Why Does My Hair Smell Bad After Showering? (Prevent & Fix)

Help, why does my hair smell even after showering??

You can be having the most lustrous, bouncy, and shiny hair day but a whiff of your tresses can make it all go down the drain.

This is especially annoying when you have just spent time washing and styling your hair.

Unfortunately, sometimes you can be doing everything right but still left with the odor.

Here’s a detailed guide on why your hair smells bad after showering and a quick look into the prevention techniques. 

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Why Does My Head Stink After I Shower?

From the obvious reasons to the “wow, seriously??”, there are a few possible reasons why your hair stinks even after showering.

#1 Not Washing Enough

If you’ve fallen for the idea of washing your hair less to let hair’s natural oils stimulate your hair growth, welcome to the club!

The oils releasing accumulates on your scalp, block the follicles, and leads to a hair smell like a wet dog.

For some people, washing once a week works, but try talking to women around you, I’m sure not many would attest to the same.

And so, it doesn’t work for the majority of women. We’d suggest not skip washing your hair for more than 3 days. 

back of the lady taking shower

#2 Or Washing Too Frequently

Just like going too many shampoo-free days can imbalance sebum production, so can washing too much.

Frequent washing stimulates the scalp to produce more oils to compensate for the stripping of strands.

And while squeaky clean and fresh smelling might be the goal, the end result turns out to be hair that smells bad while wet.  

a lady massaging her hair using a shampoo

#3 Sweating

Keeping up with your workout routine lately?

While it will give you the bikini-bod, it can also leave you with an icky scalp smell.

A sweaty scalp, when not tended to, is a direct precursor to scalp build-up and blockage.

It creates a friendly environment for the bacteria to grow and leave you with hair that’s itchy and smelly. 

a lady full of sweat

#4 Chemical Hair Products

Hair products with harmful chemicals leave a residue on the scalp and disturb the oil balance.

If you’re using these products to wash your hair, there’s a high chance you’re coming out of the shower with hair that smells bad.

lady with a rainbow colored hair

#5 Using Hot Water 

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t wash your hair with hot water; one of them being it can lead to a bad hair odor.

Hot water strips the hair of natural oils, leading to more oil production, making hair a breeding ground for bacteria and you know where we’re going with this.

In addition, hot water also leads to dryness, breakage, and brittle hair.

blonde lady taking a shower

#6 Too Much Of Dry Shampoo & Mists

While dry shampoos are often marketed on the USP of making your hair smell great, in excess, they can actually do the opposite.

The same goes for hair mists and sprays. The logic is the same as with the chemical hair products.

They generate buildup which leads to an unpleasant odor.

back of the lady taking shower

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Check out this video for a quick recap:

How Do You Get Rid Of Bad Hair Smell?

1. Wash it just often enough

Be sure you wash your hair in a gap of 2-3 days, alternately only if it doesn’t leave your scalp with a smell or your dermatologist has recommended the same.

For some women, washing once every three days deters the smell, but for others, it could be washing alternate days. There’s no generic rule here, it all depends on your hair type.

2. Use the right shampoo

Use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo to clean the scalp and lather conditioner only on the length of your hair. Incorporate a charcoal hair mask to deep cleanse the pores or a DIY scrub with sugar to further absorb any unwanted odors from the scalp.

3. Try a clarifying shampoo, instead

Add a clarifying shampoo and a clarifying rinse to do away with the bad hair smell. Such hair care products are built to melt the residue left on the scalp without stripping it off its natural oils, leaving your follicles clean.

4. Try this minty-fresh tip!

For a quick fix to instantly ward off the bad hair smell, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your shampoo. Peppermint leaves the scalp feeling refreshed, adds a minty smell, and keeps any itchiness at bay.

5. Steer clear of these ingredients

When perusing the ingredients list of your shampoo, steer clear of these ingredients: parabens, sodium laureth/ lauryl sulfate, phthalates, PEG’s, alcohol, and propylene glycol.

They add to the scalp buildup and are a stumbling block to fresh hair smell straight out of the shower.

6. Change your water temperature

Use only lukewarm or normal water to get rid of the bad hair smell. You can notice the results with just one wash; distinctly if you have been using hot water to wash your hair for a long time. 

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How To Prevent That Odor

Prevention is better than cure. So, here are some precursors of hair that smells bad after showering with their fixes. 

Check your scalp for conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.

They can lead to an increase in oil production and flaky residue leaving your scalp with a strong odor that can also transfer to towels and pillows.

Those who suffer from it are well-aware of the hitch and its annoyance even in the freshly washed hair.

Dandruff, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis are best treated in the hands of a professional.

Medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions are the only solution for them and their ensuing problem, hair smelling like mildew. 

Watch your diet.

While all foods have a certain kind of smell, some have a strong scent that can actually seep out of the skin’s pores and make you smell bad.

These include onion, broccoli, garlic, fried food, spicy foods, beetroot, and dairy. Though these foods are both delicious and healthy, it’s best if you have them in moderation.

To compensate, eat more foods linked to a great body odor. These are citrus fruits, apples, herbal tea, fennel seeds, lemon, rosemary, and mint.

Cover your head while stepping out.

Air and traffic pollutants get deposited on the scalp, mix up with the sebum and cause body odor.

The particles are so small that if you don’t thoroughly clean your hair, they can leave your hair smelling bad even after showering.

To further negate the damage, book a regular spa cleansing treatment to hydrate and nourish your hair. In addition, use fewer mechanical tools like a curler or straightener.

Visit your doctor

If you’re suffering from hormonal balance and stress, it’s likely for your hair to smell bad after showering.

Both of them disrupt sebum production, leading to either excess or low oil production. This can irritate the scalp, causing it to smell.

Visit your GP to discuss the issue of hormonal imbalance and follow proper medication.

Fight it naturally by including eating protein-rich foods in your diet, working out, avoiding overeating or undereating, eating healthy fats, and managing stress.

For stress, try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

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Smelly hair days are worse than bad hair days. Now that you’re aware of the causes and prevention methods for the same, it will be easier to fight that odor in most cases.

But if the condition persists, we’d recommend scheduling an appointment with your GP. Antifungal medication or prescribed shampoos can serve you well.

a long-haired lady wearing a robe after showering

Do you have other ideas why does hair smells bad after showering? Have you experienced it? Share with us below!

About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.