I only recommend products I love and I think you will, too. If you click on links I provide, I may receive a little compensation. Learn more.
I have done the research and yes, DIYs are great, but try these shampoos for smelly scalp and you’ll be shocked by the results!
It happens. You wash your hair regularly, or at least as often as you think it needs to be washed, but your scalp simply doesn’t smell right. No matter what you try, nothing seems to be working.
I’ve heard this story time and time again from friends, family, and acquaintances. They’ve all struggled with the scent of their scalp and, in different ways, all come to the same conclusion: shampoo is the only answer.
At a Glance: The Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalp
So, if you’d like the quick answer, here are your one-stop-shop solution shampoos for the smelly scalp, starting with these drugstore shampoos that are perfect for oily hair. I also can’t recommend this Aveeno Scalp Soothing Shampoo enough. Therapeutic shampoos are also worth looking into if you think your scalp odor may be caused by a condition.
With that said, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of why your scalp doesn’t smell too pretty and how you can fix it!
Why do Scalps get Smelly?
It would be great if we could have an “off” button on whatever makes our scalps stinky, wouldn’t it?
But I know you’d never use it. Why? Well, just wait until you hear what I’m about to tell you!
The secret to glossy, healthy-looking luscious locks also just happens to be what makes your scalp smelly. Yes, that’s right.
You see, the skin on your scalp naturally produces oils. These oils seep into your hair’s follicles, where they nourish and hydrate the hair’s roots, ensuring healthy growth and appearance. These oils also help keep your scalp free from infections.
Without these life-giving oils, not only would make your hair look dull and limp, but your scalp would also be incredibly itchy and flaky. In fact, if your scalp doesn’t get enough oils, dandruff is usually the result.
On the other hand, and likely in your case, if your scalp produces too much – things can get a little … well … stinky.
However, sometimes your scalp can seem slightly “off” than usual. Why? Well, there could be multiple causes, some of which we’ll discover below. For full detailed information as to why your scalp smell even after washing, refer to this article.
Incorrect method of hair washing:
If you have a stinky scalp, you’re probably washing your hair non-stop to get rid of it. Surprisingly, it’s this excess showering or bathing that could be the problem.
You see, we usually associate foul odors with not washing enough – at least, I certainly do. And usually, we’re right! The less you wash your hair, the more the chances of buildup, sweat, and dandruff formation, which can result in a bad odor.
However, you can not only underwash but also overwash your hair and scalp.
And let’s be real, we’re all guilty of taking too many showers from time to time. After all, they’re usually our little escape away from the day – our sanctuary of “me” time.
Natural sebum (oil) of the hair gets washed off. This is when the scalp will start overproducing sebum, and this can cause a bad odor, and scalp conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and eczema can also result in bad scalp and hair odor.
What to Look for in a Shampoo for smelly scalp
I’ll admit it – I rarely look at the ingredient lists of shampoo bottles until I’m in the shower. But come on! Who does? Usually, we take the front of the bottle at face value. If it says “hydrating and nourishing to repair damaged hair,” we believe it – especially if it’s made by one of the bigger brands.
But when a funky scalp enters the picture – it’s time to change these habits! So here and now, we’re going to take a course on what shampoo ingredients are best for a stinky scalp.
Getting to the root cause:
If you suspect dandruff might be at fault for your scalp issues, naturally, you’ll want to get rid of it, and anti-dandruff shampoo is your best option, right? Not so! Well, at least not always.
Sometimes, depending on your skin type, you might find that what works wonders for others will make your dandruff worse.
Coal tar: Coal tar has antimicrobial properties and anti-inflammatory properties. These two strengths have made it a go-to remedy for itchy, inflamed scalps for over a century – very impressive, in my opinion!
Even more impressive still is that the miracle-working substance works by slowing down the rate at which your scalp skin cells die and flake off.
Salicylic acid: You’ve almost certainly heard of Salicylic acid before. It seems to be taking over the haircare industry product by product -and for a good reason. So, it’ll come as no surprise to you when I tell you it’s a common active ingredient in dandruff shampoos. Salicylic acid helps remove the buildup that happens when you have excess yeast on your scalp.
Coconut oil: While you can apply coconut oil directly to your scalp, it often works better alongside other ingredients in an ultra-hydrating shampoo formula. Why does coconut oil work? The fatty acids in coconut oil moisturize and show no mercy to the irritation and flakes associated with dandruff. The oil also promotes microbial balance that helps soothe a dry, flaky scalp and reharmonize your scalp’s microbiome.
So if you need all the juice on how to use coconut oil for your hair, you’re at the right place!
However, if anti-dandruff shampoos (or these DIY dandruff remedies don’t do it for you, we can just dive directly into which ones work best!
The Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalp
1. Aveeno Scalp Soothing Almond Oil Blend Shampoo
Like a large glass of water for the hair and scalp, this creamy, moisture-packed shampoo restores your skin’s hydration levels to 100%. I love that even though it’s technically a drugstore shampoo, there are barely any harsh chemicals used in its formula! Almond oil is entirely organic, smelly gorgeous, and ensures your scalp and hair are silky smooth.
2. Maple Holistics Degrease: Best for Oily Hair
I had battled with greasy hair for almost my entire life until I came across the wonderful Maple Holistic’s Degrease shampoo – trust me on this one.
Suitable for all hair types, this sulfate-free formula contains some nice essential oils like Rosemary oil, Jojoba oil, Lemon oil, and basil oil that can help nourish your hair but also get rid of excessive oil and grim (the stinky scalp reasons) naturally without drying your scalp.
