Smelly Hair

Girl with smelly hair
Photo: Bigstock
Try as we might, no one is immune to smelly hair. I'm not just talking about dirty hair from lack of washing it or using poor shampoos and conditioners. I'm talking about how hair can get an awful lingering scent just from spending five quick minutes ordering a coffee.
Coffee places like Dunkin' Donuts are incredibly popular places to go to in the morning and for good reason: they have deliciously flavored coffee and on-the-go sandwiches, donuts, and the ever-famous munchkin donut holes. But, with all that people are ordering and toasters running, onion bagels galore, you will more often than not leave with an odor that has permeated you. The same goes for Subway. The sandwiches are great, but there is a scent that can linger on your person all day, and you can start to feel self-conscious if someone gets too close to your freshly washed hair and is repulsed by one whiff.
It gets even harder if you live in a city because there is constant construction, trains/subways emitting fuel odors, food carts galore, and sewer stench that can make you want to vomit. The excitement is one thing, but the hair odor is quite another. What if you are going to a play, a job interview, or have a date? You want to look and smell great! So what can you do on the go to ensure that your locks will always be delightful? Here are some ideas that we have come up with that may just save your day … and your hair.
Dry Shampoo
Of course, travel-size dry shampoo is an amazing quick trick and it smells as good as your regular shampoo. Many of the brands you already use have their own dry shampoos, so you know what to expect in terms of the scent. Plus, the smaller bottles fit quite conveniently in your bag and both you and your partner can use it at any time, no matter where you are, whether out on the street or in a bathroom. But, as with any hair product, please avoid overuse because it could cause buildup and that can lead to follicular clogging. So, be conservative.
Dry shampoo spray
Photo: Pixelshot/Canva
If you have thick and/or curly hair, you may have learned that the rule of thumb is to shampoo around three times per week. Unless you get your hair professionally blown out, then you can go about a week. The only time you can wash your hair every day is if you have super oily hair, so just keep that in mind. If you are following these rules, you don't want to mess it up by overusing dry shampoos. Feel free to use them, but again, make sure that it is used sparingly and at least ten inches away from the head.
If you are spending the day in the city, wait until you have reached your destination to use dry shampoo. Don't use it at every smelly spot or you'll overspray and run out of product before the day is over, and nobody wants that. If you're in a rush and didn't expect to get a smell in your hair, you can dab some perfume into your roots (samples are great to carry in your purse to be used in a pinch) but be very generous and don't expect it to cover a strong scent all that much. It is not meant to be used as a mask, but rather a minimal shield to get you through the unexpected.
Essential Oils
The best thing that you can possibly do is buy a small, inexpensive spray bottle that fits into your bag and can be carried everywhere. They can be purchased at a hair store or a drugstore. Then, head over to an essential oils store, the more natural the better, and start sampling some scents. Find the ones that are delicate and sweet, but more importantly, match your personality. After you have chosen a few, mix them with water and use this mixture to combat smelly hair on the go.
Spray bottle with essential oils for your hair
Photo: Pixelshot/Canva
It works so well that it is actually recommended for those who have dreadlocks as a way to ensure that their hair stays on point in the scent department but does not lose its shape. Water can loosen dreads, and after all of the work that goes into achieving them, you won't want to mess with them at all, so this method has been used to maintain the dread shape while making the hair smell great. This is one common misconception about dreads: that they must smell awful because they are knotted hair locks and can only be washed every two weeks.
With the homemade essential oil/water mixture, your hair will be odor-free and you can choose what scent you ultimately use. You are not limited to what scent you get, as you can create your own. It is quick and easy, and it will remove any unwanted odors you may encounter along the way.
Hair Dryer
If your hair smells awful from the night before, say you were out all night at a boozy bar and now you smell like cigarette smoke, pizza, and alcohol, but you don't have time to shower and wash it away, there is a five-minute solution you may like. Take your hair dryer and put it on the cool setting. Then hold it on your hair for five minutes. Cooler air opens the cuticles, releasing any unpleasant odors that may have gotten locked in. Then, you can proceed with the dry shampoo or essential oils and voilà... your hair is odor-free.
Girl with long hair, using a hair dryer
Photo: Pixelshot/Canva
Now, this is not to say that you will not notice any lingering scents, as the more potent ones can get stuck inside our noses and refuse to leave. But, with good hygiene, a little body spray, and something to spritz on your hair, you should be more than okay and set for whatever comes your way.
Be Prepared
You have to be aware of your surroundings. If you know you need to stop and get coffee but you don't like the smell it leaves you with, make sure you bring your own products that day and the same goes for a day in the city. Be prepared as much as you can because that is the only way to combat smelly hair.
Now you have the tools and the solutions, but it is up to you to implement them and decide which ones are the best for your hair and your lifestyle. If you are a city dweller, go for the essential oil combo, but if you are just going for a day trip, bring some body spray and dry shampoo. Always have dry shampoo on hand for quick touch-ups after coffee runs and start enjoying an odor-free life! Good luck!