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Dry Shampoo

Low Risk

Also known as:

hair powder Hybrid shampoo shampoo powder

Woman sprays dry shampoo on her scalp
Possible Symptoms
  • Minor stomach upset from taste amounts
  • Breathing in the overspray can cause throat irritation and coughing
  • Possible allergic reaction, resulting in redness and itching of the scalp
What to Do
  1. Leave the spray area and get into fresh air with plenty of ventilation.
  2. Wipe or rinse out mouth.
  3. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  4. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water.
  5. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions
If Exposed to Eyes

If someone gets dry shampoo sprayed into the eye, there can be immediate burning and stinging. This requires prompt first aid to avoid an eye injury.

  1. Start rinsing eye(s) with lukewarm water.
  2. Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further recommendations.


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Additional Information

Quick Facts about dry shampoo:

Dry shampoo is typically available as an aerosol that is sprayed onto the scalp and hair root area. It is a waterless method to improve the appearance of hair in between shampoos by absorbing sweat and excess hair oil. Dry shampoo typically contains a starch-based ingredient such as corn or potato starch. The starch  absorbs oils, helps create volume, and freshens up the hair in between standard shampoos. In addition to the starch base of dry shampoo, there can also be fragrance and preservatives present in the product.

Accidental inhalation:

Callers to the poison center report a variety of ways they are exposed to dry shampoo. Accidentally breathing in the overspray or getting it into the mouth is common. When you get some of the spray into the mouth, expect a bad taste. Very little of the powder in the spray reaches the stomach, but minor stomach irritation may occur if it does. If the spray is accidentally breathed in, the powder gets caught in the back of the throat, which causes coughing and irritation.

The back of the throat (along with the nose) acts as a filter for the lungs, so most particles do not enter the lungs. Some of the dry shampoo sprays contain talc powder,  a very small particle that can get past the throat and enter the lung fields, resulting in difficulty breathing and damage to the lungs. If you call the poison center, the poison specialist will ask you to find the active ingredients listed on the container to see if it contains talc or some sort of starch as the absorbent. The starch-based products are less of an issue as  the particles tend to be larger and cannot enter the lungs as easily.

Allergic reactions:

There are ingredients in dry shampoo, such as fragrances and preservatives, that may cause some individuals to experience a reaction. It is best practice to do a patch skin test before using a new product to determine any sensitivities. If you have an allergy to an ingredient, there can be redness, swelling, irritation, and itching in the exposed area. If this happens, gently shampoo the product off the scalp to minimize the length of exposure and the resulting symptoms. To help with itching caused by an allergic reaction, take over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl.

Benzene and dry shampoo:

Dry shampoos have been in the news recently. An independent testing laboratory conducted a study where they reviewed multiple brands of dry shampoo for the presence of benzene. Benzene is a chemical that is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) and is associated with both acute and chronic adverse health effects. The study found that 70% of the samples tested showed measurable levels of benzene, while eleven products tested ten times over the FDA limits for this chemical. Benzene has no role in absorbing hair oil or sweat, which is the purpose of the dry shampoo. Therefore, many companies have voluntarily recalled their benzene-containing dry shampoos.

You can find the FDA list of the dry shampoos containing benzene here:

If you find someone has been exposed to dry shampoo, do not panic. Wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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