The Beauty Versus: Dry Shampoos


In a new series here on The Style Stories, I want to take a look at beauty products and compare them to alternative versions of themselves. I think all too often, we blindly buy what's put in front of us, without doing the research or looking into other options that may suit us better, and I'd like to help to change that. I'm guilty of it too, and it's through working with small, independent beauty brands in my day job that's opened my eyes to all kind of beauty products, and the benefits that smaller-label products can offer.

First up, dry shampoos. I've been using dry shampoos, more frequently that I'd care to admit to, since I was around 15 years old and I discovered Batiste in the aisles of Boots. It changed my life, and the look of my lacklustre, heavy and all-too-often greasy hair. So I've been using dry shampoos for just over ten years, blasting my hair with it on an almost-daily basis in a bid to achieve just the right kind of bedhead, matte effect, and to make sure I don't have to wash my mane every night of the week. 

I switched over from Batiste last year, to a much more sophisticated dry shampoo: Colab. I'm sure you've heard of Colab, but if you haven't, it's a dry shampoo brand formulated and fronted by fellow blogger Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends. It's a little more expensive than Batiste, and only available in certain stores, but the fragrances are much more finely-tuned and nuanced; I particularly like the Original and Exotic versions. Also, Colab's formula is generally just far better than high-street alternatives - no dusty residue, no white patches, and it leaves hair looking fresh and swishy all day.

I was more than happy to continue using traditional dry shampoos, without further thought, until I heard some things from some experts in the know about aerosol dry shampoos that I didn't like. It turns out that aggressively blasting your roots with a powdered aerosol on the daily isn't the best idea if you like your hair to be looking and feeling its best. Who knew? And then there's the thought that the heavy formulas clog your scalp, block your pores and create all kind of problems further down the line. Plus, I was hearing from too many people that they hate the synthetic fragrances that dry shampoos coat your hair in; when one friend said that she could recognise when someone wasn't washing their hair from the scent of their dry shampoo, I knew I wanted to find an alternative immediately.

I've never tried powdered dry shampoos before, but I had it on good authority that one worth trying was the Aster & Bay Dry Shampoo. Aster & Bay are a Scottish skincare company, based here in Edinburgh, who make all of their products by hand. Their dry shampoo is made entirely with natural starches and clays, with absolutely no nasties, and the very delicate fragrance comes courtesy of pure tea tree oil. The formula comes in a cardboard tube, and is applied using a sprinkler applicator. The texture is like nothing I've felt before - it's kind of like a really fine, light and silky talc, but one that just melts away in seconds. I was pretty dubious about how well this would work, but sprinkled into the roots and massaged in, my hair looked fresh and felt much nicer - plus the fragrance just left my locks smelling really clean.

Comparatively, I feel that traditional aerosol dry shampoos have the edge when it comes to longevity - I felt like I wanted to reapply the powdered version after a few hours, whereas I'd be comfortable with just the one application in the morning of my usual aerosol product. And when it comes to price tag, there's a clear winner - Colab is usually around the £3-£4 mark, and Batiste can generally be picked up for less than £3. Aster & Bay's offering is £26, which is pricey for a hair product and has the potential to put a lot of people off of purchasing. I certainly don't know if I could justify a regular spend of that amount on one hair product.

However... I really feel like I'm doing good for my hair by using the natural alternative. My hair didn't feel dusty or tacky, and my scalp didn't feel itchy when using Aster & Bay's dry shampoo. Yes, it needed reapplying, but I have particularly thick, heavy hair, so perhaps that's the compromise. Unlike using an aerosol, my hair actually felt clean, and I can honestly say I've never experienced that with a dry shampoo before.

It's a tricky one to balance, and here's what I've come up with. For regular use, on days where hair is just a little bit lank or needs a bit of a refresh, Aster & Bay's dry shampoo is the best option for reviving tired strands and giving hair a bit of life back. On days where your hair is just looking and feeling 'yeuch' and you don't have time to wash it, you'd be better off using an aerosol dry shampoo like Colab, to blast away the grease, mattify and transform hair in seconds - but this should be on a far less regular basis. So basically, day one and day two hair - gentler dry shampoo. Day three hair and for occasions like festivals - bring out the big guns.

I'm going to try and adopt this as my new haircare regime for the future, so I'll be sure to let you know how I'm getting on.

Have you ever used a powdered dry shampoo?