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Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalp – 2024 Guide

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best shampoo for smelly scalpConfused by a smelly scalp? You’re not alone. The ‘Smelly Scalp Syndrome’ is a real issue that many people face, but thankfully, there’s an answer. Like the sunshine after a stormy day, these top 10 shampoos for a smelly scalp can help clear up all of your odorous problems in no time! From Videri Lemon Sage Shampoo to Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo and WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo – we’ve got you covered with this 2023 guide on the best shampoos for smelly scalps.

Key Takeaways

  • Excess oils, sweat, dirt, and bacteria buildup contribute to a smelly scalp.
  • Shampoos with coal tar and salicylic acid can help treat dandruff and reduce odor.
  • Tea tree oil can reduce dirt buildup and nourish the hair.
  • Apple cider vinegar can balance the pH of the scalp and soothe the skin.

Top 10 Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalp

If you’re looking for the best shampoo to help with a smelly scalp, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites. These shampoos are specially formulated to tackle common hair concerns. From Videri Lemon Sage Shampoo and OGX Extra Strength Scalp Shampoo to Ryo Hair Loss Care Shampoo and Biolage Scalp Sync Oily Hair, there is sure to be an ideal option among this list of top-rated shampoos for a smelly scalp! We also have options like Redken Detox Shampoo and WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar that will help balance your scalp’s pH levels while cleansing away any buildup or residue.

Videri Lemon Sage Shampoo

Videri Lemon Sage & TeaView On Amazon
You’ll love the refreshing lemon sage scent of Videri’s organic shampoo, which helps to nourish hair while cleansing the scalp and providing moisture. The 12-ounce bottle contains aloe vera, glycerin, essential oils, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and other naturally derived ingredients that are free from sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.

It is suitable for all hair types, including oily, color-treated, or dry scalps. Use this product to give your hair body while calming any irritation on your scalp!

  • Nourishes Hair & Cleanses Scalp
  • Free from Sulfates/Parabens/Phthalates
  • Suitable for All Hair Types
  • Can cause dryness in some people
  • Questionable labeling
  • Some customers received wrong scents when ordering

OGX Extra Strength Scalp Shampoo

OGX Extra Strength Refreshing ScalpView On Amazon
Experience the invigorating power of tea tree oil and peppermint extract with OGX Extra Strength Scalp Shampoo. This 13 oz bottle of shampoo helps remove residue without stripping strands, leaving hair shiny and soft.

Witch hazel helps remove buildup while nourishing your scalp, making it an ideal choice for those looking to revive their dull locks.

A sweet scent of peppermint, iced vanilla, and tea tree will awaken your senses as you massage it into wet hair before rinsing out thoroughly – perfect for a morning wake-up! Its sulfate-free formula is gentle enough to use daily or weekly depending on how oily your scalp may be; however, some users have experienced dryness after frequent use, which could be easily managed by using a moisturizing conditioner afterwards.

  • Removes buildup without stripping
  • Invigorates & refreshes
  • Sweet scent awakens senses
  • Some users reported dryness when used frequently
  • Limited international shipping availability

Degrease Shampoo Oily Hair

Degrease Shampoo for Oily HairView On Amazon
Degrease Shampoo for Oily Hair is formulated with natural ingredients like rosemary, cypress, basil, and lemon oils to tackle common hair concerns. This sulfate-free clarifying shampoo clears buildup and oil from the scalp while remaining paraben-free and suitable for both men and women.

Some users report reduced oil production after use; however, some customers were not satisfied with the product’s performance.

It has a strong tea tree scent noted by some reviewers, which may be off-putting for those looking for something more subtle or milder in fragrance.

