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This DIY Dry Shampoo Won't Clog Your Pores Or Hurt Your Scalp

February 22, 2020

By now, you might've heard that dry shampoo might be having negative effects on your scalp, from clogged pores and hairline breakouts to thinning hair. Sure, it extends the life of your hairstyle by removing excess oils and is quite a convenient way to skip wash day if needed, but leaving the powder-like formula on your scalp too long is doing more harm than good.

According to celebrity hairstylist Sophia Porter, one common fallacy when using dry shampoo is that it's cleansing the scalp. It's not, and relying on dry shampoo is potentially really damaging. "Dry shampoo doesn't actually clean the hair, so maintaining a proper washing routine for your hair and scalp is important for the overall health of your hair," Porter says. "Overdoing the dry shampoo can cause imbalances with your scalp and can also cause clogged pores and skin irritation due to continuous buildup." But if you can't imagine yourself letting go of your beloved dry shampoo, we've got a better-for-you option that you can make at home. And it's way easier than you think.

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1.

Grab a starch.

Traditional dry shampoo typically consists of a starch and other minerals to help absorb excess oils in the hair. And according to Jana Blankenship, product formulator, founder of the natural beauty brand Captain Blankenship, and author of Wild Beauty, creating a DIY dry shampoo is super simple. The main ingredient is the starch. It will do all the oil-absorbing you need and is a must when creating a DIY dry shampoo. Blankenship's starch of choice is arrowroot powder. This Indonesian starch not only absorbs oils, but research indicates it acts as a prebiotic1 (which, in turn, may help balance your scalp microbiome) as well as being gluten-free, if your skin is irritated by this. 

2.

Gather your other ingredients. 

Blankenship's favorite formula also includes bentonite or kaolin clay, which you can purchase online, and baking soda. "Arrowroot and clay absorb oil, mask grease, and add volume while baking soda helps freshen the hair and fight against buildup as well as having antibacterial2 and antimicrobial properties," Blankenship says. However, some people find they have sensitivities to baking soda when applied topically—be sure to spot test this in advance. Or, you might already know you have sensitivities to baking soda if you can't tolerate it in natural deodorants, for example. 

As an optional addition, you can add essential oils for fragrance to give strands that freshly washed scent without adding any harsh fragrances or chemicals. Her go-to is lavender or lemongrass. If you have dark hair, add cacao powder to your list. The cacao will ensure you don't have any unsightly white flecks in the hair and makes it a heck of a lot easier to blend. These two ingredients are not necessary for creating an effective dry shampoo but are optional based on your personal preferences and hair needs. After all, DIY formulas are all about customization.  

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3.

Mix your ingredients. 

After you've gathered your ingredients, here's your proportions and final recipe: 

  • ½ cup arrowroot powder 
  • 2 tablespoon bentonite or kaolin clay
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda  
  • Optional: ¼ cup cacao powder 
  • Optional: 30 drops essential oils 
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Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Once the ingredients are incorporated, Blankenship suggests using a funnel to add the DIY dry shampoo mix to a shaker bottle for easier application. This can be a repurposed salt or pepper shaker or any other bottle of your choice that allows for you to sprinkle the formula easily onto the scalp. Make sure the container is completely sealed with a lid and store away. Once stored away, this mixture can last up to 2 years. 

4.

Apply as normal. 

When your strands are in need of a quick refresh, simply shake the powder mix directly onto the scalp and rub it in with your fingertips. "Make sure to rub it in evenly using your fingertips, brush, or hair dryer," suggests Blankenship. Like the traditional dry shampoo, the mixture shouldn't be visible on the hair. Once the mix is evenly applied to the scalp, style as normal. 

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5.

Don't forget to shampoo. 

According to Blankenship, this DIY dry shampoo can be used daily but should be washed out with shampoo once or twice a week. "When you wash your hair with shampoo, the powdered formula will wash out easily," Blankenship says. "Just make sure to lather and massage the scalp, and buildup should not be an issue."

In fact, this DIY recipe is actually easier to wash out than aerosol formulas because traditional dry shampoo coats the strands of the hair, making it harder to remove.

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Andrea Jordan
Andrea Jordan
Contributing writer

Andrea Jordan is a beauty and lifestyle freelance writer covering topics from hair and skincare to family and home. She received her bachelor's in Magazine Journalism from Temple University and you can find her work at top publications like InStyle, PopSugar, StyleCaster, Business Insider, PureWow and OprahMag. When she's not writing, you can find Andrea tackling new recipes in the kitchen or babysitting one of her many nieces and nephews. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and cat, Silas.