DIY all-natural dry shampoo

Ladies, we’ve all been there…

You’re running late, your boyfriend/husband is nagging you, and as much as you want to wash and style your hair, there is just no time.

Or maybe you want to throw it up in a pony-tail to make an early-morning run to the grocery store without looking quite so slick.

Or maybe you just pressed the snooze button a few extra times than you should have.

Life happens. But bad hair days don’t have to when you have dry shampoo.

When aerosol dry shampoo came on the market, it was a life-changer for me (I was in college at the time, working and studying, and often running late to both). What an amazing invention! Until you look at the ingredient label…

Ruh roh. Lots of nasties in these babies.

The iconic Pssst Dry Shampoo, has a “6” ranking in EWG’s Skin Deep Database, which is the highest score in the “moderate hazard” range.  Its most offensive ingredients have been linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive harm and organ system toxicity.

Which is why an all-natural alternative for me was a must.

And who knew it would be so simple and effective?

By simple I mean one ingredient for blondes (organic cornstarch), two for brunettes (organic cornstarch and unsweetened cocoa powder mixed to a 1:1 ratio). Yep, that’s it. I mixed mine (as I am a brunette) and put it in an old spice container with a shaker top (pictured above). That way I can easily just sprinkle a little on my roots (sounds a tad silly, I know) when needed. I simply shake my hair out to blend it in. Many others use on old make-up brush to apply the powder, simply buffing it in as you would with facial powder, until completely absorbed. This is a useful technique and guarantees you get right to the roots.

Some of you may be skeptical, but I assure you this is amazing.

Way more life-changing than I had once thought aerosol dry shampoo to be. The first and foremost reason obviously being that it is all-natural. The second being that it blends much more easily for me (I always seemed to have one large white patch with the aerosols that just could not be blended and had me rubbing my head for what seemed like minutes) yet absorbs the oil completely. To boot, my hair does not get the same stiff feeling as with the aerosols.

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Would this work the same with arrowroot? x

    April 25, 2013 • 2:22 pm •
  2. Nadia

    Hi, Michelle! It does work similarly and absorbs the oil. For me, it was slightly harder to get to blend in than cornstarch, but give it a go and let me know how it fares for you!

    April 26, 2013 • 10:40 am •
  3. Years ago, I used a blend that included clay and was rather white; it didn’t work well on my dark hair. I was very excited to see this idea to mix in cocoa powder!

    I just tried this using arrowroot instead of cornstarch (and hadn’t noticed these comments about that). I used one of my kids paint brushes to apply it (I apparently got rid of my makeup brush during one of my many house clean-outs). Just tapped the paintbrush lightly after dipping it to get rid of any excess powder. The cocoa/arrowroot mixture worked wonderfully on my 3rd-day hair! Thank you!

    June 12, 2013 • 11:29 am •
  4. chrissie

    Yep! I love this. I have been doing this for a while now. Yesterday my hair was G-R-E-A-S-Y! So I did this and went to dinner, the next morning you there was no oily hair.

    June 20, 2013 • 4:53 pm •
  5. Elaine

    Im confused. Do you sprinkle, rub in and leave it? Or do you wash out like regular shampoo in the shower?

    July 1, 2013 • 7:10 pm •
  6. Nadia

    Hi, Elaine! Like other dry shampoos, you just leave it in your hair. It absorbs the oil so your hair looks nice and clean without needing to get in the shower, dry off, blow dry your hair, and all that rigmarole. It’s a real time saver when you’re in a crunch!!

    July 1, 2013 • 7:43 pm •
  7. Elaine

    Thanks Nadia! I’ll definitely try it.

    July 2, 2013 • 5:45 am •
  8. Marcia

    I have used baby powder for this for years and since my hair is white it blends in fine..but I’m going to try the cornstarch as it seems a better choice.

    July 2, 2013 • 6:48 am •
  9. Any ideas for redheads? I’m not sure if brown or white will blend in very well

    July 2, 2013 • 8:55 am •
  10. Chrissie

    Hannah, try adding some cinnamon. I have reddish/brown hair and I used a mix of cinnamon and coco with the corn starch.

    July 2, 2013 • 12:02 pm •
  11. Nadia

    Readers helping readers- love it!! Thanks, Chrissie! That is a great suggestion.