  • Tackles common hair concerns like oily scalp & dandruff
  • Sulfate-free clarifying shampoo clears buildup & oil
  • Uses natural ingredients like rosemary, cypress, basil & lemon oils
  • Strong tea tree scent noted by some reviews
  • Not widely available in-store/online outside of the US
  • Some dissatisfied customers reported it didn’t reduce their oiliness

Ryo Hair Loss Care Shampoo

Ryo Hair Loss Care ShampooView On Amazon
Ryo Hair Loss Care Shampoo

Ryo Hair Loss Care Shampoo offers nourishing ginseng extract to help reduce dandruff and itching, while its cooling foam refreshes your scalp with a floral scent. This shampoo is free of 5 harsh ingredients such as animal-derived, polyacrylamide, triethanolamine, synthetic colors, and mineral oil.

It comes in a 14.11 oz bottle that helps promote a healthy scalp and strands when used regularly.

Reviews generally show it helps with oily scalps, but some customers were not satisfied due to the smell or packaging issues reported by some users. The herbal ginseng aroma may be desirable for some people; however, this could be off-putting for others who are more sensitive to scents.

Import taxes can also apply depending on where you live, making it an expensive purchase overall.

  • Nourishes hair follicles using natural Ginseng Extract
  • Free from five harsh chemicals
  • Cooling foam refreshes the scalp with a floral scent
  • Herbal/Ginseng smell might be unpleasant
  • Packaging issues have been reported by a few customers
  • Could falsely be labeled as a dry scalp shampoo
  • Higher price due to import taxes

Biolage Scalp Sync Shampoo Oily Hair

Biolage Cooling Mint Scalp SyncView On Amazon
Revitalize your oily scalp and hair with Biolage Scalp Sync Shampoo, a deep-cleansing mint shampoo that refreshes and strengthens. Formulated with mint leaf for a cooling sensation, this professional salon product absorbs excess oil and buildup from the scalp and hair, leaving it balanced and clean.

Suitable for all hair types, it helps reduce oil production while eliminating dandruff – perfect if you’re looking to keep your locks feeling silky smooth without drying out the strands! Plus, the refreshing scent is sure to invigorate you each time you use it.

  • Reduces oil production
  • Eliminates dandruff
  • Refreshing scent
  • Strengthens hair
  • Cooling sensation is not very strong
  • Scent may be unpleasant for some people
  • Not suitable as a conditioner

Aveeno Fresh Greens Shampoo

Aveeno, Fresh Greens Blend Sulfate-FreeView On Amazon
Aveeno Fresh Greens Shampoo nourishes and volumizes your hair, providing a cooling sensation with oat, rosemary, peppermint, and cucumber. The shampoo is free of sulfates, dyes, and parabens, so it won’t strip away natural oils or damage color-treated hair.

Its ingredients are sourced from the Mississippi River Valley to help promote healthy scalp conditions for all types of strands without harsh chemicals or preservatives.

It thickens fine to medium locks while clarifying buildup at the same time, giving you that added body you’ve been looking for, in addition to softness you can feel throughout your mane.

  • Restores thickness and volume
  • Leaves hair shiny & glossy
  • Free of sulfates & parabens
  • Some dislike scent
  • Makes some users’ hair dry
  • Small size relative cost

Tea Tree Shampoo Oily Hair

Tea Tree Special Shampoo, DeepView On Amazon
Try out Tea Tree Shampoo for Oily Hair to experience an invigorating tingle and leave your hair fresh, clean, and shiny. This shampoo is formulated with tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender for a refreshing scent.

Special ingredients also aid in promoting scalp health, making this ideal for everyone’s needs.

  • Refreshing scent
  • Washes away impurities
  • Adds vitality & luster
  • Promotes overall scalp health
  • Strong odor may be overpowering

Redken Detox Shampoo

Redken Detox Hair Cleansing CreamView On Amazon
For an intense cleanse that leaves your hair feeling refreshed and purified, Redken Detox Shampoo is a professional salon solution like no other. It deeply purifies buildup and pollution while removing copper, iron, magnesium, calcium minerals, as well as product residue and oils.

Its combination of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), fruit acid, and cleansing complex strengthens the cuticle for all types of hair texture – making it easier to style with any conditioner afterwards.

