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The One Little Thing: Dry Shampoo

dry shampoo

This is a post in an ongoing feature on Her Packing List called “The One Little Thing“. Each week or two, we’ll be interviewing a traveling lady to find out the one little thing she just can’t travel without. This one comes to you from Katie Doyle.

What one little thing can you not travel without?

Dry shampoo has been a lifesaver for every destination in my travel log. I’ve been a big fan for years and have taken it with me for skiing in Europe, road‐tripping in the States, and most recently while traveling around New Zealand. It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve found time and again that this magical formula doesn’t let a girl and her hair down.

Dry shampoo cleans, volumizes, and freshens up your hair by soaking up the oil from your scalp. It comes in both spray and powder forms, and I’ve used both — with baby powder being my A+ substitute if I run out of the aerosol kind.

Whether you’re venturing somewhere that has issues with running water, or you want to look clean and well‐rested after long hike without going through the stress of washing and drying, dry shampoo is a must‐have. Name brand or budget, big can or small — every traveling lady can find a dry shampoo that fits her lifestyle and budget requirements.

dry shampoo

Why has this one item been so important to you?

Long hair can be especially tricky to care for whilst traveling because it takes so long to dry! My hair is long and thick, so I have to strategically plan how I’m going to dry it, especially when I’m lacking a hair dryer. Dry shampoo can be the difference between looking like a slob or super put‐together for those awesome travel photos you can’t wait to show off to your friends and your mom when you get home.

It can also make living in a cold climate much more forgiving, as it allows for longer gaps between wet washes. I spray some on to freshen up after a long‐haul flight, and it’s my go‐to when I’m in a very arid place because my scalp is super sensitive, so a dry shampoo session can give it a break from a too‐frequent cycle of vigorous washing and drying.

How packable is it? Does it take up much room? Is it heavy?

Big Sexy Hair Dry ShampooThe beauty of dry shampoo is that it comes in different sizes. It also takes up much less space than a bottle of traditional shampoo and weighs a lot less! For my current adventure, I’ve invested in a few mini travel‐sized bottles of Tresseme Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo, which have so far lasted me the better part of a year. When I did a few stints of living in Europe, I brought one big bottle of Big Sexy Hair* with me and it lasted nearly the whole time.

It’s easily packable with toiletries and won’t put your bag over the weight limit. Dry shampoo — and its close relative, baby powder — is also the kind of item you can pick up nearly anywhere, and it is not too expensive. Feeling thrifty? Go in on a bottle with your girlfriends…but beware that it will go fast once they realize how much they love it, too!

dry shampoo

Why would you recommend this to your travel friends?

Every traveling girl understands the struggle when it comes to keeping your hair looking bombshell while on the road. I want my friends to know that there’s a solution for hair problems that can be fixed in an eighth of the time it would take to blow‐dry (scientific figures are approximate). Blondes, brunettes, redheads—we’re all happy to have a break from that effort.

Apply carefully to avoid looking like you’ve aged significantly in the last five minutes, because the product can leave a dense residue when it’s dispensed too liberally. Don’t concentrate on one spot; instead, spray or sprinkle a thin layer over your roots, and then run your fingers through and shake your head out to distribute it evenly. Your hair will look like you’ve just washed and styled it, and no one will know the difference!

Can you name one incident or situation where you were so happy to have this item with you?

Oh boy, there are so many of these that it’s hard to choose just one. During a recent lull in my working holiday here in New Zealand, I was doing lots of job searching in Auckland. Some of these were not your typical WWOOFing or backpacker‐y jobs—they were temp stints bordering on real‐people jobs, so a girl had to look like she has it together (as in, I couldn’t simply throw my hair up in a ponytail or topknot).

Since I was also exploring and taking advantage of the nice autumn weather, by being outside sometimes I wasn’t as prepared as I would like to have been when it came to looking for work. If I got a last‐minute phone call for an interview or temp position, dry shampoo was my hero.

How did you hear about this item?

I have a habit of glancing at the travel‐sized toiletries section when I’m at Target, and that’s when the dry shampoo caught my eye. Some brands look deceivingly like hairspray, so be careful that you don’t confuse the two hair accouterments when scoping out the potential contents of your next journey’s cosmetics bag.

dry shampoo

What sort of traveler is this item perfect for?

