You Probably Need a Haircut is reader-supported. If you buy a product we link to, we may earn a commission.
Skip to Content

The 7 Best Shampoos for Smelly Hair in 2022

The 7 Best Shampoos for Smelly Hair in 2022

You’ve been religiously following your hair care routine but notice an unpleasant odor lodged on the scalp. The best shampoo for smelly hair may be just what your hair needs. Here’s more about the best shampoo for smelly hair.

What Is the Best Shampoo for Smelly Hair?

We found Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo the best shampoo for smelly hair because it’s infused with a range of essential oils. Be sure to look at other products to make a more informed decision:

  1. Best Overall: Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo
  2. Best Premium Buy: Davines Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo
  3. Best Value: Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo
  4. Best Clarifying Shampoo: Neutrogena Anti-residue Clarifying Shampoo
  5. Best for Oily Hair: Maple Degrease Shampoo
  6. Best for Deep-cleansing: OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp Shampoo
  7. Best for Delicate Hair: RYO Hair Loss Shampoo

Why You Have Smelly Hair

Woman holding her nose because she has smelly hair

UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock

Smelly hair can affect your confidence when mingling with other people. You’ve probably tried many products to eliminate the unpleasant odor but hit a dead end. Knowing the possible causes of smelly hair is a good starting point when looking for ways to solve the problem.

Over or Under Washing The Hair

You may have been skipping washdays and using dry shampoo for a quick fix. Although the hair looks neat and shiny, the hair may develop an unpleasant smell due to the buildup of dead skin cells, sebum, product residues, and sweat.

Conversely, over-washing the hair strips it of natural oils, causing it to dry. As a result, the scalp produces extra oil to moisturize the dry scalp. The excess oil nourishes any bacteria on the scalp causing your hair to smell.

Read Next: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair in 2022?

Excessive Sweating

Sweat buildup mixes with bacteria on the scalp and develops a foul smell. The stench could be worse if you’re the type who sweats excessively.

Fungal Infection

A fungal infection may cause one to develop a smelly scalp. The infection can lead to other reactions like eczema, folliculitis, and dandruff.

Hormonal Imbalances

When transitioning to various life stages, e.g., puberty, menopause, or pregnancy, the body undergoes extreme fluctuations in hormone production, which can cause sebum overproduction.

Similarly, stress can cause a hormonal imbalance and trigger excessive sebum production, causing your hair to smell.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

The condition results from an overgrowth of natural yeast in the body. Seborrheic dermatitis causes the scalp to smell, dry, and develop yellow, scaly patches.

Excessive Use of Hair Products

Hair products cause a buildup of oils on the scalp and, if not washed out thoroughly, can cause the hair to smell.

Pollution

Air pollutants attach to different surfaces, including the hair and the scalp. A study conducted in 2017 found that air pollutants usually stick to hair fibers causing them to lose their shine and smell.

You Might Also Like:

The 7 Best Shampoos for Smelly Hair in 2022

If you are concerned with your hair’s odor, there are products specifically made to combat that. Here are our top 7 picks for the best shampoo for smelly hair.

1. Best Overall: Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo

Best Overall
Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Shampoo
Pros:
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Provides a lasting shine
  • Antifungal benefits
Cons:
  • May irritate sensitive scalp
  • Contains sulfates
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Although this shampoo is formulated for all hair types, it’s particularly effective for people with smelly hair or scalp. It’s enriched with essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender, and peppermint oil, eliminating the foul odor.

Tea tree oil in shampoo has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can treat dandruff and heal antifungal infections like psoriasis.

Since the shampoo is made from natural ingredients, you don’t have to worry about stripping off natural oils. What’s more, it’s enriched with glycerin and vitamin B5 leaving your hair hydrated and moisturized.

2. Best Premium Buy: Davines Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo

Best Premium Buy
Davines Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo
Pros:
  • Sulfate-free
  • Removes dandruff
  • Doesn't dry out hair
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Doesn't lather easily
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

This shampoo is the real deal if you want a product that eliminates odor, dandruff, and itch. It’s infused with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which remove 90% of dandruff while leaving a sweet, herbal, and earthy smell.

