Dry Shampoo and Mad Science

The other day I was asking for dry shampoo recommendations. Today I will give you the results of my inquiries and subsequent experimentation. But first, because I’m tired of answering this question — let me explain the idea of dry shampoo.

For most of my life, I washed my hair every day just because, well, that’s what I thought you were supposed to do. But you don’t have to. And I don’t anymore. In fact, I only wash my hair a couple of times a week, if that — and sometimes I try to time the hair-washings so that the hair will look spiffy for a special occasion … which means going an extra day or two without any suds. I’ll be the first to admit that after a stretch, my hair starts to look manky. Usually, I bust out the bobby pins and hairspray; but sometimes, the mane is just too greasy to salvage.

This is where dry shampoos come in. Usually, dry shampoo comes in a powder or a spray which you dust or spritz onto your roots, then fluff up your hair and brush it out, and thus the worst of the weekly mank is brushed away — leaving your hair refreshed, if not squeaky clean.

My hair dresser recommended Tigi’s “Rockaholic” spray and it worked all right, but after a few uses it clogged prematurely and became quite useless.* So I did a little digging around and learned that these sprays are basically aerosol formulations of cornstarch and baking soda, so, yeah. No wonder the clogs. A few more emails and webpages later, I found a good number of do-it-yourself recipes for homemade dry shampoo, some of which sounded downright gourmet.

But across the internet, the people cried out: What of the brunettes? What of the redheads? This white powdery stuff mostly brushes out, but it shows up quite starkly on darker hair. Some sites recommended using cocoa powder as a base, but I don’t want to smell like a cookie (mmm…cookies) and the dark brown wouldn’t look any better on my hair than white powder would, so I discarded that idea as well.

As a bluenette (at the moment) I pondered this problem. I researched. I considered SCIENCE. And last night, while watching TV, I sat around and made my own batch of dry shampoo for next to nothing. Now I share my SUPA SECRET PROCESS with you. Ahem. Here’s how to make your own dry shampoo on the cheap.

    You’ll need:

    1. Corn starch
    2. Baking soda
    3. Sidewalk chalk
    4. Heavy-duty Ziplock baggies and a hammer, or a good blender

    You’ll proceed:

    1. Take two parts corn starch and one part baking soda (I used tablespoons)
    2. Select a chunk of sidewalk chalk that most closely matches your hair
    3. Throw these things into a blender if you have one, and hit puree
    Or: Stick all three into a Ziplock baggie and whack it with a hammer until all is powder**

Pretty blue shampoo powder The end result was a nice blue powder (which is actually a little darker than the picture would imply), of a fine consistency and a pleasant, clean smell. The baking soda treats your scalp just like it treats the inside of your fridge (freshens! removes odors!) and the corn starch sucks up oil like a champ.

Obviously, you can use whatever color of sidewalk chalk moves you or matches you. It’s cheap. I paid about $4.50 for a rainbow pack at Target; and everything else I needed to make this stuff I had sitting around at home.

Storing most of it in baby powder bottle To store and dispense my new creation, I went looking for a small-sized Parmesan cheese shaker but couldn’t find one, so instead I resorted to a sample-sized baby-powder bottle.

These are easy to come by, and cost about a buck at your local drug store — but they’re a little tricky to open. I got the lid off mine by jamming a corkscrew down through one of the holes and prying it off that way. Save the little slider inside; it probably won’t break, and when you’re done, you can just reassemble the thing to work as it would’ve before you dumped its contents and replaced them with your own.

Anyway, there you go. That’s my dry shampoo hack, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I dusted myself down last night, let it sit a few minutes, then brushed the heck out of my hair … and it was immediately less greasy and more fluffy. It’s not going to replace soap and water for me, anytime soon, but I’m definitely glad to have an inexpensive, effective version of this stuff in my personal hygiene toolbox.

* This is a known and prevalent problem with literally every other dry shampoo spray I researched. And since most of them cost a pretty effin’ penny, I wasn’t willing to drop another 25 bucks on something that’d run out or die after half a dozen uses.
** What? I don’t have a blender … and I’m pretty sure the husband would’ve killed me if I’d chucked everything into the coffee grinder.

9 thoughts on “Dry Shampoo and Mad Science

  1. lynD

    Fabulous effort, well done! I especially like the hack of using sidewalk chalk. Very clever. I wonder if dry tempra paint could substitute for the chalk. One might end up with some interesting highlights :|

  2. SAAA- WEET. Thanks for this!

  3. Great idea! I remember something called “P-S-S-S-S-S-S-T!” I can still sing the jingle (sadly). ;-]

    I’m going to make up a batch. I really like your sidewalk chalk addition.

  4. Excellent solution, and one I shall have to save. Thanks!

  5. Why wouldn’t you wanna smell like cookies?! Mmm, cookies…

  6. What’s wrong with smelling like a cookie? Mmm…cookies!

    Also kudos to the genius of the sidewalk chalk…and I’m still laughing about the idea of you defiling the coffee grinder with the shampoo concoction, I’d have to side with Aric on that one. :-).

  7. Borut

    Well done. Have to try this… I was just considering grinding of poppy seeds or carob powder because I have black hair and corn starch shows up at the roots. I was also considering coccoa, but I don’t want to smell like chocolade. Now I will try black sidewalk chalk with baking soda and corn starch and hope for the best. Thank you very much for your science :)

  8. Borut

    What about grinded drawing charcoal for black hair mixed with cornstarch and baking soda? I suppose it is stronger than black sidewalk chalk.
    I will try and report the results.

  9. Dry Shampoo and Mad Science this is true and very informative for me thanks for sharing this.

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