If you’ve never used dry shampoo, you may be wondering what it is and why you might want to use it. The “what” is simple: Dry shampoo is a powder or quick-dry spray that allows you to clean your hair and scalp without water. In short, it absorbs excess oils to freshen your hair roots and leaves your hair smelling fresh and clean.
Why Should You Use Dry Shampoo?
First off, with dry shampoo, you can wash your hair less often. This is important as washing your hair can strip away moisture, especially if your hair is coarse, curly, thick, or fragile. It also means you’ll need to style your hair with heat less often, which also protects it from damage.
One of the most popular reasons to use dry shampoo is to add volume and fullness, so you’ll look like you just did your hair. It can also extend your styling. If you’ve recently paid to have a blowout (or just took the extra time to do it yourself), you probably want to be able to enjoy the style as long as possible. Dry shampoo can help do that, and it can also help you quickly refresh droopy waves or curls for a restyle.
It’s also a great option if you don’t have time to wash your hair after a workout. Use a towel to wipe off any sweat, then use your dry shampoo as described below to make your hair look healthy and clean again. You can also use it in the evening after a long day if you have an event to attend, as it can add volume and reduce shine.
If you have your hair color-treated, you likely have noticed that the more you wash your hair, the more it loses its color vibrancy, especially if you use a semi-permanent or demi-permanent formula. Using dry shampoo a few days a week instead of washing your hair can help prolong and protect your investment in time and money.
Let’s face it, hair also tends to absorb the odors around you—even if it doesn’t look or feel dirty. If you just want to freshen up due to smelling stale or overcome the odors caused by being around smokers, dry shampoo may help.
Dry shampoo can also be a great time saver. Did you hit snooze a couple of times this morning? Did your roommate hog the bathroom before your date? Do you just need a little extra shut-eye? Are you super busy? Or, are you traveling, camping, or just away from home and unable to take a quick shower? Dry shampoo can come to the rescue, helping you get ready in minutes. (No need to wash, dry, and style your hair.)
Finally, if your scalp is feeling sensitive and uncomfortable, dry shampoo can provide cooling relief.
DIY Dry Shampoo Recipe
You can find plenty of dry shampoos at your local drugstore. Unfortunately, many of them are costly and contain damaging and drying ingredients, like alcohol, isobutane, butane, propane, talc, parabens, phthalates, etc., you probably don’t want to leave in your hair due unpleasant smells and long-term health effects.
Fortunately, it’s super simple to make DIY dry shampoo. All it takes is a few ingredients, and you’ll be done in a matter of minutes (under five). Bonus: Your homemade version will cost up to 95% less!
Here’s how to make it (depending on your hair color).
- ¼ cup arrowroot powder, cornstarch, or blended oat or rye flour (very light hair does best with arrowroot)
- For brown hair: Add 2 tablespoons (give or take, depending on how dark your hair is) unsweetened cocoa powder
- For black hair: Add charcoal (the amount will depend on how dark your hair is—you’ll want to play around, adding more or less until it matches your hair color)
- For red hair: Add ½ tablespoon at a time and mix in until it matches your hair color. If your hair is a darker red, you can also add some cocoa powder
- Optional: essential oil of choice
- Optional: 1 tablespoon baking soda
- Place your DIY dry shampoo base (e.g., arrowroot powder, cornstarch, etc. and baking soda if you choose to add it) in a glass container with a lid that closes or into a glass shaker bottle.
- Add additional ingredients depending on your hair color. Blend until you reach the color that matches your hair color.
- Optional: Add five to seven drops of your favorite essential oils (e.g., cedarwood, rosemary, tea tree, lavender, geranium, peppermint, or Roman chamomile; AVOID “hot oils” like clove, oregano, cinnamon, or lemongrass).
- Stir or shake well to ensure everything is combined.
- Keep sealed and store in the bathroom (this is enough for a ton of uses).
How to Apply DIY Dry Shampoo
Start with a patch test, applying a small amount of the mixture on your inner arm and waiting 24 hours. That way you’ll know if your skin is sensitive or allergic to any of the ingredients before you apply it to your head.
If there’s no reaction, you’re good to go. Start with hair that’s completely dry. You can apply the DIY dry shampoo before you go to bed for the best results. If you do apply it in the morning, after a workout, or before going out, give it at least 5 to 10 minutes to absorb the oils in your scalp before you brush or style your hair.
Using your fingers, or preferably, a big, clean, fluffy makeup brush, dip into the dry shampoo, tap off the excess, and then tap the powder onto the oily parts of your hair first, especially around the forehead, behind the ears, and along your part and into the roots. Run your fingers through your hair to apply to any other oily places you may have missed. Be careful, however, to avoid using too much, and use the brush to remove any excess. Focus mainly on your roots and the top couple of inches, rather than using dry shampoo all over your head.
Let sit for a few minutes before you flip your head over and massage the powder into your roots gently with your fingertips. If you don’t massage it in, then it isn’t able to do its job. So use this as a moment for self-care and really massage it into the scalp.
Flip back over and use your fingers or a brush to disperse the rest of the shampoo through all of your hair.
Finally, the next morning or at least five to ten minutes after applying, you’re ready to brush or comb and style your hair as usual.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Dry Shampoo
If your DIY dry shampoo has left a residue, made your hair feel sticky, gritty, or heavy, you may need to make some adjustments.
Common mistakes are applying it too often or too heavily. If you start noticing buildup around the scalp, it’s time to wash it thoroughly and make sure you rinse your scalp well.
Remember, dry shampoo can be used in place of shampoo, but it shouldn’t be used for more than a couple of days in a row. Dry shampoo is a wonderful time-saver but washing with regular shampoo and conditioner is vital for your hair’s long-term health and beauty.
It’s also important to keep in mind that less is more. Too much dry shampoo can leave your hair looking dull and block your hair follicles, leading to thinner, less shiny, less healthy hair. So, dry shampoo should only be used on hair that appears oily (as it can remove the natural oils your hair needs to stay healthy and shiny) between regular washes.
If you have dark hair and notice your dry shampoo gets clumpy or starts to melt, you may need to back off on how much cocoa you use. And if you don’t want to use cocoa at all but you have darker hair, just use the dry shampoo at night before you go to bed to give it time to work before brushing it out and removing any of the leftover that can make your hair look ashy or dull.
DIY Dry Shampoo: A Recap
DIY Dry shampoo can be a time- and even life-saver for busy people on the run who don’t have time to wash and condition their hair every day. When used correctly and appropriately, it can make hair look cleaner, healthier, and fuller—while saving you time and money.