2-Ingredient Silky-Smooth Play Dough

Cornstarch condition play dough from Our Best Bites. We’ve had 3 snow days this year. The first two were fantastic. We stocked up on treats and wore our coziest clothes all day and stayed inside and read and played games. It was like something out of Gilmore Girls.

Well.

Our third snow day was not so perfect. I had one sick kid, a toddler in a terrible mood, and the third just bouncing off the walls. I was tired and sore from working out and we were all just kind of off a notch or two.

Turns out all we needed to make two of the three happy (the third needed Sprite and saltines) was making this play dough. I used to make this way back in my babysitting days and it was just as fun as I remembered it. We have a plethora of unused beauty and personal grooming products from my husband’s work, plus a plethora of cornstarch from that time I waaaay overestimated how much cornstarch I was going to need for a recipe (plus a plethora of piΓ±atas, but that’s irrelevant here), so we had everything we needed.

Let’s make some cornstarch conditioner play dough! You’re going to need some hair conditioner or body lotion (some people use fabric softener, but fabric softener is expensive and I worry about our skin coming in direct contact with something so concentrated; I’ve also seen it done with shaving cream, but the general consensus seems to be that lotion and conditioner work the best) and cornstarch.

How to make corn starch condition play dough

There’s no need to use anything other than the cheapest (or free-est) stuff–save your Bumble & Bumble for your hair. But I would use something that smells good to you because this play dough will have a strong scent and it will stay on your hands.

Place the cornstarch in a large bowl and add the beauty product of choice.

Recipe for cornstarch condition play dough

As I should know by now (and as you guys may have noticed), I perpetually underestimate how large my mixing bowls should be and I end up transferring them to a larger bowl later on. It works wonders for my dirty dish workload. So use a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need, and don’t think that only a Pyrex measuring cup will do the trick, because it won’t. Mix in the conditioner/lotion with your hands–it will just start coming together and it will be pliable and very, very smooth. You may need to add more conditioner/shaving cream/lotion as you go).

cornstarch conditioner play dough

Use food coloring to color as desired. Keep covered when not in use.

Silky Play Dough from Our Best Bites

 
2-Ingredient Silky Smooth Play Dough
This silky-smooth 2-ingredient play dough can be made in just a few minutes with stuff you already have in your house--hair conditioner and cornstarch!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cornstarch
  2. About 1 cup hair conditioner or lotion (don't use the expensive stuff, but I recommend something that is either scent-free or a scent that you/your kids like)
Instructions
  1. Place the cornstarch in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the beauty product of your choice with your hands--it will just start coming together and it will be pliable and very, very smooth.
  3. You may need to add more conditioner/shaving cream/lotion as you go). Use food coloring to color as desired. Keep covered when not in use.
Great Tip
  1. Don't use the expensive hair condition or lotion, but I do recommend something that is either scent-free or a scent that you/your kids like.
Our Best Bites http://ourbestbites.com/
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78 comments

  1. I’ll have to try that! We are in Tennessee and on our 8th snow day in the past three weeks!

  2. Does the food coloring stain little hands or will it keep to the play dough? I worry about making this and then having a multi-colored toddler.

    1. We made this last night and the blue food coloring definitely came off on my boys’ hands. (It washed off in the tub though.)

    2. We made this last night and I had the same problem as a couple of the others. It was either too sticky or turned to crumbles after a while (I tried adjusting the amounts of conditioner and cornstarch). It smelled wonderful and was really easy to clean up, but stuck every where when sticky and then crumbled everywhere when too dry.

      1. just dont put alot of food coloring πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

        1. I have had it with even play dough, I tell my students “Help Mommy with the dishes tonight, it will help” They are usually very excited to tell me the next day that it helped lol.

  3. Love this recipe! Like I actually enjoy playing playdough with it because it doesn’t suck every last drop if moisture from my already dry winter skin! Thank goodness for Costco sized tubs of corn starch!

  4. Hahaha! “Would you say you have a plethora of piΓ±atas?” Love that show. πŸ™‚ This looks fun! Glad you found a way to survive another snow day.

  5. This is a favorite at our house too, especially when they get out the cute ice cream shop playdough set we found at Ikea a few years ago and they play “ice cream parlor”. Thanks for posting this. I need to make this again for my kiddos!

