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Is Dry Shampoo Bad for your Hair ? Dry Shampoo side effects and alternatives

This post was last updated on March 7, 2023 by srinivas krishnaswamy

A strange and unexpected side effect of dry shampoos emerged recently. Leading brands of dry shampoos were voluntarily recalled in the US & Canada due to high levels of benzene contamination


Benzene is a well known carcinogen and high levels of benzene exposure is a serious health risk for all of us. 


In the case of dry shampoos, the product is sold in an aerosol spray can. Some of these dry shampoo brands used a propellant in their spray cans that delivered high levels of benzene, giving rise to the recall crisis. 

Also in the case of dry shampoos, they are often used indoors in a closed environment, which means that the benzene released when you spray the product, can linger inside your home environment for a long period of time. This is a nasty & unexpected side effect of dry shampoos due to the product delivery format. And this is on top of the dry shampoo side effects due to the product itself , with repeated usage. In fact is it is recommended to keep the can at least 6 inches away from your hair, when you use dry shampoo.


You might be alarmed and wondering if dry shampoo is bad for your hair


what is a dry shampoo ? is dry shampoo bad for your hair


What is a Dry Shampoo


Dry shampoos were first launched in the 1970’s as a product to be used on your hair in-between two hairwash days. Unlike hairwash with a shampoo which needs rinsing with water, dry shampoos are powders that can absorb grease & dirt from your hair, without washing your hair.They come in a aerosol can and you simply spray it on your hair , no water needed – hence the name “dry shampoo”


But to be very clear, dry shampoo’s cannot replace an actual shampoo , Ayurvedic hair-wash choornam and the act of cleaning your hair properly with water. They can only give you a quick-fix solution to revive dull hair, make it “look” great & smell great in between actual hair-washes. Dry Shampoos are therefore very popular in the fashion and entertainment industries , to get a good look instantly & on the go , without the mess of actually washing and drying your hair


dry shampoo ingredients - starch ,alcohol, butane, isobutane, propane. Benzene can be a contaminant in the propellant


What does a Dry Shampoo contain ?


There are four key components to most dry shampoos sold in a can


  1. Talc , Starch or clays  – Any powder that helps absorb sebum, grease & dirt from your hair
  2. Synthetic fragrance , to help hair smell good
  3. The propellant, which helps spray the product onto your hair – this is usually butane, isobutane, propane & makes up 70% -90% of the whole product. These are petroleum derivatives , which are NOT at all good for your hair. Sometimes these propellants can be contaminated with benzene as in the recent recall crisis, which makes the product even more unsuitable for use. 
  4. Alcohol – this acts as a solvent for the talc or the clays


To sum, Dry shampoos are just a mixture of Alcohol , petroleum & starches. And petroleum is about 70%-90% of the whole product . This itself should give you a clear warning about the side effects of dry shampoos & why you should avoid them completely


Let us find out exactly why dry shampoos are bad for your hair



dry shampoo side effects -dandruff, dry hair, clogged hair follicles, damaged hair

Dry Shampoo Side Effects on Hair and Scalp


  1. Talc is very commonly used in many dry shampoo ingredients to absorb grease and excess oil from the scalp. As we have seen with several recent incidents, Talc usage has been linked to cancer. The un-checked daily usage of talc has been linked to cancers , due to contaminants like asbestos found in talc. 
  2. Alcohol & petroleum products in the dry shampoo have a very drying effect on your hair strands. Repeated usage of this product will make your hair weak, brittle and prone to damage
  3. Dry shampoo is very difficult to use along with a good hair oil. So if you wish to use a dry shampoo, it will force you to give up on an excellent health giving dinacharya habit like hair oiling on that day. Do read this post on the amazing health benefits of daily use of Ayurvedic hair oils
  4. Dry Shampoos do NOT clean your hair – the name of this product is very confusing. It merely gives your hair the outward appearance of looking good. In reality, since you are spraying a powder on your hair, with repeat use, this powder will clog the fine hair follicles (srotas) of your scalp. This leads to excess product build-up on your scalp, prevents the healthy sweating on the scalp and can interfere with good hair growth
  5. Dandruff – The buildup of clay or talc on your scalp clog the pores and can cause dandruff too.
  6. Inhalation of Petroleum products – Dry shampoos use petroleum based propellants. So when you use a dry shampoo, you will be spraying propane, butane & isobutane very close to your eyes & nose. There is a risk of inhaling these gases when you use this product regularly. This is not at all healthy


Over & above these health hazards and potential damage to your hair, we all know that aerosol spray cans are a massive environmental hazard. Millions and millions of aluminium aerosol cans with flammable alcohol and petroleum residue are thrown into the trash every year when we use deodorants, shaving spray, sunscreens and dry shampoos. This is a serious environmental hazard with No solution at all. 


