We Tried It: Colab's Dry Shampoo

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I rejected dry shampoo in grade 9 while at camp. After trying it a few times, I realized I would rather have dealt with greasy hair than have my head pretty much coated in baby powder. No matter how little I used or how much I brushed it out, my roots were an odd, matte white. I didn’t want to touch it and I swore it off then and there.

Until a few months ago, when I got Bed Head’s Oh Bee Hive!™ Matte Dry Shampoo ($26.84 on Amazon) in a swag bag at Her Conference, I just didn’t believe it worked. Even after that I only trusted this one product, and very sparingly—not as a substitute for a hair wash, but for a quick freshen-up here and there.

Finding one dry shampoo that worked made me curious as to how other brands compared to mine and how other women at my school felt about both their hair and the topic of dry shampoo. I asked around the Her Campus Western team to see who would be open to try and review an array of Colab’s dry shampoo with me.

Katie Olney, fourth-year Health Science and Biology student, explained that she’s “always had a love-hate relationship with [her] hair.” With thin enough hair where forgetting to brush it after showering was manageable, it also “betrayed [her] with bangs and unflattering layers and have been hidden under a hat far more times than [she’d] like to admit.”

However, the rate at which Olney’s hair “descends into a greasy, stringy, totally unbearable mess” is her biggest struggle.

“Seriously, it’s rough. That 24-hour mark hits and I’m racing to the shower like the Uber’s outside and I just woke up from a three hour nap,” Olney says.

Many other women I spoke to furthered these sentiments, such as fourth-year Music student Taylor Van Binsbergen who explained that “ever since puberty, [her] hair has leaned towards being greasy.”

Due to the amount of oil her hair generates, Van Binsbergen sticks to a “pretty regular schedule of washing [her] hair every other day” and notes factors like “stress, hormones, [her] menstrual cycle,” and others usually determine how much grease she has to deal with between washes.

On the other hand are women like third-year English student Shauna Ruby Valchuk and second-year Medical Science and Music student Carolyn Tran.

“It isn’t uncommon for me to delay washing my hair for two days,” said Tran. “Having moderately thick and naturally straight Asian hair is a blessing—it hasn’t ever been unmanageable, even after a few days without shampooing.”

Similarly, Valchuk doesn’t wash her hair as often as most women. She explains she’s “a huge advocate for washing your hair as little as possible. As gross as it is, through years of training my hair to use its natural oils, my hair hardly ever gets greasy.”

When it comes to the topic of dry shampoo, however, I'm not the only one who was skeptical.

“I’ve tried a few different brands before with little success,” Olney says. “Normally they just make my hair look worse or only last thirty minutes before my hair is saturated again.”

Neither Tran nor Valchuk incorporate dry shampoo into their hair care routine, though Tran noted that “dry shampoo seems to be praised as a miracle worker for those days when you just don’t have time to shower.”

Contrarily, Van Binsbergen's experiences with dry shampoo have been “decent” and usually help “take the edge off” her “oily hair.” Her go-to is Batiste dry shampoo, though Valchuk tried this product in the past and “absolutely hated it.” It just goes to show how complex hair and dry shampoo can be!

I handed out two Invisible + Sheer and two Extreme Volume samples of Colab’s dry shampoo City line to each participant, courtesy of FarleyCo and Her Campus, to see how people with diverse hair experienced the same products and challenged each woman to go a week without showering.

“As things get more hectic in the midst of midterm season, I think we are always looking for a few ways to save a few extra minutes,” says Tran. “If Colab’s dry shampoo is able to simplify my hair routine even further, I’d be thoroughly impressed.”

Van Binsbergen explains she’s “constantly seeking out new ways to keep [her] hair as clean-looking and feeling as possible,” so she’s excited to try something outside of her usual products.

While a week without showering seemed impossible for most of us, the concept was too simple for Valchuk.

“Normally, I go a week without washing my hair,” she explains. So, to push herself further, she started using the dry shampoo 5 days after her last hair wash.

Day 1

The first day everyone washed their hair—except for Valchuk, who was on her fourth day and whom I’m convinced has hair blessed by the gods.

I washed my hair in the morning and went about my day as usual; I went to work, went to class, and came home to a lot of laying in bed, working on my laptop. Now, it’s important to mention that I walk like I'm on a mission, and I walk pretty much everywhere I go. It makes me embarrassingly sweaty and sometimes I need a quick freshen-up later in the day (or, depending on how lazy I am, the next day) if I want to wear my hair down. Considering I had a meeting with the Her Campus Western Senior Executive Team downtown that night and I had been all over the place, I decided to try one of my samples out.

