Should You Use Dry Shampoo On Your Kid's Hair?

Take Charge on 11.20.12

Photo: martinak15/Creative Commons

In all of my hair care experiences (and trust me, I've gone through many hair care experiences), I only learned about "dry shampoo" a few months ago after having a keratin treatment to tame my thick, wavy, frizzy hair. When you have any sort of straightening treatment done on your hair, you can't wash it for 72 hours. My hairdresser handed me a bottle of this fine powder with a brush to use on my scalp during that waiting period.

My mom voice instantly wondered, "Could I use this on my kids on nights when they don't want to wash their hair?" 

First, let's start with the basics.  What is dry shampoo? It's sold as a powder, like my hairdresser gave me, or an aersol spray, and is typically used as a quick way to freshen up hair when you can't wash it. Think of it as a go-to when you're in-between washes, or you don't want to wash your hair because you want to enjoy your blow out or new style for a few more days. Dry shampoo works by absorbing the natural oils, like debris and sweat, from the hair and scalp, explains Mercedes Urquiza Parrilli, a stylist at George the Salon in Chicago. She says dry shampoo needs to be blotted or brushed into hair so users can get the best results.   

Could dry shampoos be used on kids? Parilli, who is also a mom, warns that dry shampoos do contain ingredients that may be too harsh on a child's scalp. She wouldn't use it on kids. And even if your child wasn't bothered by a certain dry shampoo product, it's definitely not going to get you out of hair-washing battles. Remember, dry shampoo doesn't actually clean the scalp and hair; it's a temporary "fix."  Because kids are usually so active, Parrilli recommends that children have their hair washed every other day or everyday with a children's shampos, which contain gentler ingredients.  

Hair expert Alan Bauman, M.D., says that parents also need to remember that oil production usually increases when kids begin puberty.  "So as your kids age and their activities [age], they should probably wash/shampoo more frequently, and not just their scalp!" he adds. 

Is there a perfect balance of washing your hair and using a dry shampoo? Of course not. The end goal is to have a clean scalp and keep "hair follicles clear from debris and stimulated for healthy hair growth," says Dr. Bauman, "The perfect hair-care balance leaves your hair clean, yet moisturized--looking and feeling great."   

How often you wash your hair and use dry shampoo depends on your hair type and texture, scalp, how you style your hair, your lifestyle, among many other factors. Says Dr. Bauman: "Some people need to wash twice a day, some twice a week. Shampooing should be followed by conditioning in order to moisturize and protect the hair fiber. If you have fine, thinning hair you might need to wash more often to remove sebum (oil) that tend to weigh the hair down hampering styling."

Adds Parrilli, "The longer, thicker, curlier, and more chemically processed your hair, the more you can wait between shampoos."  

 And if you do want to try dry shampoo on your own hair, Dr. Bauman offers these tips:

    • If the you generally have oily, limp or flat hair and an oily scalp that causes oil buildup between shampooing, try a dry shampoo for those in-between times.
    • Usually it’s the root near the scalp that affects styling and coverage, especially if you’ve got fine/thinning hair. Apply the dry shampoo product at the scalp, near the root.
    • Because dry shampoo is taking away the oils on your scalp, know that you risk leaving your hair dull and feeling rough--especially if you have cuticle damage from over-styling. 

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