Dry Shampoo May Not Cause Baldness -- but You Still Shouldn't Use It

woman losing hair

Easy, wonderful, life-saving dry shampoo has been getting a bad rap lately, with women complaining that their hair's falling out from using the stuff.

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That's probably enough to get you to put down the aerosol can and walk (or run) away. But before you do, CafeMom asked Ken L. Williams, DO, FISHRS, surgeon, and founder of Orange County Hair Restoration in Irvine, California, and author of Hair Transplant 360 -- Follicular Unit Extraction, to explain just what the hell is going on with everyone's fave morning time-saver -- and how freaked we all should be.

His answer was NOT what we expected.

But before we get to that, let's back up and explain how dry shampoo works. As simply as possible, it exists to get rid of excess oil on your scalp because you, uh, didn't get in the shower and use the REAL stuff.

"Typically," Dr. Williams explains, "the primary agent to 'clean' the scalp is either alcohol or, more traditionally, a starch-like product. This absorbs excess oil and grease in the hair, giving it a cleaner, fresher appearance."

Back in the olden days, "shaking corn starch into hair achieved the same effect," he adds. It's just that now you get something blasted onto your scalp via a fancy aerosol spray.

But despite all the horror stories you may read on the Internet (because isn't that 99 percent of what the Internet is?), "there's no evidence that dry shampoos cause hair loss," Dr. Williams assures.

More from CafeMom: Rocking a Trendy Top Knot or Bun May Make You Go Bald

"After a careful review of the medical literature," he says, "I can't find one case of hair loss that's been reported associated with dry shampoo."

What's most likely happening, he says, is that the use of dry shampoo is coincidental, and the person who's seeing his or her hair thin (or fall out) after dry shampoo use has some other risk factors present.

Like genetics, hormones, medical health, and even stress.

We lose about 100 hairs on a good day, says Dr. Williams. But "the hair cycle is often impacted by stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. Just the worry by patients on whether dry shampoos will cause hair loss will in and of itself cause hair loss."

Okay. So that's ... good news. We think.

But! This doesn't mean you can use dry shampoo with abandon. Dr. Williams admits he isn't a fan of the stuff -- and for a good reason you might not have considered.

"There are over 3,100 chemicals in the fragrance industry that can be used to create a shampoo product," he points out. Preservatives, surfectants, detergents -- all this man-made goop gets absorbed into your body through your skin -- "just like any topical medication a physician prescribes," Dr. Williams says.

You'll be doing your health a favor if you choose a gentle, natural WET shampoo made from ingredients you actually recognize.

Meaning no petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate, or polyethylene glycols, says Dr. Williams.

So where does that leave us, when it comes to dry shampoo?

That it's not great to use -- just not for the reason everyone thinks.

 

Image via Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

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