    July 2, 2013 • 1:29 pm •
  12. Awesome! Thanks for your help, Chrissie 🙂

    July 3, 2013 • 12:20 pm •
  13. Keona

    Thanks!!! i put a bit of cinnamon in and had complements all day on how good i smelt 😉

    July 4, 2013 • 2:43 am •
  14. Nadia

    Haha Keona, that’s awesome!! Glad it worked out for you!

    July 4, 2013 • 2:50 am •
  15. Jodi H

    How much do you use?

    July 4, 2013 • 4:01 am •
  16. Nadia

    Hi, Jodi! It depends on how oily my hair is. I usually start with a little sprinkling, rub it in, and then see if I need more.

    July 4, 2013 • 4:39 am •
  17. Wendy

    Do you think this would work for bangs?

    July 4, 2013 • 8:39 am •
  18. Nadia

    Hmm I don’t see why not! I might be hesitant to add the cocoa though in case you sweat (my fear being that it could come off on your forehead). I have never personally had a problem with rain making the cocoa run down my face – this was certainly a fear when I first wore it in the rain through – but since bangs are always right against your forehead I would just be cautious of this. If I were you, I would use arrowroot rather than cornstarch. Many people use arrowroot to set their makeup or just to give themselves a shine-free finish, so I would personally rather have this against my skin. Give it a go and see how it works! Worst case scenario, you now have some extra baking supplies 🙂

    July 4, 2013 • 10:44 am •
  19. This is brilliant! I have tried 5 diff aerosols (i’m a brunette) to try to find one that doesn’t leave me looking grey! I’m trying this NOW lol 🙂

    July 4, 2013 • 11:44 am •
  20. Natalie

    I wonder if coconut flour would work? I don’t like the idea of cornstarch. I think this would work well in a shaker jar with medium holes for all over coverage:)

    July 5, 2013 • 7:41 pm •
  21. Nadia

    Arrowroot works if you don’t like cornstarch.

    July 5, 2013 • 7:51 pm •
  22. Do you think this would work for dread locks on African American Hair. Or just Black hair period?

    July 8, 2013 • 4:50 pm •
  23. Nadia

    Hi, Nina. Hm. I think on dread locks it would not rub in very well, but I think the brush-buffing technique could work well since it makes it easier to blend. To be honest I’m not sure! If you do happen to try it, please report back 🙂 I’d love to know and am sure others would as well!

    July 8, 2013 • 4:55 pm •
  24. Will definitly try this with the addition of coca and cinnamon – this could be a livesafer for a first time mum, thanks so much 😀

    July 8, 2013 • 5:01 pm •
  25. Caroline

    Hi! Thank you to everybody for sharing. My concern is – wont the cornstarch eventually fall on the user’s shirt, leaving what looks like dandruff?

    July 9, 2013 • 8:07 am •
  26. Nadia

    Hi, Caroline. Nope! It stays in the hair. When applying it, I do typically get some on my shirt, but it brushes off easily.

    July 9, 2013 • 10:44 am •
  27. I’ve been meaning to make this, and your post just gave me last push I needed to get my butt to the store & buy some cornstarch! I am a brunette but will probably add some cinnamon in there the scent. Has anyone tried adding in essential oils or would that totally counteract the whole idea of absorbing the oil of of your hair?

    July 23, 2013 • 5:29 pm •
  28. […] by Empowered Sustenance Homemade Shampoo by DIY Natural DIY Shampoo Bars by Learning and Yearning Dry Shampoo by Body […]

    August 24, 2013 • 12:56 pm •
  29. can you use self rising flour not corn starch

    October 1, 2013 • 11:34 am •
  30. Nadia

    No clue!

    October 1, 2013 • 2:16 pm •
  31. Lib

    Will this work on Asian? Obviously I have black hair and my hair get oily very quick.

    January 15, 2014 • 11:20 pm •
  32. Nadia

    It should! You may have to rub it in a bit more since your hair is so dark, but I don’t see why not.

    January 16, 2014 • 9:51 am •
  33. Laura

    Could you use cacao powder instead of the cocoa powder? I don’t see why not, but wondered if it would make any difference, and that’s just what I have on hand. Thanks for the awesome idea, as I get greasy after only one day and it’s such a pain to have to wash my hair every day just to look socially acceptable 🙂

    January 26, 2014 • 4:15 am •
  34. Nadia

    I don’t see why not! And ooh girl do I feel you about having to wash your hair everyday 😉 This really is a life-saver.