The ingredients remove excess oil without drying hair or leaving white spots. Your hair remains soft and fluffy all day without using additional products.

And the beauty of it all is that the shampoo is free of sulfates. The downside of a sulfate-free shampoo is that it doesn’t foam as quickly as other shampoos, as you need to apply it twice or more.

3. Best Value: Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo

Best Value
Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo
Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Removes dandruff
  • Removes excess oil
Cons:
  • Harsh on sensitive skin
  • May cause hair breakage in delicate hair
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Shampoos formulated with unique ingredients for smelly hair can be pricey, and finding one that’s effective and affordable is no easy feat.

Head and Shoulders know this all too well and have formulated a twin pack that removes the foul odor from your hair for less than bucks. The shampoo is enriched with selenium sulfide for removing dandruff while protecting your scalp from flaking.

It’s also an excellent product for people with scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis, as it provides instant relief. The shampoo leaves a pleasant citrusy smell that keeps your hair smelling fresh for long.

4. Best Clarifying Shampoo: Neutrogena Anti-residue Clarifying Shampoo

Best Clarifying Shampoo
Neutrogena Anti-residue Clarifying Shampoo
Pros:
  • Lathers well
  • Removes product buildup
  • Gentle on color-treated hair
Cons:
  • Not ideal for everyday use
  • Not for use on oily hair
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Many hair products leave residue on hair which builds up over time, causing your hair to stink. A clarifying shampoo like Neutrogena Anti-residue shampoo removes such product buildup leaving your hair smelling fresh.

Product residue often dulls hair causing it to lose luster, but this shampoo revitalizes hair without stripping off natural oils.

It rinses away easily and is gentle on color-treated hair. The shampoo also works well on delicate or thin hair, improving volume. A weekly shampoo treatment should restore your hair’s shine and volume.

5. Best for Oily Hair: Maple Degrease Shampoo

Best for Oily Hair
Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo
Pros:
  • Removes excess oil
  • Pleasant scent
  • Sulfate-free
Cons:
  • May cause hair loss
  • Dries out the scalp
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

If you’re looking for a shampoo that can remove the foul smell while reducing excess sebum production, the Degrease Shampoo from Maple Holistics is an excellent pick.

The shampoo is infused with lemon oil, cypress, rosemary oil, and herbs like basil and botanical keratin, leaving your hair odor-free and glowy. Lemon oil removes excess oil from the scalp, while other natural ingredients restore moisture.

Rosemary oil, on the other hand, strengthens hair by improving blood circulation. Since it’s also a clarifying shampoo, you can use it to prep natural hair for color treatment.

6. Best for Deep Cleansing: OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp Shampoo

Best for Deep Cleansing
OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp Shampoo
Pros:
  • Sulfate-free
  • Nice minty smell
  • Reduces hair frizz and dryness
Cons:
  • Leaves residue on hair
  • Makes the scalp feel itchy
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

An occasional deep cleanse is important in hair treatment as it removes dead skin while breaking down any buildup on the scalp. The OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp Shampoo is an excellent addition to your hair regimen as it is infused with the most crucial ingredients for deep cleansing.

It contains tea tree oil to revitalize the scalp, witch hazel to nourish the scalp and remove product buildup, and peppermint extract to awaken the senses. The shampoo leaves a pleasant minty smell and sensation, making your hair feel clean for longer.

7. Best for Delicate Hair: RYO Hair Loss Shampoo

Best for Delicate Hair
RYO Hair Loss Shampoo
Pros:
  • Has volumizing effects
  • Eliminates flaking and dandruff
  • Minimizes excess sebum
Cons:
  • Overpowering ginseng scent
  • Contains sulfates
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Having smelly and delicate hair can be frustrating. RYO’s hair shampoo is formulated for such hair types to restore a healthy glow, volume, and luster.

