Shampoos For Smelly Hair (Top 5 Rated In 2023)

In search of the best shampoos for smelly hair? You are not alone, my friend, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, smelly hair happens more often than you might think; the root of the problem lies in your scalp, a common skin problem in men and women.

If you have been struggling with this embarrassing issue for a while and have tried a couple of things that didn’t work, there’s obviously something you are doing wrong. If you want to tackle this problem the right way, a good place to start is by having the best products, which, not very surprisingly, include a smelly hair shampoo.

We all have a favorite shampoo, the go-to that works for your hair type and makes your hair feel good. But the right formula is key when you are looking for a specific shampoo. So today, we are here to tell you about some of the best shampoos for smelly hair currently on the market.

While it might sound like a tedious task, given the vast options out there, we’ve done the hard part for you and narrowed it down to our top five favorite options. You can bet that using any of these will provide clean, fresh, and zero-stink results after every wash. Continue to our top-rated best shampoos for smelly hair.

Shampoos For Smelly Hair Reviewed In This Article

Reasons To Use Shampoos For Smelly Hair

  • Too much hair washing: Washing your hair very often isn’t good. You strip it away from its natural oils, and as a defensive mode, your body compensates for that by producing more and more. You could end up with greasy hair full of dandruff, paving the way for smelly hair.
  • Smelly hair syndrome: Also known as SHS, Smelly Hair Syndrome occurs when your sweat and oil glands are hyperactive, meaning they secrete too much oil and sweat than needed.
  • Skin conditions: Some skin conditions, like psoriasis, eczemas, and seborrheic dermatitis, can influence your scalp smells.
  • Eating habits: What you eat strongly influences how your scalp smells! Foods with strong odors lead your scalp to react.
  • Product residue: Hair products interfere with the oil levels in your scalp, again resulting in an awful odor. For that reason, choose your shampoos, conditioners, masks, creams, serums, or others very wisely.
  • Fungal infection: A smelly scalp could result from a fungus that lives on the skin. This fungus can cause inflammatory reactions like folliculitis, dandruff, and eczema.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormone changes affect your hair and scalp. If your body’s producing excess amounts of androgen, that could result in an overproduction of oil from your skin’s glands, including those on your scalp.

How To Choose The Perfect Shampoos For Smelly Hair

When picking out shampoos for smelly hair, or any shampoo for that matter, you need to consider important factors such as your hair type, hair texture, what kind of ingredients are better than others, etc.

Smelly hair shampoo should help you remove residue buildup and reduce inflammation. This prevents your scalp from developing a bad smell.

In addition, the best shampoo and conditioner for you must help repair damaged hair and improve hair strength and vitality.

If your hair is already predisposed to be easily damaged, dull, and dry, then you should go for shampoos to address those problems. Keep an eye open for sulfate-free formulas that offer to repair and nourish your hair.

Best Shampoos For Smelly Hair

WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

What We Like

  • Anti-Dandruff
  • High Gloss
  • Anti-Frizz
  • Silicone, Paraben, Sulfate-Free

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

This smelly hair shampoo rinse opens clogged hair follicles and breaks down itchy build-up. Hydrating shampoo and conditioner with a nourishing oil blend is key to restoring elasticity and healthy shine to your hair.

Shampoo and conditioner that fights flakes give a dandruff treatment that balances your scalp’s pH levels for healthier hair. Revive and refresh your hair with our dry scalp shampoo and conditioner for dry, damaged hair.

This antioxidant boost will keep your hair soft, silky, and hydrated, while Avocado, Argan Oil & Vitamin E help strengthen hair and keep it smooth. Daily care for transforming dull strands into healthier and thicker, luscious hair.


Wet hair and apply a wide tooth comb for best results. Apply a generous amount on the palm. Massage well into soaking wet hair and scalp using fingertips.

Tea Tree Special Shampoo

What We Like

  • Color Safe
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-Free
  • Cruelty-Free

What We Don’t Like

  • Not For Dry Scalp

The John Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo is formulated with all the goodness of Tea Tree oil that is known to treat and cure a smelly scalp naturally.

Along with tea tree oil, you also get the goodness of lavender oil and peppermint extracts that keep your hair healthy and smell-free.

