Dry shampoo can be a life changer, because who has time to actually wash their hair every single day? Not me. I’m guessing you don’t either and that’s why you’re here. But this miracle product isn’t cheap and most of the dry shampoo options on the market are far from natural. The good news is that you don’t have to settle for harmful chemicals in order to skip a wash day; instead, you can make your own natural DIY dry shampoo substitute for any hair color with a few cheap ingredients.

DIY Dry Shampoo

What Is Dry Shampoo?

Many years ago, my mother-in-law introduced me to homemade dry shampoo. Over a phone conversation, she mentioned that when she is busy and doesn’t have time to wash her hair, she makes her own dry shampoo substitute using baby powder. The baby powder works to prevent grease buildup and extends the number of days she can go between washes. I remember thinking, “That’s a weird concept. I’ll never do that…”

applying shampoo to the hair

Fast forward a few years…

I now understand the NEED for dry shampoo: two kids, early morning wakeup calls and a daily carline appointment, work deadlines… all the things. Dry shampoo is a staple in my hair care routine.

Dry shampoo is made with ingredients that absorb grease and excess oils, which delays the need to wash hair with shampoo in the shower. And less time in the shower and styling equals more time for life (and maybe even squeezing in a workout)!

Many commercial dry shampoos use alcohol to absorb excess oils, but that can leave behind an itchy scalp. Another major concern with commercial dry shampoos is the use of propane, isobutane, butane, and fragrance. Fragrance, for example, can be made with up to 3,000 different chemicals, including chemicals that are known to disrupt hormones. Those aren’t chemicals that you want to spray in the air or on your scalp on a regular basis.

You can reduce your chemical exposure to potentially harmful ingredients used in these products and, instead, make your own homemade dry shampoo using ingredients that are safe and effective. My favorite DIY dry shampoo recipe works for any color: brown hair, blonde hair, gray hair, red hair, and black hair.

dry shampoo ingredients

Ingredients To Make Dry Shampoo

The ingredients used in my dry shampoo recipe are multi-purpose. This makes the ingredients cheap since one bag of powder or clay will last you months (or longer) and can make multiple batches of dry shampoo and be used in other ways: cooking, a natural face mask or to make a homemade foundation powder, homemade hot chocolate, and in natural cleaning products.

  • Arrowroot Powder: Similar to cornstarch this natural starch is a lightweight, white, powdery substance that’s generally used to thicken sauces in cooking recipes (like this stir fry recipe). This ingredient works to absorb excess oils in your hair. Many people swear by baking soda but I find arrowroot powder works better as it doesn’t leave hair starchy and stiff.
  • Bentonite Clay: This naturally-occurring, organic powder is commonly used to make a soothing face mask (good for acne and breakouts). In this recipe, it’s used for oil absorption. Just like with arrowroot, this ingredient won’t leave your hair feeling starchy or stiff.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: To tint the dry shampoo, add cocoa powder or cacao powder (yes, the stuff used to make hot chocolate and chocolate cake). Not only will this ingredient add a natural tint to the powder, but also leave your hair with a pleasant and very subtle chocolate scent.
  • Essential Oil: If you’d like to add a natural fragrance (without potentially harmful chemicals) to your dry shampoo, sprinkle in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. I love lavender essential oil as it has a calming scent that is perfect for a busy morning (ah, feel the zen) and some say that it has hair growth properties (I’m not sure about this claim, but the smell is amazing). Other options include: rosemary essential oil or tea tree essential oil (essential oils also work as a lice repellent which is just an added benefit if you have young kids at home and don’t want to partake in the yearly classroom lice “party”).

