If you’re hunting down the best shampoos for smelly scalp relief, make sure to consider some very important things first: ingredients, mild and gentle, and deep cleansing. I made sure to look for the market’s current best of the best with these in mind, of course. I have my favorites listed and reviewed below just for you. If you want to find out what made the list, go ahead and read along now!
I sweat a lot throughout the day – either from the hot weather or from my daily workout routine. On the worst days, my scalp either itches or smells. A good old cold shower to wash my hair is always a good way to start my day.
I know how important hair care is. And a huge part of hair care lies hugely on the products used. Personally, I take into very careful consideration the products I use on my hair – from shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, to styler.
For specific concerns like unpleasant scalp smell, not all shampoos might do the trick. For the best ones yet, I’ve got you covered below!
What Causes a Smelly Scalp?
Smelly and stinky scalps can be caused by a number of reasons. Below are some of the most common causes:
Under or over washing
Both under or over washing your hair can cause a smelly scalp.
One of the more common causes of a smelly scalp is under washing. When you don’t wash your hair enough, you allow smell and product to build up on your scalp. When there is excess build up of a combination of oil, sweat, and product build up, it produces unpleasant odor. Frequently washing your hair is especially important if you have oily hair and scalp. For most people washing hair every 2 to 3 days is adequate.
Just as under washing can cause a smelly scalp, so does over washing. When you over wash your hair, this can strip off your scalp’s natural oils. When these necessary oils are stripped off, your scalp will overproduce natural oils to compensate for the dryness. This then leads to odor as well.
Smelly Hair Syndrome
Smelly Hair Syndrome or SHS is when sweat glands produce too much oil, causing excess sweat on the scalp. When there is too much oil and sweat on the scalp, it can also lead to an unpleasant smell. SHS causes hair and scalp to smell pungent even right after a shower.
If this is the root cause of your smelly scalp concern, a visit to the dermatologist is recommended.
What you eat on a daily basis greatly influences the way that your scalp smells. The strong odor in the food you eat can correlate to the pungent smell on your scalp. While it might fade after a while, it still affects how you smell so you might want to control the smelly food you eat.
Our Top Picks for the Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalp
|Product Image||Product Name||Price|
|Our Pick||Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo||Check Price|
|Best Cooling Scalp Relief||Biolage ScalpSync Cooling Mint Shampoo||Check Price|
|Best Weekly Shampoo Treatment||Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo||Check Price|
|Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo||Check Price|
|OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Tea Tree Mint Shampoo||Check Price|
The Best Shampoo for Smelly Scalp
1. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo – Our Pick!
Our number one pick for best shampoo for smelly scalps is the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo! A special tea tree formula, this is an invigorating and refreshing cleansing shampoo. This works to deeply cleanse and get rid of oil, buildup, and impurities to leave hair and scalp clean and refreshed.
Formulated with a blend of tea tree, peppermint, and lavender – famously known as the Tingle Complex – this leaves behind a cooling and tingling sensation on the scalp. This leaves you feeling refreshingly clean throughout the day. This sensation also offers a great relief for itchy scalp, soothing irritation along the way.
By getting rid of oil, buildup, and impurities right from the scalp, this works to get rid of that stinky smell, and keeps it that way for the rest of the day. This leaves hair and scalp feeling extra clean and healthy.
Its blend of special ingredients also leave behind a fresh and invigorating scent perfect for aromatherapy in the morning. This smells fresh and leaves hair smelling great while masking the foul odor many suffer with.
Every time you wash your hair with this, you can expect hair that is silky soft, extra light and clean, and more manageable than ever. This is an especially good shampoo option for those with oily hair. This is color-safe as well. It’s been formulated without parabens and is vegan.
The one common downside many shared about this is the poor packaging and specifically poor pump that doesn’t seem to work.
- Deeply cleans scalp and hair
- Cooling and tingling sensation
- Gets rid of smelly scalp
- Fresh and invigorating scent
- Hair is soft, light, and manageable
- Color-safe and vegan formula without parabens
- Poor packaging and bottle pump
2. Biolage ScalpSync Cooling Mint Shampoo – Best Cooling Scalp Relief!
If what you’re looking for in your next shampoo is some cooling scalp relief on top of getting rid of a smelly scalp, you might want to consider the Biolage ScalpSync Cooling Mint Shampoo! With its refreshing cooling sensation, this wakes the scalp up and leaves behind a refreshing sensation to last you throughout the day.
