A camping trip is guaranteed to leave you feeling a little grimy.
And if you’re camping in hot summer weather, the sweat from your scalp can leave you with some pretty greasy hair—even after as little as a day.
As someone who’s learned to go as long as two weeks between showers, I know all too well how important it is to maintain the look of cleanliness between washings.
Dry shampoo is a great thing to bring camping because:
- It doesn’t require getting your hair wet
- It’s super easy to apply
- It masks the look of grease
- You can apply it every day, multiple times a day if needed
- It’s relatively cheap and easy to pack
- It can give your hair some extra volume and texture
- A little goes a long way
Overall, it’s super convenient and very effective at freshening up the look and feel of your hair when washing it is out of the question.
Many brands of dry shampoo contain a concoction of ingredients that work to soak up excess oil from your scalp while adding volume and body to your hair, but sometimes they can have a drying effect and contribute to buildup.
When it comes to choosing a good dry shampoo to take camping, here’s what I generally recommend:
Get one made with all natural ingredients. They’re better for your hair and the environment (in case you happen to spill or spray some around your campsite).
Go for an unscented/fragrance-free brand. Sure, fragrances can help mask odours that come from sweat or product buildup, but they also attract wildlife.
Get a small bottle or travel size version, if possible. This is especially important if you’re going on a trip where you want to keep weight and bulk to a minimum.
Without further ado, here are my personal top picks for dry shampoo to bring on a camping trip.
Best overall: Act+Acre plant-based dry shampoo
Act+Are’s plant-based dry shampoo gets the #1 spot for being all natural, fragrance-free, and conveniently sized for travel.
It contains just six plant-based ingredients designed to nourish your scalp and hair for long term benefits.
Unlike other dry shampoos, this one doesn’t contain aluminum, alcohols, or other harmful toxins that dry out your scalp and clog hair follicles.
It uses rice and tapioca powder, which are extremely effective at absorbing oil.
Int also contains a super nutrient called fulvic acid, which helps rid the scalp of impurities while delivering over 65 minerals to your hair follicles.
The formula works for all hair types, colours and genders whether thin or thick, dark or light.
It’s ideal for travel too as it comes in a conveniently sized bottle designed to last several months.
Why it’s great for camping
- Contains just 6 plant-based ingredients
- Rice and tapioca powder improve oil absorption
- Fulvic acid detoxifies and nourishes scalp/follicles
- Doesn’t dry out scalp with alcohols
- Doesn’t clog hair follicles with chalky powders
- Works for all hair types and colours
- Small-sized bottle that lasts months
Best for oil and buildup: Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo
Briogeo’s scalp revival charcoal and biotin dry shampoo takes the second spot for being one of the best all natural options for people with very oily roots and hair buildup.
Similar to Act+Acre’s dry shampoo, Briogeo’s uses clay, tapioca starch, and rice starch to effectively absorb excess oil.
Because it contains Binchotan charcoal, this dry shampoo actually pulls impurities away to prevent buildup while gently cleansing and refreshing both your scalp and hair.
Natural ingredients like coconut oil, panthenol, and tea tree oil also work to nourish the scalp without drying it out.
It does contain more than six ingredients, but all are naturally derived, and it doesn’t come with any harsh sulfates, silicons, parabens, phthalates, DEA, or artificial dyes that contribute to drying and irritation.
Although it’s lightly fragranced, it’s extremely subtle and might as well be as close to fragrance-free as you can get.
It’s also great for all hair types, including colour-treated hair.
Why it’s great for camping
- Clay, tapioca starch, and rice starch effectively absorb oil
- Charcoal draws out impurities, detoxify, and prevent buildup
- Witch hazel balances oil production
- 99% naturally derived ingredients
- No harsh ingredients that dry out or irritate the scalp
- Nutrient-rich ingredients lightly moisturize the scalp and hair
- Very lightly fragranced (almost no fragrance)
- For all hair types including colour-treated hair
Best for convenience: HairNerd dry shampoo sheets
Last but not least, HairNerd offers an ultra convenient dry shampoo option in the form of shampoo sheets and minimal, plastic-free packaging.