Tea tree shampoo tingles invigorate and leave locks healthy and full of luster. Lather in damp hair and rinse. For best results, follow with Tea Tree Special Conditioner. Consult a dermatologist for use on infected and/or sensitive scalp.

What Our Testers Say

I have seborrheic dermatitis, and this shampoo has helped tremendously!!! It’s way better and CHEAPER than the 2 oz prescription bottle that costs $150-$300. I have super thick hair, and that 2 oz bottle did not last very long. This stuff (tea tree special shampoo) is amazing!!!

Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Soothe and clarify your scalp while adding high shine and volume to your strands with this farm-to-shower-inspired Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo.

Oat is the first ingredient in this scalp-soothing, farm-fresh inspired shampoo infused with apple cider vinegar to clarify the scalp and add high shine and volume to dull hair.

This shampoo cleanses and reinforces shine from root to tip, infused with apple cider vinegar. The blend of ingredients works together to produce a sensational, fresh fragrance. Free from sulfates, parabens, and dyes.

What Our Testers Say

I like how soft and clean it leaves my hair. I’d like that you don’t have to use an extreme amount, just a dab about the size of a dime I have long hair halfway down my back, and that is enough shampoo. It’s a great bargain, and it smells good too.

Neutrogena Exfoliating Healthy Scalp Shampoo

What We Like

  • pH-Balanced
  • Paraben-Free
  • Phthalate-Free
  • Color-Safe

What We Don’t Like

  • Cream Form

Clarify and exfoliate oily scalp and hair with this anti-residue clarifying shampoo formulated with pink grapefruit.

This smelly scalp shampoo is enriched with pink grapefruit that works deep in your scalp and washes away all the smell-causing debris.

The paraben-free shampoo helps boost shine and is safe for color-treated hair. It is designed for oily scalp and hair but is suitable for all hair types, including straight, wavy, and curly hair.

What Our Testers Say

Recently, I noticed that my hair was limp and quickly felt dirty after a wash. I am going through menopause, so my hair is also thinning a bit. I tried this, and my hair feels great and stays clean much longer. I am on my second bottle and have had a good hair day since I started using it!

Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo

What We Like

  • Color-Safe
  • Fights Dandruff
  • Fights Seborrheic Dermatitis

What We Don’t Like

  • Strong Smell
  • Medicated

This smelly hair shampoo can treat severe dandruff quickly and easily.

This medicated extra-strength dandruff shampoo, made with 1% selenium sulfide, gives you prescription-strength flaking relief and is clinically proven on even the toughest flakes.

Head & Shoulders shampoos feature 3Action Formula that cleans to remove oil and flakes. Protects the scalp from dandruff. Moisturizes each hair strand from scalp to tip.

What Our Testers Say

I’ve suffered from moderate to severe dandruff my whole life. I’ve tried so many remedies over the years. I’m extremely satisfied with the results of using this shampoo, and I would recommend it to anyone that struggles with severe dandruff.

Shampoos For Smelly Hair Buying Guide

What is A Shampoo For Smelly Hair?

Shampoos for smelly hair are quality ones designed to help rescue and restore scalp health, giving way to a healthier mane.

These often offer gentle ingredients that don’t leave a residue build up on your scalp.

How Do Shampoos For Smelly Hair Work?

While cleansing and nourishing your hair, shampoos for smelly hair kick bacteria out, nourishing your hair and soothing an itchy scalp, so you get clean, beautiful hair that retains natural movement.

Features To Look For In Shampoos For Smelly Hair

  • Cleansing power: Some of the reasons the scalp and hair can get smelly are dandruff, sweat, and buildup. Therefore, go for a shampoo that has good cleansing power.
  • Gentleness on the scalp and hair: Keep an eye on shampoos that are gentle on the hair, especially if your hair is dry; search for natural ingredients that keep the hair moisturized.
  • Scent and fragrance: Choosing a shampoo with a good fragrance will help enhance the smell of your hair.
  • Ingredients: Experts from The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggest using a product with one of the following ingredients: coal tar, ketoconazole, salicylic acid and sulfur, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione.