    January 26, 2014 • 3:35 pm •
  35. Robyn

    The secret is to brush it out with a hairbrush with some cheesecloth over it. Nothing left in the hair.

    January 29, 2014 • 2:05 pm •
  36. Hi there! I have super-greasy hair, and love using “dry shampoos” but I don’t like using cornstarch if I don’t have to… would rice powder work as well? I’ve tried using baking soda, but that leaves me with messy gritty beach hair (awesome sometimes, not always). I’m considering adding a couple of drops of EOs and mixing well.

    Your blog is wonderful, I have become addicted! I managed to somehow follow a link here, and I’ve been digging through your site for the past hour straight 🙂 So much of the tiny bits of info I’ve been looking for to fill in my natural regimen!

    February 20, 2014 • 9:18 am •
  37. Nadia

    Arrowroot works just as well as cornstarch. Is it because you are worried about GMO cornstarch? If yes, you can buy organic.

    February 20, 2014 • 11:44 am •
  38. I have a lot of rice powder and am trying to find ways to use it :P… I’ll have to take a look for non-GMO cornstarch next time I go shopping though. I do also love what rice does for my skin, so I was just wondering if there were more ways to use it.

    February 27, 2014 • 12:04 am •
  39. Kitiara

    Hey, just wanted to pop in and say I have been using this recipe for a few days now and it works ten times better than store bought spray dey shampoos. I’m in love! Just wanted to quickly mention a few things I’ve learned out there on the interwebz: apparently corn starch encourages the growth of the scalp fungus that causes dandruff. I’ve been using corn starch anyway and haven’t noticed any extra flakes yet, but it might be something to consider if you’re particularly flaky. Also this is a much better option than baby powder, because baby powder is basically talc, and talc particles are so small that they can cause serious breathing problems when inhaled. You don’t want to use it around humans, basically. Cocoa powder FTW!! And I am really interested if rice powder works too. Please let us know if you try it , Miyu!

    March 16, 2014 • 1:27 am •
  40. millie

    Okay, so…. yeah. I’m a redhead, which is kind of an issue here. Tips please?

    March 26, 2014 • 11:45 pm •
  41. Nadia

    I think someone above said they added cinnamon! Also, you can just do plain cornstarch. You’ll just need to blend it in very well, but it will work!

    March 27, 2014 • 11:09 am •
  42. millie


    March 27, 2014 • 12:58 pm •
  43. I tried the cornstarch and cinnamon but it just looked like I had dusty hair. No matter how many times I brushed, it still looked like a powdered wig in my red hair =/ It did take the oils away but I still had to wash it to remove the cornstarch and I really didn’t use much. I am trying not to wash my hair every single day because of damage to my ends but I have an oily scalp so after one full day, I could lube an engine with it. Sadly, this didn’t work out for me as well as it has for others.

    March 30, 2014 • 8:58 pm •
  44. sarah

    I have red hair, and today I used straight cinnamon (I use tons of cinnamon, so I get it at Costco for less than four bucks for a big shaker bottle). I sprinkled it directly onto my roots from the bottle, then just worked it in with my fingers and then brushed my hair. It worked FABULOUSLY! Even after a mid-day workout (I showered, but didn’t wash my hair) my hair STILL looks and smells great!

    April 6, 2014 • 6:10 am •
  45. Nadia

    That’s so awesome to hear!! For all the other redheads out there: take note!

    April 7, 2014 • 8:19 pm •
  46. Guest

    Try putting it on overnight — it all absorbs by morning, and no grey hair!

    May 1, 2014 • 1:09 am •
  47. […] “hot, greasy mess” while your hair adjusts) and it was too big of a task for my trusty DIY all-natural dry shampoo to […]

    May 1, 2014 • 8:43 pm •
  48. Nadia

    Thanks for the tip!

    May 7, 2014 • 9:04 pm •
  49. I’m a redhead and I tried this with cinnamon…and also had to wash my hair….maybe if my hair was less oily at the time….but then….whats the point?

    May 18, 2014 • 10:57 pm •
  50. Nadia

    So it didn’t work out for you??