  6. How do I have a 2.5 year old child in daycare and NOT know about this??? We’re making playdough this weekend, that’s for sure. = )

  7. Hey! What a great idea! Just made it with the dollar store raspberry bottle of shaving cream that I buy so that the kids can “paint” the wall in the one shower that has that plexi- glass door. Perhaps the concentrations are quite different from using the conditioner?? I used approximately 10 cups of shaving cream to the suggested 2 cups of corn starch that I started with, and it finally held together- mostly! Should I just try conditioner next time? Your picture looked beautiful! And it is quite smooth!

    1. Unfortunately, I made this yesterday only to find a bag of crumbles left this morning! Definitely not playdough to make if you are expecting it to last for more than one session! And I did bag it up right after my son was done playing with it yesterday. It was pretty crumbly to begin with though- even after I added much more cream.

  8. I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I’M SEEING! Conditioner and cornstarch make…play dough? The Suave conditioner is, like, a dollar at Wal Mart. You’d better believe I’m trying this out tomorrow. Thank you so much for the fun, magic recipe!

  9. Such a fun idea!! I needed this on our first snow day (of two) this week. I had one sick, I was tired from being up with said sick child and the other kids wanted to DO something but it was way too cold and the roads were treacherous. Anyhoo… thanks, now I’m prepared for the next snow day or Spring Break!

  10. I’ve never seen this version of homemade play dough, but I think I will love it. I’ve been wishing for a snow day today. We just moved from VA to CA and our friends had their 12th snow day today but we’ve had none. Not that I’m complaining about it being 78 degrees, but I could use an unexpected day off with nothing to do but play with my kids.

  11. I am also a bowl underestimater and I always pick the wrong knife. drives my husband crazy. I love no cook play dough though so we’ll try this! Question: is it stickier than most playdough? Like could my toddler roll it with a little wooden rolling pin without it sticking to it? We got these free sample eco-friendly playdoughs that are horribly sticky – to the counter and everything.

  12. I am surprised OBB recommended this! I also used the shaving cream and it went from flaking pieces to super sticky- either extreme was too much for my kids to play with! And it did take an entire bottle of shaving cream, certainly not 1 cup, and food coloring stained hands on all 3 kids before I became super frustrated and started the clean up project!

  13. I made this with conditioner and it was perfect! I halved it and it still made a really good sized blob.

  14. Interesting! I’ve always made salt dough for my kids and I absolutely hate the dry salty residue it leaves on my hands, which makes me not want to join the fun when my son asks me to help him make things. I’ll have to try this soon and see how it goes. It’s very similar to a recipe I tried for bath paints, the only difference was using kids’ body wash instead of conditioner, which was a lot of fun.

  15. I had great success with the V05 conditioner. Just bought the cheapest conditioner there was. I put two cups of cornstarch in a huge bowl and just dumped in the conditioner without measuring (I do think I ended up using about a cup, so 2:1 ratio). While stirring, it just kept looking like it would be a crumbly mess. When I started to use my hands to knead the mixture like dough, it started coming together and getting really smooth. I ended up putting it on a flat surface and kneading it like dough until it was the consistency I wanted. Not sure if it will be dry tomorrow or not (I noticed one person commented that theirs was dry the next day), but for the fun it was and for the price it cost and especially the low effort it took to make it, it was DEFINITELY worth it (easier than salt dough in my opinion). Thanks!

  16. I tried this tonight with my girls and it was awesome! Needed more flour than what the recipe called for but trial and error created the perfect dough! Thanks for sharing!

  17. I wanted to try this so I used whatever conditioner I had on hand, my own! Dove moisture therapy….the smell is so strong, it’s nauseating – I had to open all my windows.

  18. Just made this! This seriously is awesome and so easy! My DD loves to mix her play dough colors together, and this made it so easy to replace her army-colored dough with bright colors again! I used Garnier Fructis conditioner. It was hard to make purple, I think because of the dyes in the conditioner, but pink and yellow and white were all fine. Thank you for sharing this!

  19. I saw this post and immediately had to try it, because I love making things with Cornstarch πŸ˜„ it’s so fun!! The directions were really easy and it turned out perfectly! It reminds me of moon dough

  20. I tried this, but accidentally bought shampoo instead of conditioner. oops! It was a sudsy mess to try and clean. I will have to try it again with conditioner πŸ™‚

  21. This must really depend on what conditioner you use. Mine was a sticky mess. My 4 yr old hated it so much she cried. An ok substance for other kids or projects maybe, but I certainly would not call it “play dough”.