mixing bentonite clay and arrowroot starch

How to Make DIY Dry Shampoo for Any Hair Color

  • For blondes and gray hair, combine arrowroot powder and bentonite clay. Depending on your blonde shade and if you have really light hair, you can use just arrowroot powder on its own if the clay has too much of a silver tint for you.
  • For brunettes and red hair, combine arrowroot powder, bentonite clay, and a touch of cocoa powder to darken the tint. I know some blogs recommend cinnamon powder for a darker brunette shade but I would avoid cinnamon as it may burn your scalp if too much is applied.
  • For black hair, combine arrowroot powder, bentonite clay, cocoa powder, and if you’d like a small of activated charcoal to darken the mixture.

bottle of dry shampoo

Here’s how to make your own custom DIY dry shampoo…

Step 1: Combine the dry shampoo ingredients. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot starch, bentonite clay, cocoa powder, activated charcoal (if using for a darker tint), and essential oil (if using for a scent). Then pour the ingredients into a storage container of choice. Alternatively, you can add the ingredients directly to a spice bottle, salt shaker, or mason jar and place the lid on the bottle and give the ingredients a good shake to combine. I love to use a salt shaker or spice bottle as the top has little holes that make application easy and mess-free.

Step 2: Store the homemade dry shampoo for up to 6 months. 

Store the dry shampoo for up to 6 months at room temperature.
Play around with the ingredients and create a custom shade based on your hair color and shade.

applying dry shampoo to hair

How To Use Dry Shampoo The Right Way

Hair naturally produces oil called sebum. The sebum provides a barrier to the hair and skin and also moisture. When hair is washed every single day, shampoo strips the hair of the natural oils which can result in very dry hair or the overproduction of sebum.

Even my hair stylist has commented that she doesn’t wash her hair every single day and instead uses a dry shampoo in between washes.

For in between days, you can use dry shampoo to keep the grease from building up. Personally, I go about 3-4 days between washes and use dry shampoo, as needed, in between wash days. The less you wash your hair, the easier it becomes to go a few days between washes as the oil production slows down.

Step-by-Step, How to Use Dry Shampoo…

massaging hair scalp

Step 1: Lift the hair and apply dry shampoo

Lift sections of your hair. Sprinkle the DIY dry shampoo powder near the scalp, hair follicles, and crown of your head. There’s no need to get the ends of your hair, just the roots. I recommend using a spice bottle so you can easily sprinkle the powder in your hair. If you don’t use an old spice bottle or salt shaker, either sprinkle some of the powder into the palm of your hands and apply near the crown and scalp of your head, or use a large makeup brush by dipping the brush into the powder and then applying the powder.

Step 2: Wait for the shampoo to set in

Wait a few minutes for the dry shampoo powder to set in and get to work absorbing the oils.

Step 3: Massage the scalp

Massage the dry shampoo into your scalp and the hair follicles.

Step 4: Run a brush through your hair

Then run a brush through your hair to ensure the dry shampoo powder is distributed evenly. You should not be left with any visible powder after this step.

brushing hair

If you like this recipe, you’ll love these natural hair and skincare tips

does DIY dry shampoo work?

3.89 from 9 votes

DIY Dry Shampoo

A magical and natural dry shampoo powder that absorbs oils and smells delicious? It must be magic, but it isn't. Just a few simple ingredients. Here's how to make your own DIY dry shampoo.
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course DIY
Cuisine Body
Servings 3 ounces
Cost: $3

Ingredients

Instructions

  • To a small bowl (or spice bottle or salt shaker), add the ingredients. Whisk the ingredients or shake the bottle to combine. (Do not use metal utensils to stir the bentonite clay with the other ingredients.) For various hair colors and shades, see the recommendations below in the notes.
  • Store the dry shampoo powder at room temperature for up to 6 months.

To Use:

  • Lift sections of your hair. Sprinkle the dry shampoo on your scalp, hair follicles, and the crown of your head with either a large foundation brush (that's been dipped in the powder) or use an old spice container or salt shaker.
  • Wait a couple of minutes for the powder to begin absorbing the oils, then use your hands to massage the powder into your roots and scalp. Finally, brush out your hair and viola...you're ready to face the day!

