A Brief History of Dry Shampoo: from ancient Clays & Powders to Industrialized Aerosol

You might have recently seen the news footage we reposted of the voluntary aerosol dry shampoo recall from Unilever. Nearly 20 dry shampoo products, including brands like Dove, Nexxus, Tigi, Suave & Tressume were pulled from shelves due to the ingredient Benzene, which has been known to have strong links to cancer. We are proud to make a Dry Shampoo free of metals or minerals like Talc, chemicals like benzene, or isobutane. 

How did we get to this point in our cosmetic history?

In this blog post, we will briefly cover the interesting history of Dry Shampoo, and how you can make the best choice for your body, the planet, AND your wallet!

The Timeline

Cultures around the globe have been using clays & muds in their hair and on their skin for millennia. Take for example the Himba People of Namibia, who "are famous for covering themselves with otjize paste, a cosmetic mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment. Otjize cleanses the skin over long periods due to water scarcity and protects from the hot and dry climate. It gives Himba people's skin and hair plaits a distinctive texture, style, and orange/red tinge. Otjize is considered foremost a highly desireable aethetic beauty cosmetic, symbolizing earth's rich red color and blood, the essence of life."1.

On the Asian continent, as early as the 15th century, dry clay powder was used to cleanse and moisturize hair.

In the Elizabethan era, a lack bathing opportunities encouraged the populace to rely upon clays and powders to cleanse away dirt from the scalp.

The first written reference of dry shampoo in the United States is from the late 1700s, when starches were used to deodorize and alter the color of wigs. Powders were used to freshen the wigs of the elites, as long hair was a marker of masculine privilege.

By the early 1940s, "Minipoo" was created by the Stephanie Brooke Company, and became the first commercially produced Dry Shampoo product. Marketed towards women who might have a "surprise date", or children who might have a sick day.

In 1972 Klorane (a French hair cosmetics company) launched its first dry shampoo product. Taking the industry by storm, they marketed specifically to women who cannot wash their hair due to physical limitations. This product transcended its original genre and became a purposeful tool for women of all kinds.

In 1975, Batiste launched spray dry shampoo in the UK, and American hairstylists would fill their suitcases with it before leaving London

The rest is history, and now we have the largest selection of powders and aerosol in history all over the world. It's very fascinating to me to consider the different types of clays and powders used by all people over the globe to adorn & care for themselves.


"The concept of an aerosol originated as early as 1790 when self-pressurized carbonated beverages were introduced in France. In 1837, a man called Perpigna invented a soda siphon incorporating a valve. Metal spray cans were being tested as early as 1862. They were constructed from heavy steel and were too bulky to be commercially successful.

In 1899, inventors Helbling and Pertsch patented aerosols pressurized using methyl and ethyl chloride as propellants."*

Is it really a "shampoo"?

The term "Dry Shampoo" is kind of a misnomer. For quite some time, women and men alike would wash their hair with the same soap they cleaned their bodies with, which was often made with animal fat.

In 1903 "a chemist and pharmacist named Hans Schwarzkopf created a violet-scented powder hair wash after hearing about it from a client of his who had seen it in England." This introduced the concept of a cleaning powder to the people of the time. Often times a powder was applied, used to exfoliate, and then brushed or washed out.

However, the name stuck around! Call it hair powder, or dry shampoo, we know how useful it is on non-wash days when you need a little pick-me-up!

My Dry Shampoo Experience

I've always been kind of a greasy kid, I blame it on genetics. Regardless, my mom would douse me in baby powder (talcum powder) before heading off to school on days when I couldn't fit a shower in.

This was less than ideal for a couple reasons. Firstly, my hair is really dark, so there was always a white cast on my roots, no matter how much I tried to blend it in. Secondly, I didn't know at the time but the ingredients in baby powder are linked to multiple creepy things. Connections to Ovarian & lung cancer as well as respiratory issues in children are prevalent 2.

What's more, Johnson & Johnson have had multiple lawsuits against talcum powder contaminated with asbestos 3. Big Yikes!

Seeing as I was entering puberty, and only getting greasier, I began to play with other ingredients that might work better for my brunette shade. I found powders with a finer surface area, so they would blend in more easily. I sought out darker and darker powders and eventually came up with the formula for our Darker Dry Shampoo powder! Which I am happy to say (as far as I know) is the darkest, natural, mineral free Dry Shampoo on the market.

I found an old powder brush I bought for blush, and started applying it to my scalp that way- so it wouldn't be messy underneath my fingernails. You can find a combo deal of our Dry Shampoo and these awesome vegan, cruelty free, plastic free application brushes here.

When I knew I wanted to start my own business, I was pleased that I coincidentally had YEARS of Research and Development for my first product!

I'm so happy to share this product with conscious consumers. It is truly my desert island hair product that I rely upon for an after-work pick me up before going out, for roadtrips, and for when I just can't be talked into washing my hair :)

Better for you, the planet, and your wallet

Not only are aeorosol products jam-packed with isobutanes, synthetic fragrances, and heavy minerals that are harmful when inhaled, they are downright more expensive! Think about how much actual product are in those cans, and how much of it is just a propulsion agent! We are confident enough that our Dry Shampoo powder will outlast a can of Dry Shampoo, we offer a money back guarantee. Plus, we offer a Dry Shampoo refill, so you can just keep using the same cute glass jar instead of throwing away those wasteful cans.


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