As if dealing with normal body odor wasn’t enough, we also have to stress about SHS (smelly hair syndrome, and yes, that’s a real thing). Listen, we’ve all been there a time or two, but if you’re cursed with unreasonable hair that smells directly after a shower, don’t worry – I have some tips that will help you regain control of your rank mane.
For most people, an occasional case of hangover hair or the classic ‘I slept in too late, and now my hair looks (and smells) like shame’ is to blame. If that’s you, well then, listen up because I’m about to spill all the juicy secrets on how you can fight the funk and look fresh without stepping foot in a shower!
Regardless of why your hair reeks, it’s time to get down to the root of the issue (literally), and stop those foul smells in their tracks!
What Causes Smelly Hair And Scalp?
I’m sure you’ve noticed that after sitting around a campfire your hair retains the smell for hours or days. While some find that smokey scent unpleasant, it still isn’t nearly as offensive as the stench left behind by cigarette smoke. Whether it’s you to blame (tsk, tsk) or the group of smokers you passed on your way to work, your poor hair now smells like an ashtray. So, why does this happen, and what’s a girl to do?
Our hair is made from a porous, permeable protein called keratin, which pretty much means it can gulp up scents with ease. Now, as we all know, everyone’s hair is different, and some absorb more smells than others. So while your friend’s hair might smell like lavender conditioner from the night before, yours might reek of the Indian leftovers your coworker brought in paired with the single cigarette you walked by that morning.
Unfortunately, that genetic marvel is all based on luck, but there are many ways to work with what mother nature dealt you without washing your hair constantly.
Another leading culprit of stinky strands stems from oily scalps. Our scalp smells for various reasons, but the most common cause of obnoxious scalp odors is a bacterial buildup from excess oil.
Ok, that’s all well and good, but what factors lead to an extra oily scalp?
- Certain skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis.
- Hormonal shifts.
- Poor hygiene.
- Environmental factors, such as pollution.
- Excessive sweating.
All of these factors can lead to a smelly scalp and foul hair odor, but keeping your oil glands in check and your scalp healthy isn’t all that difficult. Let’s explore some tried-and-true methods for freshening hair without a shower and keeping odors at bay.
How To Freshen Your Hair Without Washing It
To help keep things fresh on the go, turn to dry shampoo for all your hair zhooshing needs. Created to absorb oils and conquer smells, dry shampoos are a quick way to ditch that gnarly hair stank. Plus, it’s perfect for anyone who fancies hitting the snooze button a few too many times. Soak up excess oil and smells while preventing product buildup (and did I mention volume that’s off the charts!?) with a dry shampoo that works with your hair, not against it. Simply spritz a little into your roots, let it work its magic for a minute or two, and then tossel or comb through. Not only will your tresses smell heavenly, but you won’t have to worry about oily hair ruining your day.
Ok, this might sound a little out of left field, but bear with me. We use dryer sheets to make the fibers of our clothes smell good, right? So why wouldn’t they work on our hair? Well, the truth is they aerate our hair with a delightfully fresh, cotton aroma that’s honestly to die for. Plus, their anti-static characteristics eliminate frizz – Double win! All you have to do is section your hair and rub a dryer sheet through each part. You’ll be walking around smelling like a crisp meadow or a breezy mountaintop in no time!
Air It Out
Channel your inner Elsa and give your hair a cool blast of air with the blow dryer. That’s because cold air opens up the hair cuticle, which allows bad odors to escape and pleasant scents to enter. Using your blow dryers cool setting, give your hair a refreshing breeze for about 5 minutes before shaking it out and applying essential oils or dry shampoo.
If you haven’t hopped on the essential oil bandwagon yet, then you’re doing it all wrong. Essential oils have been used in beauty regimes for ages because, well, they’re pretty awesome. They cut through grease while delivering a hearty dose of delicious fragrances. Choose your favorite scent (tea tree oil is my top pick because it smells super fresh and its antimicrobial properties kill the microbes causing foul smells), rub a few drops between your palms, and gently work it through your hair.
Another compelling alternative is apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Apple cider vinegar balances hair’s pH, prevents frizz, and gives hair a natural shine while lemon juice combats bacteria and dandruff. Blend 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Use it as a mask on your hair and allow it to dry naturally. Thoroughly wash it out and enjoy your clean, smell-free hair!
The Bottom Line
Sometimes it’s not your fault at all; Your hair just went and clung to the nearest odor without even asking first. Other times you know darn well that your “hair-tastrophy” could’ve been avoided.
Either way, smelly hair is awkward and annoying, but fortunately, there are causes and solutions for it. If you’re having trouble even washing the smell away, it’s time to break out the big guns to treat and prevent further scalp irritation.
The good news: There’s always an answer to your stinky hair probs, so you can start unapologetically flaunting your hair again without dodging those down winds!