For the uninitiated, hair powders are a dusty grooming hack for instant better hair days. These dry formulas are designed to shampoo, style, boost, volumise and camouflage sparse areas – all with the flick of a wrist. Served in shaker-style dispensers, they also make great travel companions due to their small size and lack of liquid.
Tim Pateman, session stylist and director of the Clerkenwell salon and gallery, The Lion & The Fox, says, “volumising hair powder is pretty versatile and works best on very short, short and mid-lengths. It adds hold and boosts the hair at root level, at the same it’s weightless, mattifying and really easy to use. Apply it to just washed hair, and then use it every other day. Hair powders are made with silica, which absorbs the oil from the scalp, adding longevity to your style between washes.”
“Hair powder is always applied to dry hair. Separate the hair to expose the roots, and tap the bottle gently over the exposed section, then run your fingers through to style. You don’t need a lot, which is why they tend to come in small quantities,” explains Tim.
Accidental snow drift? “If you go overboard with powder, just put the hairdryer on cool and blast through to disperse the excess,” advises Tim. “Hair powders can revive limp, fine, flat and thinning hair, and add grip to slippery, freshly washed hair. Use it to hold, shape and boost the roots as a primer before adding your regular styling aid, or it might be all you need, depending on your style.”
Want to add this industry secret to your hair arsenal? These are the best hair powders you can buy right now.
Best Root Booster Hair Powders
Doing what they say on the tin, these powders are designed to add volume to lifeless hair while providing additional hold.
Ruffians Hair Powder
Ruffians’ fragrance-free Hair Powder has a velvety, instant matte texture when rubbed together that gives a traceless finish.
It contains organic seaweed and botanical extracts designed to nourish and maintain hair health while promoting a healthy scalp.
It offers an impressive, long-lasting hold akin to a lightweight clay – and props for the fully recyclable glass and aluminium packaging.
Slick Gorilla Volumizing Matte Effect Hair Styling Powder
Slick Gorilla is one of the more generously proportioned hair powders out there, clocking in at 20g. Unscented, it has more of a pepper-style shaker with multiple holes to help dispense the product evenly.
Start with sprinkling it into the palms and rubbing the hands together, and it quickly transforms into a smooth, matte, barest hint of a paste that you can work tracelessly into the roots.
Like an ultra-lightweight wax, it offers re-workable hold and separation.
Schwarzkopf OSiS Dust It Mattifying Volume Powder
Ticking all the boxes of texture, root lift and volume, Dust It is a super-strength powder that gives a strong hold.
It saps all oil and moisture from the hair on contact for instant matte results.
Davines This is a Texturizing Dust
For hair that needs more bulk, this traceless lightweight booster adds lift and body to create instant volume and fullness, with a traceless matte finish and re-workable hold.
It contains silica and extracts of açai berry, rice bran oil and passion fruit seed oil. You can also apply this powder to the hands, rub it together and then worth through the ends of the hair, as well as the roots.
Goldwell Ultra Volume Dust Up Volumizing Powder
Like a mini ‘shake and vac’ this instant volumising powder helps fix your style, comes in a pocket-sized bottle for on-the-go styling and has a fresh green apple fragrance, so it doubles nicely as a dry shampoo.
Redken Powder Grip 03 Mattifying Hair Powder
This unscented, Mattifying Powder from Redken has an overall densifying effect that adds body and fullness to strands, making it easier to create quiffs or voluminous styles, and generally pad out the hair.
American Crew Boost Powder
A thickening powder to bulk up your hair, the AC Boost Powder is best used as a pre-styler to bring extra volume, high hold and longevity to your style.
Dapper Dan Ultra Matte Texture Dust
Another sub for dry shampoo, Dapper Dan’s Matte Texture Dust is nicely scented with a citrus cologne fragrance.
Sprinkle this ultra matte, powder-like talc from the crown, then use your fingers to blend towards the fringe to create texture around the front.
Reuzel Matte Texture Powder
Reuzel’s hair powder adds matte texture and volume, and you can add more throughout the day to maintain your style.
In addition to silica, it also contains citric acid, a natural astringent, and nylon 12, which the brand describes as a texture enhancer.
L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni Art Super Dust Hair Powder
Pump up the volume with this very fine, weightless powder that provides strong hold, texture, grip and a matte finish.
A great base product for creating quiffs and pompadour styles.
Uppercut Deluxe Texturising Powder
Want a powder that can add shine? Uppercut Deluxe’s Styling Powder is slightly different; it’s water-based and contains glycerin to add natural shine.
Just ‘shake and rake’ by sprinkling over the hair and using your fingers to work it in. Housed in an aluminium tin, it’s fully recyclable, and nicely scented too.
Best Camoflague Hair Powders
These powders are designed to conceal thinning or receding hair. They typically consist of fibres that statically cling to the hair strands you have left, making them appear thicker and filling in any gaps. Just be sure to pick the shade that best matches your own hair colour.
Toppik Hair Building Fibers Dark Brown
Feeling a little light on top? When it comes to filling in a bald patch, Toppik can help blend a sparse area in with the rest of the hair. It’s technically not a powder, it’s made from very fine fibres, but you’d need a microscope to tell the difference.
The shaker has lots of very fine holes, so you can cover a larger area without overloading the product, and there’s a rubber applicator with a nozzle for more precise application around the hairline (which also helps cover grey roots).
The effect is surprisingly subtle – and needs to be fixed with the setting spray. It’s available in five shades from black to brown through to medium blonde.
Nanogen Hair Thickening Fibres
With a wider selection of shades, red and auburn heads are well catered for over at Nanogen, along with white-haired Gandalfs, silver foxes and lighter-headed blondes, in addition to the full spectrum of dark to mid shades.
Nanogen comes in stylish packaging that you’ll be happy to leave on display, and in 15g and 30g formats. Made with keratin fibres, just like natural hair, Nanogen will seamlessly blend in thinning areas, like a widening parting or an expanding crown.
Also requires the companion Hair Fibre Locking spray to fix the product in place.
Best Dry Shampoo Powders
Dry shampoo has long been a secret weapon for women who want to freshen up oily or lifeless hair without resorting to a full wash, and now men are finally coming around to the benefits. These powders do away with the typical aerosol application, providing a convenient, more environmentally friendly alternative.
R+Co Skyline Dry Shampoo Powder
Need to freshen up in a hurry or add grip to just washed hair? R+Co’s Skyline Dry Shampoo Powder is the one. It contains diatomaceous earth, a mineral compound from fossilised microalgae that can be crumbled into a fine powder, along with jojoba seed oil to balance sebum levels and burdock root extract, an antioxidant, to promote a healthy scalp.
It has a fine texture which is easy to work into the hair and leaves no tell-tale white or greyness at the roots. The nicely pointed nozzle gives good control and it’s lightly scented with bergamot, wild fig and tonka bean, with overall coconut vibes – a marked improvement on the more aggressively fragranced types.
We’re also big fans of Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste, which is a reverse paste-to-powder formula.
Aveda Shampowder Dry Shampoo
This lightly scented dry shampoo can help control oily scalps, absorb sweat and odours like cigarette smoke, extend the life of blow-dried hair and cleanse the hair when you can’t wash it.
Made with natural silica, corn starch, tapioca starch and oat kernel flour, just apply to the roots and brush or comb through to distribute.
It absorbs grease without any grittiness.