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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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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34 Comments

    1. Hey, Sabina! Vegetable starches in general are good at absorbing moisture, so we think tapioca starch should work just fine! We haven’t tried it ourselves, though—so if you try it, please let us know how it works out!

    1. Yes! Not only is the charcoal safe for dyed hair, but washing your hair less will make your color last even longer. Win-win!

  1. I am 70 years old, wanted a dry shampoo that is truly unscented. Your formula for bentonite clay and arrowroot powder works wonderfully on my gray hair. My hair looks clean, has lots of body and no smell! Thank you

  2. Does the charcoal stain on pillow cases? I tried it out for the first time today and it was a bit messy to get started and I noticed my fingers turned a little gray when I rubbed it into my scalp. Any tips? Maybe I used too much at the beginning but tried to lessen as I went along.

  3. I have dark brown hair, but is it okay that I just use the arrowroot powder? Like will it be a problem if I don’t try to get it to match my hair?

  4. I have tried this a few times now with corn starch, cocoa powder, and half a capsule of activated charcoal and my head starts to intensely itch after applying. I didn’t add the charcoal until the third time in the hopes it would help with the itching. I don’t have any known food allergies to those items having been tested fully prior with an allergist and consuming them prior. What could be going on? Is the makeup brush aggravating my scalp? Or is it just something my skin can’t tolerate?
    I also find after about an hour my hair almost looks to need to be reapplied to. If I can get the itching fixed, is there a way I can also make it last longer?

    1. Interesting! I’m so sorry something is irritating your scalp. It’s hard for me to know what’s causing the problem—these ingredients are generally non-irrtating—so I’m not going to be much of help. I would recommend trying a different brush (or just sprinkling it on and rubbing it in), and maybe switch from cornstarch to arrowroot.

    2. Hello Kerowine keep in mind essential oils are an irritant to many especially on the scalp. If you added an essential oil I would consider not using one at all! Good luck and maybe try swap the cornstarch for arrowroot powder. Remember this can be put into a salt shaker to easily apply a little to hair 🙂

  5. Hi, thanks so much for this post! Question: the ingredients are 2 Tbl of arrowroot powder and 2 Tbl of additional color component…but if I’m going to use cocoa and charcoal, is it 1 Tbl of each, to make 2 Tbl, or 2 Tbl of each ingredient? tia!

    1. You want a total of two tablespoons of additional color—so 1 tablespoon each (or 1 1/2 tablespoon of one, 1/2 tablespoon of the other—whatever ratio you need to get the right color).

  6. I’ve been wondering if I would find a dry shampoo that would work well with my curly girl routine (like you, washing 1 or 2 times per week – between washes I just spray water on my hair and scrunch it in and days 2+ are always way better than day 1), and I think this is the winner! And honestly, smelling like chocolate is a bonus!
    I do have a question – how long does this last? I don’t have overly thick (in fact, my hair is thinning thanks to using a shampoo being sold by Facebook friends) or even super greasy hair, but there is some sheen that I’d like to diminish.

    Thanks for sharing! I’m excited to try this out!