Notes

For Custom Hair Color and Shades: 
  • For blondes and gray hair, combine arrowroot powder and bentonite clay. Depending on your blonde shade and if you have really light hair, you can use just arrowroot powder on its own if the clay has too much of a silver tint for you.
  • For brunettes and red hair, combine arrowroot powder, bentonite clay, and a touch of cocoa powder to darken the tint. I know some blogs recommend cinnamon powder for a darker brunette shade but I would avoid cinnamon as it may burn your scalp if too much is applied.
  • For black hair, combine arrowroot powder, bentonite clay, cocoa powder, and if you'd like a small of activated charcoal to darken the mixture.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

This stuff is so easy to make, and saves me so much time in the morning. Just sprinkle this dry shampoo in your hair, massage, brush, and voila...you're ready to face the day. The darker powder works best for my hair, but there are two color options in the recipe.

22 Comments

  1. I have super fine, oily, flat hair. After I wash and dry my hair, I apply the dry shampo on my roots. Gives me volume and my hair stays oily free for the rest of the day. I reapply as needed every morning and only wash my hair every two or three days now. I love it!

  2. I was looking for a receipe for dry shampoo and I’m actually surprised you use it this way. I had the idea of dray shampoo being like a bar of soap (packaged free, then, which is what I truly look for in order to reduce trash), one that you can use as shampoo when needed.

    Why do people keep thinking they need to wash their hair every single day??? It is absolutely NOT necessary in any way and you’re doing more wrong to your hair than good. Sebum is here to take care of your hair (contrary to what commercials try to brainwash you with 😉

    From using dry shampoo (that bar of shampoo) I went completely NO SHAMPOO, using only a hair brush to spread the sebum on my hair so that all of it take advantage of its benefits. Brushing in the morning and evening, after each sweaty activity and rinsing with clear water has now become a habit (and I don’t even rinse every day!) and my hair looks absolutely perfect!
    Ok, the first few weeks can be a challenge, what with convincing yourself not to wash your hair when it greases up but the reward afterwards is fantastic!

    For people not ready to stop using shampoo, there are also really yummy receipes of natural shampoos – that you don’t have to use daily either! 😉

    Happy day!
    Jul’

  3. Hi Kristin, I just found your blog and am looking forward to trying out your recipes for various DIY beauty products! My question is does the cocoa powder leave your hair brownish? I have black Asian hair (with “silver” roots/highlights, other wise known as gray hair) and I’m curious if you know of something that would blend in a bit more. Thank you!

    1. Hey Ellen, My hair is currently brown/red, so I can only speak from my experience. The goal is to use just a small amount of dry shampoo, and then mix it with the roots of the hair, so I don’t believe so but there’s always a possibility. I’d try a test run with just a bit of cocoa powder and see what happens.

  4. Wondering if you’ve ever experimented with creating a DIY doggy shampoo? We’re new dog owners, and I’ve read about you having dogs, as well. Was just curious if you have any thoughts or recommendations? Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Wow! This is soooo amazing. I just did this diy today and I love this recipe! I used the exact same amount as you did and I used rosemary eo. Well this it great, when you apply it it feels like a fresh breeze something like that, because of the rosemary I think 🙂 and it does the job as it should. Thank you ssooo much! ????????

  6. Hi Kristin,

    I have a few questions about your hair products.

    1. Do you still use Every Day Shea for your shampoo and conditioner?
    2. If so, do you find that it’s not as easy to rinse as regular shampoo in the sense that it leaves your hair really “squeaky clean” so your hands don’t glide down your hair as smoothly when rinsing? Just want to make sure that that’s normal!
    3. What hairstyling products do you use? I currently use a moose and frizz tamer/curl enhancer and was wondering if you have “clean” hairstyling products that you recommend.

    Thanks for all the work that you put into your blog! I’m slowly trying to transition to your DIY products and clean eating. It’s a lot of work, but you make it so much easier! Thanks!