    1. Might not be like conventional play dough, but the name is still apt; it is dough you play with… Just saying…

    2. If your child has Sensory Processing Disorder the texture may upset them πŸ™ Depends on the kiddo and the particular textures they struggle with. Speaking from experience, unfortunately.

  22. If nothing else it makes a great fidget tool for my son. Super pliable and keeps his hands (and mind) busy. I put some essential oils in mine too. I think I needed more starch, but I used the last of it. Might mess around with ratios next time and see what happens.

  23. I have found that if you use finely crushed up (or grated) chalk in most play dough recipes it will work but be very pastel. But it keeps it from staining your hands with ink or dye. You can usually find brightly colored chalk at craft and school supply stores.

  24. Also, while using something cheap is fine, you need to make sure it isn’t water based and that you don’t add any water. Using conditioner from the dollar store is probably going to have too much water in it. You’re best bet is to use something like suave lotion. I prefer to use a store brand version of gold bond healing lotion with aloe (the white bottle) it has great consistency, isn’t horrible expensive and leaves you’re hands feeling hydrated but not sticky or greasy.

  25. I work in a school environment and we substitute kool-aid for the color. It doesn’t stain as much and can be used as a learning tool. Red ( strawberry) ect.

  26. Terrible. Stains. Sticks to everything including hands so you can’t actually use it the same way as play doh. Please test your recipes before posting them.

      1. It worked great for me! Made 3 batches with different scent conditioners (apple, strawberry and coconut) for my preschool class. They loved it and smelled great after playing with it too. Added just a few drops of coloring and had no issue with stained hands either. By the next day, even though stored in air tight container..it was pretty dry and crumbly. We just put it in a basin with spoons and small containers and used it like moon sand. A whole new and fun sensory experience and spills sweep up easily. πŸ˜†

    1. Wow, that was pretty rude. Nice blogger to respond in a positive tone despite the uncalled for attack.

    2. I’m pretty sure she did test her recipe. That’s why she’s posted it…and took pictures…and described how great and easy it was…and we all found it. Psh!

    3. I make this all the time and just have to add more of the corn starch or condtioner depending on the texture. I never measure, just eyeball it. Makes sense to me that if it was too sticky you might automatically add more corn starch. Just saying….

  27. This works amazing! I made pink and I love it! It’s fun to make and easy to clean up after! Thanks for the recipe. I made mine with lotion.

  28. I love this stuff! Never heard of the recipe before but had to try it immediately. I didn’t measure anything but started with a few spoons of cornstarch in a bowl and added St. Ives oatmeal and shea butter body lotion because it has a mild scent and I thought it would be soothing to my hands to play with. I just added a few squirts and mixed, and again and again until the consistency was right. It is SOOOOOOOO smooth and soft to play with! Definitely not like regular Play-Doh, which is much firmer and would be better for rolling pins and cookie cutters. This is more something to just fidget with. But I really LOVE it!

  29. Just had an awesome thought… If you smooshed this stuff into a little balloon and tied it up nice and airproof, it would probably make a GREAT stress/squish-ball.

  30. I worked with children and definitely I try this magic Mon . Thanks.I will let you know the results soon.

  31. Used Wal-Mart brand corn starch approx 2.5 cups
    Approx. 1 cup coconut scented White Rain conditioner
    Came out nice and smooth. Kids enjoyed it very much.
    It did start to break up easier as they played with it so I had them roll it back into a ball and gather the pieces.
    Overall a cheap, easy and fun play doh recipe πŸ™‚
    Thank you!

  32. I loved this recipe! It was super easy, super soft and you can adjust it if it is too sticky of crumbly. I mixed in the food coloring with a spoon first or you can use plastic gloves. I used coconut conditioner, it smelled great!

  33. I’ve made this many times and love it. We added glitter too! Mine has lasted months in a plastic storage container. Whenever it starts getting a bit crumbly I just bring out a bit of conditioner, add a squeeze, the kids get mushy all over again and voila! Back in business!!! ADORE this stuff!