Using Dry Shampoo Regularly – Can it damage your hair


The general advise given by hair professionals is that it is ok to use dry shampoo occasionally , maybe once or twice a month. But in reality, dry shampoos have zero benefits for your hair, introduce a bad habit into your routine and are disastrous for the environment.


Ideally you should avoid dry shampoos totally and in fact look for an alternative for your regular shampoo as well to clean your hair.


dry shampoo alternative - the ayuredic hair wash powder ( chooram)


Alternative to Dry Shampoo – Ayurvedic Choornams

If this discussion raised concerns about the dry shampoo side effects, an obvious follow-up question arises – is there a safe & natural dry shampoo ? 

Well yes, the ideal product that is great for your hair health & fantastic for the environment is the original dry shampoo, the Ayurvedic choornam. It actually cleans your hair really well too.


Of course a choornam is a “dry shampoo” in the sense that it is a dry herb powder which cleanses, but in usage , you will of course need to rinse it well with water. And then dry your hair too.


The word “choornam” means dry powder here. And an Ayurvedic hair-wash choornam is a 100% whole herb based powder cleanser. At Krya we use herbs that are highly revered in Ayurvedic texts for their hair health properties to formulate our range of hair-wash choornams. Anywhere between 20-35 herbs are carefully chosen, with a unique proportion of surfactant , conditioning, dosha-balancing herbs to create formulations for each type of hair concern


Benefits of using Krya Hair-wash Choornams over Regular Shampoo


  1. Unlike synthetic shampoos, our hair-was choornams are naturally pH-balanced for scalp and hair. So they can cleanse your scalp & hair thoroughly without damaging the hair
  2. Since we use whole herbs only, there is no build-up of chemical scum or residue ,which is a common problem when you shampoos regularly. This buildup can clog the fine scalp follicles, causing irritation and obstructing new hair growth
  3. Ayurvedic hair wash herbs do not dry the hair while cleansing , due to the nature of herbs like Shikakai & Soapnut and the presence of other conditioning herbs. A synthetic shampoo can only use narrow-range , harsh cleansers like sulphates , SLeS which have a overpowering drying effect in their cleaning action
  4. Dosha-balance. Since we have access to wide range of wonderful hair herbs, our choornams can balance scalp-level dosha imbalance that is specific to your prakrtit & hair concerns. As a result we have a wide range of Hair wash formulations by concern type


Our hair-wash choornams are fantastic for the environment as they are made in the zero-waste process at the Krya factory. They are 100% whole herb, with zero chemicals & minimal packaging. All the choornam residue after you wash your hair is perfectly biodegradable


Krya Ayurvedic Hair-Wash Choornam Resources


  1. Here is a detailed video on why & how to use a Hair-wash choornam
  2. Our detailed knowledge base article gives you a full guide to the benefits & usage of hair wash choornams
  3. You can buy the complete range of Krya hair wash powders here


The Summary – Are Dry Shampoos bad for your hair ?


Even though “Dry shampoos” in aerosol cans have been around decades now, the serious concerns around side effects of dry shampoos are widely accepted now . At a basic product usage level, these spray-on products leave your hair dry, brittle & damaged. The aerosol cans have very serious environmental hazards with no solution in sight. And as we saw in the recent recall crisis, un-execpted side effects of dry shampoos like benzene contamination are also possible


We hope this article gave you the background information to make better, safer choices for your hair & the environment


If you want our help to choose a specific Krya product, do email us at goodies(at) (OR) click here to chat on whatsapp

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srinivas krishnaswamy
srinivas krishnaswamy

Srinivas is Krya's Co-Founder. He brings in a unique perspective to Krya with his dual Masters in Physics & Management.

At Krya, Srinivas is motivated by the challenges of crafting the company's DNA - products that delight consumers, manufacturing excellence, a winning team and sustainable profitable growth.

He is deeply committed to defining the first principles of Dharmic Entrepreneurship in order to build a world class organisation rooted in Indian Knowledge Systems.

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