Anyone who’s ever had a hair emergency is a perfect match for dry shampoo. It’s handy for working‐holiday‐ers, outdoor adventurers, and everyone in between who wants to wear her hair up or down. When you’re in a pinch and you just don’t have the means to dry your hair (but still want it to look good, obviously), dry shampoo is an option that gets your locks clean and beautified without the hassle of a full‐on wash, blow‐dry, and style.

>> Check out Caroline’s step-by-step to using dry shampoo.

About the author: Katie is a writer and videographer who chronicles her travels on Where in the World is Katie Doyle? from wherever she happens to be. A winter in France, a summer on Cape Cod, with road trips and fishing expeditions in between—she’s up for anything and will tell you the story about it later. Check out and follow @ladykatherined.

Written by Ali

Ali Garland is a freelance writer, blogger, and travel addict who made it to all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She enjoys travel planning, encouraging others to see the world, and packing carry-on only. She and her husband are expats living in Berlin. You can find Ali at Ali's Adventures and Travel Made Simple.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Melody says

    I wish I could say that I love dry shampoo, but I just cannot. I have Tresemme Fresh Start and try it now and then. I tried it again this morning after reading this post. I was headed out to a nearby farm market, I had showered in the late afternoon the day before so my hair wasn’t greasy, but it sure wasn’t fresh clean. I follow all the instructions and try hard not to turn myself grey. But, while it does get rid of the oil, it leaves my hair stiff, powdery, heavy, and smelling quite strong. It’s obvious that I have something in my hair.

    I have red hair that will go anywhere from stick straight to crazy curly. It’s fairly thick, full of body, and very healthy. I occasionally blow dry it to either straighten it, or set curls. Now and then I might use a straightener if I want it very straight. More often I will use Tresemme’s Perfectly Undone Sea Foam (highly recommend it!) to hold my curls from fluffing out. Anytime I use heat on my hair, I use a heat protector spray. I take care of my hair and it shows.

    That being said, I do wash my hair every day. Even if I shower late at night, my hair will be oily in the morning, and scalp will get itchy by noon. I would love it if I could get away without washing it every day, especially for traveling, but it just doesn’t seem to be possible for me. Attempting to train my hair to need less washing wouldn’t go so well as I work in dirty conditions and need to get the dirt out every day.

    When I do get a chance to travel next, I think I’ll give Lush’s solid shampoo and conditioners a try.

    • Zoe says

      Actually, I’ve not had great success with dry shampoo either! It sort of helps my hair to smell fresher, but it doesn’t feel me ch different… But I have a friend who it really does work for, so I guess it depends on hair type?

      The last one I tried was (a few years ago) one by Timotei which didn’t really work for me, although it smelt nice. I also tried one which was a foam, rather than a spray (maybe by Tressemme?) which was slightly better and I took it camping at a music festival.

      Any recommendations for US brands? I’m going to be travelling in the USA next month, and I don’t think I’ll pack dry shampoo, but I might pick up some when I’m there!

  2. Mandy says

    Dry shampoo! I haven’t ever seen a travel sized can.

    My preferred brand at home has the silly name of “Pssst!” (no, it really does). It sprays well, volumizes well and is mostly odorless. That last item is very important to me! It can make my hair look a touch lighter – brushing it out is very important.

    Last time I tried another brand it was a huge waste of money because of the extremely strong scent, so I have not dared stray away from “Psst!” I get it at Walgreens.

    Sorry that you’re seeing typos. I am unable to read grey text on grey background so I’m just trying to type well since I can’t make corrections.

    • Brooke says

      Oh no, I can see the grey text on the grey background just fine. Thanks for the feedback though- I will keep that in mind for future site design updates.

  3. Emily says

    I swear by LUSH brand’s “No Draught” dry shampoo. It’s a powder form, and while it takes a few applications to master how to properly apply it without dumping a giant puff on your head, once you do the results are smashing. I’ve been using it now for almost 2 years (the large bottle lasts FOREVER and I have the smaller bottle that I re-fill for traveling) and it smells delicious. What I usually do is sprinkle it (by lightly shaking the bottle) along my hairline and part, as well as section off to get underneath if its really “bad”… I then will let it soak in while I do my make up. After make up is done, I’ll flip my hair over and scrub scrub scrub my scalp to fully absorb. If you sprinkle just the right amount it will work without turning your hair grey! If there is a spot that is particularly grey looking, you can pat the spot a few times with your hand and it will disburse. This will get me at least a day or two between shampoos! I seriously love this stuff!

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