I’ve been watching lots of hair tutorials on YouTube lately, and I can’t help but notice how many of them use dry shampoo to achieve a bit of added texture and volume for updos. So, a few weeks ago when I was wandering the aisles of Costco a pack of Batiste dry shampoo caught my eye. The ingredients were simple enough—mostly rice starch, and then a lot of things that ended in “-ane”. Butane, propane… hold on, don’t those things fuel my BBQ? A quick check on Skin Deep confirmed my worries—most of those “-ane” ingredients are pretty harmful with concerns like immunotoxicity, irritation, and organ system toxicity (!). So I made my own natural dry shampoo spray, of course.
I started to wade into the world of natural hair care about five years ago, and as part of that I worked on stretching out my washes. That is, gradually washing my hair less and less often so my scalp would produce less oil and I could graduate a few more levels up the low-maintenance scale. For a while I was washing my hair about once a week, but these days I hover around every four or five days, depending on what’s going on in my life. To help out with all this not-hair-washing, one of my earlier DIYs was this awesome dry shampoo. It’s basically an eraser for greasy hair, but has one major downside—it’s brown. That’s great for matching my hair colour, but less awesome if anything that’s not brown (like a hat) touches my head. It’s also a dust-on-and-leave-it dry shampoo that doesn’t really work for leaving my hair down.
So, all that is to say I wanted to create a dry shampoo that 1) would not stain my hats; 2) could not be used to power a BBQ; 3) let me leave my hair down if I wanted to; and 4) would add volume and texture to my hair for updos. It sounds like a long to-do list, but I managed to check everything off really easily with just a handful of ingredients!
Because I wanted this dry shampoo to be a spray, the vast majority of it is alcohol. This is because alcohol will dry quickly, meaning our dry shampoo is still (at least sort of) dry. The shop bought ones use a lot of “-ane” chemicals because they’re very volatile and dry/evaporate pretty much instantaneously, but I wasn’t about to go tap my BBQ gas tank for ingredients for anything I’m putting on my head, so alcohol it is! You might be thinking “but, isn’t alcohol drying?”, and you’d be right, but that’s actually a bonus here—our hair is looking a bit dirty, so some drying action is beneficial to the whole dry-shampooing thing.
And now to absorb the excess oils in our hair. For this part I pulled out the best oil absorber I know of; calcium carbonate. Powdered calcium carbonate absorbs oil like a superhero—it’s pretty amazing. Just a small amount of it dispersed in this spray erases the appearance of greasy hair. BAM. Calcium carbonate is quite basic (its pH is 9.4), so it also helps give the hair some body around the roots by lifting the keratin scales that compose our hair a bit.
You can make your own calcium carbonate powder from egg shells, but you’ll want to purchase a commercially made version like this one for this project (and some stuff in my book… hint hint!). Purchased calcium carbonate powder is much finer than anything you’ll be able to grind up at home, meaning you’ll actually be able to spray it without immediately clogging your spritzer. Make sure you buy an unadulterated powder that’s food or cosmetic grade; calcium carbonate pills usually have binding agents added to them, so they’re not a great choice.
I also included two other good-for-the-hair ingredients, but they’re both totally optional. Silk helps add sheen and manage moisture, and phytokeratin adds shine and bounce. Add one, add both, add neither—the dry shampooing effect will be the same!
A blend of lavender and cardamom essential oils cap the whole thing off, though you could really use any essential oils you’d like for this spray (though you might want to avoid citrus essential oils if you don’t want to lighten your hair right around your roots). The shampoo definitely smells like alcohol when you apply it, but that dissipates quickly and the essential oils remain.
I tested this shampoo on a Thursday, after last washing my hair the previous Saturday. Since then I’d been to three hot yoga classes, so between being on the fifth day of my wash cycle and some serious sweating, my hair was looking none too lovely. After a dozen or so spritz’s of my new natural dry shampoo spray and a few minutes of dry time you’d never know, though!
Natural Dry Shampoo Spray
30mL | 2 tbsp high proof alcohol (I used 99% isopropyl alcohol)
30mL | 2 tbsp water
Using a funnel, measure the calcium carbonate, silk, and phytokeratin out into a 60mL (2 fl oz) spray bottle. Add the alcohol and water, and shake to combine.
To use, shake the bottle thoroughly (make sure there isn’t any powder resting at the bottom) and mist it over your hair, mussing everything up/tossing your hair around with your fingers like you might when blow drying to get the dry shampoo spread about evenly and encourage it to dry. You’re done once your hair no longer looks dirty!
I chose a trigger-top spray bottle rather than a mister bottle as the calcium carbonate is insoluble, so there’s going to be some solid (though tiny) bits going through the spray head, and I was concerned a mister would clog. I got my spray bottles from Saffire Blue, but they’ve since discontinued them. I found some similar ones on Amazon (that are glass instead of plastic, which is always nice!), though they’re 2x the size. No worries—you can either double the recipe or have a bit of extra space in the bottle 🙂
If you don’t have a super high proof alcohol like the one I worked with, you can just use all alcohol and no water. I ended up with a solution that’s approximately 50% alcohol, so if you’ve got some vodka or some other clear grain alcohol that’s around 50%, you could just use 60mL (4 tbsp) of that. If you’ve got a 70% alcohol you could use 45mL (3 tbsp) of that and 15mL (1 tbsp) water.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this spray is so high in alcohol it shouldn’t need a broad spectrum preservative.