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DIY 2nd day hair powder

2013 February 7


I’m fairly certain that when it comes to women and hair, the grass is always greener on the other side. Curly haired ladies want straight hair. Women with straight hair would kill for a little wave, any wave. Oily-haired people would rather have dry hair, and vice versa. Blondes, brunettes, red-heads, etc. We always want the exact opposite of what we have.

So, you’ll have to forgive me as I decry my super-fine, stick-straight hair. I know you have your hair issues, too.

The paradox of fine hair is the Day 2 phenomenon: the second day after washing, many people with fine hair — many different hair types, for that matter — experience volume-building and texture. Styles hold better (it curls, even [gasp!]). Hair looks more vibrant, bouncy. Alive.

Washing fine hair every day can be a styling disaster: the method or shampoo matters not, the result is limp, lifeless, completely unbending, uncurling, unwavy hair.

But us fine-haired folk are often plagued with an oily scalp. And an oily scalp means greasy strands at the hairline.

I’ve tried all manner of dry shampoos — sprays, powders, mousses. They all work to varying degrees, but they share one very annoying trait: they’re heavily scented (especially, ironically, the “unscented” versions). I also use hairspray, so by the time I apply dry shampoo, style, and spray, I have a chemical wondercloud hovering around me like Pig-Pen.


Cue the home remedy: corn starch or arrowroot powder, with or without essential oils to scent the works.

Corn starch or arrowroot powder, when applied lightly at the roots, absorb oil and distribute it invisibly along the hair strand. It also adds a bit of body and texture, with no gritty residue.

I’ve been using arrowroot powder with great success for about a year now, but only recently began playing with essential oils. When I first learned of organic supplier Mountain Rose Herbs, I sat googly-eyed at their enormous list of essential oils, and hit the add to cart button more times than I care to admit.

(Locally, I’ve found Aura Cacia essential oils at, of all places, Kroger. Whole Foods carries the organic line of Aura Cacia.)

Lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemongrass are my favorites, and they scent many things around my house now, including my hair powder. Equal parts of lavender and rosemary are simultaneously calming and energizing, which probably makes no sense at all — until you smell the combo — but it’s true.

Just a few drops of each added to arrowroot powder is all it takes to create a lovely solution to my 2nd day hair problems. The scent is far from overpowering, unlike the $20 bottle of lemon-verbena scented hair powder I once purchased at Sephora (the product worked, but my hair smelled like lemon furniture polish for hours).


Here’s how it goes together: spoon 3 tablespoons of corn starch or arrowroot powder into a small bowl. Add 5 or 6 drops total of your favorite essential oil(s). Use your fingertips to thoroughly rub the oil into the powder (don’t worry, it won’t dissolve the powder).

Pour the powder mixture into a medium-weave sieve and force the powder through it with the back of a spoon. This will declump the oil-powder mixture.

Store in a small jar.

I won’t mislead you here: application can get a little messy. I apply this over the bathroom sink, before getting dressed for the day.

Shake out a bit of the powder into your palm and rub to coat your fingertips. Then drag your fingers through the roots of your hair to distribute the powder.

Other application suggestions:

  • Shake out of bit of the powder directly onto your scalp, and use your fingers to distribute.
  • Use a fluffy make-up brush to dip in the powder, then spread on your hair.
  • Store the powder in a plastic, squeezable condiment bottle with a narrow pour spout. This makes it easy to apply to the top of your head, a la home coloring.


A word on hair colors: I have blonde hair, so the white arrowroot powder blends right in.

Brunettes, I’ve read varying reports about a slight gray appearance after applying a white hair powder (even commercially made powders). My guess is that too much is being applied in those instances, but of course I can’t test that for myself.

One interesting solution I’ve heard about is to use cocoa powder instead of arrowroot (and mint or orange essential oils). Folks swear that their hair doesn’t turn chocolatey (and I believe them: you use so little powder, and even the oiliest hair isn’t damp enough to form a paste with either cocoa or arrowroot powder).

Either way, even with the purchase of essential oils, this dry shampoo is far more economical than commercial solutions, and equally effective.

And best of all, I control the scent and get 2 days of great looking hair between washes.


4 Responses
  1. February 7, 2013

    These are great tips! Now you just have to come up with a solution to keep think, board straight hair curly! That’s my daily morning dilemma!

    • Jessica K permalink
      January 1, 2014

      I too have this problem. I just found a tutorial using foil and a flat iron with great reviews for all day curls:)

  2. February 7, 2013

    I also have fine hair that gets oily without washing for a day. I wish it was perfectly straight, but my ends flip up–it drives me mad! Anyway, you are so right, a lot of the dry shampoos on the market smell SO strong, I can’t go near them. Your idea is much better!

  3. February 11, 2013

    This post brought back memories of teen years and MiniPoo. My mom took advice from a woman working the cosmetic counter and banned me from washing my fine, straight blonde hair to once a week. The woman told her it wasn’t good for my scalp despite the fact it was oily. This was in high school. Her solution? MiniPoo. OM, the smell and to top it didn’t work. Talk about bad hair days or should I say weeks. By the end of the week I looked like I had grayish hair. This looks like a great solution!

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