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Baby powder can be a great ally if you find yourself with oily hair and need a quick degreasing. Your scalp is trained to produce a certain amount of oil depending on how often you wash your hair. If you wash it every day, for example, your scalp is likely to produce more oil. Conversely, if you wash your hair infrequently, your scalp produces less oil to stay healthy. Either way, the day may come when you need to skip a wet shampoo, and oily hair is the result. That’s where baby powder comes in.

Baby Powder Ingredients

Talc and perfume are the two ingredients most frequently found in baby powder. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen.

As it comes from the earth, some talc contains asbestos, a known carcinogenic, according to Cancer.org. Since the 1970s, however, all talcum products used in homes in the United States have been asbestos-free. In addition, baby powder producers sometimes offer alternatives to talc in their products' ingredients, such as cornstarch or non-grain alternatives.

If you are a fan of the most common baby-powder scents, you may love wearing the perfumed product on your head, but not everyone wants to smell like a freshly powdered baby's bottom. As an alternative, look for brands with different scents, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder Calming Lavender & Chamomile (made out of cornstarch), or choose brands that are fragrance-free.

Finally, depending on the color of your hair, you may want to modify the baby powder to help conceal it. Bianca London, writing for The Daily Mail, recommends adding some cocoa powder if you are a brunette or try cinnamon if you are a redhead. You'll tint the powder and smell delicious.

Baby talcum powder container
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How to Apply Baby Powder to Your Hair

You can also use a brush with natural bristles to help the baby powder slide down the hair shafts from the roots. Natural bristles are best for powder-product applications, writes beauty writer Angela Melero on the website Makeup.com: "Natural hair contains cuticles, which have great pick-up and blending properties. Cuticles help lift and absorb powdery pigment."

Consider storing the powder in a shaker and shaking it directly onto the roots when you’re ready to apply it. Or use a clean makeup brush to apply it, and then massage the products into your roots with your fingertips.

It can be beneficial to apply baby powder at night, which allows the powder to set and your hair to absorb any white residue.

Read more: Talc Powder Ingredients

Alternatives That Work Just as Great as Baby Powder to Degrease Your Hair

If you notice any adverse reactions to baby powder or would simply like to try a few alternatives, consider a dry shampoo. Commercial brands may contain more chemicals than baby powder, so read the label carefully if you’re concerned about potentially toxic ingredients.

Some organic dry shampoos include Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell + COQ10 Dry Shampoo, Lulu Organics Hair Powder and this do-it-yourself dry shampoo recipe from WholeFoods.com:

  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (also known as arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour)
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda

  • 5 drops of an essential oil with a fragrance you like (Whole Foods recommends Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil)


Combine the ingredients in a lidded container. Close the container and shake. After mixing, dip a wide makeup brush into the powder. Shake off the excess and apply the mixture to your roots. Massage the dry shampoo into your hair using your fingertips. Comb the product through your hair or blow-dry from roots to ends.

Kitchen items that can absorb grease as baby powder does include cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, flour or a mixture of them.

Read more: Essential Oils for Dry Scalp