Brunette woman in a neutral top and orange kimono holding a jar labeled "dry shampoo" in both hands.

I wash my hair, at most, twice a week (and usually just once—on Sunday nights). Back in the days when I was a daily washer, my hair would end up looking quite greasy within hours. But now that I’m washing less frequently, my hair doesn’t get greasy nearly as fast.

In fact, I can go 2-3 days after washing before I even notice any sheen. And when that first greasy day happens? That’s when my dear friend dry shampoo comes in!

Brunette woman in a neutral top and orange kimono using a brush to mix up some DIY dry shampoo.

I’ve been a loyal dry shampoo user since way back when it was so obscure you had to go to a specialty beauty supply shop to find it. And even before that, I stocked a bottle of baby powder in my bathroom as a teenager to accomplish the same thing!

Now, it’s just about on every store’s shelves (yay!), but unfortunately, finding non-toxic, natural versions of dry shampoo is still quite a struggle. I have tried a few natural brands, but most of them are pure white in color—which, considering the fact that my hair is about as dark as it can get and still be brown—doesn’t work for me. And they are expensive. Holy cow, are they pricey!

Brunette woman in a neutral top and orange kimono. She is holding a glass jar in one hand, and brushing dry shampoo into her hair with the other

A few years back, I started wondering if I could DIY my own dry shampoo for my dark hair at home. Of course, I can’t pump it into an aerosol container at home, but I can definitely replicate the basic premise of natural dry shampoo, which is some sort of powder that absorbs the oil.

I started playing with different absorbent powders, and the combo I figured out for my hair was arrowroot powder (or cornstarch works equally well), cocoa powder, and touch of activated charcoal for my hair. Bonus: I smell DELICIOUS.

I use an old kabuki makeup brush to apply it to my roots liberally, and because it comes pretty close to matching my hair color, I don’t need to brush or comb it in (which I don’t do because of natural curl anyway). I do use my fingers to massage it in, which is always a nice little self-care moment! You can also add the mixture to a shaker bottle and apply it that way. And, if you prefer, brushing and combing through will do the trick to get it mixed in, too.

Brunette woman in a neutral top and orange kimono. She is using a makeup brush to brush dry shampoo into her hair, and then using her fingers to distribute the homemade dry shampoo.

It really does blend right in. This is after applying without any brushing or combing. I dare you to see the dry shampoo!

Brunette woman in a neutral top and orange kimono smiling.

Customizing Your DIY Dry Shampoo For Your Hair Color

So what if you don’t have dark brunette hair like I do? Well, it’s time to get creative and make your own perfect mix. Here are some suggestions:

  • For light and medium blondes and gray hair, straight arrowroot or cornstarch should work well. If your roots tend to be on the darker side, adding just a touch of cocoa powder can help it blend a bit better. If your hair tends to have gray/blue tones in it, then a little bit of bentonite clay or activated charcoal added can help. And if your hair tends to be more strawberry blonde, add a little bit of cinnamon.
  • For redheads or red-toned brunettes, start with your base of arrowroot or cornstarch and add cinnamon and cocoa powder until you get a shade similar to your hair color.
  • For medium brown to dark brown, add a good amount of unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder to your arrowroot/cornstarch base. If you need to darken it more, activated charcoal can be added in small amounts. A little activated charcoal goes a long way!
  • For black hair, just a small amount of activated charcoal added to the base of arrowroot or cornstarch will help it blend a lot better.
  • For bright/vivid hair, I’d recommend sticking with just the arrowroot/cornstarch. Depending on the darkness of your color, you might need to work a bit to get it blended in, but so often vivid hair is extremely porous from the bleaching process, and I wouldn’t recommend using anything like activated charcoal for fear of it (temporarily) staining. Unless that’s what you’re going for, then rock it out!

The key to finding your perfect homemade dry shampoo is a little bit of trial and error. In the chart below, you’ll see my general suggestions for different hair colors, but you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and start mixing to figure out what’s perfect for you!

