Can Dry Shampoo Cause Scalp Fungus?

April 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Scalp infections are often easily mistaken for dandruff. However dandruff is normally a result of dry skin, hormones, or contact/seborrheic dermatitis.  On the contrary, a fungal infection is usually a result of bacteria that enters the scalp through your hair follicles or damaged skin. Such skin damage can be caused by a number of things, but one offender that you may not know about is…you guessed it, dry shampoo.


Normally, this type of infection is caused by a particular fungus called dermatophytes. Now I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty of what that is, but in a nutshell, it’s a type of fungus that feeds on dead tissue; and it LOVES moist and warm environments. So sweaty, oily scalps make the perfect home for these little pests. 

This means that the oiler your scalp is and the more irritated, the more prone you are to infection.


Though you can read about a number of causes linked to both scalp infections and dandruff, not many mention alcohol as a possible irritant. That’s a problem. 

Styling products and aerosol-based products (such as hair spray, hair gel, and non-natural dry shampoo) normally contain alcohol. This ingredient increases irritation in the scalp, and results in scaling AND infection. This is especially true  in the case of dry shampoo as the product is sprayed directly onto your scalp, which will cause direct irritation, inflammation, and redness. 

If you’re lucky, you will be left with an itchy and flaky scalp…otherwise, you may be one of the many suffering from more severe infections.



Unfortunately, almost 100% of non-natural dry shampoos contain alcohol, which is not skin/scalp friendly at ALL! It’s just a necessary evil for the product formulation to work. 

Natural dry shampoos are a different story. 

If you check the ingredients, you’ll find that almost every natural dry shampoo uses clean natural powder as its main ingredient. The takesumi detox dry shampoo, for example, uses dry rice starch and activated charcoal to absorb excess oil and dirt from your hair follicles. By using such ingredients, we avoid applying anything that could result in irritation to your scalp (and skin). Most natural dry shampoos on the market will use similar natural powders, and avoid toxic ingredients such as talc and alcohol. 

When looking for your next dry shampoo, always read the label and check for alcohol. Sometimes the name on the label of aerosol dry shampoo is disguised and displayed as SDA 40-B or Pure SDA 40B Denatured Alcohol.

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