Why Does My Hair Smell?

Usually, healthy hair has no scent or smells faintly like the products you use. So if you notice that your locks are starting to smell sour, funky, or just plain bad, keep reading! In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons why your hair smells and walk you through what you can do to fix it.

You Aren’t Washing Your Hair Properly

One of the leading causes of smelly hair is not washing your strands often enough. As oil, sweat, dead skin cells, and leftover products build up in your hair, they create the perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. In addition to smelling bad, this can stunt your hair growth and lead to hair loss. So, make sure you regularly wash your hair and scalp with a mild shampoo two to three times a week. You also need to prioritize cleaning your scalp, as opposed to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair.

Pollutants Have Settled into Your Strands

Air pollution, like smoke, smog, and exhaust fumes, can cling to your strands and leave behind an unpleasant smell. While there’s no way to avoid pollution completely, putting on a scarf or hat can limit your hair’s exposure to the air. You can also try a hairstyle that bunches your strands together so they don’t suck up as much of the offensive aroma. Need some style inspiration? Here are a few cute hairstyles that protect your hair from air pollution.

  • Braids

  • Wigs

  • Buns

  • Twists

You are Suffering from a Medical Condition

Certain medical conditions or medications can cause your scalp to develop an unpleasant or foul odor. If your stinky hair is accompanied by symptoms like pain, flakes, or pus, make sure you head to a medical professional. They’ll help you identify the underlying cause of your condition and give you the tools to treat it. Funky-smelling hair can be caused by a number of medical conditions, including:

  • Hormone imbalances

  • Sweat disorders

  • Fungal or bacterial infections

  • Skin conditions

You Have a Sugary or High Fat Diet

Have you ever heard the saying that “you are what you eat”? This is especially true regarding the health of your hair and scalp. High sugar and high-fat foods throw off your body’s chemistry. They alter your sweat, which combines with the bacteria on your skin to create a foul odor. To combat this, stay away from highly processed foods. Instead, eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and make sure you’re drinking enough water.

Your Hair Is Damp

If you’ve gone to bed with wet hair, you may have noticed an unpleasant mildew smell when you wake up. A damp scalp can lead to an overgrowth of yeast or fungus, many of which produce a foul odor. You can prevent this by ensuring you dry your hair thoroughly after washing and never go to bed with damp hair. Can’t avoid it? Don’t cover your wet hair with a scarf or bonnet; that way, the water can evaporate in the open air. 

So, there you have it! Smelly hair can come from a variety of sources, many of which are easy to treat. Try making a few adjustments to your hair care regimen, and reach out to a medical professional if nothing you do is working. No one wants smelly hair, so we hope this article has provided you with all the information you were looking for!


Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of NaturallyTextured.com, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.

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