What Can I Use Instead of Dry Shampoo? 13 Alternatives

Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by Gaga

When dry shampoo runs out or is seen as too damaging for some individual’s hair styling needs, people look for alternatives. Luckily, we have compiled some of the best alternatives to dry shampoo and listed them below.

Downsides of Dry Shampoo

Sometimes, dry shampoo brands can leave a crusty and gunky residue on the scalp, and some dry shampoos can even be harmful to scalps if used too much or too often. Some dry shampoos aren’t compatible with some specific types of hair!

The wrong dry shampoo brand can affect not only drain the health of hair but also money from wallets!

1. Corn Starch or Cocoa Powder or Mixed Together!

Corn starch and cocoa powder can be mixed into a light brown and pleasant-smelling powder to help make hair less greasy! Most people just use cornstarch as an alternative for dry shampoo, but cocoa powder can prevent the cornstarch from creating a grey cast on your hair. This solution is recommended for people with darker hair. Plus, the cocoa powder will make your hair smell wonderful.

If your hair is light, on the other hand, the corn starch will blend in fairly well, which means you won’t need to add the cocoa powder. This mixture can be mixed in a bowl and then applied with a salt or pepper shaker or with a makeup powder application brush, as shown in the following video! You may need to use the cocoa powder and corn starch mixture multiple times to get the best results.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Another alternative that can be found easily in the kitchen is apple cider vinegar. It will help put the shine back on luscious locks! It may appear counterproductive to use a liquid alternative for dry shampoo, but this solution works quite well.

It’s also cost-effective, as all it takes is mixing one drop of apple cider vinegar per ounce of water, maybe a drop or two of essential oil, shaking it up in a spray bottle, and spraying away! Some shampoos and conditioners sold in stores even use apple cider vinegar as an ingredient. This vinegar has even been shown to help prevent hair loss!

Apple Cider Vinegar

This mixture of water, apple cider vinegar, and optional essential oils will work great at reducing your hair’s greasiness if sprayed on your roots. Simply make sure to prep the spray bottle brew in advance to make sure you have enough time to use it and let it dry a bit before going out on the town. This alternative will not leave a powder or gunky residue on the scalp, and it may help the health of your scalp in the long run.

3. Baby Powder

This option, similar to the above two alternatives, is more affordable than canned or store-bought dry shampoos! A decent bottle of baby powder can also last for a long time. By simply sprinkling this powder onto an oily scalp and rubbing it in, one can go out and about for at least a few hours worry-free! Baby powder is already created with absorption in mind, so it works as a wonderful dry shampoo replacement.

Just as with the corn starch method, baby powder can be mixed with some cinnamon or cocoa powder to help alter its color to match darker heads of hair. It should be noted that baby powder does carry a stronger stark white color than corn starch, however.

Be careful not to add too much powder, as overdoing the amount could prove to over-whiten the color so much that it will need to be showered off unless you want to walk around with white in your hair! Some baby powders even come in scented alternatives like lavender!

4. Hand Sanitizer

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Hand sanitizer is yet another surprising liquid dry shampoo replacement on our list. This is a useful alternative to dry shampoo since the alcohol soaks up the excess oil in scalps and hair.

So, rub hand sanitizer on your hands and then immediately massage it into your roots to help rid the scalp of excess oil! This solution will thankfully dry very quickly once applied, thanks to its high alcohol content! Thanks to this quick drying, it can evaporate even faster than the apple cider vinegar mixture above, and it dries clear into any hair color!

Its one downfall is that it may aggravate pre-existing dandruff or be uncomfortable for those who have sensitive scalps.

5. Setting Powder

Using setting powder as a dry shampoo alternative can prove to be interesting since most of these makeups are high in quality to the point that an annoyingly chalky texture won’t be a problem. Indeed, if baby powder or corn starch mixtures and dry shampoos are too gunky or dry, lighter makeup setting powders will be the hero that saves the day at the final hour of hair care.

Use a makeup brush to apply the setting powder to your hair. Makeup brushes are perfect for patting on the setting powder directly to your roots. Just make sure to keep the hair powder brush separate from the face makeup brushes!

6. Perfume

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Perfume can both impart a refreshing scent to a head of hair and be a fix for stubbornly oily roots. Similar to hand sanitizer, since perfumes nearly without fail to contain a high alcohol amount, these sprays will, in fact, break down and attack the hair oils to make hair less sticky and silky smooth! This carries the added bonus that many fragrances can be chosen for this purpose.

To apply, simply spritz the perfume 2 or 3 inches away from hair roots and rub it in. Perfumes or deodorant sprays can even be sprayed right onto roots or directly onto hair brushes so that they can be easily combed through hair!

This solution is extra convenient since the alcohol ingredients are set directly on breaking down oils, and most perfumes are already pre-packaged in nifty, pocket-sized bottles and spritzers!

