What’s a girl to do if it’s a toss-up between an extra hour of sleep and blearily blow-drying damp hair in the morning? Enter dry shampoo, the hardworking hair hero you never knew you needed.

You pepper your pouf with the product, then give your mane a once-over in the mirror when – horror of horrors! – absolutely nothing has changed. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. It even appears as if your hair is greasier than ever. What gives? 

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Elementary, my dear. See if you’re committing these follicular faux pas: 

Are you applying your product on waterlogged, post-shower hair? Uh-uh, bad move. Remember: Dry shampoo on dry hair. The starches in the product will “pill” and create unsightly dandruff-like clumps when doused on wet hair. Damp equals dank!

Are you too close for comfort? If you’re using a spray-type dispenser, be sure to keep the canister quite literally at arm’s length; about 15cm from your scalp should do it so you get an ultra-fine mist – anything closer and you’ll end up with snowy dandruff-like specks. 

Top tip: For increased control, spray onto a brush and work through the hair from roots to ends. Using the same wide-toothed comb, rake it down the centre of your crown to create a horizontal part. For each section you make, flip the hair over and spritz in a zigzag motion, working your way down to the tips. Easy enough, right?

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Are you even using dry shampoo in the first place? Some of the snazzier stuff may not be up to snuff – they may indeed be “texturisers” masquerading as legit loot. “If you want to be extra safe, select loose powders that you need to sprinkle into your hair,” advises my mane man Michael Chiew of Hairloom Salon. “These tend to have a higher concentration of the silicas and starches you need to sop up gunk and grease.”

Are you jumping the gun? As with most things in life, time is of the essence. Skipping straight to the styling step of your regime may result in coagulated clumps in your coif; brushing these bunched-up fibres out may in turn lead to breakage and hair loss. 

The solution? Give the dry shampoo five minutes to sit and sponge up excess oils, then use clean fingers to tease out the leftover powder from your locks. If you have particularly unruly bangs, use a brush to sieve out any tangles. Some practical advice: All that powder might muck up your rug, so do this over your bathroom sink.

And voila, there you have it: Hair that will have you looking like you spent half a day at a salon … except you didn’t even work up a lather!