Picture of a lady holding her hair strands, spraying with a dry shampoo alternative.

Apr 12, 2024

Dry shampoo is our MVP, but what do we do when it runs out before payday?


Your worst nightmare has happened. You've just crushed a grueling home workout, beads of sweat glistening on your forehead, but there's no time to hop into the shower for a quick refresh. As you reach for your trusty dry shampoo to combat the post-workout grease, you're met with shock horror—it's running on empty.

But fear not, because, in the world of hair care, there's always a hack waiting to join your beauty closet arsenal. Dry shampoo might be a modern-day marvel (and one we rely on), but the search for grease-free locks has been around forever. People are pretty used to greasy hair by now, and because of this, there's been some creativity when it comes to DIY beauty products—all on the mission to banish those greasy roots. 

Dry shampoo has long been our go-to MVP for quick hair fixes, but what happens when it runs out before payday? That's where these nine alternatives come in handy. From pantry staples to DIY concoctions, we've concocted a list of effective solutions that will leave your hair looking and feeling fresh, all without costing you a fortune.

Looking for alternatives to dry shampoo? You’re in the right place 


1) Baby powder

Picture this—you’ve just been asked on a date and your hair needs a quick refresh, who would have thought that it’ll be baby powder to come to the rescue? This household staple works wonders in absorbing excess oil, giving your hair a clean, refreshed, and grease-free look. 

To avoid a powdery residue, sprinkle a small amount onto your hairbrush and gently distribute it through your roots, leaving the ends untouched. Chef’s kiss! Grease-free locks in a couple of seconds. 

Baby powder is not only highly effective, but it’s also gentle on the scalp and suitable for all hair types, making it a must-have in your beauty closet. Plus, it's affordable and readily available at most drugstores for a couple of bucks, so it’s a no-brainer really. 

With its light, fresh scent, you'll feel ready to tackle the day head-on, but beware when wearing black clothes when applying. Sometimes it dusts everywhere, and we don’t want that. 


2) Corn starch

Don't overlook the power of your kitchen pantry gravy thickening agent. Corn starch, with its moisture-absorbing goodness, is another one of our budget-friendly alternatives to dry shampoo. Sprinkle a bit onto greasy areas, massage it in, and brush through for instantly revitalized hair. 

Bonus–It's odorless, so it’s perfect for those looking for less of a ‘grandma’ scent (Sorry baby powder, we still love you). Corn starch not only quenches up that oily scalp, but it also adds an oomph of volume and plenty of texture to your hair. Whether you're in a pinch or looking for a natural alternative, corn starch is a crowd-pleaser. 


3) Baking soda

While highly effective, baking soda should be used *sparingly* due to its highly potent pH. Mix it with other alternatives to balance its effects, and ensure thorough brushing to prevent any white residue left on your strands. 

A quick tip–apply it with caution, focusing on oily areas, and brush through for an even spread. Baking soda is a household staple known for its baking, cleaning, you name it. It’s multi-purpose. Its alkaline properties help absorb excess oil and remove impurities from the scalp, leaving your hair feeling clean and washed.

PSA: Any excessive use can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause dryness and scalp irritation, so be careful!


4) Arrowroot powder

Oh, the humble ingredient of our favorite baked goods, we can’t believe you work wonders on our hair, too. Gentle and translucent, arrowroot powder is a versatile option for banishing greasy roots. Its fine texture makes it easy to blend into your hair, providing a natural-looking finish even for the thinnest of hair. 

Arrowroot powder is not only effective at absorbing oil but also gentle on the scalp, making it suitable for sensitive skin types and those with dry, flakey scalps. Its lightweight formula won't weigh down your hair, allowing for natural movement and texture. Plus, it's easy to apply and won't leave behind any residue like baby powder sometimes does—so it’s a real goodie.


5) Setting powder

Out and about with just your makeup bag? Well, you're in luck. The trusty translucent setting powder isn't just for baking your foundation—it works wonders in absorbing excess oil from your hair, too, leaving it with a matte finish. 

Simply dust it (sparingly, especially if it’s £££) onto your roots, massage it in, and brush through for a clean set of tresses that can trick anyone into the fact you’ve had a fresh blow dry.


Setting powder is a game-changer for those days when your hair needs a quick pick-me-up, whether it's after the gym or lunch break at work. Its lightweight formula absorbs oil without weighing heavy on your strands, giving you fresh, revitalized hair in seconds.