The price may be higher than some other options on this list, however. It is also important to be quick when applying this trick, as perfume and similar liquids like hand sanitizer evaporate quickly.

7. Paper Towels 

Believe it or not, paper towels can prove to be a veritable stand-in for dry shampoo! This makes it easy for you to remove oil from your hair while on the go, as most public bathrooms have paper towels, and most homes also have paper towels, which means you can quickly make your hair less greasy while leaving your home.

Paper towels will absorb unwanted hair grease and oils and prove to work well as an emergency dry shampoo replacement. They are also relatively cheap and can be found in most grocery stores.

8. Blotting Papers

Blotting Papers

Blotting papers can be found in the makeup aisle or in the hair care aisle! Blotting papers can not only absorb oils from the face but can also be used to suck up hair oils as well. By parting your hair and using these little squares in desired sections, roots will likely be able to be dried out and look better after the process.

This alternative has the benefit of not putting any foreign mixtures, substances, or liquids onto your hair if other fixes on the list are found to be too distracting in how they feel. That being said, this solution may be the best fit for people with only lightly greasy hair.

Some of these blotting papers can hold a lead over regular paper towels since some of them come coated in powders or charcoal mixes that can help treat oily hair. However, some blotting papers are only made for the face and will not be as effective if you use them on your hair. This option can also prove to be more expensive than the above alternatives.

The video below details some of the pitfalls and weaknesses of some blotting sheets, so be careful and look over customer reviews before purchasing!

9. Salt and Cornmeal

A salt and cornmeal mixture can work wonders on greasy hair, and it blends in well with blonde or light-colored hair. A cheese shaker or a salt or pepper shaker can be used to disperse this mix.

Mix one tablespoon of salt with a 1/2 cup of cornmeal together, shake it onto your roots, and voilà! A beautiful head of shiny hair!

Since salt is naturally coarse and bouncy in its granular form, it will help the cornmeal part soak up hair oils, as the two elements complement each other nicely. Brush your hair after letting the mixture sit for a few minutes to make this mixture loosen, and take out dirt and oil from the hair.

When you brush your hair, the mixture will spread throughout your hair and make it less concentrated on your scalp, which will help keep your hair looking beautiful.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t let this mixture sit in your hair for more than 15-20 minutes, as if salt sits in your hair for a long time, it can aggravate your scalp and skin, especially if you have a sensitive scalp.

10. Dry Clay

The dry clay route can serve as an effective dry shampoo that even leaves a pleasant fragrance behind in the hair! It can be found at many beauty stores. Dry clay like this has silica in it, which means it strips out the oil from the scalp it is applied to. Dry clay can infuse a nice, fresh-from-the-hair-salon feel to your hair.

There is a surprising variety of dry clay to pick from–there is green, agar, red, powdered orris root, white, and other dry clays to use for this purpose! For even stronger results, milk powder and dry clay can be combined. This mixture can make your hair extremely shiny and soft.

11. Baking Soda

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Baking soda can also be used as a dry shampoo alternative. Be warned, though, as baking soda is low on this list for a reason! It is a pretty extreme and harsh dry shampoo alternative and can cause skin that it comes in contact with to become irritated, over-dryness in the scalp and hair, and even hair breakage or scalp irritation.

Baking soda is definitely a desperate measure for desperate times. It is best for thick, very greasy hair. It could prove to be more damaging if the hair is thinner.

Some people change the baking soda by grinding up 1 cup of oatmeal until it is fine with 1 cup of baking soda before they put it in their hair. Sometimes, adding another ingredient can help control the effects of baking soda on your hair, but be careful all the same.

12. Cheesecloth

If you put a cheesecloth on your hairbrush, it can be used as an alternative to dry shampoo. The cheesecloth will absorb the grease in your hair, and it won’t just absorb the oil that is on your scalp. This is a great alternative to use if you don’t want to deal with residue or try to hide or get rid of the white powder that other alternatives will leave in your hair.

13. Wet or Dry Arrow Root

Finally, the last item on this list is arrowroot! This ingredient can be versatile and mixed with oat flour and bentonite clay to make a wonderful dry shampoo! Arrowroot can also be combined with cocoa powder to make a great dry shampoo stand-in.

Keep in mind that arrowroot powder and arrowroot starch are different names for the same thing, and arrowroot can often be even more absorbent than corn starch or baby powder!

Alternatives to These Alternatives

If none of the above 13 solutions are looking right, believe it or not, there are still more options to choose from! If one doesn’t want to concoct their own shampoo lotion or potion, stores sell plenty of hair care products that will help you make your hair look fabulous.

As reviewed in the video below, salons and stores offer no-rinse shampoo caps, boar bristle brushes, degrease daily shampoo pods, hair styling dust, and even leave-in sprays for oily scalp treatments!

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


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