And don’t worry about harsh chemicals or preservatives; this shampoo does its work without them! Enjoy softer locks with increased shine from a deep scalp cleanse that helps prevent breakage too! With regular use, you can expect healthier-looking tresses – perfect for those who want to maintain their look between trips to the hairdresser’s chair.

  • Removes buildup (dry shampoo/product/hard water minerals/oil/pollution)
  • Purifies & refreshes
  • Leaves hair shiny & strengthens cuticle
  • For all types of textures & pairs with any Redken conditioner
  • No sulfates or parabens

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo

Avalon Organics Shampoo, Clarifying Lemon,View On Amazon
You’ll love Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo for its natural, plant-based formula and refreshing lemon scent. Infused with certified organic ingredients like essential oils, quinoa protein, aloe vera, and vitamin E, this shampoo conditions the hair cuticle.

It is free of GMOs, parabens, or harsh preservatives. Not only does it refresh your oily scalp, but it also helps restore natural highlights and shine without stripping away color from your dyed locks! Its gentle cleansing action unclogs follicles while removing dull buildup up to 2-3 days.

  • Natural plant-based formula
  • Refreshing lemon scent
  • Restores natural highlights & shine
  • Gentle enough for colored hair
  • Affordable price point
  • Some complaints of leaking bottles during shipping

WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

WOW Skin Science Apple CiderView On Amazon
Experience the transformative power of WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, like a refreshing wave washing away dirt and buildup. This vegan formula contains apple cider vinegar and saw palmetto to reduce hair loss while cleansing the scalp and removing buildup.

It leaves hair soft, smooth, and less prone to breakage with added volume, stimulating follicles for healthier-looking locks.

The sulfate-free shampoo also helps restore pH balance with natural ingredients that add moisture without harsh chemicals or preservatives.

  • Helps restore pH balance
  • Reduces hair loss
  • Cleanses scalp & removes buildup
  • Leaves hair soft & smooth
  • Stimulates follicles for healthy locks
  • Not suitable for all types of scalps/hair textures
  • Scent may be too strong for some people
  • May take multiple uses before desired results

What Causes a Smelly Scalp?

What Causes a Smelly Scalp
You may be experiencing a smelly scalp due to underwashing, overwashing, improper washing, an oily scalp, or hormonal imbalance. Poor hygiene can cause the buildup of oils and sweat from your skin cells, which in turn leads to unpleasant odors.

Additionally, oily scalps are prone to increased bacteria growth that causes odor, as well as hormonal changes that increase oil production and smell.

Under Washing

If you underwash, oils and sweat can build up on your scalp, causing an unpleasant odor. Poor hygiene habits, such as not washing regularly, can also lead to a buildup of dirt, hair residue, and product that may contribute to the smell.

Diet effects, such as onions or garlic in meals, could also add fragrances that may mix with the sweat buildup from inadequate scalp hygiene, leading to odors. Scalp irritation due to overuse of styling products might further worsen any smells coming from this area too.

Over Washing

Overwashing your scalp can aggravate smelly scalp issues, so it’s important to find the right washing frequency. Hair residue buildup and oiliness are key contributors to smelly scalps, as well as diet changes and hormonal fluctuations.

To balance out scalp health, use a medicated shampoo with ingredients like coal tar, salicylic acid, or coconut oil. Try natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar shampoo or tea tree oil shampoos.

Improper Washing

You’re more likely to experience a smelly scalp if you don’t wash it properly, so make sure you find the right balance for your hair.

Proper cleansing methods can help reduce sweat odor and product residue buildup. Simple dietary changes may also help with excess oil production, as well as balancing scalp health inside and out.

Tea tree oils are known clarifiers that can remove buildup while nourishing the skin beneath – just be careful not to over-wash! Natural shampoos enriched with ingredients like lemon essential oils or apple cider vinegar are great solutions too; they’ll keep oily scalps from becoming overly fragrant without drying them out completely.

When in doubt seek professional advice – but remember there’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to smelliness on our heads!

