oil
  • Massaging it using your finger. Combing can also help with the chalky white appearance of the shampoo.
  • Using it 1-2 times a week. 

Does Dry Shampoo Cause Hair Loss?

The debate on does dry shampoo cause hair loss began when a woman posted a picture of a bald patch on her scalp and cited dry shampoo as the cause.

Several people weighed in on the debate, some saying that dry shampoo won’t cause hair loss if used correctly, and others saying that you shouldn’t use it at all because it can harm your hair. So, we asked our hair transplant surgeons, Dr Kuddusi Onay and Yasemin Turgut, to give their opinions on the matter. 

It Can Clog The Pores

According to the hair transplant surgeon Yasemin Turgut, “many people end up using dry shampoo too often, far too frequently than what’s advised on the packaging, because it’s very convenient. However, they forget that it’s not really cleaning the scalp.”

What happens is that it results in a build-up. You’ll have dry shampoo particles clogging the pores in addition to other chemicals and pollutants in the environment. Your follicles won’t get enough oxygen that it needs to grow normally. That would result in damage, weakening and loss of hair. And if you don’t catch the problem in time, you’d end up with a bald patch.

That’s not the only way build-up results in hair loss. Build-up can also result in scalp infection in a condition known as folliculitis, which results in the inflammation of the hair follicles due to bacteria/fungi. Keep in mind that product build-up can also worsen conditions like seborrheic dermatitis.

It Can Cause Overdryness

This mainly has to do with the ingredients of dry shampoos. Charcoal, clay, starch, and alcohol all absorb moisture. According to Dr Kuddusi Onay, if you’re using dry shampoo too frequently, you can also end up overly drying the scalp. This alone can weaken the hair strands, making them brittle and prone to breakage.

However, dryness can also do something else to your scalp: it can result in excessive production of oil. This can result in the overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia, which can cause inflammation.

Not only does the inflammation cause hair loss, but the treatment of this condition can also result in shedding. In addition, intense itchiness can do the same, where you pull out the follicles from the roots.

So, on the “does dry shampoo cause hair loss” debate, both Dr Kuddusi Onay and Yasemin Turgut think that it can cause hair loss if used improperly. Using it once or twice a week shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re using dry shampoo too frequently, almost as a substitute for wet shampooing, you are likely to experience hair loss. 

Is Hair Loss From Dry Shampoo Permanent? 

So, does dry shampoo cause hair loss? Unfortunately, yes. But then many people ask, “will my hair grow back after using dry shampoo?” The good news is that it most probably will.

Whether or not the hair loss from dry shampoo is permanent depends on the kind of hair loss you’re experiencing because of it and the overall damage you’ve incurred.

Usually, hair loss from dry shampoo is reversible and temporary. You don’t have to worry about losing your hair permanently because of it. However, you must use the dry shampoo right away to avoid permanent damage to the hair follicles.

In addition, if you’ve developed a skin condition due to the use of these shampoos, you should start treatment as soon as possible after consulting with your doctor.

Can Dry Shampoo Cause Cancer?

Other than the does dry shampoo cause hair loss controversy, this is also being asked by a lot of people. It wasn’t long ago when dry shampoos used talc. The first-ever commercially launched Minipoo dry shampoo had just three ingredients:

  • Talc
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Perfume

However, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the problem is that in its natural form, talc contains asbestos. Asbestos can cause cancer.

After analyzing studies on the relationship between cancer and talc, ACS states there’s very little evidence of the link, although some studies suggest that it can increase the risk of ovarian cancer. However, the talc, which contains asbestos, is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Many people are also asking if non-asbestos talc can also cause cancer since some dry shampoos contain them. Also, some people use talcum powder as a dry shampoo. According to the ACS, the evidence on the link between the two is “less clear.” IARC says that the non-asbestos talcum is “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”

But to be on the safe side, until there’s more clarity on the subject and conclusive evidence, ACS recommends avoiding the use of products containing talc or limiting their use.

How To Clean Dry Shampoo From Hair? 

Cleaning out the dry shampoo itself is a problem that many people struggle with. This is especially so if you’ve been using it for many days without having washed your hair with water. That’s because you may have build-up, and it’s not that easy to get out with traditional shampoo.

So, to make sure that your scalp is truly clean, you can consider using a scalp scrub, either physical or chemical to make sure that you’re really clearing everything out. You only need to gently rub these in for 10-15 minutes to dislodge or dissolve all the gunk.

You can also use clarifying shampoos to manage product build-up on the scalp. Containing strong surfactants, you only need to use these once a week to get the job done. Keep in mind that these are not the same as your ordinary shampoos as their frequent use can overly dry the hair.

Concluding Remarks

Does dry shampoo cause hair loss? Yes, if it’s overused.

Dry shampoo is not a shampoo and shouldn’t even be thought of as one. It’s merely a quick fix for greasy hair because the ingredients in it absorb the oils in the hair, making it look clean and fresh. It shouldn’t be used more than once or twice a week.

Other than hair loss and inflammation, dry shampoo side effects also include dandruff and rashes, according to WebMD. Therefore, be careful about its use. 

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.

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