If you’ve ever used high heat on your hair, then you may be familiar with the smell of burning hair – there’s no smell quite like it. The scent is so powerful that it can fill an entire room.
If you’re dealing with a burnt hair smell and have been unsuccessful in getting rid of it, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll teach you how to get rid of a burnt hair smell and leave you with some tips to avoid this burnt smell altogether.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Your Hair Smells Burnt
- 2 How To Get Rid Of a Burnt Hair Smell Fast
- 3 How To Avoid the Smell of Burnt Hair
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Why Your Hair Smells Burnt
When trying to achieve the perfect hairdo, it can be tempting to crank up the heat, but this could be dangerous for your hair leading to hair damage and offensive to your nose.
When you leave a section of your hair wrapped around a curling iron for more than a few seconds, the heat may damage the cuticle and molecules that make up the hair shaft.
Moreover, if you run a hot iron along a particular section of hair repeatedly, you risk burning the outer layer of your hair. You can also burn your hair when flat-ironing or blow-drying it at a high temperature.
The charred remains of your hair give off that burnt hair smell. Often, the burnt hair smell goes away after a day or two.
But sometimes, it can linger for days or weeks, especially if the heat damage is extensive. In these cases, washing your hair may not be enough to get rid of the odor.
How To Get Rid Of a Burnt Hair Smell Fast
A stubborn burnt hair smell doesn’t stand a chance against the right remedy. Read on to learn about some helpful remedies to mask the odor and make your hair smell delightful.
Baking Soda Shampoo Formula
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has absorbing properties that make it a fantastic odor-neutralizing agent. When used at the right concentration, it neutralizes most unpleasant smells almost immediately. This makes it a great way to get rid of your burnt hair smell.
How to Do a Baking Soda Wash
Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo, mix it thoroughly and use it to wash your hair.
If the strong smell is not gone after one wash, you can repeat the process. It’s essential to check the condition of your hair after a baking soda wash, as both baking soda and shampoo can be drying to the hair.
Many essential oils are great for masking and even neutralizing your burnt hair smell. This is the perfect remedy for any DIY enthusiast. Use any of the following hair oils to make your hair smell pleasant.
- Lavender Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Ylang Ylang Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Lemongrass Oil
- Frankincense Oil
- Rose Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- Jasmine Oil
- Orange Oil
How to Use Essential Oils for Odor Elimination
You could use any of the above natural oils as a spritz by mixing a few drops of the essential oil with water in a spray bottle (10-12 drops of oil per ounce of water is fine). Shake the mixture well and spray it on your hair.
Alternatively, you can dilute a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil (such as almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil) and apply the mixture to your hair and scalp with your fingers. To avoid overly shiny hair, be careful not to overapply.
Warning About Essential Oils
In case you’re new to essential oils, it’s crucial to note that you must dilute essential oils! Undiluted essential oils may irritate your skin and scalp.
Aloe vera is not only a fantastic odor-neutralizer, but it also helps repair heat damage.
To try this odor-banishing remedy, purchase pure aloe vera gel or pick up an aloe vera leaf from a local plant nursery.
Make Your Own Aloe Vera Juice
If you want to DIY your aloe vera treatment, follow the steps below:
- Cut the aloe vera leaf to expose the gel inside. Continue cutting the leaf away until you’re left with a piece of aloe vera gel.
- Discard the leaf pieces.
- Add five tablespoons of olive oil and three drops of rosemary essential oil for fragrance (the essential oil is optional).
- Blend the mixture thoroughly until it has a smooth consistency, then strain the juice into a bottle or jar. Aloe vera pulp is difficult to remove from the hair, so we advise you not to skip the straining step.
Apply the Aloe Vera Juice
Now it’s time to apply the aloe vera juice to your hair.
- Apply the aloe vera juice to your hair. Ensure that every strand is coated with the mixture.