Oily Scalp

An oily scalp can lead to a buildup of oils, sweat, dirt, and bacteria, which can cause unpleasant odors. To combat this problem, it’s important to find the right shampoo for your hair type that will help balance oil production while nourishing your scalp.

WOW Skin Science’s Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is a great option. This vegan formula uses natural ingredients designed to restore pH balance and reduce dandruff, fungal infection, or hormonal changes associated with an oily scalp.

Tea tree oil helps promote healthy scalps, while lemon essential oils clarify and add shine without stripping strands.

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances can cause your scalp to be more oily, leading to an unpleasant smell. Seborrheic dermatitis and other conditions caused by hormonal imbalance affect the oil production in your scalp, making it difficult to maintain a healthy balance.

Diet changes are important for maintaining balanced hormones and helping reduce smelly scalps. A shampoo with tea tree oil or peppermint extract is beneficial as well – they help remove buildup while cooling down the scalp at the same time.

Salicylic acid shampoos can also help control seborrheic dermatitis symptoms like itching and flaking of skin on the head.

Adjusting your diet, using minty shampoos regularly, and consulting a doctor about medication may all bring relief from smelly scalps due to hormonal imbalance-related issues affecting hair health.

Why Do Scalps Get Smelly?

Why Do Scalps Get Smelly
You may be experiencing an unpleasant, smelly scalp due to incorrect hair-washing methods. To help combat this issue, Aveeno’s Scalp Soothing Almond Oil Blend Shampoo can provide balanced hydration. Maple Holistics’ Degrease: Best for Oily Hair helps clear away dirt and excess sebum.

Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo is ideal for relieving itchy scalps. OGX Refreshing Scalp Shampoo invigorates the senses with its tingly minty scent, while L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Treatment – designed specifically for colored hair – gently purifies your scalp.

Incorrect Method of Hair Washing

Wrongly washing your hair can be a recipe for disaster, leading to an unpleasant scalp situation that’s anything but nice. Incorrect technique strips the scalp of natural oils and makes it prone to excessive oil production or unhealthy bacteria growth.

Diet choices, such as eating garlic and onions, could also contribute to smelly locks. Using the wrong type of hair product can clog pores and trap dirt, resulting in irritation on top of odor.

To maintain good scalp health, opt for clarifying shampoos with rosemary, peppermint, or tea tree oil, like Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo, which helps eliminate odors without drying out your strands.

Balance is key when caring for scalps, so cleanse regularly with lukewarm water instead of hot water. This will help keep sebum levels under control without disturbing pH balance too much.

Aveeno Scalp Soothing Almond Oil Blend Shampoo

Try Aveeno Scalp Soothing Almond Oil Blend Shampoo to help nourish and soothe your scalp. This shampoo is formulated with the benefits of almond oil, which can cleanse the scalp while restoring its natural pH balance.

It helps remove dirt, excess oils, and product buildup from poor hygiene habits without stripping hair of essential nutrients.

Plus, it’s gentle enough to use every day without irritating or drying out your strands.

Maple Holistics Degrease: Best for Oily Hair

For those with oily hair, Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo is a great option. It contains rosemary, cypress, basil, and lemon oils, which work to remove buildup without stripping strands of essential nutrients – up to 80% more than regular shampoos! Oily scalps can be managed through vegan shampoo options that help detoxify the scalp while hydrating it.

Diet changes may also aid in balancing scalp health for healthier locks and reducing hair loss associated with an unhealthy scalp. This shampoo helps relieve itching and dryness caused by bacteria on the surface of your skin, as well as buildup from harsh products.

Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo can help restore balance to an oily scalp and reduce the smell associated with it. Its unique formula includes Neutar™ technology, which helps treat scalp conditions like dandruff, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis while controlling product buildup.

It also contains nourishing ingredients such as jojoba oil that help strengthen hair follicles and promote healthy hair growth without leaving behind a heavy perfume scent after use.

