Reasons Behind Smelly Scalp & How to Get Rid of It


Smelly hair and scalp are more common than you think. Learn what causes this condition, and how to manage it with the help of our expert’s tips and advice.


1. What does hair actually smell like?
2. Why do you have smelly scalp and hair?
3. How to get rid of smelly scalp and hair?
4. Tips to avoid smelly scalp

Smelly hair can be a concern if it occurs frequently. But what if we told you that the preventive measures you’re taking to protect your hair, might be the reason behind smelly scalp? Covering your hair to protect it from the sun or using products for it can often cause your hair to smell.

If you have been facing problems caused by smelly hair, then you might be brimming with questions like what causes it and “how to get rid of smelly scalp?” Let’s look at what makes your hair smell bad and how to deal with it.

What does hair actually smell like?

We all love the lingering smell of floral notes that our shampoos leave behind. But ever wondered how your hair actually smells? The refreshing fragrances that your hair products leave behind are not your hair’s natural smell. In fact, your tresses don’t even have any smell. You can check it by running your fingers along the scalp a few times and then smell your fingertips. Typically, there should be no fragrance at all. However, if you smell something unusual, pungent, or bad on your fingertips after brushing your hair, this implies you have a smelly scalp and hair.

Why do you have smelly scalp and hair?

Spritzing aromatic hairsprays will not get rid of smelly hair. You need to get to the root of the problem that is causing this smelly hair syndrome. Only then you can devise ways to get rid of smelly scalp and hair. The major causes of a smelly scalp and hair include:

  • Sweaty hair

    Sweat is perhaps the primary culprit if your scalp smells bad! If you work out frequently and rely solely on your dry shampoo to get rid of the oil and other gunk, your hair might start smelling bad in a few days.
  • Not washing your hair

    If you skip washing your hair for a few days, it often leads to oil build-up on the scalp and leads to smelly scalp.
  • Diet

    When you eat foods with a strong odour like onion or garlic, the scalp reacts to it. These foods contain oils that are later excreted through the skin on your head, and this makes your scalp smell bad.
  • Pollution

    When the pollutants in the environment settle on your scalp, it can make your hair smell funny. These elements mix up with the sebum and oils in your scalp and emit pungent unpleasant odours.
  • Stress and hormonal imbalances

    Stress tends to affect your immune system and cause your hormones to go awry. This can trigger excess oil production and cause scalp irritation as well.
  • Wearing hats or a scarf for too long

    It’s vital to wear a scarf or a hat to protect your scalp and hair from the sun. But when you wear it for too long, it can increase the sweat on your scalp and hair, making it smell.
  • Certain skin conditions

    There’s a connection between smelly scalp and dandruff - dandruff causes smelly scalp. When dead skin cells accumulate, they start falling off in the form of white flakes. This makes you want to scratch your scalp that eventually causes irritation. An irritated scalp is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and this gives rise to an unpleasant odour.

How to get rid of smelly scalp and hair?

Smelly scalp and hair can be treated, and you will be able to flaunt great smelling hair in no time. Here are some tried and tested ways to get rid of the bad odour.

  • Use the right hair products

    Often the wrong hair products contribute to the weird smell in your scalp and hair. Try Head & Shoulders Apple Fresh Shampoo which cleanses your hair and leaves it smelling like fresh green apples! This gentle, pH-balanced shampoo is ideal for everyday use and works wonders for coloured or chemically treated hair.
    For fresh-smelling hair, you can use Head & Shoulders Cool Menthol Shampoo. This shampoo takes care of both smelly scalp and dandruff, and leaves your locks smelling of fresh menthol. Since the shampoo is boosted with antioxidants, it gently cares and nourishes your scalp and tresses.
    Another great option to bring the smelly hair syndrome under control is to use Head & Shoulders Clean & Balanced Shampoo as it gives you 7 major benefits: Fights dry scalp, relieves irritation, calms itchy scalp, great scent, reduces redness, controls flaky scalp, and leaves your hair looking great.
  • Create a proper hair care routine

    Not washing your hair enough can make it smell bad. You need to use the right shampoo and conditioner to cleanse and nourish your tresses, and the right detangling products to protect and style them. Create a proper hair care routine with the right number of hair-washing days to prevent over-washing, and keep your hair and scalp clean.

Tips to avoid smelly scalp

Now that you know how to deal with smelly hair, let’s look at the best ways to prevent it:

• Try resisting the urge to scratch your scalp, as it will only trigger more oil production.
• If you notice dandruff, better use an anti-dandruff shampoo to keep it under control.
• Follow a good diet and avoid consuming strong odoured foods in your diet.
• Learn how to manage stress with a calming workout, yoga, or meditation.

Smelly scalp and hair are indicators that something is not right. But with the help of the right hair care products and tips, your hair and scalp can get healthy. If this continues, this might be an indication that there’s some serious underlying cause and you need to visit your doctor immediately.