In this instalment of Town and Country, Katherine and Maggie try out homemade recipes for dry shampoo.
Katherine: This stuff really works!
Dry shampoo is making a comeback after being wildly popular in the 1960s-70s. It’s a quick and easy way to get fresher and cleaner-looking hair without going through the hassle of wet washing. It’s an effective way to avoid frequent shampooing, which strips the scalp and hair shafts of its natural oil and can lead to unpleasant overproduction of oil. Just-washed hair is a nightmare to style, so dry shampoo is helpful for getting the cooperativeness of slightly greasy hair without the look.
Dry shampoo works by putting an oil-absorbing substance at the root of the hair, which then gets brushed, combed, or blown through the hair. It disappears, along with the extra oil, and leaves the hair shaft feeling and looking less greasy.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It is.
The conventional dry shampoos available at the store contain toxic ingredients such as talc, isobutane, butane, propane, limonene, geraniol, and hormone-disrupting parabens. The popular ones made by Batiste, Dove, and L’Oreal all scored 6 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep database, which is right on the border between moderate and high hazard. Many come in environmentally destructive aerosol cans and wasteful plastic spray bottles.
The good news is that it’s easy to make your own dry shampoo and avoid all those nasty ingredients. Maggie and I decided to experiment for our biweekly Town & Country post, each trying a different method, since dry shampoo is a new concept for both of us. Here is what I did:
Mix 2 tbsp cornstarch with 3 drops lavender essential oil (you could choose whatever scent you prefer). For dark hair, mix in some cocoa powder or cinnamon.
Sprinkle mixture onto scalp and hair roots. Work in with fingertips, then comb through. (You can also brush it on with an old, large makeup brush.)
It worked! My hair, which already hadn’t been wash for four days, got another boost and will likely last for another 1-2 days before I wash next with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Next time, though, I’ll add cinnamon to darken the cornstarch. I skipped the cocoa powder because I thought it would be too dark for my red hair, but it took a long time to get rid of the powdery whiteness of the cornstarch. Initially, it removed much of the shine, too, but that came back. I’ll definitely try it again.
It’s important to note that dry shampoo is not meant to be a substitute for wet washing. I’ve read posts in forums from women who say their hair has started to thin and fall out – but they claim to use dry shampoo on a daily basis. When you consider the toxic ingredients that they must be inhaling and absorbing, it’s no wonder the effects start to show after a while. Use natural ingredients, and use them occasionally, and you should get good results.
Maggie: A great alternative
I decided to use organic arrowroot as the base of my dry shampoo. It’s been a sunny summer and my dirty blond hair is leaning towards the blonder side—although the lighting in my bathroom makes it look pretty reddish. I didn’t feel any need to add any ingredients to make the mixture darker.
Here’s what I did:
Transfer a cup of arrowroot flour to a jar or other container with a lid. Add a few drops of essential oils if you’d like it to smell nice (this is totally optional). Use a clean makeup brush to apply the power to the roots of your hair. Use a comb or brush to expose different parts of your scalp and continue applying the powder. Once you’ve worked it in, brush as much of the powder out as possible and style as desired.
My hair looks greasy after about 48 hours of washing (I use Dr. Bronner’s). The dry shampoo worked well. It didn’t look quite just-washed, but it definitely took care of the greasy look. I used the dry shampoo two days after my last shampooing, and I was happy to go another couple of days before wet-washing it again. The arrowroot continued absorbing oils throughout the day—my hair looked the same at the end of the day as it did when I finished the dry-shampoo treatment.
Like Katherine, I found that the dry shampoo made my hair easier to style. It was a little less flyaway, and stayed put nicely in a bun. It's not for everyday, but it's a really nice alternative to a full wet-wash.
While I was researching recipes, I found a few that added dry chamomile for lighter hair, but I couldn’t tell what the benefit of this would be. Have any of our readers seen benefits from adding chamomile or other ingredients to their dry shampoo?