Cocoa Powder: The Best DIY Dry Shampoo for Brown Hair

dry shampoo FINAL

I’ve mentioned to several friends over the past month that I use cocoa powder as dry shampoo and it was the first time they’d ever heard of that. So I decided it was worth a quick post to share this super simple trick for brunettes.

I tried it three years ago, somewhat out of desperation one morning while getting ready. Having light brown hair, I hated how white powders made my hair look gray. I’m also not a huge hair products person, so using something in my pantry seemed fitting: super inexpensive and no unnecessary ingredients.

When my hair looks flat and greasy and I either don’t have time to shower or don’t feel like blow drying, here’s how I (very non-technically) use cocoa powder as dry shampoo.

kelly_cocoa powder

Applying Cocoa Powder to Hair

Most often, I literally just dip my (clean!) fingers into a can of cocoa powder that I keep in my bathroom cabinet and then massage my fingertips into my hair near the scalp. (I personally had a can of old cocoa powder that I didn’t want to use for baking, so I stuck it in my cabinet. If you’re buying a new, fresh and full container, then you can put some in a small jar or even a used loose mineral powder makeup jar, which is easy to travel with.)

If my hair is down, I usually flip my head upside down and fluff it with my fingers, sometimes with more powder on my fingertips and sometimes not. It depends on how dirty and greasy my hair is! When my hair is pulled back and up in a bun, I just dust my fingers with the powder and lightly comb them through the top of my head.

You can use a comb or a makeup brush to apply as well. If I use a comb, I dip it into the powder and then loosely tease my roots from underneath. Whichever method you choose, the main thing to avoid is putting too much powder in your hair. You can always add more, so start with a small amount and give it a minute to absorb the oil. Also, avoid putting it directly on your scalp. Focus instead on the top inch or two of hair.

Truth be told, the way I use dry shampoo is quick and dirty. Literally. My bathroom sink and counter usually look like I’m baking brownies because I’m always in a hurry and not the neatest in the bunch. But, again, not putting too much powder on your fingers helps as well as using a makeup brush to dust your roots.

Similar Ideas for Blondes & Redheads

Arrowroot powder is the best choice for blondes. Cornstarch is a common option too, but it has close to ten times the carbohydrates than arrowroot powder, which could potentially increase yeast or bacteria on your scalp. I also used baking soda before I started using cocoa powder and it works great.

As for gingers, you can try mixing one part cinnamon to two parts arrowroot powder. Or you can always try the cocoa powder because it would probably blend pretty well with red hair.

Do you have any tips on dry shampoo or other DIY hair tricks? Please share them with us!

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  1. I’m a strawberry blonde and use a 50/50 of arrowroot and coco…. 🙂
    Works great and I smell delicious.

  2. My Cocoa powder was a bit too dark and I tried carob powder which was a shade lighter, with a pinch of baking soda and it worked perfect. I imagine if your cocoa powder wasn’t as dark as mine, it’d be just fine for light brown or dark ash blond hair.

  3. I have black hair, do you suggest I use cocoa powder? Also, I’ve seen many people use cocoa powder with arrowroot powder…is the arrowroot powder necessary to have the full effect of dry shampooing, or can I use cocoa powder alone? Thank you for your time!

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply, Sorita! I use cocoa powder alone! Try a small amount of the cocoa powder to see if it looks too light in your hair. Hopefully it will work!

  4. I made a DIY face powder recipe which also works great as a dry shampoo! It’s 1T Bentonite Clay + 1T Arrowroot (or Cornstarch), + 1T Cocoa Powder. I thought it would be way too light for my hair, which is kind of dirty blond, but it blends nicely. I use the same makeup brush that I use for my face, tap off the extra into the small jelly jar it’s stored in, then tap it along different sections of hair at the scalp, rubbing it in with my fingers. I do wonder, however, if my pillowcases will get dirty if I do this just before bed and haven’t wanted to try it!

  5. I was in a pinch and used cocoa powder on my cocoa colored (dyed) hair. I was shocked at what a great volumizer and how much I enjoyed it through the days. After a few days I noticed my few white hairs exposed and Im wondering if the cocoa exposed them. The rest of my color looks great. They could’ve poped out from the color on their own and I don’t want to stop using cocoa. Does anyone know if cocoa is color safe?

    1. Hi Ash, sorry for the delayed response! You can use this when you don’t wash your hair and notice it may be a little oily.

  6. I haven’t tried this yet, so maybe upon trying this I could answer my own question. I am mostly curious how to avoid getting my fingernails looking like I was digging in a garden?

    1. Hi Cami. Maybe try applying the cocoa to a comb first and see if that works for you. Or if you just dip your finger pads, you’ll be able to keep the nails clean. Good luck!


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