Tuesday Tutorial: Fast and Dirty, How to make dry shampoo at home

hair care

I couldn’t resist the 70’s clip art.

Dry shampoo, it is one of those things I remember from my childhood as being a nasty, stinky, mess. It didn’t really clean your hair as much as just cover up the existing odor. A few years ago, though, dry shampoo began to make a main stream comeback. With sleek high end lines like TIGI’s Rockaholic and drugstore lines like Dove’s Refresh and Care  on shelves everywhere, there is now a product and a price point for every budget. But what I found sorely lacking, in the seemingly all inclusive market coverage, was a dry-shampoo that wasn’t white.

I have found that the higher-end dry shampoos tend to have finer particles and a more even spray so they are less likely to show up on my dark hair, but if I am not careful (And really, who is careful with dry shampoo? You’re using it for a reason. Duh!) I still look like an extra from a 5th grade play about George Washington and the Continental Congress.

So how to fix that on the cheap? Well, I love to DIY and I love a challenge, so I started scouring the internet for homemade recipes for dry shampoo. Across the board it seemed like women with light brown to blonde hair were getting by with baby powder, corn starch or arrowroot powder. Obviously none of those would work for me. Then I stumbled upon the Wellness Mama blog and the author’s recipe for dry shampoo for dark hair.

I liked her recipe OK. But I had two major issues with it. She made WAY TOO MUCH at a time and smelling like straight coco powder all day got old quickly.  So here is my step-by-step tutorial on how I make my dry shampoo.

First you need to gather up a few ingredients and tools:

things you need

  • ARROWROOT POWDER: You can get this at a health food store or high end grocery. Here in Charleston I usually buy it at the Healthy Life Market. Normally, I NEVER buy this big of a bag because I don’t use it for anything but dry shampoo. Usually, they sell it by weight so you can buy as little or as much as you need. But when I picked up supplies for this tutorial they only had the prepackaged sizes. If you’re desperate you can substitute cornstarch but I have found it doesn’t mix or apply nearly as well as arrowroot.
  • UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER: I keep this in my kitchen for baking so I always have it on hand, otherwise it can be found in the baking isle of any grocery store.  Make sure it is unsweetened otherwise you’ll attract every bug within smelling distance and if you sweat, you’ll end up with a sticky mess on top your head.
  • GROUND CINNAMON: I add this to mine for a myriad of reasons. I love the way cinnamon smells and cinnamon is a “hot” spice, so it is stimulating and can wake you up if you’re sleepy. I find it invigorating and it can help stimulate blood flow to the scalp.
  • ESSENTIAL OIL: These aren’t a must and at MOST you only need two drops. You don’t want to make a paste and you don’t want to knock anyone down with too much scent. I like “thieves oil” which is a blend of several different spices, but the smell may be too strong for many. I also really like orange oil. Citrus, chocolate and a touch of cinnamon is like the perfect storm of scent.
  • OTHER TOOL: You’ll need a soft bristled, large makeup brush for application and a hair brush (not pictured) to brush the mixture through. If my hair is really oily I also like to briefly blow dry the roots so you would need a hair dryer (not pictured) for that extra step.

Start by measuring out equal parts of cocoa powder and arrowroot into a bowl. I use about a tablespoon of each. This is enough for several weeks worth of applications. I don’t make huge batches  to leave around and I seal up the extra in a half pint mason jar.

Next, if you’re using it, add between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. This is based on personal preference. How strong of a cinnamon smell do you like? I would also note: if you have an extremely sensitive scalp please skip this step. The cinnamon could possibly irritate your head.

Equal parts arrowroot and cocoa powder with cinnamon.

Equal parts arrowroot and cocoa powder with cinnamon.

After you’ve measured out your dry ingredients stir them together till you have a uniform color and texture. This is important, if you do not stir everything well you could get an uneven application.

Once you've mixed your dry ingredients it should look like this.

Once you’ve mixed your dry ingredients it should look like this.

Now add two drops of essential oils and stir quickly, make sure to completely incorporate the oil so you don’t leave any wet spots in your mix.

Once you have everything stirred up you are ready for application. Be careful not to get too much product in your hair. It is much easier to add more than to get it out if you’ve over applied. To make sure you have just enough, after you dip your brush, tap the excess off on the side of the bowl several times, until you no longer see a visible puff of powder.

You're brush should look like this after you've tapped off the excess.

You’re brush should look like this after you’ve tapped off the excess.

I section my hair off, usually in about two inch sections. Starting with a part on top of my head, I apply the powder, move over two inches, part the hair again, apply more powder. I work my way around my head like this until I have covered my scalp and the roots.

Tap the powder into the part from the crown out.

Tap the powder into the part from the crown out.

There is no need to cover all the hair, you just want a light application on the scalp and roots. This is where the majority of the oil and dirt will be. The product will be distributed through out the hair when you brush it out.

Wait a few minutes, the oilier your hair, the longer you need to wait. (This is where, if you are using a hair dryer, you blow dry your scalp and roots for about 90 seconds.) I usually put on my foundation while I let the dry shampoo do its thing.

Finally brush it out. You will need to brush your hair a few times to make sure you’ve removed any big particles. Style as normal.

Actually, it has been my experience, that day old hair, treated with dry shampoo, styles much more easily than squeaky clean locks. It holds curl and smells great!

Do you have any dry shampoo tips or tricks? Horror stories? Do tell! We’d love to hear them.

My name is Autumn and in my current incarnation I am a Features writer for the Charleston Gazette. I love fashion & step to the beat of my own inner design-team. My parents once told me, "You can be anything you want to be when you grow up." I misunderstood I thought they said, "You can be EVERY thing you want to be." and I've spent my life trying it all. I like to design and sew some of my own clothes and I enjoy playing with new makeup and I spend way too much time perusing fashion and DIY blogs. I also homestead so I am always reusing and repurposing things for fashion's sake.

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