    1. Hey Susie,

      Yep, I still use EveryDay Shea for my shampoo and conditioner. For me, it gets my hair sqeauky clean.
      At the moment, I don’t use any styling products, but I’ve seen a few great brands at the health food store. I’ll check out a few next time I’m there.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      1. Hey Kristin,

        So it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been using EveryDay Shea shampoo and conditioner and I’m just not loving it. My hair doesn’t feel as clean and by the end of the day my scalp and roots feel oily so I’ve been having to wash my hair every day, where as before I washed it every other day. Are there any other brands you recommend? If not, no worries. I can check out other brands at Whole Foods, just figured I’d ask for your input first.

        Thanks!!!

      2. Hey Susie, I haven’t experimented with other brands, so I don’t have any others to recommend. Sorry, about that. PS: I’ve used the shea shampoo for body wash many times, so if it’s not working for your hair, you could still use the rest of the bottle as body wash :). I would love to know if you find a shampoo and conditioner combo that work well for you!

  7. I like most things on your blog. However, I was once looking to detox with Bentonite and my husband convinced me not to, because it can be dangerous. I would be wary with powdered forms as well: http://www.livestrong.com/article/241716-what-are-the-dangers-of-bentonite/

    Bentonite is also sometimes tainted with lead.

    The only other thing I would caution against is, for ethical reasons, vegetable glycerin derived from palm. I think everyone who has seen the documentary on the Orangutans and the Palm Oil Crisis doesn’t really want to part-take in that. With a lot of effort I found vegetable glycerin made out of coconut. Whether it works or not, I don’t yet know but, those are the only 2 things that I’d be wary of.

    Thanks,
    Alice

    1. Hey Alice, Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      Yes, bentonite clay oftentimes comes into question due to the lead issue. Personally, I’m okay with using bentonite clay when it comes from a reputable source. Here’s more information on why I believe it’s safe to use this clay:
      http://wellnessmama.com/59694/lead-in-bentonite-clay/
      http://www.growingupherbal.com/lead-in-bentonite-clay/
      http://www.modernalternativehealth.com/2014/07/18/lead-bentonite-clay/

      Just like with the clay, it’s important to source reputable vegetable glycerin. I use a small amount of glycerin in my homemade products, and usually purchase from the same trusted company. Would you mind sharing the brand of the vegetable glycerin made from coconut oil? I’d be interested in checking it out.

      Thank you for sharing! Doing research before making choices about homemade products is always important!

  8. This is wonderful! I was looking for this today and I think you read my mind 🙂 I have been meaning to ask you – would you mind sharing which brand of shampoo and conditioner you use? I have tried a few “cleaner” varieties and I find that either the shampoo doesn’t feel like it cleans very well (aka my hair feels like a grease pot) or the conditioner doesn’t actual do much conditioning. I realize that cleaner products are not going to be the same as chemical-laden products that make our hair feel and smell amazing, but I would rather not experiment with a bunch of different brands if you know of a tried and true brand that you trust. If you don’t mind sharing your recommendations I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

    1. Awesome, Becky!

      I really like the brand EveryDay Shea. The ingredients aren’t perfect, but they are a whole lot better than most soaps and conditioners on the market. I recently recommended this brand to Live Simply’s Administrative Assistant, Rachel, and she’s been really enjoying their shampoo and conditioner, too. So, this brand may be an option for you :). http://alaffia.com/brands/Everyday-Shea.html They also make great bubble bath and lotion, in my opinion.

  9. I was just thinking last week, it’s time to try and make my own dry shampoo. I sure wish Kristin had a recipe…” Thanks for reading my mind. 🙂 Since it’s so close to the foundation recipe, have you ever used your foundation as dry shampoo in a pinch?

    1. Hey Brandi, Lol, that’s awesome! I have tried using the foundation powder in a pinch, but my foundation powder was a bit too light (at least my winter version) for my hair. It’s definitely worth a shot! As long as an adequate amount of bentonite clay exists in the foundation powder, you should be good. The clay really helps with the oil absorption.

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