I had yet to re-dye my blonde roots (my hair's dyed brown) and was putting it off, but didn’t want to attract attention to how light my roots were compared to the rest of my hair. If I put something on like those “baby-powder-esque” dry shampoos, I would accentuate something I was trying to mask, so I opted for the London: Classic Fragrance - Sheer + Invisible.

Confessing that I like this product is somehow weird. I never thought it would happen once, but now I had found another dry shampoo that worked for me. It truly was invisible so there was no white residue, and I didn’t have to worry unreasonably about the amount I was applying. Plus, I didn’t even have to brush it in—it only took a little bit of rubbing and didn’t feel gross.

Day 2

Luckily my hair held over from the day before and I didn’t need to use any product. What can I say – Thursdays don’t involve a lot of movement for me. While I took a break from the dry shampoo, day two offered the first experience with the products for most of the other women.

Van Binsbergen found her hair “wasn’t super oily,” though she “felt it could use a little boost.” Trying out the Rio: Tropical Fragrance - Sheer + Invisible dry shampoo, she “enjoyed the application of the product and its fresh, vacation-y smell.”

Olney, on the other hand, “was up at 4am to fly home for reading week, so it was the perfect day to skip the hair wash and pray Colab would save the day.” She grabbed her sample of Colab’s Tokyo: Oriental Fragrance - Extreme Volume.

“Let me tell you,” says Olney, “they are not lying about the volume. While it made my hair feel a little gunky, it definitely looked ten times more voluminous and, more excitingly, not greasy!”

Valchuk was on day five of natural, unwashed hair and decided to check out the Tokyo sample as well, only in Sheer + Invisible.

“First of all, 'Oriental?' WHAT DOES ORIENTAL SMELL LIKE? ALSO THAT IS SUCH AN OUTDATED AND OFFENSIVE WORD? Why you would market a product as “Oriental” is beyond me…” says Valchuk.

Olney echoes Valchuk’s frustration with the product title: “I have a slight issue with description of a scent as ‘exotic.’ What does that even mean?” Despite this casual racism (something rampant in the cosmetic industry), Olney said she “liked the smell well enough.”

“Although I hated this scent (for its name and its similarity to my grandmother), my boyfriend says he likes it, so that’s something,” Valchuck says. Changing tone, she furthered: “the product itself really surprised me.”

Van Binsbergen found “the shampoo sprayed on remarkably sheer, true to its Sheer + Invisible name.”

Valchuk, on the other hand, says the Sheer + Invisible line made her hair initially “look greasier than before,” though “it ended up looking pretty good.”

Unlike shampoos which leave your locks doused in white powder, Van Binsbergen found—like me—that she “only had to rub the product in slightly.”

“After blending, my hair looked HELLA fresh, leaving me with a fab first impression of the product,” she says.

Olney still had a long day ahead of her, but was “thrilled to find that [her] hair still looked decent halfway through the day after about eight hours of wear.” Luckily, after reapplication she didn’t have to worry about her hair looking “embarrassingly unwashed.”

Day 3

Everyone seemed to be on an entirely different page when it came to day three of our trial. While Valchuk didn’t need to reapply and Tran had yet to try her samples, I had reapplied the same product (because I knew it worked) before throwing it in a bun, and Van Binsbergen had caved and washed her hair.

“The day after I used the Sheer + Invisible dry shampoo my hair was back to pubescent-boy-level greasiness, so I gave up and washed it,” Van Binsbergen explains. Like many other greasy haired folk, oily hair makes her “so physically uncomfy” that she couldn’t bear to leave her hair dirty.

Olney had expected to be in the same boat, never able to “go more than two days without a hair wash” unless she is “in a real bad place and not leaving the house,” but to her surprise, after applying Tokyo - Sheer + Invisible dry shampoo, she “didn’t feel the need” to wash her hair.

“I had to use a bit more than the Extreme Volume as it wasn’t as impactful, but it definitely still functioned to keep my hair presentable,” says Olney. “I will admit I was duly impressed at this point—my hair is a tough nut to crack, and so far Colab’s is the best dry shampoo I have tried.”

Day 4

The fourth day of our trial week brought about Tran’s first go with the Colab samples.

