Is there anything better than freshly washed hair? It feels and looks fantastic, and don’t even get us started on how good it smells!
But what happens when your freshly washed hair is still funky?
No one wants to walk around with foul-smelling hair, so in this article, we’ll help you narrow down why your hair smells bad after you wash it. Then, we’ll give you all the tools you need to eliminate the odor and keep your locks smelling fresh.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Does My Hair Smell Bad After I Wash It?
- 2 How Do I Stop My Hair From Smelling After Washing?
Why Does My Hair Smell Bad After I Wash It?
Clean, healthy hair usually doesn’t have a particular scent. If anything, it will smell faintly like the products you use. So, if you notice a bad smell, it’s a clear indicator that something in your haircare routine needs to change. Below, we’ll look into some of the leading reasons your hair smells bad after washing it.
You Didn’t Wash Your Hair Well Enough
Although it seems straightforward, there’s actually a right and a wrong way to wash your hair and scalp. In fact, both over and under-washing can negatively affect your strands and leave them smelling less than fresh.
When you over-wash your hair, your body can go into oil production overdrive as a way to counteract the loss. And if you under-wash your hair, you risk leaving behind all that oil, dirt, bacteria, fungus, and dead skin cells.
Try to wash your hair no more than two or three times a week for the best results.
Use a mild shampoo, and focus on cleansing your scalp rather than the ends of your hair. Take your time during the lathering process, and don’t rush when it comes to getting your hair clean.
Your Hair Is Naturally Greasy
Has your hair ever smelled like a wet dog? As alarming as this may be, it’s surprisingly common. A healthy scalp produces an oil called sebum.
And when you have straight or fine hair, this sebum travels down the length of each strand and coats it in a protective layer. While this keeps your hair moisturized and strong, it can also contribute to a bad smell. When sebum gets wet, the scent can be similar to wet dog hair.
Your Hair Took Too Long to Dry
When your hair dries slowly over a long period of time, it can take on a mildew smell. This is especially the case if you cover your hair with a hat or scarf. That’s because a dark, damp scalp can lead to an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria.
If you’re prone to developing a bad smell, try blow-drying your hair instead of letting it air dry. That’ll help cut down on the amount of microbial growth you experience.
You Have Hair Damage
It’s important to note that not all bad smells are the same. Hair that smells like it’s burning is likely due to chemical or heat damage.
Human hair is made of a protein called keratin. Unlike many other proteins, keratin is primarily comprised of sulfur. When your hair is damaged, the bonds that hold those sulfur molecules are weakened and broken.
After that, the sulfur molecules are free and combine with the air.
Additionally, hot tools can literally burn your hair from the inside out. So if you’ve recently gotten your hair bleached, colored, permed, or relaxed, or you heat style it regularly, it might be behind your foul-smelling hair.
How Do I Stop My Hair From Smelling After Washing?
It’s safe to say that no one wants to deal with a smelly scalp. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can refresh your hair and scalp and get it back to smelling great. Here are some of our favorite remedies for smelly hair.
Embrace Dry Shampoo
Looking for a way to get better-smelling hair on the go? Dry shampoos are a great way to mask an unpleasant odor and trap the oils that cause them. They are mostly made of starch and alcohols.
Starch soaks up oils, dirt, and sweat and neutralizes them so they no longer smell.
Dry shampoos are also incredibly easy to use! Just sprinkle or spray a little dry shampoo into your roots and massage it in. Then, comb or brush your hair to ensure it doesn’t leave a white residue behind.
Try a Vinegar Rinse
Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, is an effective deep cleanser. It washes away impurities and brings your hair and scalp down to a healthier pH. And don’t worry about your hair smelling like vinegar.
After your rinse, your hair will smell just like the conditioner.
To make an apple cider vinegar rinse, pour three to four tablespoons of ACV into one and a half cups of warm water. Add in a few drops of essential oil and mix well.
Pour the rinse over your hair, and massage it in for a few minutes. Then, let the rinse sit for ten to twenty minutes before rinsing well with cold water. After that, just condition and style your hair like usual!
Apply a Hot Oil Treatment
One of the best ways to get better-smelling hair is through regular hot oil treatments. The oil molecules trap stubborn odors even more effectively than water alone.
And as a bonus, a hot oil treatment will help repair any existing damage and keep your strands resilient in the future. Want to give it a try?
To start, pour half a cup of olive, coconut, or avocado oil into a large bowl. Then, stir in a few drops of tea tree, peppermint, or citrus essential oil.
Apply the mixture to dry hair, and place a shower cap over your head. Set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes and sit under a hooded dryer while you wait.
The heat will gently nudge open your hair cuticles, which will encourage more of the bad smells to leave your strands.
Once your time is up, rinse the oil from your strands with warm water until they no longer feel greasy. You can either end there or shampoo and residual oil if it’s oil-prone.
Schedule a Trim
Trims are the best and only way to get rid of damaged hair for good. So, if your hair hasn’t been smelling so great lately, you might want to schedule a trim.
In addition to getting rid of damaged ends, trims can prevent future damage.
They remove damage before it has the chance to travel upwards and put the rest of your hair at risk. After your trim, your hair will look, smell, and feel much better. This remedy will only work if you’ve burned the ends of your hair.
Use a Protein Treatment
As you learned earlier, foul-smelling hair is often a sign of damage. Luckily, protein treatments can help repair some of that damage and prevent it from coming back in the future.
Protein treatments temporarily mend the tiny holes, gaps, and frayed areas in your hair. And once your hair is in better shape, you’re less likely to suffer from stinky strands.
Your hair will be able to hold onto the sulfur molecules, which gets rid of that burnt or sulfury smell. So, if you think that damage is behind your hair troubles, try adding a monthly or bi-monthly protein treatment to your routine.
- Why Does My Hair Smell Like Wet Dog?
- How to Keep Dreads Smelling Good
- How to Make Your Hair Smell Good
Stinky hair is something that most people will deal with at some point in their life. The good news is that smelly hair is usually easy to treat.
Just follow the tips we’ve gone over in this article, and your hair will be back to smelling great in no time! We hope that one of the solutions we’ve gone over today is just what you need to get your hair and scalp back on track!
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With over 15 years of experience, Kenneth has been dedicated to hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box alongside his wife. As a team, they promote healthy hair care practices through their comprehensive platform, Curl Centric. 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.