Instead of spraying a dry shampoo formula directly onto your roots, shampoo sheets are meant to be used by gently blotting your scalp and roots.
Each pack comes with 20 sheets (9×3.5″) that are double-sided.
Like Briogeo’s formula, these sheets are made with a combination of starch ingredients and clay to help remove oil and refresh the look of your scalp and hair.
With just three ingredients (paper, starch, and clay), you get an extremely natural solution for light oil buildup without any added fragrances or toxins.
Plus, the sheets are biodegradable and come in a small, resealable pouch that doesn’t take up too much space, making them perfect for camping trips or just on-the-go styling.
After using a sheet, pack it out in your garbage, dig a hole and bury it, or burn it in your campfire.
It’s not specified whether they suitable for all hair types, so you may want to test it on your own to see how it reacts with your own hair and scalp.
Why it’s great for camping
- Sheets instead of sprayable formula
- Very lightweight and convenient
- 100% biodegradable sheets and packaging
- Only 3 ingredients (paper, starch, and clay)
- Quick solution to removing excess oil and refreshing hair
Is dry shampoo bad for your hair and scalp?
I recommended the three products above because they all stick to using natural ingredients, which are the safest for your hair, scalp, and overall health.
While conventional dry shampoos offer temporary relief from oily scalps, using them too often can actually do more harm than good.
Overusing dry shampoo can lead to build-up on your scalp, leaving it feeling greasy, sticky, or irritated.
Some conventional dry shampoos also contain chemicals that may be linked to health concerns such as allergies and respiratory issues when inhaled.
They can also increase the likelihood of fading.
As long as you avoid daily use of any conventional brand of dry shampoo and use it only between washes when absolutely necessary, you should be fine.
When considering different brands, look for one that’s free from sulfates and alcohol since these ingredients are known to be drying on the hair and scalp.
It’s also a good idea to patch test all new products before use to make sure there won’t be any unwanted reactions.
Ultimately, I’m a firm believer in the fact that the best dry shampoo is one that uses natural ingredients to help absorb oil and keep your hair looking fresh without damaging it in the process.
I hope this article has given you some insight into choosing a good dry shampoo to bring camping, and I wish you happy camping trips in the future!
Dry shampoo FAQ
How do you use dry shampoo when camping?
You use it like you would at home, except I recommend bringing a small, compact mirror that you can use to make sure you’re targeting the right areas.
I have the wobsion LED lighted travel makeup mirror, which has a built-in ring light.
Can I use corn starch or baby powder instead?
Yes, I actually use corn starch regularly because I have blonde hair and like the lightening effect that it gives my roots when my highlights grow out a bit.
It’s also super cheap, all natural, and fragrance-free!
I personally wouldn’t recommend using baby powder because it’s usually scented and contains ingredients that have been linked to cancer.
How do you keep your hair clean when camping?
For short camping trips of two to three days, you should be able to get away with using dry shampoo and waiting until you get home to wash your hair.
Of course, everyone’s hair and scalp is different, so it’s up to you to decide what will work best for your own hair type.
If you’re heading out for longer than three days, I recommend bringing biodegradable shampoo (and conditioner if you need it) and washing your hair using a DIY camp shower.
I’m a big fan of Essence of Life’s unscented solid shampoo bar and conditioner bar.
What to do with your hair when camping?
If you have long hair like I do, I recommend picking a hairstyle that feels comfortable and keeps your hair off your back and shoulders.
I like to wear a baseball cap and put my ponytail through the hole in the back, or I’ll do a simple French braid.
It’s also a good idea to bring a small hairbrush along and comb your hair at least once a day, which can easily get tangled from being active, or from being in the wind.
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).