When I learned spray-on dry shampoos contain butane, isobutane, and propane, I did my homework and now make my own with 4 simple ingredients. Here’s how!
I did a happy dance when dry shampoo hit the market. Finally! Freedom from washing my long hair every day! How wonderful to just spray my roots in between shampoos, massage it in, brush it out, maybe a quick hit with the blow dryer and go. Then one evening, I get a phone call from my daughter. She’s in a store shopping for a dry shampoo made with natural ingredients. That phone call is why I make my own dry shampoo.
This post contains affiliate links. Read here for disclosure.
Dry Shampoo Made with Natural Ingredients
She says she’s standing in the shampoo aisle looking for a dry shampoo made with natural rather than chemical ingredients. We both struggle with hormone imbalances and are making an effort to replace endocrine disrupting chemical ingredients in our personal care products with natural, safe ingredients.
First, she asks me if I know of a natural dry shampoo brand. No, I don’t. But I’m sure there’s one. Just keep looking. She looks and looks. While checking all the labels on all the brands on the store shelves, she pauses and says, “Mom, do you know what’s in this stuff?”
I assume it’s just alcohol, corn starch, and fragrance. Boy am I wrong!! I never checked the ingredients on the back of the can. If you have a can of dry shampoo in your home, go check the ingredients. I think you’ll be floored. I was.
I’m Putting THAT on My Scalp??!!
Ingredients are listed in order of amount on products. The ingredients used in the largest amount is listed first, and then in descending order according to the amount used.
The first three ingredients listed on the can of dry shampoo I’m using are butane, isobutane, and propane.
BUTANE, ISOBUTANE, AND PROPANE!
Yes, that butane – lighter fluid! Isobutane is a branched, structural isomer of butane. Molecularly, it’s identical. But isobutane is primarily a refrigerant.
And propane. The gas in that big white tank you use to cook with on your gas grill. The one you may use to heat your home or cook with on your gas stove.
Do you have a can of dry shampoo? Check the ingredients on the back of the can and see for yourself. Are you as shocked as I am?
The Effects of Propane and Butane on the Body
Propane, isobutane, and butane are used in dry shampoo as a chemical propellant. They replaced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) when CFCs were deemed responsible for ozone depletion. And according to the article linked here, propane and butane are deemed “Generally Recognized As Safe” for cosmetic use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Well, I’m a Gen Xer. I’ve been told by The Powers That Be that fat is bad to eat and I should eat lots of bread and pasta to be slim and healthy. The oceans will be dead by the year 2000 and the Earth will experience another Ice Age by the time I’m an adult. The world’s population will be half by the year 2000 due to all the deaths from AIDS. Oh, and my favorite one: ducking under my little wooden desk at school will protect me from a nuclear blast.
Uh huh. So when the FDA says propane and butane are safe for cosmetic use, I’m looking for an alternative.
What the Environmental Working Group Says About Spray Dry Shampoo
The Environmental Working Group has on its website the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database where you can look up cosmetics and personal care products to see how they score for toxicity and effects on your health. Go there and see how the products you use rate. It’s a great resource for deciding what products to use.
So Dove Style+care Dry Shampoo (the brand I was using) is listed as a low concern endocrine disruption but is a moderately high concern for immunotoxicity. What is immunotoxicity? The adverse effect of immune system function as a result of chemical exposure.
I don’t want that.
The Search for a Non-Toxic Dry Shampoo
When my daughter failed to find a dry shampoo without propane or butane at the store, I got busy searching for one. I called my niece who sells Arbonne, a line of skin care and cosmetics products made according to European Union standards rather than FDA standards. The EU bans over 1,700 chemicals for use in personal care products, and I thought she might know of a chemical-free dry shampoo on the market.
She says she’s looking as well, so we team up and search Amazon. Here’s what we find:
The ingredients listed for Hair Dance Dry Shampoo Volume Powder are Rice Starch, Colloidal Oatmeal, Silica, Lavender Oil and Olive Leaf.
Drop Dead Gorgeous Dry Shampoo Powder Light Blonde contains Rice powder, Kaolin Clay, Lavender Oil, Geranium Oil, Turmeric Root.
Here are the ingredients for Drop Dead Gorgeous Dry Shampoo Powder for Brunette, Medium, or Dark Color Hair: Rice powder, Kaolin Clay, Cocoa Powder, Bamboo Charcoal, Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender Oil, and Geranium Oil,
The oils listed in all three are essential oils for fragrance.
I Can Make Dry Shampoo With These Ingredients!
After seeing the ingredients in the dry shampoo powders listed above and the positive reviews, I decided to make my own. My niece is using the Drop Dead Gorgeous Dry Shampoo Powder for Brunette hair and she says she really likes it. She didn’t want to play around with a recipe for making it and just bought it.
But I’m a frugal old nerd and just have to make my own. I just want to see if I can.
And I can. 😊 I’m transitioning my hair from blonde back to its natural medium brown. If I’m going to reduce the chemical load on my body, hair color has got to go. I’m coloring it every four months instead of every month with lowlights to tone down the blonde while my natural color (getting slightly tinged with gray) grows out.
So I need to make a dry shampoo powder for darker hair. No problem. I just follow the ingredient list on the Drop Dead Gorgeous Dry Shampoo Powder for Brunette hair.
How to Make Dry Shampoo Powder
I already have corn starch in my pantry. It can’t be much different than rice starch, so there’s one ingredient. Cocoa powder is also in my pantry. A search on Amazon shows I can buy kaolin clay and activated charcoal powder. Cool! I can also use them to make homemade detox facials as well!
The half-liter sized Weck jars are perfect for homemade dry shampoo. They have a wide opening and a glass lid and are pretty sitting on my vanity. But if you don’t have Weck jars on hand (they are a canning jar so the least you can buy is six), this jar is a pretty one to hold your dry shampoo powder.
A kabuki brush is just the thing for applying the homemade dry shampoo to the roots of my hair. A brush with stiff bristles is perfect for brushing it through my hair after massaging it in and letting it sit for a minute.Print
Dry Shampoo Powder for Medium Brown Hair
A simple, chemical-free dry shampoo for refreshing hair between washes.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: none
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: about 8-10 ounces 1x
1 cup corn starch
1/4 cup kaolin clay
1 Tablespoons+ 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (not a heaping teaspoon, a level to short half-teaspoon) charcoal powder
Place all the ingredients in a half-liter jar and carefully mix together with a whisk. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance if you like, but I enjoy the chocolate scent of the cocoa powder.
To use, dip a kabuki brush into the powder. Tap excess powder off the brush on the side of the jar. A little bit goes a long way. Then part your hair into sections and apply the dry shampoo to the roots. Massage it into your scalp and let it sit for about a minute to absorb the oil. Then using a bristle brush, brush your hair well from the roots to the tips.
Your hair is refreshed and ready to go! Here’s how my hair looks after using my homemade dry shampoo. This photo is totally unedited. I don’t do selfies well at all.
Keywords: dry shampoo, homemade dry shampoo, how to make dry shampoo, natural dry shampoo
If you have dark or black hair, just add more charcoal to match your hair color more closely. For darker brown or red hair add more cocoa powder.
A quick blow-out with the hair dryer after brushing with the stiff-bristle brush helps with giving your hair volume. This method is a good alternative that works. For travel, I double bag it in a pint-sized plastic bag. I still sometimes miss the ease of commercial spray dry shampoo. But I don’t miss the chemicals.
Let me know if you give a natural dry shampoo a try or if you have any questions about making it. 😊