Tips And Tricks To Keep Your Hair Smelling Fresh And Clean

Everyone wants fresh-smelling hair. After all, there is not much worse than going in for a big hug and getting a strong whiff of a foul-smelling scalp, except maybe being the one with the odor-filled locks. If you find your hair isn't staying as fresh as you'd like, there are easy ways to fix that.


The first thing you want to do is reassess your washing routine. If what you're doing isn't currently working, try washing your hair a day earlier than you normally would. There is no firm rule on how often to wash because each person has a unique biome and will require washing at a different rate.

However, a general rule of thumb is to wash your hair every two to three days. Thick and wavy or curly hair tends to be dry, while fine hair can be more oily, so adjust according to your hair texture."There is no blanket recommendation. If you have an oily scalp, then daily washing is needed," dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Goh told WebMD. "Some people with dry hair or curly hair can wash much less frequently without problems." Goh recommends looking at signs that your hair needs a wash, such as "if hair is visibly oily, scalp is itching, or there's flaking due to dirt."


Use hair perfume or hair oil

Once your hair is squeaky clean and conditioned, you can spruce up its scent by using hair perfume. While many of us use our regular perfume to spritz in our hair on the way out the door, there is an important distinction between regular perfume and hair perfume. Hair perfume is specially made to complement hair. Some formulations contain shining and conditioning agents, so it helps soften hair while also smelling great.


Hair perfume is less concentrated than regular perfume, so it's not as strong smelling. This results in another benefit of using hair perfume. Since it's less concentrated, it's more affordable than regular perfume.

Another option to keep hair smelling fresh is to use scented hair oil. Though you may initially buy the oil to restore and repair dry hair, choosing a sweet-smelling scent can keep your hair smelling clean and possibly even alluring. For an added benefit, add some essential oils to the mix to induce calm and lessen stress.

Clean and scent up styling tools

Though your hair may be washed and conditioned regularly, you also have to make sure anything that touches your hair is cleaned regularly, too. This is especially true for hair brushes because when hair piles up, it can trap odors which can then reinfect your hair every time you use it.


Hair brushes can hold a lot of undesirable particles, which can not only lead to a foul smell but can cause a bacteria and fungal build-up. "Your hairbrush collects more than just trapped hair," certified trichologist William Gaunitz told Reader's Digest. "Demodex (tiny parasites), fungus, lice, and more can all be living on your hairbrush." Washing them once a week is sufficient.

Simply remove the hair stuck in the bristles and then soak the brush in warm soapy water. Scrub in between bristles and let air dry. For an added boost, spray some hair perfume on a clean brush. If you've had it for over a year, you may need to throw away your brush and replace it with a new one.

Protect against scents

Sometimes your hair-washing regimen is ideal, but what you come into contact with during the day can leave your locks with some trapped-in odor. Anyone who has ever been in a smoke-filled bar or concert knows how much your hair continues to smell long after you've gone home. "There's your evidence that particles in the air — like polyaromatic hydrocarbons from cigarette smoke — cling to your hair," cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos said to Allure.


Hair follicles absorb the pollution from the surrounding environment. Smoke and other pollutants adhere themselves to the sebum, or oil, naturally found in hair. The particles not only cause it to give off a foul odor, but they can cause breakage and lessen shine.

It's not only smoke that can make hair smell bad. Being around strong-smelling food for long periods, such as working in a kitchen, can also leave your hair with the scent locked in. To minimize the chances of your hair picking up the aromas, wear a head wrap or tie a scarf around your head.

Remember to clean your pillowcase

If your hair is clean, but you are laying it down on a dirty pillowcase every night, you are essentially waking up in the morning with a conglomeration of whatever is stuck in your pillow lodged in your hair. This logic applies vice versa as well, so if you fell asleep on your pillow after a night out and your hair reeked of cigarette smoke, the particles likely were trapped in your pillowcase. So although you may wake up and wash your hair, if you sleep on the same pillow that night, you are essentially reintroducing smoke particles back into your clean hair.


Dirty pillowcases can also trap natural oils from your scalp, sweat, and hair products, and the same re-contamination can occur. Dust mites live off of dead skin cells and will gravitate toward dirty pillowcases. If you have a dust mite allergy, you may experience an intense itch on the scalp.

When fabrics trap hair's natural oils and bacteria and we sleep on them, it can result in clogged pores which can, in turn, cause dandruff and acne.

Make sure it's not a medical issue

If you wash your hair as you always have but still notice an unpleasant smell, you may need to wash it more frequently. The weather, hormones, and lifestyle changes like diet can all affect scalp odor. If you've upped your washing routine, cleaned everything that comes into contact with your hair, and you're still experiencing a noticeable bad smell, see your doctor.


Certain medical conditions can result in a smelly scalp, including seborrheic dermatitis (better known as dandruff), fungal infections on the scalp, and hormonal changes. Hyperhidrosis is another possibility, and it occurs when you sweat excessively and the seat gets mixed with bacteria. 

Psoriasis is another condition that can cause a bad odor. Signs of psoriasis include scaly and itchy red patches that can peel and are itchy or sore and can also bleed. With proper treatment, these conditions can improve, and you will eventually get back your sweet-smelling hair.