- Cover the hair with a plastic bag or processing cap and let the mixture sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Rinse the mixture out using cool water. There’s no need to wash and condition your hair after this treatment.
Each of these remedies is easy to try and doesn’t require a ton of time or effort. Try one or more of them to get rid of that burnt hair smell for good.
How To Avoid the Smell of Burnt Hair
Preventing a burnt hair smell is much easier than trying to remove an offensive odor from your hair. So, to help you avoid this scent in the future and to keep your hair smelling nice, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Avoid frequent use of hot tools. There are many natural, non-damaging ways to style your curly hair. You don’t have to constantly straighten, curl, or do heat styles on your hair. For example, on days when you’re not in a rush, opt for air-drying instead of blow-drying your hair. Read this article to learn more about protective styling and how it can help you mitigate hair damage.
- Control the temperature. As stated before, burnt-smelling hair is a result of heat damage. You can prevent this by reducing the temperature of your hot tools. No amount of heat is good for your hair, but using too much heat can be very damaging. We recommend that you lower the temperature of your heat tools as much as possible. Also, you should avoid sun exposure (e.g., lounging under the scorching sun) for long periods.
- Always use heat protection. If you’ve got no choice but to use heated styling tools or be in the sun, we recommend that you use a heat protectant. Spray it on your hair before going out or before using a blow dryer, curling wand, curling iron, or flat iron. The heat protectant will help reduce the risk of heat damage to your hair. If there’s no heat damage, there’ll be no burnt hair smell.
- Never use hot tools on wet hair. Hot tools designed to make direct contact with your hair should only be used when your hair is completely dry. If you use hot tools on wet hair, your strands will fry, and you’ll be able to smell it immediately. You also run the risk of experiencing bubble hair, which can be very damaging. Learn more about bubble hair in this article.
- Use a hair mask. Keep your hair healthy and nourished by applying a hair mask once or twice a week. If your hair is too dry or is unable to retain moisture, it’s vulnerable to heat damage. Moisturized hair, on the other hand, can handle heat better than parched hair. So, we recommend giving your hair the best chance of withstanding heat by keeping it adequately moisturized.
Watch this video by Sierra LaFaye for additional tips on eliminating the pungent smell from your hair. This video also provides tips that might help with smelly hair syndrome and a smelly scalp.
Note that if you have smelly hair syndrome you should consult a dermatologist to ensure that you’re following an approved treatment plan for your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt?
The burnt hair smell is caused by the use of heated hair styling tools like hot irons, tongs, wands, straighteners, blow dryers, and hair steamers. These tools reach high temperatures and can easily burn your hair when used incorrectly causing a burnt hair odor.
It’s also important to note that heat damage isn’t repairable, so it’s best to avoid overusing these styling tools.
How Do You Treat Burnt Hair?
When treating burnt hair be sure that you stop using heated tools immediately. The next step is to eliminate the order using a baking soda wash, essential oils, aloe vera, lemon juice, hair perfume, dry shampoo, or other hair care products designed to remove unpleasant odors.
Additional products designed to eliminate bad smells include a variety of products that you might have around the household like a dryer sheet and body perfume.
Next, you’ll want to attempt to repair your burned hair strands. Even though burned hair isn’t completely repairable, you should wash your hair with a gentle sulfate-free shampoo and follow the shampooing process up a deep conditioning treatment.
Going forward you’ll want to mitigate (or eliminate) the use of heated styling tools and use gentle hair care products to preserve your damaged hair strands.
We all know that the burnt hair smell is an annoyance, but more importantly, it’s a sign of heat damage. While this is bad news, there are things that you can do to prevent further damage.
Once you get the burnt odor under control, give your hair some love with moisturizing treatments, deep treatment masks, and fewer heat styling sessions. The steps within this article should be followed regardless of hair type, as it’s the best way to deal with the bad odor and introduce damage control.
We hope that this article enables you to get rid of that awful burnt hair smell and encourages you to take better care of your hair going forward.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.