Chart outlining how to make DIY dry shampoo depending on your hair color.

Some people also use essential oils in their homemade dry shampoo, and you absolutely can if you enjoy the scent (and some, like lavender, can also be soothing to your scalp), but I usually don’t. Since I use cocoa powder, the chocolate smell tends to overpower any essential oils, and it just seems like a waste! I’ve still included it in the recipe below so you can make the decision on your own. Happy experimenting!

DIY Dry Shampoo for Any Hair Color

Yield: 1/4 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This DIY dry shampoo works well for dark hair, light hair, and even vivid hair colors — no more powdery white sheen left behind!


  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons additional coloring powders (unsweetened cocoa powder, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, ground cinnamon, or just more arrowroot/cornstarch)
  • 6 drops essential oil of choice, optional


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small container with a tight fitting lid. Apply lightly to greasy roots of hair using a kabuki makeup brush and gently rub in with fingers or comb through.

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  1. Such a smart idea to add activated charcoal, I never would have thought of that! Like Toinette wrote below, the application of homemade dry shampoo is what was most frustrating for me. I bought a similar powder spray bottle from Amazon and used equal ratios of corn starch and charcoal, plus a few drops of lavender oil. Never going back to aerosol dry shampoo again!

    1. Hi Patricia! You can get it at places like Walmart or drug stores like Walgreens, and of course on Amazon!

  2. This is AWESOME. I used arrowroot with a tiny bit of cocoa. I have dark hair and it was fine. Next time, I will just use the arrowroot because the cocoa got all over the place, and it absorbs so fast, I don’t think I’ll need the cocoa. But I loved the little cocoa scent. 🙂 I’ll definitely keep using this though. Thanks!!

    1. You’re so welcome! Glad you found a way to make it work for you. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about it =)

    1. Hi Mia! It might take a little experimentation to find the exact mix that works best for your hair, but here’s what we recommend in the post as a good place to start: “For medium brown to dark brown, add a good amount of unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder to your arrowroot/cornstarch base. If you need to darken it more, activated charcoal can be added in small amounts. A little activated charcoal goes a long way!” I hope this helps!

  3. This is a great article! Thank you for using affordable items that can be easily found and for making a small recipe.

  4. Works like a charm! but for God’s sake, do not scratch your head, or you will end up with fingernails that look dirty. Wondering what my pillow case will look like tomorrow morning. But YES it works!!

  5. Love this recipe! I have super thin hair, and have been trying to stretch out time between washes. Some dry shampoos leave a white residue behind, and others leave behind a texture that just makes my hair feel unclean. I found one that works great with a touch of color that helps keep my scalp from showing through so much (terrible for pictures,) but I am unsure if the alcohol is good for my scalp and the propellants are most certainly not good for the environment or for me or my 3-year-old (who follows me everywhere) to be breathing in. I mixed some of this up and applied it with a makeup brush, and it seems to work just as well as the aerosol one that I love and hate. It takes a bit longer to apply, but smells better and I no longer worry about what we are inhaling. It’s also going to save me a ton of money in the long run. Thanks! I do have yet to test it out during a sweaty workout (I hope it won’t run like mascara!) but I’ve got my fingers crossed that it won’t be an issue…

  6. So how do you actually sleep? I mean your pillow, do you wash your bedding everyday? If I need to use a dry shampoo I wash a pillow right after, and I wash my hair the very next day. But a cocoa powder on a pillow? I would love to be able going a week without washing my hair but I cannot imagine my face on the same pillow as my hair with all that stuff plus the grease .

    1. Hi, Aga! We’ve never had any issues with charcoal or cocoa on pillowcases! By bedtime everything we’ve applied in the morning has been absorbed and there’s never been any residue left to stain or soil the pillow.

  7. Wow this actually works and its super easy to make! Only downside is now I’m craving chocolate all the time haha. Thanks for the tip!