Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

How to Remove Smell From Hair

author image Lisa Finn
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.
How to Remove Smell From Hair
A young man smelling a woman's hair. Photo Credit: shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Hair is simply an extension of your body and needs to be cleaned often with the proper products -- whether you have long locks or spiky stubs. Dirt and oil arise on the scalp and hair strands due to sweat and the environment, and this in turn creates an odor. If you have a stinky head, take heart. Get your scalp clean by washing frequently, using oil-reduction products and possibly visiting your doctor. You can wipe out that stench without it becoming a hair-raising situation.

Video of the Day

Reasons Hair Smells

People with smelly hair usually have one of two things: a dirty scalp from either lack of washing or an imbalance of hormones that causes an over-production of oil, or a bacterial skin infection. An oily, dirty scalp is easy to fix by sticking to a strict cleansing routine. If the smell continues after a couple weeks or you have other symptoms such as excess hair or sudden acne, visit your primary care physician or dermatologist. A hair or skin scalp test can check for a fungal infection; your doctor may also check for other medical conditions.

When to Shampoo

If your hair omits odor simply because it's dirty, wash your head daily if you have thinner strands and an oily scalp; those with a thicker mane can get away with every other day once the smell is under control. If your scalp is oily but your hair is dry, try a dry shampoo every day which soaks up oil on the scalp and leaves a pleasant fragrance behind. Washing is also important because it exfoliates dead skin cells that can leave flakes behind.

Homemade Help

Janice Cox, author of "Natural Beauty at Home," tells "Woman's Day" magazine that egg whites contain bacteria-eating enzymes that can help an oily scalp. Mix a half-cup of egg whites together and apply to clean, damp hair. If you have long hair, you'll need a little more to make sure you completely cover your scalp and hair. Leave on for 20 minutes, rinse with cool water and then shampoo your head. Do this once every two weeks as needed. You can also try sopping up oil and stench by distributing a tablespoon of cornmeal or cornstarch onto your dry hair. Wait 10 minutes and brush your hair from the roots to the ends.

What the Doctor Orders

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe medicated shampoo, a conditioning treatment, oral medication or topical ointment. For example, if you have a fungal infection, she may prescribe an anti-fungal shampoo, usually with sulfur and triclosan, and an oral anti-fungal medication. She may refer you to a specialist to help diagnose any other underlying problem such as hyperhidrosis, which can cause excessive sweating on the head. Blood tests can determine if you have an increase in hormone levels or other underlying health problems.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media