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What's Really In Your Dry Shampoo?

Dry Shampoo is truly a time saver but there's a few problems with conventional dry shampoo so if that's what you're using, keep on reading.
Oct 21, 2022 | Joy McCarthy

Dry Shampoo is truly a time saver. It's main job is to help you go longer in between hair washes but it also gives your hair some added volume and texture. In the past, I've shared that I only wash my hair every 5-6 days and sometimes longer. I know that sounds crazy, but doing so has made my hair healthier than ever!

DIY dry shampoo

If you're looking to go longer in between washes too, you may want to join my free Natural Hair Care Challenge where I show you how to do a hair detox!

But let's take a closer look at dry shampoo for a moment. As amazing as it is, what's currently available at your local drug store is not what you want to be using on your hair and there are a number of reasons why!

The Problem With Conventional Dry Shampoo

Where to start!?! I'd love to say the conventional dry shampoo options on the market today are a better alternative to what was previously available, but I have nothing nice to say about Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder, which was one of the more popular makeshift dry shampoo options of the past (before dry shampoo was cool, that is!).

You may know of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and its role in contributing to several cancer cases, including that of a woman who credited her cancer to the baby powder and was awarded $25.7 million by a Los Angeles jury. J&J recently, as of just this year has finally declared it will remove "talc" from it's baby powder next year, yet their talc was known to contain abestos since the 1950s! So it only took almost 75 years.


Can we rely on big corporations to keep us safe from harmful ingredients in the products they make? Unfortunately, no. What about regulators? Also, no. That means we need to rely on our own smarts to do the research and be an informed consumer. On that note, here are some concerns with conventional dry shampoo. 

The Harmful Ingredients Hiding In Conventional Dry Shampoo

It only takes one quick glance of the ingredients hiding in popular conventional dry shampoos to know that it's likely not the best for you and your health, here's a quick example below.

Butane, Isobutane, Propane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Alcohol Denat., Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride.

Let's take a closer look at some of those ingredients!

Butane, Isobutane and Propane (otherwise known as Liquid Petroleum Gas or LPG)

These colourless, odourless gases are what comes out of your dry shampoo aerosol can when you spray it. Aerosol propellants are concerning from an environmental standpoint because they contribute to air pollution and they deplete and damage the ozone layer. We need the ozone layer to shield us from the sun's harsh UVA and UVB rays. It essentially acts as a built-in sunscreen.

They have been known to take the place of oxygen in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Some have reported of symptoms such as headaches, nausea and mood swings when in the surrounding area of these gases – and I'm not surprised one bit! So while it might seem convenient to give your hair a quick spritz and move on, the negative impact on your health and the environment are simply not worth it.

And as of just recently, Unilever announced it is recalling 1.5 million dry shampoo products due to contamination with benzene, a carcinogenic compound. You won't see benzene listed on the label though because it is a contaminant of these other petrochemicals within the product, like propane.

This compound has been linked to leukemia, bone marrow cancer and life threatening blood disorders.

It's not just dry shampoo that's the problem though. Just a few months back there was a big recall on hand sanitizers including a Disney-branded hand sanitizer due to benzene.

Alcohol Denat

One of the major roles of dry shampoo is to draw moisture and oil away from the scalp, which is the main role Alcohol Denat plays in dry shampoo. Alcohol Denat is actually denatured alcohol and a petrochemical product that contains Benzyl Alcohol to make it undrinkable. The problem here is that alcohol is very drying to the scalp and can contribute to, or worsen, things like dandruff , dryness and blocked pores. It can also cause skin irritation, eczema and trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Synthetic Fragrance

You may already know how I feel about synthetic fragrance if you read my recent post " Everything You Need to Know About Synthetic Fragrance " or my infamous post about why I don't wear perfume, so it's no surprise that I wouldn't want it in my dry shampoo either (or yours!). The scary thing is that there can be anywhere from 100 to thousands of ingredients in one scent, many of which have not been tested for safety and are well known hormone disrupters known as phthalates. For more reasons why I advise steering clear of any kind of fragrance, you can keep reading over here.

