Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo – Baby Powder vs Dry Shampoo for Oily Hair

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 04/17/24 •  11 min read
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Sometimes a dry shampoo can really come in handy when you’re unable to wash your hair the traditional way. But does baby powder as dry shampoo work as well as a regular dry shampoo? We’ve set out to answer that question and more in today’s post. 

Is Baby Powder the Same as Dry Shampoo?

No, baby powder is not the same as dry shampoo. But it is possible that it works the same way that dry shampoo does– sometimes. 

To be clear, dry shampoo is a product that can be bought that is specifically designed to rid your hair of buildup and oil when you aren’t able to wash your hair the traditional way. Dry shampoo comes in several different varieties. Some dry shampoos claim to offer additional benefits, such as added volume, hydration, and more.

Johnson's Baby Powder - 500G

Baby powder, on the other hand, is designed for babies. Typically they’re used to rid babies’ diapers and other areas of their bodies of moisture. Baby powder comes in several varieties including those with talc and those that are talc-free

So baby powder isn’t formulated for use on the human scalp and hair. As such, it may contain ingredients that aren’t fit for daily use as a dry shampoo.

Still, baby powder is designed to soak up oil and moisture on baby skin. Which is why it is so commonly used as a dry shampoo for adults. 

Can I Put Baby Powder in My Hair?

You can put baby powder in your hair but do so with caution. Putting baby powder in your hair, while cheap and convenient, can come with drawbacks. One of which is leaving white residue in the hair. The other being the potential for the baby powder to irritate your scalp.

As with anything, use discretion when seeking to apply baby powder to your hair, especially if you tend to have problems with your scalp. 

Can I Use Baby Powder For My Oily Hair?

Aside from the aforementioned disadvantages, baby powder can work wonders for oily hair. But it must be used only a little at a time. If you use too much all at once, it may turn your hair white, especially if you’ve got dark hair. Too much baby powder in your hair is bound to look unsightly. 

Nevertheless, baby powder works to sop up excess oil in the hair, leaving your hair soft, full, and oil-free without the use of water and shampoo. 

Can You Use Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo?

Yes, you certainly can.

Using baby powder as dry shampoo is an easy and cheap alternative to buying dry shampoo. Dry shampoo can get expensive, especially if you use it often. This is especially true if you are using dry shampoo for in-between washes, after workouts, in hot and humid weather, and more. 

Remember that dry shampoo, whether you are using baby powder or an actual dry shampoo, is not meant to replace your normal wash routine. By using dry shampoo in place of typical washings, you are actually doing your hair and scalp a disservice. As you neglect your hair and scalp, the molecules from the dry shampoo stay on your hair and clog follicles. The result can be dandruff, itchy scalp, bacterial growth and so much more.

Thus, it is important to only use baby powder or dry shampoo as a temporary remedy and not as a permanent means by which you wash your hair. 

hair care

Does Baby Powder Work the Same as Dry Shampoo?

Does Baby Powder Work as Dry Shampoo?

Baby powder can work the same as dry shampoo, but with caveats. 

Remember that baby powder isn’t formulated to use directly on the hair and scalp. As such, it is possible that scalp irritation and other complications could occur with the frequent use of baby powder on the hair and scalp.

On the flip side, dry shampoo is designed to be used directly on the hair and scalp and can be beneficial when used in conjunction with traditional washings for keeping the hair from becoming overly weighed down with build-up and product residue. 

Cornstarch Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo

Cornstarch baby powder can serve as an excellent replacement for your typical dry shampoo. It adds volume to the hair while also absorbing oily residue. In fact, regular cornstarch–not in the form of baby powder– can do the same things. Many use cornstarch to give their hair fullness and to get rid of unwanted grease. 

Burt's Bees Baby 100% Natural Dusting Talc-Free Baby Powder, 7.5 Oz

So, what’s the difference between cornstarch baby powder and “regular” baby powder? Traditional baby powder contains talc which is effective in controlling moisture but also comes with negative side effects. 

Talc is known to cause lung irritation, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and mesothelioma in some people. Therefore, using baby powder with talc, especially on a frequent basis, may not be a good idea. 

How Often Should You Use Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo?

In general, you should use baby powder as dry shampoo as often as needed; but never skip your normally scheduled washes. 

Still, the true answer to how often you should use baby powder as dry shampoo will depend on what kind of baby powder you are using and what your general hair care routine consists of. 

If you plan to use baby powder on a daily basis, you’ll want to ensure that your baby powder does not contain talc, but instead, contains cornstarch (or another safe ingredient) as the main ingredient. 

Though a little bit of talc-based baby powder on the scalp every now and again isn’t likely to hurt you, ongoing application of baby powder containing talc applied directly on the scalp certainly might. Therefore, if you plan to use baby powder as your go-to dry shampoo method, you’ll want to ensure that whatever baby powder you use is talc-free.