Formulated with anti-bacterial mint leaves, this has superb calming properties for the scalp. This offers instant relief for itchy, oily, and irritated scalp and hair. This is an especially good shampoo option for oily hair as it works to balance the scalp and strands for optimal health.
A deep cleansing shampoo as well, this removes excess oil, dirt, debris, and impurities from the scalp and hair. This leaves you feeling extra clean from the scalp to the tips of your hair. As it clarifies scalp, it keeps grease and oil at bay. By taking control of the scalp’s excess oil production, this also gets rid of the unwanted foul odor.
This promises to leave hair and scalp feeling refreshingly clean all over. You can expect hair that is clean, soft, and fresh to last you throughout the day. This also gets rid of that heavy weight of products and residues on your hair. Instead, this gives hair a beautiful bounce and volume.
Thanks to the mint leaves in its pool of ingredients, this also leaves behind a minty and cool scent during and well after you shower. Keep in mind though that this is on the expensive side but many people felt that this is worth every penny.
- Refreshing, cooling scalp relief
- Anti-bacterial and calming
- Removes excess oil, dirt, and impurities
- Keeps oil at bay
- Gets rid of bad odor
- Hair has bounce and volume
3. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo – Best Weekly Shampoo Treatment!
If what you’re looking for is a weekly shampoo treatment to get rid of unpleasant scalp smell, you better check out the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo! Designed as a once a week shampoo treatment, this helps remove up to 90% of heavy buildup. This helps your regular hair products work better.
A gentle and non-irritating clarifying shampoo, this cleanses deep within hair and scalp and washes away dirt, excess oil, build up, and impurities. This is a mild formula and gentle enough for sensitive scalps and even for color-treated hair. By getting rid of heavy build up most shampoos can’t, this leaves you feeling lighter than ever.
By scraping away stubborn dirt and build up from your scalp, this gives hair and scalp a completely new slate. You can trust this to not only get rid of impurities but to also get rid of smelly hair and scalp brought about by buildup and excess oil.
Because your hair feels much lighter with all the dirt and excess oil removed, this boosts bounce and volume for more beautiful-looking strands. You can also expect shinier hair that looks and feels overall healthier than ever.
With regular, weekly use, this works to keep scalp healthy and gets rid of flakes as well. The shampoo is a totally clear formula and makes no use of artificial dyes or colorants.
If used more than intended, this can be drying on hair. Some also reported what seems like a more chemical scent as you wash your hair with this.
- Weekly shampoo treatment
- Gets rid of heavy dirt and oil build up
- Helps hair products work better
- Removes smelly odor
- Gives hair volume and shine
- No dyes or colorants
- Drying if used too often
- Chemical scent
Our next favorite shampoo for smelly scalps is the Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo! An absolute favorite purifying shampoo among many, this works to cleanse and clarify excess oil, dirt, build up, and impurities from your hair and scalp.
A degreasing shampoo, this is a great shampoo option for those with oily hair. You can trust this to keep excess oil on both scalp and hair at bay. This works to strip excess oil and grease away from your hair. By doing so, this prevents the scalp from going smelly ever again.
Even though it removes excess oil, it keeps the essentials and doesn’t dry out hair at all. This, instead, gives hair more volume and bounce. This locks in essential moisture so hair is silky soft without all the oil and greasy weighing the strands down. This also prevents the scalp from itching and ever getting irritated. You can expect much healthier scalp and hair with regular use of this one.
This is formulated without parabens, phthalates, and sulfates, This is also vegan, cruelty-free, and is gentle enough to use even on color-treated hair.
Formulated with natural and pure lemon, rosemary, and cypress oils, this has a very aromatic scent to it. While it masks scalp odor, it also leaves hair smelling good while in the shower and some time after your shower. It has a more subtle and natural scent to it.
Though many are fans of the scent, not all are. Some found it a weird scent during application so it definitely isn’t for everyone.
- Cleanses dirt, build up, and impurities
- Keeps oil and grease at bay
- Prevents scalp odor
- Hair volume and bounce without greasy weight
- Aromatic and natural scent
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Scent isn’t for everyone
And the last item to make it into our list of the best shampoos for smelly scalps is the OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp + Tea Tree Mint Shampoo! A deep cleansing shampoo, this works to clean and remove excess oil, dirt, build up, and impurities from your scalp without ever stripping away essential oil and moisture.