As a treatment for smelly scalps, users can benefit from its ability to remove excess oils while providing deep hydration for the skin underneath too! A 3-step cleaning process is recommended: first wash with shampoo, then conditioner; finally rinse away all residue thoroughly to finish off your routine – perfect for those seeking long-term results!

Neutrogena’s advanced benefits make it an ideal choice of shampoo when looking to combat odor caused by greasy buildups on scalps or even just needing occasional relief from unpleasant smells due to its invigorating scent of tea tree oil mixed in peppermint extract.

OGX Refreshing Scalp Shampoo

OGX Refreshing Scalp Shampoo can invigorate your scalp with tea tree oil and peppermint extract to remove buildup without stripping strands. The sulfate-free, paraben-free formula cools and refreshes the scalp while fighting hair loss due to its clarifying action.

It helps decrease oil production as well as dandruff, leaving hair silky, shiny, and clean.

Tea Tree Oil is known for its cooling effects on the skin, which can help reduce red patches caused by product buildup or sour smell from certain products.

An absolute must-have if you’re after an effective cleansing solution that won’t strip away natural oils or leave behind unwanted residue – OGX Refreshing Scalp Shampoo is perfect!

L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Treatment – for Colored Hair

Revitalize your colored hair with L’Oréal Paris EverPure Scalp Treatment and get salon-like performance without the hefty price tag. This scalp treatment is specifically formulated for colored hair, balancing the pH level while controlling oiliness and flakiness.

With a lemon sage scent, its unique blend of ingredients like apple cider vinegar helps soothe an itchy or irritated scalp due to conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis. It may even help reduce loss of color from regular washing and styling activities.

For serious issues, medical treatments are available but should be discussed with your doctor first before use in order to find out what’s best for your individual needs when it comes to treating smelly scalps caused by underlying medical problems.

Get instant relief from odor-causing bacteria with L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Treatment – experience healthy-looking locks today!

What Medical Conditions Cause Smelly Scalp?

What Medical Conditions Cause Smelly Scalp
Medical conditions like dandruff, dermatitis, and fungal infections can cause inflammation and infection that lead to a smelly scalp.

  • Dandruff caused by dry skin or overactive sebaceous glands.
  • Fungal infections resulting from poor hygiene habits or trapped moisture in the scalp.
  • Hormonal changes causing an increase in oil production on the scalp.
  • Hyperhidrosis leading to excess perspiration mixing with oils and bacteria.
  • Psoriasis causing inflammation of hair follicles.

Regular shampooing is essential for keeping smelly scalps at bay; however, certain medicated shampoos may be necessary if home remedies are ineffective. Medicated coal tar shampoos provide long-term relief from dandruff, while salicylic acid helps remove oily residue without drying out the scalp too much.

Natural ingredients such as tea tree oil reduce the buildup of dirt while nourishing strands with vitamins A & E for healthier-looking hair overall.

Finally, lifestyle adjustments, including tracking diet intake, can help balance natural oils on your head to keep it smelling clean all day long!

What Nonmedical Conditions Cause Smelly Scalp?

What Nonmedical Conditions Cause Smelly Scalp
Apart from medical conditions, lifestyle choices like diet and hygiene can also contribute to a smelly scalp, so why not nip it in the bud? Dietary changes are key. Certain foods, such as onions and garlic, may increase odor. Pollution’s impact on hair needs to be monitored too.

Product residue builds up with time, leading to an unpleasant smell. Moreover, proper scalp health must be maintained. Keep track of symptoms like itching or redness that could signal infection or inflammation needing attention from a doctor.

Sweat mixing with oil and bacteria is another common cause for bad odor. This can be addressed through washing frequency management, while balancing oil production is essential for eliminating smelly issues in general! To ensure all bases are covered when dealing with your own personal situation, consult your doctor if home remedies don’t seem effective enough or if you present other accompanying symptoms.

How is Smelly Scalp Treated?

How is Smelly Scalp Treated
To restore your scalp’s health and eliminate smelly issues, try using a shampoo that is specifically designed for oily hair. Hormonal changes can cause an overproduction of oil, which leads to odors developing on the scalp.