In addition to using talc-free baby powder, you’ll want to ensure that you are never skipping your traditional washes. How often you actually wash your hair depends on your hair type and needs, however, replacing washes with dry shampoo will do much more damage to your hair than you wish. Not to mention that using baby powder as a replacement for a hair wash on a permanent basis will do no more than clog the pores on your scalp, cause bacteria to grow, and leave an unsightly white residue on your strands. 

Thus, you should be sure to only use baby powder on your hair a couple of times in-between washes or as needed. 

dry shampoo hair

How Do You Use Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo?

How to Use Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo?

Now that you know the benefits of using baby powder as a dry shampoo for your hair, you may be equally interested in how to go about the process.

In order to apply baby shampoo to your hair and scalp to act as a dry shampoo, consider the following steps:

  1. Divide your hair into equal sections. This will make it easier to be precise with your application and will prevent too much of the baby powder from getting on your hair strands.

  2. Shake your baby powder into a small bowl. 

  3. Take a makeup brush and dip it into your baby powder. Apply the baby powder using the makeup brush to your scalp and areas that are the oiliest.

  4. Once you’ve applied your baby powder, allow the powder to sit at least a few minutes, but preferably overnight, to absorb as much oil as possible.

  5. Once the allotted amount of time has passed, brush your hair as you would normally. As you do this, the product should begin to evenly distribute throughout your hair. 

Pro Tips: Be careful not to apply too much baby powder to your scalp. Doing so will result in a white residue that won’t look good. Moreover, you can easily skip the step that requires you to divide your hair into sections. Doing this only makes things easier for you. But if you can get by without doing it, feel free to do so. Lastly, you may be able to apply your baby powder to your scalp by shaking a little on your fingertips and rubbing it through your scalp. However, this may prove much messier than the method we recommended above. 

Dangers of Using Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo?

Is Baby Powder Safe to Use as a Dry Shampoo?

Baby powder may or may not be safe to use as a dry shampoo. There are many considerations that you’ll need to take into account when deciding whether or not using baby powder as a dry shampoo is the right option for you.

First and foremost, you’ll want to consider the kind of baby powder you are using. As mentioned previously, baby powders often contain an ingredient called talc. Talc is known to cause cancer and other concerning ailments. By using talc-containing baby powders on a frequent basis you increase the risk of developing health problems associated with talc. 

smiling woman in brown top holding hair

Rather than selecting a baby powder that contains talc, consider purchasing a brand of baby powder that contains cornstarch. Or you may even try using cornstarch on its own. Just be advised that because cornstarch is fine and powdery, it too may get into your lungs and potentially irritate them. The difference, however, is that cornstarch has not yet been proven to have nearly the same amount of negative outcomes as talc powder has. Therefore, it is much safer to opt for a talc-free powder. 

Another issue with using baby powder as a permanent dry shampoo option is that baby powder is not specially designed to go on the hair and scalp. Unlike dry shampoos you find on the shelves in beauty stores and supermarkets, baby powder is formulated with ingredients that help contain the moisture in a baby’s diaper and skin folds. This means the powder could easily contain ingredients that could irritate and damage your hair and scalp. That said, a reaction to baby powder is often rare. 

Still, if you aren’t washing your hair often enough and you are allowing baby powder to build up on your hair and scalp, not only will it look unattractive, but it may also irritate and damage your hair and scalp. Therefore, the best thing to do is to simply use baby powder on your scalp on occasion. And stop using baby powder altogether if you find it to cause you any unsavory side effects. 


Why does my hair get so greasy in the first place?

There are many reasons that hair can get greasy. The most obvious reason is build-up. Build-up on the hair can be caused by products, sweat, natural oil from the scalp, and even pollution. This residue on the strands can look unsightly and must be removed in order for the hair to become weightless, full, and shiny once again. Other reasons for greasy hair include genetics, environment, and your diet. 
To reduce the amount of build up on your strands, try to wash your hair more frequently and using products that are more lightweight. Of course, you can also use baby powder or a dry shampoo between washes to help remove build up until your next wash.

Can Baby Powder Work as Dry Shampoo? We Think So!

All in all, we believe that using baby powder as a dry shampoo is an effective and affordable way to keep your hair free of buildup.

Having said that, using baby powder does come with a few drawbacks. Be sure to choose a talc-free baby powder if you plan to use it on your scalp often. And be sure to watch for scalp irritation that might be caused by ingredients in the baby powder. Watch for overapplication as this could make your strands appear white! 

Lastly, be sure never to replace our normal hair wash days with dry shampoo on a permanent basis. Dry shampoo isn’t meant to replace your washes forever; it should only be used once in a while in addition to regular washes. 

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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