  34. Our school has enrichment classes for an hour during this whole week. I found your recipe. It’s so inexpensive. I bought coconut White Rain conditioner and corn starch at the 99cent store. Food coloring at target for 1.50.I mixed the corn starch and conditioner in front of them so they can see how easy it is to make. I made one batch and all 19 students received a ball of dough. I placed a few drops of food coloring of their choosing. Their hands were stained but soap and water cleans it up. They loved the smell. They cleaned their desks with baby wipes. They absolutely loved it. My room smelled so good. Thank you so much for the easiest, most inexpensive and creative recipe!!! I did this with kindergarten- 3rd grade. All of them loved it!!!!!

  35. Very nice recipe. I made this while trying to find the perfect ingredients. After I made it I looked for it inline too and found this. I suggest that if you use a lotion try it out in your hands first. If ut turns clear and oily in your hands then it won’t work we’ll. if it stays creamy until absorbed into hands it Will work. You can also use pure baby cornstarch powder instead of baking cornstarch.

  36. We had some fun today, we got the vo5 conditioner 2 strawberry for the girls and kiwi green for the boys! All the kiddos followed the instructions I read, but of course you have to have a little cornstarch fun while waiting for everyone to measure their conditioner 🎈The kids had such a blast cornstarch was just every where!!!! We do fun and crazy stuff outside, live and learnπŸŽ‰ That way I don’t have to worry about spilling or through ingredients at each other so my point was the girls was super red with glitter and just sticky as can be. While the kiwi experiment came out perfect ! By the way I drenched the girls in red food coloring! It was too stick to see there hands anyway for a while! What to do with sticky good smelling glittering fairy dough, you try by writing and painting the concrete just to get it of your hands! I actually snug some sticky dough to and wrote my name on the ground! We had so much fun🎈By the way since we been trying to through it at each other, it doesn’t stick to fabric but really good on skin! Thank you so much for such a great time with all the kiddos! Easiest good smelling cleanup ever!

  37. All the kids are asking when I get more cornstarch and conditioner! We are going to try to not have too much fun and follow the instructions πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  38. I found it to be a little sticky even at the right consistency. Little bits would stick to my hands. So I made a batch of the cooked playdough (flour, salt, cream of tartar) and mixed this in. Perfect.

  39. My kids and I just spent an hour making this…and remaking this…and adding conditioner to this…and then adding more conditioner…and repeat…
    In our experience, the ‘playdoh’ stays soft and pliable for 5 minutes and then starts flaking off everywhere. We tried adding more conditioner but each time, it only remained playable for a few minutes.
    The concept is great…but this is one recipe we will definitely not be attempting again.

  40. I just made a batch and it worked out great!! I am planning on making it with my preschool class tomorrow.
    THANK YOU!!

  41. Meanwhile in Canada we all be like….” what’s a snow day?”…. πŸ˜‰ thanks for the recipe! Excited to give it a try!

  42. A great recipe to do with your kids! My kiddos had so much fun making it and we played with it all day. If you are looking for playdough that feels store bought I would use a recipe with creme of tar tar. It makes really good playdough but it takes the fun out of making it with your kids because it can get pretty hard for them. Best kid friendly recipe ever!

  43. It definitely was silky-smooth! But it doesn’t act the same as play-doh. when I tried to “stamp” letters onto it like play-doh, it would come off into the molds. I tried with other molds, too. Same thing. Fun to play with, but mostly just mushing it up. And, yes, I would avoid food coloring if possible.

  44. I made this with two of my clients during OT today. It was SO fun and they loved it! Used cheap V05 from Dollar Tree and skipped the food coloring, easy peasy to get the ratio right. It was great to draw letters and numbers in and one of my kiddos used a small toy backhoe to scoop it up, made “rocks”, and had a blast using his imagination.

  45. Thanks so, so much for this amazing recipe. My 18 month old grandaughter and myself tried this plat dough recipe out today and it was such a success. She loved the silky, smooth texture and pliability of it. This is a clear winner for little ones whose hands are not as strong as the bigger children, who can easily play with firmer dough.

  46. I made a trial run today….to make sure it works before I let me kiddos in childrens church try. AWESOMENESS!!!! I used cheap dollar store cornstarch and Suave strawberry conditioner. They will absolutely love it!!!😍 Silky soft and plyable! Thanks! Wish I could post a pic!!!!!

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