    May 19, 2014 • 9:20 am •
  51. Jordan

    I’m really excited to try this! Just made myself a batch 🙂

    June 11, 2014 • 9:33 am •
  52. Happy

    Can I use cornflour instead of cornstarch? and baking powder instead of baking soda. as I m not getting in the super stores. (I am from Bangladesh)

    July 15, 2014 • 11:45 am •
  53. Ella

    Happy, as far as I know cornflour is the same as cornstarch (I always assumed that it was just a case of British vs. American English) but if they’re not the same I can vouch for cornflour
    A tip for those of us with rainbow coloured hair (mine is currently bubblegum pink): crush up an old or unwanted eyeshadow (as long as it vaguely matches the colour of your hair) and mix some in with the cornstarch, it blends much easier as long as you keep the colour subtle (i.e don’t use too much eyeshadow) and helps bled away growing out roots

    July 16, 2014 • 6:45 am •
  54. What would you suggest for redheads??

    July 16, 2014 • 10:51 am •
  55. Destiny

    Millie: Use Red Clay Powder with cornstarch for red hair. I love it.

    August 19, 2014 • 3:39 pm •
  56. Virginia Owen Krueger

    This is an Amazing idea!!! Simple and inexpensive! – along with the various tips & improvements!
    2 things that i’m hoping someone has addressed (before i become a regretful guinea pig)… 1, i’ve wondered if one could add scent, without resorting to the talc powder form that dry scents it usually come in…the spice idea someone mentioned is a good start.
    Also, i’ve messed around with using a few shine products, in really small amounts, to get rid of the powgered wig effect – after use. Some luck there, I got a little bit of shine – and not in the recognizable, greasy hair pattern – the heavy, oily look that’s intense at the roots, and diminishes towards the ends.
    It doesn’t seem like it would… but that, alone, makes hair appear, much less dirty. It would be great to use the cocoa/rice poder or dry clay mix, with a bit of some scent, of my choice I HATE the thick, cloying chemical fruity scents that dominate the hair/skin and room scents on the market now). But, i don’t know of any scent products that are not essential oils…and those don’t give, but the tiniest bit of shine. I’m guessing there’s some way of combining the dry mix with a scent, or a shine, that won’t
    And…after 4 kids, my hair got course and very not-shiny. As id it sucks in light, and refuses to bounce any of it back. Think brown cotton ball. Not pretty. Not soft silky soft either.
    I have to admit, the difference that the leave-in, after-shampoo shine products out there make a night and day difference for me. Almost unbelievable! While they don’t come with any warnings or insructions to dial a poison control center, i wouldn’t be shocked if they’re toxic. Does anyone know of any non toxic shine stuff ?
    If you want an interesting color shimmer in your hair, in sreaks or all over, i’ve put streaks of natural iridescent pigment powder, both mixed into shine serum and dry, in my hair with my fingers.
    It’s sold in art stores and catalogs. You get sreaks of color, like copper, vivid periwinke, aqua and other blues pinks, yellows
    Steely gray/black, silver, gold, greens… it’s fun.:^)

    September 7, 2014 • 7:26 pm •
  57. Lorna

    For those of you with red hair, I’ve read that using the special dark cocoa powder is better because it has a reddish tint. If you try it, let us know!

    October 1, 2014 • 5:17 pm •
  58. Nadia

    Hmmm interesting…

    October 2, 2014 • 10:35 am •
  59. I’m wondering if highlighting powder (shimmery skin stuff) added to arrowroot powder would give you the shiny not oily look. I only have the cream kind at the moment but powder kind might work.

    October 28, 2014 • 9:13 am •
  60. Desiraé

    Hi everyone! I recently started using dry shampoo. My first sample came from an Eco Emi subscription box and inside of it was a sample of a dry shampoo from Echo Friendly Living and they use the same ingredients – cornstarch and cocoa powder – only they add spearmint essential oil. I ♡ it! just gives you that extra subtle fresh smell and feeling that I’ve noticed a lot of you readers are looking for, so maybe somebody can try using a mint EO or different scent, since it seems like this company has pulled it off. Hope this helps!

    November 8, 2014 • 11:14 pm •
  61. Desiraé

    The company name is actually Eco, not Echo..oops! Lol

    November 8, 2014 • 11:16 pm •
  62. Nadia

    Thanks for the tip! Yes, I see no problem at all adding a little EO.

    November 9, 2014 • 4:21 pm •
  63. Kaila Carpenter

    My hair is dyed firetruck red. Would cinnamon work? What else could I try?