P.S. Have an old makeup brush on hand? Dab it onto the top of your root with precise detail and less product usage.


6) Blotting papers

It may sound obvious, but you don’t just blot your face with blotting papers. On-the-go and need a quick fix? Reach for blotting papers. These handy sheets absorb oil without leaving residue, making them perfect for tackling oily roots on the fly. Press them onto oil-laden spots for immediate refreshment, and say goodbye to greasy hair in seconds. 

They’re compact and portable, making them perfect for quick and easy touch-ups, whether you're running errands or heading to a meeting. Simply press them onto your hair, and watch as they absorb excess oil, leaving your hair looking fresh all day.


7) Apple cider vinegar

The root cause of greasy hair? Your scalp. Nature's remedy for oily roots, apple cider vinegar helps regulate oil production and soothe the scalp. Dilute the vinegar with water, spray it onto your roots, let it dry, and brush through for balanced, refreshed hair. 

Its anti-inflammatory properties promote a healthy pH level, leaving your locks feeling nourished and revitalized while aiding your scalp in healing. Apple cider vinegar is a natural wonder with numerous benefits for hair care—Its acidic nature helps restore the scalp's balance, reducing excess oil production and preventing dandruff.

The best bit? It contains enzymes that promote hair growth and strengthen the hair follicles, resulting in healthier, more vibrant hair. PSA: it has a strong odor, so use sparingly. 


8) Hair mousse

Unconventional yet effective, hair mousse combines the benefits of dry shampoo with styling properties. Add volume and medium hold to your hair while keeping it refreshed between washes, and with less chance of getting greasy. 

Spritz onto your roots and brush through for instant lift and revitalization, that not only keeps a curl in place for day-two hair but looks clean as well. Whether you're rocking beachy waves or a sleek updo, hair mousse is your secret weapon that you probably already have on your shelves.


9) Switch up your style 

If the idea of using a dry shampoo substitute doesn't quite scream ‘fresh hair’ to you, then changing your hairstyle can be a game-changer. When it comes to dealing with greasy hair days, sometimes the best solution doesn't involve products at all—and that’s the best money-saving hack. You don’t need to be scrolling through TikTok to know that switching up your hairstyle can work wonders for disguising oily roots. Consider going for the clean-girl look with a sleek, slicked-back braid or bun, to rival Sofia Richie's effortlessly chic look. 

If all else fails? Accessories like headbands are also your best friend when it comes to hiding not-so-fresh strands and oil buildup on the scalp. Get creative with your hairstyles, and embrace the power of a well-executed updo or braided style to cover up those greasy hair secrets that nobody will ever know. 


Tips and tricks on how to apply it right

When it comes to using dry shampoo alternatives, you need to master the application before all else. One important tip is to avoid applying the product directly to the top layer of your hair, as this can lead to a dull appearance and weighed-down locks. Instead, go for a more indirect approach by targeting the roots and underneath layers where oil tends to build up. This ensures that the product is evenly distributed throughout your hair, effectively absorbing excess oil without leaving a noticeable residue on the surface. 

Along with that, consider using a CLEAN hairbrush or a fluffy makeup brush to apply the alternative. Sprinkle the product onto the brush, tap off any excess, and gently brush it through your hair, focusing on the areas that need the most refreshing. 

It is always better to start with less product and add more as needed, rather than overdoing it and risking a heavy, dull finish—or worse, an even greasier mane. 


The possibilities for a natural alternative to dry shampoo are endless

Regardless if you rely on traditional dry shampoo or prefer the alternatives found in your kitchen cabinet or makeup drawer, there's no shortage of options for sprucing up your hair when you’re out of time. We can’t lie, these dry shampoo hacks offer an easy answer for those moments when a full shampoo and blowout aren't on the cards. But you must remember that dry shampoo and its alternatives are not substitutes for throwing your hair care regime out of the window. Hair washing is still very much recommended to cleanse your scalp, so please don’t replace it with dry shampoo. 

While they serve their purpose in a pinch, overdoing it can sadly lead to hair damage—and nobody has time for that. Strike the correct balance between convenience and hair health, and you’ll be on track to a luscious mane that knows no boundaries. Don’t fear the hair wash days, it’s a form of self-care, and we all need some TLC, even the strands.