How To Use Shampoos For Smelly Hair Steps

Step 1: Wet your hair

Completely saturate your hair with warm, not hot, water.

Shampoos For Smelly Hair: Woman in the shower getting her hair wet to use shampoos for smelly hair

Step 2: Apply shampoo

Squirt a small amount of shampoo into the palm of your hand. Apply it to your scalp and massage it until it lathers. Work the shampoo through your hair, but pay the most attention to the scalp.

Shampoos For Smelly Hair: Woman applying and massaging smelly hair shampoo

Step 3: Rinse

Rinse your hair and scalp completely. You can squirt a small amount of conditioner into your hand.

Massage it into the length of your hair, avoiding the scalp. Leave the conditioner in for about 3 minutes and rinse your hair completely.

Shampoos For Smelly Hair: Woman in the shower rinsing her hair after using a top smelly hair shampoo

Common Questions About Shampoos For Smelly Hair

Why does my hair smell bad?

Is important to understand that if a bad smell in your hair persists, even after having washed your hair, the problem is probably in your scalp, not your hair.

While it is necessary to care for both, focusing on the health of your scalp can eliminate the bad odors. Luckily this can be addressed by using shampoos for smelly hair.

Why does my hair stink even after I wash it?

Your hair may still smell after washing because your shampoo might be ineffective in curbing your scalp’s fungal and bacterial activity; check out our article on the Best smelling hairspray you can find.. Hence, it would be best to use shampoos with strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

What home remedies help hair stop smelling?

  • Essential oils: Some people find that tea tree oil, which is antimicrobial, is effective at treating conditions that cause a smelly scalp, like seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has many fans for its potential health benefits. A key benefit of ACV is its antimicrobial properties. You may see some success in treating your scalp with apple cider vinegar.
  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice has been shown to have antimicrobial qualities, which suggests that it could reduce some smell-generating bacteria lurking on your scalp.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is a powerful antidote for smelly hair, as it absorbs all the bad odors and excess oil from your hair and scalp.

Why does my hair smell like mildew after I wash it?

Mildew often occurs in hair and scalp when wet hair is left unable to dry for extended periods of time.

The moisture that gets trapped in the hair can breed mildew, and hairstyles more prone to this would be buns, ponytails, updos, or even locs, although people who sweat heavily in their hair may also suffer from this.

How often should you wash your hair?

For the average person, every other day, or every 2 to 3 days, without washing, is generally fine. There is no blanket recommendation. If hair is visibly oily, the scalp is itching, or there’s flaking due to dirt, those are signs it’s time to shampoo.

Can I put perfume in my hair?

Spraying your favorite perfume on your hair might help short term, but it can damage hair in the long term by drying it out. For a quick fix, try a formula made for hair, such as a hair mist, dry shampoo, or hair serum.

How To Use Shampoos For Smelly Hair Video Tutorial

The video below will tell you how easy it is to clean and restore hair and scalp health through the correct use of the best shampoos for smelly hair.

Products Mentioned In This Article

  1. WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
  2. Tea Tree Special Shampoo
  3. Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo
  4. Neutrogena Exfoliating Healthy Scalp Shampoo
  5. Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo

Enjoy Your New Shampoos For Smelly Hair

Now that you have learned about the best shampoos for smelly hair currently on the market, you can make an informed decision and see what is best for your specific hair needs.

Give these shampoos for smelly hair a try, and be assured of smoother, shinier hair that feels looks, and smells fantastic.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. We are always happy to hear from you.


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Grace Williams is the driving force behind With a passion for hair care since a young age, Grace studied cosmetology and styling, achieving mastery in the field through her work with top models and celebrities in New York City. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, offering insider tips, tutorials, and up-to-date information on all aspects of hair care. Grace continues to work as a professional stylist in Los Angeles, committed to helping people achieve their perfect hair looks.
Photo of author
Grace Williams is the driving force behind With a passion for hair care since a young age, Grace studied cosmetology and styling, achieving mastery in the field through her work with top models and celebrities in New York City. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, offering insider tips, tutorials, and up-to-date information on all aspects of hair care. Grace continues to work as a professional stylist in Los Angeles, committed to helping people achieve their perfect hair looks.