Harmed hair

Why Does My Hair Smell Bad?

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: March 23, 2022
Why Does My Hair Smell Bad?
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Pollution, the shampoo you use and even your daily diet can influence the health of your hair, whether it makes it dry, break or alters oil production and makes your scalp smell bad. If you notice that your hair begins to give off an unpleasant smell, even on the same day that you washed it, in this OneHowTo article you can discover why your hair smells bad.

You may also be interested in: How to Prevent Burnt Smelling Hair

Steps to follow:


Excess oil may be one reason why your hair smells. When oil production is higher than normal, it turns your scalp into a good breeding-ground for bacteria, which are enriched by this sebum and multiply more quickly in this environment and make it smell bad. This can happen due to hormonal changes and stress. It can be fixed by changing your shampoo for a neutral one that contains zinc or tar to absorb the oil. If this doesnt solve your problem, see your dermatologist.

Why Does My Hair Smell Bad? - Step 1
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While it is perhaps one of the most obvious causes of bad-smelling hair, we have to mention it: hygiene. Your hair should be washed every other day, this routine ensures that you are producing the necessary protein to keep it healthy, but when you haven't washed your hair for more than two days many dead cells build up on the scalp and they produce, along with oil, a bad smell. Wash your hair every other day and don't forget to massage your scalp well with your fingers. See our article how to wash your hair without shampoo.

Why Does My Hair Smell Bad? - Step 2
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The scalp is part of the skin, so any type of fungi can also grow here. The most common fungus that can usually affects the scalp is yeast, which feeds on the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands and it continues to build up on your head. The good news is it's very easy to remove: wash your hair with a shampoo that contains sulphur and it will start to get rid of that sweat-like smell.


Any skin disease can also affect your scalp. Conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis usually make the scalp begin to peel and turn flaky, which is often mistaken for dandruff, and the flakes get stuck in your hair, causing this bad smell. You can fight this problem with medicated shampoo and see your doctor to help you control this condition.


Moisture almost always leads to bad smells and it may be that this nasty smell coming from your hair is from a habit that you wouldn't have suspected. Sleeping with wet hair or wearing a hat over wet hair can make your hair smell bad. When they come into contact with moisture, the bacteria living in your bedsheets and your favourite hats can spread to your head and create this bad smell. The same thing can happen if you don't wash your hat and wear it in the summer to protect yourself against the sun, the heat will eventually have the same effect.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Hair Smell Bad?, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.

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Why Does My Hair Smell Bad?