“I chose the Paris: Floral Fragrance - Sheer + Invisible, which was true to its name! Even in my black hair, it didn’t leave a noticeable white residue. It felt light and inconspicuous,” says Tran.

The first person to try the Paris scent, Tran notes it “was actually more reminiscent to cologne,” though she still thinks it's pleasant and makes her feel “confident throughout the day.”

Olney had tried both types of samples but not both scents at this point, so she grabbed her London: Classic Fragrance - Extreme Volume—the same one I grabbed!

While I personally love this scent and find it gives a musk that doesn’t overwhelm, Olney “didn’t like it as much as the Tokyo scent.” Valchuk, on the other hand, likes Rio: Tropical Fragrance the best because it's “the least offensive to [her] nose”—and was the fragrance she was trying that day in Extreme Volume.

Van Binsbergen expresses the same sentiments as Olney and Valchuk about the choice of using the adjective “Oriental” to describe Colab’s Tokyo scent.

“This name was not a smart marketing move as I was already dismissing the product before even trying it,” she says.

Looking further at the complexity of the product name(s), Tran explains her stance on the use of “Oriental” to label a product.

“Interestingly enough, I wasn’t offended by this term at all,” she says. Tran acknowledged her inability to speak for all Asians before furthering, “yes, the term ‘Oriental’ is outdated and seen as offensive—but mainly when being used to describe a person. Describing a scent ‘supposedly’ reminiscent of the East with the word ‘Oriental’ seems appropriate. What does a ‘Classic’ or ‘Tropical’ scent smell like? We rely on stereotypes for those, too.”

Having looked at more of the product names, Valchuk adds: “I love how we’re just reducing cities to weak adjectives.”

Van Binsbergen continues: “The scent itself was OK in the end, maybe a little sickly sweet if anything though, and the shampoo did deliver some nice volume at the roots, which is welcome from someone with fine, straight hair.”

Personally, the Extreme Volume line does not work for me while the Sheer + Invisible does; I found an immense difference. The Extreme Volume products are just everything I hate about dry shampoo and the Sheer + Invisible are just about everything I want in this kind of product.

Contrary to the effects I experienced, Valchuk “hardly noticed any volumizing aspects to this product,” and even said “the formula seemed almost identical to the one before it.”

“This one was fairly sticky which made it tough to rub in,” says Van Binsbergen, who was trying out the Tokyo: Oriental Fragrance - Extreme Volume. “If you don’t like the feeling of hairspray in your hair then this dry shampoo is not for you.”

She got that right! I hate putting product in my hair unless it’s undetectable, so for the most part I scrap hair products outside of Lush Cosmetics’ Dirty Hair Styling Creme and R&B Hair Moisturizer. Yes, this means the Extreme Volume dry shampoo physically pained me.

“My complaint about this dry shampoo (other than the ignorant scent name), was it wasn’t very effective at combating the grease in my hair,” says Van Binsbergen. “The stickiness of the product actually made my hair feel more greasy, defeating the core purpose of the item.”

Olney and I both remained determined not to wash our hair, though Olney was full of “internal confusion and panic,” and I was fully prepared to be late to class to wash the dry shampoo out: not because my hair was so greasy, but because I couldn’t stand the feeling of this product on my scalp or hands.

In fact, that’s what ended up happening. I gave up on the challenge and rapidly washed my hair and rushed off to try and be as “not-late” as possible. As someone who has gone a week without a shower and hasn’t been too phased by it, I was absolutely shocked that I was unable to get through this week.

Olney, on the other hand, was pushing through! “It was nice seeing how textured my hair was when I didn’t have to wash it everyday; it felt thicker from the dry shampoo and had more waves from being slept on and put up without being washed,” she says. “I could definitely see the positive impact it had on my hair to not wash it every day.”

While noticing the benefits of adopting a hair care routine more similar to Valchuk’s, Olney also experienced some negatives: “my hair was getting more difficult to manage. I hesitated to brush it as I was worried it would thin it out and make it look greasier, and I had a hard time putting it up without bumps appearing—a personal pet peeve of mine.”

Nevertheless, Olney firmly states: “I would definitely say, at this point, the pros are worth the cons.”

Now this is where it gets a little wild: Valchuk’s head “started to feel very very very itchy.”