Formulated with an invigorating blend of tea tree oil, peppermint, and witch hazel, this gives the scalp a cooling, tingling sensation that is sure to refresh you all over. The blend of tea tree and peppermint also gives the shampoo an aromatic scent that is sure to wake your senses up. The minty aroma also stays with you a while after your shower.
For those with much oilier scalp and hair, you can expect immediate results even after only one use. This gets rid of build up and dirt while also keeping the oiliness and grease at bay and under control. This also works to provide much-needed relief for irritated and itchy scalps. This for sure will feel good on scalps and will keep it that way until your next wash.
With regular use, this promises to leave hair soft, shiny, and well-hydrated.
This has been formulated without parabens, sulfates, and surfactants. This is gentle and mild enough for sensitive scalps and even color-treated hair. The only drawback to this is that some users find this not to be as strong as other tea tree shampoos in the market.
- Deeply cleans without stripping
- Cool, tingling sensation
- Minty aroma stays on for a while
- Keeps oil and grease at bay
- Relief for irritated and itchy scalp
- Hydrated, shiny, and soft hair
- Not as strong as others
Other Ways to Relieve Smelly Scalp
Special formula shampoo
One of the best ways to combat a smelly scalp is finding and incorporating a special formula shampoo into your hair care routine. These specially-formulated shampoos work to get rid of excess oil, dirt, build up, and impurities – some of the more common causes of a smelly scalp.
If you haven’t found the right shampoo for you yet, check out our list above.
Essential oils are another effective and simple home remedy you can turn to to prevent smelly scalps. Essential oils can help soothe and calm irritated, itchy, and dry scalps. They also tone down dandruff, flakes, and combat foul odor on the scalp.
Some popular essential oil choices for smelly scalps include tea tree oil, lemongrass, and peppermint. You can use each individually or mix all three into one blend for maximum effects.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar or ACV is known for its antimicrobial properties. This makes it an effective way to fight against foul scalp odor.
With ACV, keep in mind to only use it sparingly as excessive use can be drying on the skin and scalp.
How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Smelly Scalp
As with any product that comes in contact with your skin, it’s very important that you check on a shampoo’s list of ingredients. First, you have to make sure that the shampoo you’re considering only has good and clean ingredients. You don’t want anything in that pool of ingredients that you’re allergic to or that can worsen your scalp’s condition.
Also consider these ingredients that are good for smelly scalps:
- salicylic acid
- zinc pyrithione
- selenium sulfide
Mild and gentle
Next, look for a shampoo formula that is mild and gentle. You don’t want to get an aggressive shampoo formula to treat smelly scalps. This can only lead to stripping away your scalp’s essential oils and moisture, leading to dryness and irritation. You don’t ever want to sacrifice healthy hair and scalp for the sake of getting rid of the smell. Good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice one over the other – with the right shampoo.
Make sure to get a shampoo that will not dry your strands as well. Instead, look for moisturizing shampoos that imparts nourishments and leaves hair silky soft and healthy.
In getting rid of the scalp’s foul odor, you want to make sure to get your hands on a deep cleansing shampoo formula. Oftentimes, smelly scalps are caused by excess oil, dirt, build up, and impurities on the scalp that regular shampoos can’t get rid of.
A deep cleansing shampoo should be able to strip away these build up and impurities, while also getting rid of the odor. Then again, keep in mind that though a shampoo deeply cleans, it shouldn’t also strip away essential oil and moisture.
Smelly scalps are normal – but that doesn’t mean we have to simplylive with it. With the right shampoo, anyone can finally say goodbye to that issue.
Our number one pick for the best shampoo for smelly scalps is the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo! A special tea tree formula shampoo, this works to deeply cleanse hair and scalp to get rid of dirt and impurities. This also has a cool, tingling sensation as you work this on the scalp on top of getting rid of unwanted scalp odor. This leaves hair soft, light, and more manageable than ever.
If what you’re looking for in your next smelly scalp shampoo is cooling scalp relief, you better check out the Biolage ScalpSync Cooling Mint Shampoo! With each use, your scalp receives a refreshing and cooling sensation perfect for calming itchy and irritated scalps. This controls excess oil production on the scalp while also addressing scalp odor.
And our top weekly shampoo treatment pick for smelly scalps is the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo! Designed as a weekly treatment shampoo, this works to remove up to 90% of heavy buildup that can often lead to a foul odor. It also helps your regular hair products work better for far superior results.
And that has been our favorite smelly scalp shampoos list! Here’s to your healthy and beautiful locks!