Taking the Toxins Out of Dry Shampoo

September 8, 2014

Busy, modern life has opened the door to quick beauty fixes. At the top of the class is dry shampoo, a relatively new invention that saps up oil from the scalp, taking tresses from greasy to a freshly washed look within minutes.

For multi-tasking mums to dedicated gym junkies, it’s a winning invention that, as the name suggests, requires no water and next to no time. While the idea of cleaning hair sans suds has been around for more than a century, commercial products hit the shelves in a big way with the rise of Twiggy—the 60s waif model who inspired short skirts, cute coifs, and quick hair fixes.

Not intended as a shampoo and conditioner replacement, dry shampoos are marketed as “in-between” beauty remedies that not only keep you looking fresher for longer, but are also said to foster healthier locks due to less washing. This of course is dependent on what ingredients are in your favourite dry shampoo.

A Natural Choice

These new-age shampoos, which can range between $2.95 and $80 from chemists to high-end salons, are available as powders, liquids or aerosol sprays to suit various hair shades. Popular mainstream varieties, however, are a mix of potentially harmful chemicals: aerosol propellants, solvents, absorbing and conditioning agents—as well as fragrances, which themselves are made up of thousands of toxic chemicals that can act as hormone disruptors and cancer causers when absorbed through the scalp.

However, there are natural, organic beauty companies who are meeting consumer demand for natural, powdered dry shampoos that are free from nasties. Better yet, your kitchen pantry can also save you dollars and time, with ingredients such as baking soda, oatmeal and cornstarch acting as super oil absorbers that can be brushed out of hair as easily as factory-produced varieties.

Quick vs Clean

While dry shampoos can save on water bills, their job is to take out excess oil, and not necessarily dirt and grime from city smog and everyday living. A good dry shampoo will give your locks approximately three wash-free days, but can’t compete with a wash, rinse and repeat.

No ‘Poo Dos and Don’ts

• Dry shampoo is just that: effective only on dry hair.
• If you decide dry shampoo in a can is a must have, spray it at least seven inches away from the roots to ensure even distribution with less build up.
• Allow the product to sit in the hair a few minutes before styling. This allows the ingredients to do their job. A good brush and blowdry after application is a must to get the most out of a dry shampoo treatment.
• While oil concentrates mostly on the scalp, distributing on the hair ends is a great way to add texture.
• Dry shampoo is a great option for those with fine hair, as it adds volume and texture, making styling easier.

DIY Dry Shampoo Recipes

Oatmeal & Baking Soda: Combine one part ground oatmeal to one part baking soda. Massage the mixture into your roots. Brush well from roots to tips to ensure mixture is removed.

Cornmeal & Salt: Mix one tablespoon of salt, and half a cup of cornmeal. Store in a saltshaker and shake the mixture onto the hair roots, massage in and leave for approximately one minute. Brush it out well.

Cornstarch: Massage a generous amount of cornstarch to hair roots, massaging it in to ensure oil is soaked up effectively. Brush and go.

Cornmeal, Orrisroot & Almonds: Combine one tablespoon of cornmeal with one tablespoon of orrisroot, and one tablespoon of very finely ground almonds. Be sure to brush hair well before massaging through, concentrating on the roots. This is a great mixture for especially oily hair. Brush out well.

Cheesecloth: Skip ingredients and get your hands on a decent size of cheesecloth. Wrap it around a natural bristled brush and work through your hair, focussing on the roots. Cheesecloth is very absorbent is great at removing dirt and oil.


• Brunettes can opt for a dark powder base, such as cocoa, to ensure any leftover dry shampoo residue isn’t visible.

• If you’re looking for a little extra volume, an at-home dry shampoo with flour as the base can help. Wheat and oat flour are good choices.

Scent Appeal

• If smelling like oatmeal and almonds doesn’t appeal, there’s a natural way to add scent to your DIY dry shampoo. Simply add dried flowers such as lavender or rose petals when making the mixture. Store for at least one month before using to ensure the scent has carried through to the ingredients.

• After using your dry shampoo mixture of choice, put a few drops of a high quality essential oil in a spray bottle and fill with water. Simply spray over the hair for a subtle after-shampoo scent.

This column originally appeared in Australia’s leading natural health and lifestyle publication, WellBeing.

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