“Now, I know all of our scalps get dry when it’s time for a hair wash, but bear with me. I could feel, like, product building up in my hair, especially on the back of my head, and had an insane urge to itch my head,” she explains. However, instead of caving in and showering like I did, Valchuk put her hair into two space buns to forget those itchy urges.

Day 5

“For fear of build up and more itchiness,” Valchuk skipped another day to soothe her scalp while I saved mine for a quick refresher later in the day considering I just gave in and washed my hair.

Tran tried Paris: Floral - Extreme Volume and came to a similar conclusion as I did.

“Unfortunately–and perhaps expectedly—it was not invisible. Where I sprayed was very noticeable, despite using only half the amount of product compared to the day before,” says Tran.

Even after working it into her roots, she “could feel the thickness of the product start to build up.” It didn’t matter how she parted her hair, either: “it looked obviously unwashed.” Luckily, Tran is braid-savvy and salvaged the look by throwing her hair into a side front dutch braid.

Olney, at this point, joined Van Binsbergen and I in the “Cave-In Club,” making it a full workweek shower free!

“I am ashamed to admit that I caved and washed my hair. But, if you know me at all, you know that going four days without washing my hair is a major deal for me,” Olney says.

Day 6

With only a couple ladies left in the running, Valchuk turned to Colab’s London scent in Sheer + Invisible and Tran tried her New York: Fruity - Sheer + Invisible.

With each girl having gone so long without washing their hair—eight days for Valchuk and six for Tran—they both had so much product in their hair that there were a bunch of scents mixing around on their heads.

“By this point, the build up of different scents and products in my hair was unbearable! While this scent didn’t really smell like anything, it was neither good or bad,” says Valchuk.

Tran was losing more hair than usual whenever she ran her fingers through it. “It felt as though I was making my brush dirty every time I used it,” Tran says. Despite this, she grabbed her New York: Fruity scent.

Tran says, “I enjoyed the fragrance much more than the floral—perhaps it could be because I used the product more sparingly as well, so the scent wasn’t overwhelming.”

While she made it through to the next day, Valchuk needed to wash her hair by the end of the night.

Day 7

Sweet release. Everyone could shower and no one had to feel bad about not managing the whole week without washing their hair.

“I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without washing my hair in my post-pubescent life. Like, ever,” says Olney. “So kudos to Colab for totally changing my life forever. I will definitely be purchasing some of its products in the near future to help me go a few extra days without washing my hair!”

When it came to the Colab Sheer + Invisible products, they pretty much blew us away. Not only do I have a can stashed of the London: Classic - Sheer + Invisible for travel, but many of the girls see the line as fast favourite.

“It was easy to apply, smelled heavenly, and took most of the greasiness out of my hair. While it didn’t expand my days between showering, it did make my day two hair look and feel much more fresh,” says Van Binsbergen.

Thinking about her own routine, Tran notes she “would definitely reach for the Sheer + Invisible first, since the product felt lighter and was inconspicuous while still being refreshing.”

On the other hand, the responses were far less favourable when it came to Colab’s Volume Extreme line, which Tran says “invited rapid product build-up, making the need to wash feel more urgent, rather than less.”

Nothing outlines that feeling clearer than me immediately washing my hair after applying the product and, in the process, was late to a small lecture with one of my inspirations as a guest lecturer—i.e. he noticed and commented on my interruption of his performance as I came in late. 

While this line does still offer a lot of volume, it is quite sticky and, as pointed out by Van Binsbergen, “hairspray or a texturizing product could probably do the same thing,” especially if combined with the Sheer + Invisible dry shampoo.

While I anticipated Valchuk would have the easiest time with this challenge due to her infrequent hair washing, I didn’t take into account that she rarely uses product, which can quickly overwhelm a more “au-naturale” scalp.

“The product did extend my hair a couple of days and I’d consider using the Rio scent again for desperate situations,” Valchuk says. “For someone like me who rarely uses product in their hair, though, I’d skip out on this.”

Tran finds the theme—associating each scent to a major city—"clever and memorable,” and “the compact size made it perfect to carry along for emergency freshen-ups.”

Though Van Binsbergen didn’t make it quite as far in the no-hair-washing-challenge, she, alongside Onley, is possibly the biggest fan of the products.

“When I run out of my current dry shampoo I could totally see myself picking up the Sheer + Invisible shampoo next,” she concludes. “It made my hair feel clean and refreshed without showering—which is the ultimate goal, right ladies?”

 

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