This Not That: DIY Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos have been on the market for quite some time, but did you know that you can easily make your own dry shampoo at home, for far cheaper than  those $15 bottles that disappear so quickly? However, we must note that not all DIY dry shampoos are created equal.

this not that dry shampoo diy

Allow me to get a little scientific here. The average DIY dry shampoo recipe does not take into consideration the pH balance of hair. And while that sounds like something your friendly high school geek would tell you, altering the pH balance of your hair can lead to scalp irritation, dryness, and the intrusion of harmful bacteria and fungi. Our scalps are naturally more acidic, ranging in pH from 4.5 to 5.5, but using products that are too alkaline strip away the oils that protect hair.

At first glance, the two recipes I tested out appear nearly identical, and even have similar results, but one can have damaging long-term effects on your hair.

The first recipe uses cornstarch. If you have brown hair, as I do, add enough cocoa to color the shampoo as dark as you’d like. Redheads can add cinnamon.

Corn Starch DIY Dry Shampoo


  1. Mix together ¼ cup cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. baking soda, and either cocoa or cinnamon.
  2. Apply directly onto hair with a medium or large-sized makeup brush.
  3. Brush hair to get rid of lingering powder.


  • No need to drive to the store; you probably already have cornstarch and baking soda in your cupboard.
  • Just a little bit of the dry shampoo is very effective, so the mix will last far longer than store-bought dry shampoo. Plus, the cornstarch mix was darker than the arrowroot mix below, so I didn’t need to add as much cocoa powder.
  • Homemade dry shampoo lacks the chemical smell that accompanies many store-bought shampoos, and instead is odorless (or smells like cinnamon!).


  • Baking soda has a pH balance of 9, which is incredibly alkaline. To solve this, one would think that perhaps baking soda could simply be omitted from the recipe.
  • However, it turns out that cornstarch could be an offender as well. XoVain noted in their dry shampoo article that the fungus known as Malassezia furfur, a leading cause of dandruff, may feed on cornstarch. Evidence is inconclusive at best, but it’s still a point to keep in mind.

Note: For brunettes, be sure to use unsweetened cocoa. Sweetened cocoa can make your hair sticky.

Arrowroot Powder Cinnamon Cocoa DIY Dry Shampoo.jpg

The second recipe uses arrowroot powder, which can be purchased at a health food or natural grocery store. I bought mine off Amazon. If you have blonde hair, arrowroot powder is all you need!


  1. Mix two parts arrowroot powder with one part cocoa or cinnamon.
  2. Apply to hair using a medium to large-sized makeup brush.
  3. Brush your hair to get rid of lingering powder.


  • If you are worried about the GMO’s found in many corn products, such as cornstarch, arrowroot is a natural alternative.
  • The process that creates arrowroot powder is less severe on the environment than the process that produces cornstarch.
  • My hair was dirtier when I tried arrowroot than when I tried cornstarch, but just a few brushes of the arrowroot mix gave my hair volume and made it feel clean.


  • If you don’t have a natural foods store nearby, arrowroot powder can be more difficult to obtain than cornstarch.
  • Dry shampoo does not take the place of washing hair; the next day my hair felt greasy again and I had to wash it with wet shampoo.
  • If you use dry shampoo too often, it can cake up on your hair.

The Verdict: The arrowroot mix is ultimately healthier for hair. Arrowroot powder has a neutral pH and has not been found to disrupt hair’s pH balance. Therefore, over time, arrowroot powder is more innocuous and offers a natural alternative to the cornstarch dry shampoo mix.

Do you use dry shampoo?

For more on DIY beauty, find our full collection of articles here.

All images via Thinkstock


  1. I have been using homemade dry shampoo for a year now and I have been getting this weird small type of dandruff. I think it is caused by the cornstarch. I think it is fungus. I have had this small dandruff that sticks to the hair strands much more than regular dandruff for over 6 months. It is horrible.


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