DIY dry shampoo is a great little emergency fix for those days when you need a quick fix. It’s not a replacement for a good old fashioned wash, but it’s a great hack for a busy life and an excellent zero waste swap.
I’m cursed with an oily scalp, so can’t go too long without washing. My hairdresser mentioned a few years ago that you can train your hair to be less oily by washing it less frequently. I tried, and the only thing that happened was my scalp got itchy and I looked like a grease ball – not a good look at all. Exercising regularly doesn’t help the situation either so I have to wash my hair quite often but I do use dry shampoo on the days that I need to stretch it a little further.
I’ve been a strong supporter of dry shampoo for a long time, but a DIY dry shampoo can be just as effective as shop-bought.
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Which Ingredients Make Dry Shampoo Work?
Dry shampoo basically, consists of an oil-absorbing substance such as arrowroot, cornstarch or rye flour that you can sprinkle or dab onto the oily parts of your hair to absorb the oil and leave your hair looking clean. Rye flour is naturally darker so can work really well as a dry shampoo base in general.
Using bentonite clay is also quite common especially in commercial dry shampoos. But cornstarch or arrowroot is more readily available and works really well. If you’d like to experiment with bentonite clay, you can find it here.
You can mix the oil-absorbing substance with a few drops of essential oil to make it smell great. For darker hair adding a bit of cocoa powder helps to blend with your hair colour better.
Dry shampoo is not a long-term alternative to washing as the starch will eventually create build-up on your scalp. Using it once or twice between washes will work really well.
What you’ll need
One of these oil-absorbing agents below:
A colouring agent for your hair colour and essential oils for fragrance:
- Cinnamon for red hair
- Cocoa Powder dark red or brown hair
- Activated Charcoal dark brown & black hair
- Essential Oils of your choice
Basic Dry Shampoo Recipe for every hair colour
You can use either of the starches in your recipe, play around with the recipe variations over a few weeks to see which one you prefer. For darker hair add a bit of cocoa powder so that it blends better. Blondes can use the starch as is. There is also the option to add a bit of cinnamon if you have strawberry blonde hair like me, but I don’t like the smell all day so I leave that out.
DIY Dry Shampoo
Light Hair Ingredients
Red Hair Ingredients
- 2 tbsp organic rye flour, arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon for red hair adjust according to the colour of your hair, but be careful as cinnamon can cause irritation – see notes
- 2-3 drops essential oil to add a nice fragrance if you choose.
- If your hair is dark red you can add a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder until you get the desired colour.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a container.
- Mix the essential oils with a bit of the dry ingredients separately, combine and you're good to go!
- Rub the mixture between your fingers for a bit to break up the essential oils if you are using them, as it can make little lumps in the mixture.
How to Store and Apply
You can either put the powder into an old spice shaker or glass container. If you are using a spice shaker, just dust your roots where the most oil is concentrated and work into your hair with your fingers or dab with a large make-up brush. If you’re using a glass container and not a shaker, then it’s best to use a large makeup or shaving brush to apply the powder and work into your roots.
Lift your hair to brush the under layers rather straight on top as that will help to reduce the possibility of white blotches hiding at the back of your head where you can’t see them.
The Problem with Shop Bought Dry Shampoo
As with many shop-bought beauty products, it’s filled with a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce and the aerosol used contributes to air pollution. Shop bought dry shampoo often contains things like Talc, Cetrimonium Chloride, Silica (which can be harsh on hair) and Phenoxyethanol (preservative). Phenoxyethanol is probably fine in isolation but toxicity can accumulate and affect you as it’s found in a large variety of hair and skincare products.
Talc has come under scrutiny recently with women linking it to ovarian cancer. The science on this has delivered mixed results, but to me, doubt is enough reason to rather pass on using it.
And of course, not to mention some brands still test on animals, especially those who sell products in China as it’s a requirement there. This means these products can be responsible for animal misery across the globe.
Making your own dry shampoo at home is a good choice if you’re hoping to reduce toxins, waste and your impact on the environment overall as you’re immediately eliminating nasty ingredients and a spray can dispose of. To me, the DIY version is equally effective, a lot cheaper and carries fewer health risks. It’s a great addition to a zero waste lifestyle.
Even though I’m not the biggest beauty product DYI’er, I find that the shop-bought versions don’t last particularly long so I’m forever buying new cans that will end up in the trash, so for me, making your own is a win-win overall.