While dry conditioners have been around for years, as more formulas pop up in the beauty sphere, it’s a great time for a refresher. First things first: Though they may come in similar packaging, there is a difference between dry shampoo and dry conditioner. According to cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson of BeautyStat.com, dry conditioners are designed to spritz on just enough to make your hair shinier, smoother, and softer (kind of like a quickie conditioning treatment). Earlier versions contained the same types of absorbent powders as dry shampoo, but with a little bit of an antistatic agent to help reduce frizz and flyaways, and maybe a bit of oil to provide some conditioning effects. But today’s dry conditioners “have chosen to completely eliminate the powder component, and rely on a blend of antistatic agents, natural oils, silicones, and other conditioning materials,” cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer explains.
Essentially, think of your dry shampoo and dry conditioner as you would their in-shower counterparts, except you don’t need to use both together for the other to work its magic. Your dry shampoo will absorb excess oils from the scalp and may also provide texture and volume to fine hair, while your dry conditioner can detangle and de-frizz, adding softness and shine to your hair from mid-shaft down to your ends. The major win here is that both products can extend the life of your blowout.
A few things to remember:
While some people lather up more frequently, those with drier, more textured strands, or who use chemical relaxers have been on the “extend-your-shampoo” game for a hot minute. Dry conditioner can work on curly, kinky, and coily textures, but it’s likely going to be best to use when you heat style your hair.
Despite its benefits, Hammer warns that if you have very dry, damaged, and/or color-treated hair, you’re not going to instantly get the moisturizing and strengthening benefits your hair really needs with just a dry conditioner. In other words, don’t toss your deep conditioner — you’ll be needing it.
On the bright side, New York City dermatologist Francesca J. Fusco notes that using dry conditioners won’t ruin your hair. “Long-term usage of dry conditioners should not cause any damage to the hair or scalp unless someone is allergic to one of the ingredients.”
Here are 17 dry conditioners to check out for all hair types.
With additional reporting by Elizabeth Siegel
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