Also, it has glycerin to moisturize the scalp and botanical keratin to help strengthen your hair in the long term, making it one of the best shampoos for oily hair.
3. Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo
Say bye-bye to flakes and buildup, and hello to a scalp that can breathe freely again! Your whole head will feel lighter after using this therapeutic shampoo that makes itchiness, redness, and irritation a thing of the past, alongside any scalp odors!
4. OGX refreshing scalp shampoo
If you’re looking to deeply cleanse your stinky hair with a burst of freshness, you cannot miss this tea tree oil shampoo. It removes residue without stripping strands of their natural oil to refresh and reset your mane with a refreshing tingling sensation.
Don’t be shocked if your hair feels insanely shiny, soft, and hydrated with a healthy look and feel after your second or third washes!
5. L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Treatment – for colored hair
We trust Loreal, don’t we? Okay, not if you’ve had a bad experience. But mark my words, this smelly scalp shampoo and treatment is a safe bet.
This set provides color protection (yes, that’s unbelievably true) plus deep cleansing, relieving your scalp of excess dirt, product build-up, flakes, and oil. Plus, the scent is to die for!
You just have to use a scalp scrub first to exfoliate the skin nicely and get rid of any funky build-up. Then follow up with a shampoo. For conditioner, I’d recommend you go with a hydrating one, as this duo can make your scalp a lot drier than you would need.
As for the color protection, I feel like most of the products out there do not work 100%, including this too, but it still does help lengthen the fade process a bit.
6. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
If you haven’t heard of this genius product before, I’m assuming you were living under a rock. Literally, every dermatologist recommends this for excessive or mild dandruff concerns, and you know, the professional is mostly right!
This dandruff relief shampoo is made with ketoconazole 1%, an effective ingredient that binds to your hair’s natural protein to kill dandruff. Your scalp remains flake-free with the shampoo’s thick lather, leaving your hair manageable & shiny.
In fact, I have even seen people experimenting with using this one forehead acne caused by dandruff, and they say it works like a charm! Now, who am I to argue that?
7. Tru Moroccan Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Let’s start simply by saying that this is a vegan shampoo if you happen to be vegan. The shampoo is composed of natural oils and herbs, all entirely plant-based, making it the perfect fit for oily and greasy hair.
You are absolutely gonna fall in love with this shampoo! It pulls down the stinky by reducing extra oil and grease from the scalp and takes a good hair smell up a notch. And don’t get me started on its fruity, citrus scent – it’s *a chef’s kiss*!
It deeply cleanses and moisturizes your hair while rejuvenating, nourishing, and removing the flakes on your scalp. No itching; only soft, shiny, voluminous hair!!
8. Therapro Mediceuticals Theroux
If you’ve felt that your scalp is smelly and itchy – maybe even painful – it’s probably inflamed. If this is the case for you, Therapro Mediceuticals’ TheraRx will be your new best friend, ridding you of the inflammation’s root cause and any funky odors.
9. Bumble and Bumble: Sunday Shampoo
I wasn’t going to include this one on the list (just because it’s a little expensive) until I decided to try it for myself. Believe me, it’ll blitz your locks of ALL buildup (from pollutants to excess oil and hard water to styling products), leaving your locks feeling light and clean, and smelling good enough to eat!
Not to forget the silky smooth mane you get after using it. If you want to go dayssss without washing your hair, this is just it!! A little expensive, yes, but if you can afford it, it’s amazing.
If you’ve ever asked, “How do you get rid of a smelly scalp?” I have some quick answers that may solve your problem!
Your Questions About Your smelly Scalp: Answered
What Shampoo is Good for a Stinky Scalp?
Usually, a shampoo with a strong mix of hydrating, cleansing, and scented ingredients is best, such as these drugstore shampoos that work wonders for oily hair.
Why does my hair smell after one day?
The skin on your scalp is the same as the skin on your body. It has sweat and oil glands too. If you didn’t wash your body for a few days, sweat and oils would start to build up, and the bacteria on you would start to break down and cause a stench – the same thing happens to your scalp.
How often should you wash your hair?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to washing your hair, most haircare experts recommend washing your hair every 2 to 3 days. That way, your scalp and hair can naturally replenish their oils, leading to healthy skin and hair growth.
What are the Signs of Poor Scalp Health?
Often, a smelly scalp results from an unhealthy scalp suffering from an underlying condition.
Common symptoms of an unhealthy scalp include:
- Redness on the scalp surface.
- Bumps on the scalp.
- Extreme oiliness.
- Extreme dandruff.
- Hair breakage and loss.
If you notice any of the above symptoms are affecting your scalp, it might be best to pick up the phone and get your doctor on the line.
The Bottom Line to best shampoos for smelly scalp
In an ideal world, smelly scalps wouldn’t be an issue. You shouldn’t have to live with a smelly scalp. It’s stressful, upsetting, and can just ruin your day while causing many problems for your hair.
Fortunately, there are numerous methods for combatting the issue of a smelly scalp so that you can get back to normal and never have to think about your scalp again – until you’re enjoying a relaxing head massage – of course!
So, when it comes to the question, “what’s the best shampoo for a smelly scalp?” I hope I’ve answered it well above! I’ve tried and tested each product and asked others for advice.
related articles to best shampoos for smelly scalp
- Why Does My Hair Smell Bad Even After Washing?
- 6 Best Drugstore Shampoos For Oily Hair That Work
- Is Hair Gel Bad For Your Hair?
- How To Get Rid Of Dandruff Naturally And Fast
- How To Smell Good All Day Long Effortlessly