Natural remedies, such as apple cider vinegar shampoo or tea tree oil shampoos, can help balance pH levels and soothe the skin while also providing shine.

For those with more severe conditions like dandruff or dermatitis, medicated treatments like coal tar shampoos may be necessary to treat the root causes of these problems. Lastly, diet changes, such as eliminating foods from one’s diet that worsen smells, are key in continuing scalp health maintenance beyond just washing alone.

What is Smelly Scalp?

What is Smelly Scalp
Smelly scalp is an uncomfortable and unpleasant condition caused by a variety of factors, from hormonal changes to product residue. It can be triggered by excess sweating, over-washing, or under-washing the hair, and improper pH balancing on the scalp.

Dandruff-fighting ingredients such as coal tar, salicylic acid, and coconut oil are used to treat the root causes of smelly scalps. Apple cider vinegar shampoo helps unclog follicles for less hair loss. Balancing your scalp health is important in eliminating such issues.

Signs that it’s unhealthy include itching, burning sensations, or redness on the skin surface. Bumps may appear afterwards, accompanied by excessive oiliness or dandruff flakiness.

Track your diet closely too – certain foods like garlic and onions may worsen smell – then cut them out completely if needed! If home remedies don’t work well enough, see a doctor.

In addition to medicated shampoos, there are natural ones available made with essential oils like rosemary, lemon, tea tree, peppermint, and lavender. These cleanse grease flakes effectively and revitalize drained scalps, leaving you feeling refreshed again without any harsh chemicals present in some products.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

When to See a Healthcare Provider
If you’re not seeing any improvement in your scalp health after trying home remedies, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider. A professional can help identify underlying conditions that may be causing or exacerbating the issue, such as allergies or environmental factors.

They will also take into account other scalp symptoms such as itching, burning, and redness, which could indicate an infection or inflammation of the skin.

Your doctor may also recommend diet changes if they believe dietary choices are contributing to smelly scalp issues and suggest hair care products that don’t contain harmful chemicals like sulfates and parabens, which can lead to buildup on the scalp over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long Does a Smelly Scalp Last?

A smelly scalp can last for weeks or months, depending on the cause. It’s time to take control and understand what will help you find freedom — from using healthy shampoos to making lifestyle changes, you have the power to alleviate your symptoms and restore balance.

What Lifestyle Changes Can Help Reduce Smelly Scalp?

To reduce smelly scalp, make lifestyle changes like adjusting your diet to cut out foods that worsen the smell and finding the right washing frequency for you. Track your scalp health – itching, burning, and redness are signs of an unhealthy one.

Is Smelly Scalp Contagious?

Smelly scalp is not contagious, but it can be triggered by a number of factors. Up to 50% of people suffer from an oily or smelly scalp at some point in their lives. Making lifestyle changes like balancing oil production and tracking diet can help reduce the issue.

What Ingredients Should Be Avoided in Shampoos for Smelly Scalp?

Avoid shampoos with sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and other harsh ingredients. Instead, opt for natural alternatives like apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil that nourish the scalp and reduce inflammation while leaving hair soft, shiny, and clean.

How Often Should I Shampoo When Dealing With Smelly Scalp?

Frequency of shampooing depends on various factors, such as scalp health, oil production, and lifestyle. Generally speaking, it’s best to find the right balance for your needs – over-washing can dry out the scalp while under-washing may lead to buildup.

Monitor signs like itching or redness, which indicate unhealthy scalps in need of more frequent washing.


From the right shampoo to lifestyle changes, this article has provided a comprehensive guide to dealing with a smelly scalp. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure, and this is certainly true when it comes to a smelly scalp.

Regularly tracking diet and hygiene habits, reducing product buildup, and using the right shampoo can go a long way in keeping a smelly scalp at bay.

For those with severe or persistent scalp health symptoms, it’s important to visit a healthcare provider and get the right diagnosis and treatment.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.