The shampoo is infused with ginseng root, stimulating blood circulation, thus strengthening the hair roots and follicles while nourishing the scalp. As a result, new hair growth doesn’t break or weaken quickly.

Uses report that this shampoo helps in reducing flaking, itching, and dandruff and cleansing the scalp of excess oil. At the end of the treatment, your hair looks fuller, feels soft, and smells fresh.

Finding the Best Shampoo for Smelly Hair

Young woman in a camisole wondering what the best shampoo for smell hair is

Vladimir Gjorgiev/Shutterstock

Finding the best shampoo for smelly hair can be daunting, given the vast range of hair shampoos in the market. You need a product formulated with unique ingredients to remove the oil buildup, bacteria, or other substances causing the hair to smell.

Here are factors you must consider when buying shampoo for smelly hair.

Ingredients

Look for shampoos with mint, lemon oil, apple cider vinegar, citric acid, and zinc pyrithione. The ingredients function as clarifying agents and produce a lovely fragrance that eliminates foul odor. Other ingredients to look out for are:

  • Lavender Oil: It is rich in linalyl acetate and linalool, which contain antimicrobial agents which prevent fungi from growing. It is also known to promote hair growth.
  • Cedarwood Oil: It is enriched with unique properties that treat infections that cause a foul odor. It also balances the activity of the scalp’s oil glands.
  • Peppermint Oil: It contains limonene, menthone, and methyl acetate, which purify the scalp in conjunction with other cleansing agents. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which are responsible for relieving dandruff, burning, and itching.

All-natural shampoos also come in handy as they don’t have harsh chemicals that can damage your hair or aggravate the condition further. Some chemicals are so harsh they lead to hair loss, excess oil production, and dryness.

Your Hair Type

Your hair type determines the type of shampoo you can buy. People with thick hair need shampoos formulated with moisturizing ingredients, while those with brittle or colored hair should look for products enriched with proteins to improve hair strength.

Skin Health

The health of your scalp also determines the type of product you can use. For example, if you have a skin condition like eczema, dandruff, or psoriasis, you may need to avoid shampoos with potent formulas as they’re likely to cause more complications. Similarly, people with sensitive skin should use shampoos with a mild formula.

Frequently Asked Questions

Asian woman holding her nose because she needs the best shampoo for smelly hair

Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding the best shampoo for smelly hair.

Why does hair smell after washing?

Hair smells after washing due to bacteria buildup. The bacteria produce a sour smell 24-48 hours after shampooing and, if not dealt with, becomes noticeable to people around you.

Can overwashing eliminate the smelly odor in hair?

Overwashing only strips off the hair’s natural oils, leaving it dull, dry, and susceptible to breakage.

What is the best shampoo for a smelly scalp?

The best shampoo for smelly hair should deal with any underlying problems causing smelly hair and remove dirt or oil buildup.

Which ingredients must I look out for when buying a shampoo for smelly hair?

The best shampoos for smelly hair contain essential oils and cleansing agents. Essential oils have antimicrobial and antifungal properties that eliminate problems that cause smelly hair. As a result, you never have to worry about smelly hair when used along with cleansing agents.

How do I keep hair smelling fresh between washes?

Applying a dry shampoo is the best way to keep hair smelling fresh. Dry shampoo keeps the hair smelling fresh before the next wash day.

So, What Is the Best Shampoo for Smelly Hair?

We think that Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo is the best shampoo for a smelly scalp or hair. It’s infused with a range of essential oils, including tea tree oil, lavender oil, and peppermint oil, which provide a more holistic remedy for smelly hair.

Best Overall
Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Shampoo
Pros:
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Provides a lasting shine
  • Antifungal benefits
Cons:
  • May irritate sensitive scalp
  • Contains sulfates
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

However, we’ve listed 6 other products that we think are worth considering. In any case, you’re sure to find a product that works great for your own hair type and situation. Happy shapooing!