2-Ingredient Silky-Smooth Play Dough

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 piñatas, 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 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 your conditioner.

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 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 as you go).

cornstarch conditioner play dough

Use food coloring to color as desired. Keep in mind that food coloring may discolor skin, which is troublesome to some people. It’s non-toxic and will come off soon, but you might want to be mindful of it when deciding to add color or how much color you want to add.

Silky Play Dough from Our Best Bites

Keep covered when not in use.

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2 ingredient play dough from Our Best Bites

2-Ingredient Silky Smooth Play Dough

5 from 8 votes
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!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • About 1 cup inexpensive hair conditioner
  • Food coloring optional

Instructions

  • Place the cornstarch in a large bowl.
  • Mix in the hair conditioner with your hands--it will just start coming together and it will be pliable and very, very smooth. If desired, add a drop or two or food coloring.
  • You may need to add more conditioner as you go. Use food coloring to color as desired. Keep covered when not in use.

Notes

  • 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.
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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.

  2. 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. We’ve made this countless times and have never had any problems. If it’s too sticky, you probably need to add a little more cornstarch. 🙂

      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. ?

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

    3. 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!

    4. 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….

    5. Also depends on food dye used – some will stain worse than others. Maybe testing needed done on your end as well.

    6. Maybe you added too much wet into your mix, just try less wet or add a little more corn flour!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. Next time, try adding more cornstarch–you might have to mess with it until you find a good consistency.

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

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

    4. It definitely does! I used cheap dollar store conditioner and ended up using a whole container of cornstarch to get it to the right play doh consistency. Once I did, my kids loved it and it wasn’t sticky at all! The second time we made it, we used lotion and it worked much better.

  8. 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 🙂

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

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

  16. 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!

    1. It can really vary depending on brand. I’ve had the best luck with lotion and hair conditioner. Hope that helps!

  17. 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.

    1. Not sticky at all (although you can always add a little cornstarch if things get messy). Hope that helps! 🙂

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. I totally have to try this! I’m so sick of buying regular Play-Doh only to have it dry out. Now I can make my own whenever I want!

    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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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. = )

  24. 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!

  25. Hahaha! “Would you say you have a plethora of piñatas?” Love that show. 🙂 This looks fun! Glad you found a way to survive another snow day.

  26. 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!

  27. 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. I’ve never had this happen, but luckily, it will wash off in no time. 🙂

        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. no, it does not stain~! lol! i did it with my granddaughter, and it stayed in the dough! Enjoy!

    4. The cooked recipe has cream of tartar to prevent the colors from bleeding, I wonder if it would work with this….

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

      1. BUT, you can remoisten it by adding pea size amounts of lotion again so…it drying out isn’t a big deal!

    1. It lasts for a day or two in a plastic container but ends up drying out after that