Ensure Your Hairstyle Lasts Even Longer with Dry Conditioner

Samantha Driscoll
·4 min read

Courtesy of Drybar

This is part of our weekly series Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, and explore new techniques IRL.

For years, the MVP of my hair routine has been dry shampoo. Its oil-absorbing, cleansing properties are the quick fix my hair needs after morning workouts. I love any chance to skip washing my hair, a process that takes way too long from beginning to end. Between my wash sessions, I notice that while dry shampoo helps keep my hair clean, the ends of my hair feel dry, and my hair starts to get super frizzy and knotted. The solution? Dry conditioner.

According to Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, a dry conditioner is basically just an aerosol version of your daily conditioner. They both make your hair soft and shiny, but one of the biggest differences is that dry conditioner does not need to be rinsed out afterward. "Dry conditioner is a mix of oils, emulsifiers, and alcohols that provides moisture between shampoos," Hardges says. It also helps tame frizz, prevent static, and provide the softness and slip needed to detangle hair. Some dry conditioners can even be used as a heat protectant for restyling your hair.

My Favorite Dry Conditioners

When I use a dry conditioner, I notice that it's easier to brush through my hair without tangles. It also keeps frizz to a minimum, which is perfect for the mornings that I don't have much time to restyle my hair. When I'm running short on time, I just spray some dry conditioner on the bottom half of my hair and then brush as normal; it redefines my waves and curls, and my hair looks like it's been freshly washed and styled.

Using a dry conditioner between washes is great, but it shouldn't replace your regular conditioner on wash days, says Hardges. Regular conditioner seals the cuticle and hydrates the hair from the inside out. Since you don't wet your hair when using a dry conditioner, it only hydrates the surface of the hair.

Hardges recommends using dry conditioner after dry shampoo when dry styling your hair. To apply dry conditioner, spray it on the mid-strands through the ends of your hair, using short bursts to prevent using too much product (which might make your hair look oily). "You can use dry conditioner two-three times before the hair gets too weighed down or oily and needs to be washed," Hardges says.

With thick, long hair, I can usually get away with using a dry conditioner three times before it feels (and looks) like it needs a wash. If you have fine hair, you might have to wash your hair more frequently, so your hair never looks stringy or dirty. If you're looking for an easy solution to keep your hair soft, shiny and frizz-free between washes, I recommend trying a dry conditioner. It has completely transformed my wavy hair routine, and it can do the same for you. Shop three affordable picks below. Your hair will thank you!

Drybar Detox Dry Conditioner

I miss getting glossy blowouts from Drybar. After a blowout, I can enjoy almost a week of freshly styled hair before I have to wash it again. This detox dry conditioner hydrates and detangles my hair, leaving it silky smooth, and so soft. I have thick, long hair, but this dry conditioner works for all hair types. Make sure to shake the bottle before using. Then, just spray onto the bottom half of your hair and style as usual. As a bonus, it makes my hair smell amazing.

Buy It: Drybar Detox Dry Conditioner ($23, Sephora)

Waterl<ss Dry Conditioner

For fine to medium hair textures, try using this Waterl<ss dry conditioner. It tames frizz, detangles, and softens your hair without weighing it down. I like that it comes in a bottle with a locking lid. You can twist it into the locked position, so no product leaks out if you take it with you on the go. To use, simply shake, spray and then quickly run your fingers or a brush through your hair. All tangles will be gone, and your hair will look and feel so smooth.

Buy It: Waterl<ss Dry Conditioner ($6, Amazon)

Kristin Ess Style Reviving Dry Conditioner

This dry conditioner does it all: it detangles, adds shine, and delivers much-needed moisture to your hair. It can also be used as a heat protectant; it’s formulated with UV and thermal protecting ingredients that keep your hair safe if you’re going to use a hot tool to restyle your hair. When my hair needs a touch-up, I use this dry conditioner before using my flat iron to re-define my waves. I spray it all over my dry hair, brush through, and then use my flat iron. Afterward, my hair looks like I just stepped out of the salon.

Buy It: Kristin Ess Style Reviving Dry Conditioner ($14, Ulta)