How to Make Your Hair Smell Good All Day, Every Day

How to Make Your Hair Smell Good All Day, Every Day

Beauty creator Lesley Buckle with a short, naturally curly hairstyle


In This Article

Add a Fragrant Oil Avoid Cigarettes Use Scented Styling Products Use a Hair Fragrance Wash Your Hair Regularly Rule Out Medical Issues

You’re probably well aware that if you want to smell good, your personal hygiene routine is key, plus spritzing on a favorite fragrance can give you that extra boost. But what about your hair? Your strands also carry an aroma of their own, reflecting the products you use, how recently you’ve washed it, and various environmental factors. While there is some crossover between making your hair and body smell good every day, there’s also guidance specifically with your strands in mind. We spoke with a hairstylist and a dermatologist to bring you five key tips to improve the smell of your hair. Read on to learn exactly how to make your hair smell good every day, from daily routine upgrades to factors you may not have considered.

Meet the Expert

  • Evalyn Denis is a Los Angeles-based hairstylist and braiding specialist who has worked with the likes of Solange and Nia Sioux.
  • Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, is a board-certified dermatologist and the medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology in San Francisco.

01 of 06

Add a Fragrant Oil

If you’re looking for a scent boost, try oiling your scalp, or your hair… or even both. Essential oils can make your hair smell lovely, and Denis suggests them as a way to get your best-smelling hair. “Essential oils are great to add to hair for many reasons,” she says. “Scented hair oils are amazing, and I choose them based on my mood or needs.”

As for what scents to choose, that's up to you. "I especially love peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and orange scents," Denis tells us. She recommends essential oils for use on both your scalp and hair, but just be sure that a product is formulated for wherever you use it—there are great-smelling refreshing mists for hair, plus anti-pollution sprays that contain essential oils.

02 of 06

Avoid Cigarettes

While you should avoid cigarettes for your overall health most importantly, cigarette smoke can also leave an odor on the hair. If you're a smoker yourself, you may not realize just how serious the smell is—and how deeply it can get into your hair. "Hair is super absorbent, so getting any odors, especially smoke, out of your hair is really difficult," explains hairstylist and braiding specialist Evalyn Denis. "The best and easiest way is to shampoo and condition hair. If you don’t have time or access to a shower, you can try sectioning your hair and using dry shampoo, making sure to rub it into your scalp.”

03 of 06

Use Scented Styling Products

While shampoo and conditioner both rinse out of the hair, styling products such as mousse, gel, and leave-in conditioner stay in the hair. That means any scent in those products will linger on your hair until you wash it. If you’re all about making your hair smell good, look for products with a rich scent you love (when it comes to fragrance, we’re big fans of Sol de Janeiro’s haircare).

04 of 06

Use a Hair Fragrance

If your hair isn't smelling its loveliest, you may be tempted to spritz some perfume onto your strands for a quick fix. Unfortunately, that isn't a good idea, so you should avoid it. Perfume is made for your skin (not your hair), and some ingredients can cause damage—for example, the alcohol in most formulas can be drying.

“Perfume should not be the answer to bad-smelling hair, as it can actually dry out your strands,” Denis says. “There are enough products meant specifically for hair that smell incredible, [so] it’s really not necessary.” Instead, opt for a hair-specific product with an aroma you love—this can mean your shampoo and conditioner, various sprays, mousses, and creams, and/or a hair fragrance.

05 of 06

Wash Your Hair Regularly

There are many differing opinions on how often you should wash your hair. Some camps say to do so as rarely as possible so that you’re keeping your natural scalp oils intact and they can coat your hair, while others say to wash as often as you can to avoid any buildup. If your priority is making your hair smell extra good every day, more frequent often is better. Board-certified dermatologist Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, explains that “odor occurs in the skin, scalp, or hair when bacteria collects on the skin. Washing the hair and scalp to remove oils, dirt, and bacteria can help prevent odor from accumulating.”

As for how often you should wash your hair to prevent odor, it may be less frequent than you'd think. “I don’t recommend washing hair daily," Denis says. "Two to three times a week is a good protocol to keep hair healthy and smelling great.”

These 14 Shampoos Are Our Good Hair Day Secrets 06 of 06

Rule Out Medical Issues

Above all else, it’s important that you’re sure you aren’t experiencing bad-smelling hair or scalp because of a medical problem. Evans explains that “conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis (intense dandruff) can have an odor.” If you’re concerned that your hair isn’t smelling its best due to a medical problem, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. They can help you discern what’s going on and fix the problem itself rather than just temporarily covering up the odor.

The Final Takeaway

Getting your best-smelling hair may take a little TLC, but the steps are pretty easy to follow. You'll want to avoid cigarettes, wash your hair two to three times a week, and try using hair fragrance or products with essential oils. If these steps don't work or you're worried that you may have a medical problem causing hair odor, see your doctor to get to the root of the issue. Once you have your routine established and have addressed any underlying issues, your hair is sure to smell amazing every day in no time.

The 7 Best-Smelling Hair Oils


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply