Posted on June 05, 2023
Dry shampoos are aerosol sprays consisting of a base of starch or alcohol which absorbs grease and oil from your hair, leaving you with a cleaner look. Dry shampoos are popular for “day two hair” to freshen it up, as well as camping trips, traveling, after the gym, after medical procedures (that may prevent you from showering for a few days) or any other time your hair has a greasy appearance. As the name implies, dry shampoo doesn’t need water to work, and because of its ability to increase hair volume, it can also be used to style hair.
Although it may sound like an easy solution to a less-than-ideal hair day, these helpful sprays have several drawbacks and problems, so you may want to consider natural alternatives to dry shampoo instead. There are many DIY remedies, but none work quite as well or have as many benefits for your hair as aloe vera gel. Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding dry shampoos, and options for natural alternatives.
First off, dry shampoos don't actually wash your hair, they simply provide the appearance of washed hair (so the term “shampoo” is a bit of a misnomer). Instead, dry shampoos work by soaking up the excess natural sebum in the hair but shouldn’t be used on a regular basis in place of traditional liquid shampoos. Hair needs to be properly washed to remove bacteria, exfoliate the scalp, and get rid of dead skin cells – all things that dry shampoo can’t do. Washing your hair removes any build up from the dry shampoo, because as it absorbs oils, it can collect on the scalp and cause irritations.
Since many dry shampoos contain alcohol, excessive use can dry out hair, leaving it brittle and more susceptible to breakage. It can also dull your hair, taking away its healthy natural glow and even affect hair growth if the follicles are irritated and the scalp PH is not balanced.
Beyond the need to regularly wash your hair, the chemicals in dry shampoos have raised alarms. In 2021, several dry shampoos were recalled due to the presence of benzene, a known human carcinogen. A 2022 study on 34 different brands found that 70 percent of the dry shampoos used in the sample set had benzene, with many at levels that were significantly higher than those allowed by the Food and Drug Administration. The results are disturbing, but luckily there are alternatives to chemical-based dry shampoos that can provide a similar cleansing feeling for oily hair, including homemade powders and natural sprays like aloe vera.
People have been using different forms of dry shampoo throughout history including dry powdered clay in the 1500s, but commercial dry shampoo came about in 1940. That said, there are plenty of natural options to use instead of an aerosol product.
Here is one DIY recipe for dry shampoos. It’s just two main ingredients (with a few additional options):
Simply mix the powders in a bowl (or skip the cacao or cinnamon if you have lighter hair), rub a little of this mixture on your roots and let it sit for a few minutes until the oils absorb. Then brush any remaining powder out with a soft makeup brush. It’s worth noting that while these powders are easy and effective natural alternatives to dry shampoos, they can leave an unusual odor in your hair.
Aloe vera has a myriad of benefits for the skin. It’s extremely effective in removing excess sebum from the hair, but it’s gentle enough that it doesn’t damage hair follicles like chemical dry shampoos do. In addition, aloe doesn’t leave any noticeable fragrance behind like some DIY powder alternatives.
Since it’s a humectant, it draws moisture from the air to hydrate the dry scalp − and your hair strands − to create a softer look. If your scalp is already dried out from overusing chemical-based dry shampoos, aloe vera can alleviate dry, itchy scalp and restore your pH balance.
Aloe vera contains vitamins C, E, B-12, folic acid, and choline content to help improve the overall health of your hair. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, so it’s easy on the scalp and is even frequently used in hair masks because of its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory abilities.
Not all aloe vera gels are created equal though: some contain harsh ingredients or thickeners that can leave behind sticky residue, so it’s best to use natural aloe vera. Seven Minerals’ aloe vera gel and aloe vera spray are 99 percent organic, and use a natural seaweed thickener (instead of xanthan or carbomer), allowing a smooth application on the scalp.
To use aloe vera as a dry shampoo alternative, massage the aloe vera gel onto the scalp on your “day two hair” to help absorb the oils. Alternatively, you can apply aloe vera before going on a run or before a gym workout for a fresher look afterwards.
Since curly and wavy hair need natural oils to stay healthy, it’s best not to wash it every day – and that’s where an aloe vera “dry” shampoo comes in. Those with curly hair may especially benefit from both aloe vera gel (for the scalp) and the spray (for the curls themselves) to help infuse moisture throughout.
To cover multiple layers of curls, it’s important to massage the aloe on the underneath part of your hair and scalp. You can also finish the curls (not the scalp) with a natural oil like Seven Minerals’ coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
September 18, 2023