Benzyl Benzoate

Used as both a solvent and fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate is a chemical you most definitely do not want in your dry shampoo. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the International Fragrance Association Codes & Standards, the safety of Benzyl Benzoate is dependent on the user NOT exceeding the recommended dose or the product does not exceed concentration limits and we already know the haircare and personal care industry is largely unregulated. However, EWG also states that it's a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen and may be associated with endocrine disruption, which is a good enough reason to stay far away from it altogether. 

Cetrimonium Chloride

You might have a soft spot for this ingredient when you come to learn of its ability to banish hair static, but again, it's not worth your health – especially when there are so many natural dry shampoo alternatives on the market that also help to combat static without using harmful chemicals. There is strong evidence that shows Cetrimonium Chloride to be a known skin toxicant/allergen, according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments and the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). 

Healthier Natural Dry Shampoo Alternatives

Thankfully, there are many more natural dry shampoo options on the market today and you might have heard that we launched our own Dry Shampoo Light Hair and Dry Shampoo Dark Hair a couple of years ago! The benefit of using a natural dry shampoo is that you're steering clear of those harmful chemicals and promoting healthy hair growth, shiny-looking hair and allowing your scalp to breathe.

dry shampoo light hair

I used to always make my own dry shampoo with this recipe , but I wanted to make it more widely available and provide an option to those who may not be interested in making their own but prefer a natural alternative.

dry shampoo dark hair

Our unique formulation uses only non-toxic, biodegradable and organically produced ingredients, including:

  • Tapioca Starch – A much healthier alternative to talc and well known for its ability to absorb oil
  • Maranta Arundinacea Root Powder (Arrowroot Powder) - Acts in a similar way as tapioca starch by helping to absorb oil
  • Oryza Sativa (Rice) Flour – Since the particle size is smaller in rice flour than say tapioca starch, it offers more surface area to absorb oil
  • Stellaria Media Extract (Chickweed Extract) – Contains soothing properties that help to remove impurities without drying the skin 
  • Kaolin Clay – Acts as a mild abrasive to clarify hair while absorbing excess oil

Both of our Dry Shampoos are naturally scented with essential oil (NOT fragrance!) to make your hair feel, look and smell fresher between washes! 


Are you curious about dry shampoo or are you unsure how to use it? Share with me below! I'd love to help you!

Alicia   •   June 25, 2019

Love that you have created this! How long do you expect your bottle of dry shampoo to last? Also, what is the bottle made out of?

Joy McCarthy   •   June 25, 2019

Pat Peterson   •   June 25, 2019

Hi Joy just wondering which would recommend for grey white hair ??? Thanks Pat

Joy McCarthy   •   June 25, 2019

Jennifer   •   June 26, 2019

Hi Joy, thanks for sharing. I just had a look at my can of Kevin Murphy dry powder and, sure enough, it lists some of the harmful ingredients. It does say that, for every can sold, a “contribution will be made to reduce global carbon emissions.” What a thoughtful gesture, lol. My bad for purchasing. For some reason I thought the cans didn’t use CFCs any more and were considered more environmentally friendly.

Joy McCarthy   •   June 27, 2019

Elaine Cowling   •   June 26, 2019

Do you have instructions on how to use the dry shampoo? I'd love to order from you if you can ship via Canada post(couriers will often take packages to depots far away if we are not home). I will try making your recipe too. Thanks Joy!

Joy McCarthy   •   June 27, 2019

Alice Richardson   •   June 28, 2019

Hi Joy, thanks for sharing this! I’ve checked my can of Batiste and it’s got all the bad stuff in :( I’d like a safer version but I live in the Uk so I don’t think I can buy your product. Plus air travel would be bad so I’ve found a local version which has these things in, do you think this is this much better? Cornflour Magnesium Carbonate Talc Grapefruit Oil Lime Oil *Citral *Geraniol *Limonene *Linalool Perfume It’s a Lush brand, they seem better but if you have any other recommendations please let me know! Thank you, Alice

Joy McCarthy   •   June 28, 2019

Kilpatrick Lisa   •   October 26, 2021

Hi, Would this work for oily hair? My daughter’s (16) hair gets oily within a day or two of washing. Looking for a product to help.

Joy McCarthy   •   October 29, 2021

glenn cain   •   October 25, 2022

live clean is not so clean,they have Benzy Benzoate in their live clean baby lotion,they say 97% plant derived.bull bull,plese.e-mailme back joy.


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