    December 11, 2014 • 8:50 pm •
  64. Angela

    Cornstarch is great and all, but i’m fearful that it would attract mice and other pests. Unsweetened cocoa powder seems less likely to do so since in its unsweetened form, it is not sweet (or at least less so than the unsweetend cocoa powder), would it be as effective to use all cocoa powder? or is there an alternative powder that could be used as effective oil dry shampoo and would not attract pests?

    December 16, 2014 • 3:18 am •
  65. Nadia

    LOL attract pests to your hair? I don’t think so. Just keep the jar closed like you would with any other beauty product.

    December 16, 2014 • 10:00 am •
  66. Erin

    I have been using the cornstarch alone (I’m blonde) but notice my scalp to be increasingly dry and somewhat uncomfortable. Any thoughts? Does arrowroot lead to the same potential scalp drying side effect?

    January 4, 2015 • 1:25 am •
  67. I haven’t noticed it myself but then, I also haven’t been using anything but arrowroot powder and water in my hair for the last 2 months. Because of this my scalp has felt better than ever.

    January 5, 2015 • 6:55 pm •
  68. Phillipa

    I have bad hair odor so I need to wash and condition my hair everyday. Will this help with the odor if I skip hair washes for a couple of days? Also does the cocoa powder make your hair sticky during hot days or would it start to drip of my hair if it comes in contact with rain?

    February 1, 2015 • 10:25 am •
  69. Shi

    Hello, does this dry shampoo treat itchy scalp or dandruff? Aside from using Head&Shoulder anybody have NY home remedy for that? Does arrowroot help and where can I get it? Much thanks:-)

    February 1, 2015 • 11:31 am •
  70. Jody Jones

    I cant find the ingredients…..whats in this?

    February 2, 2015 • 8:13 am •
  71. Lyn

    Chocolate stains badly and impossible to get out of clothing. I am very concerned about residual powder dropping on clothing or carpet. Would appreciate any feedback from long time users. Many years ago I used a dry shampoo when I had very oily hair. (White powder). Would love to find something that does not look like I have powder in my hair.

    February 2, 2015 • 7:24 pm •
  72. Nadia

    Hmmm been using this for about 2 years now and no issues whatsoever.

    February 5, 2015 • 4:39 pm •
  73. Nadia

    I list them all right in the post! Corn starch and cocoa powder.

    February 5, 2015 • 4:41 pm •
  74. Alicia

    I made some of this today and added a few drops of geranium essential oil and a couple drops of lemon to the powders before blending it up in my little bullet. It seemed to work

    March 23, 2015 • 6:05 pm •
  75. Nadia

    Ooh I bet that smelled great.

    March 26, 2015 • 9:30 pm •
  76. siv

    can u use cornflour unstead of cornstrch

    October 7, 2015 • 1:01 pm •
  77. Nadia

    Yes, they’re the same thing. But no to corn meal — that’s very different.

    October 12, 2015 • 8:34 pm •
  78. Audra

    Could I use baking powder instead of baking soda? And I also have baby powder too

    November 7, 2015 • 3:22 pm •
  79. Nadia

    There is no baking soda in this recipe, so no!

    November 8, 2015 • 6:54 am •
  80. Carol

    Hello. I will definitely try this, as i have problem with thinning hair for frequent shampooing (as in everyday shamppoing my hair) and having itchy scalp. I have reads in many books and magazine that sodium laureth is bad for dry hair but most of the shampoos here in the phils. contain that. Will give feedback after i try this! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    December 12, 2015 • 8:49 am •
  81. Andrea

    Hi Nadia,

    I am loving your site but can’t seem to find any homemade shampoo/conditioners; just your dry shampoo recipe. Can you direct me to a post where you talk about that or share your shampoo/conditioning routine? Thanks so much!

    January 5, 2016 • 12:36 pm •
  82. Nadia

    Hi, Andrea. I don’t have any DIYs for that yet! Right now, I use and love J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo and am still on the hunt for a great (and affordable) natural conditioner! If you find one, please let me know 🙂

    February 19, 2016 • 11:27 am •
  83. Christene

    I am curious about how this would work if you used hairspray or like a beach hair spray. Would it mess with the dry shampoo?

    April 17, 2016 • 3:56 pm •
  84. gabriela

    is it okay to only use the cocoa powder?

    February 5, 2017 • 3:45 am •