Does Dry Shampoo Help with Smelly Hair?

April 29, 2022 3 min read

a woman holding a jar of dry shampoo and a makeup brush

While warm summer days are great for relaxing by the pool and camping under the stars, they’re admittedly not so great for dealing with scalp odor. Between hanging out in the sweltering heat, sitting around stinky campfires or simply walking from point A to point B, your hair is bound to get a little sweaty and smelly this summer. The good news? You can reduce this dreaded hair odor and maybe even prevent it altogether by using a good-quality dry shampoo powder.

Read on to find out what causes hair odor and how to use dry shampoo to keep your scalp and hair smelling fresh all summer long.

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What Causes Hair Odor?

Hair odor happens when the bacteria on your scalp come in contact with sweat. Like the skin on the body, the skin on the scalp contains thousands of sweat glands that release fluid (sweat) to keep you cool. Sweat by itself is entirely colorless and odorless. The pungent odor we smell is caused by bacteria breaking down sweat into odorous fatty acids.

In addition to sweat, the scalp contains glands that produce oil (sebaceous glands). Like sweat, oil has no odor, but becomes odorous as bacteria break it down.

Of course, your body’s natural processes aren’t the only thing that can cause a stinky scalp. If you work in a restaurant, live with someone who smokes or spend lots of time sitting around a campfire, your hair may start to absorb the smells around you. That’s because hair is porous and permeable, which means it traps pungent odors more easily.

Certain hair types are more susceptible to absorbing odors than others. For instance, curly and dry hair types tend to have more porous hair, so people with these hair types may be more likely to take on unwanted scents.

Does Dry Shampoo Help with Smelly Hair?

Yes, dry shampoo can help significantly with smelly hair. Dry shampoo formulas vary from brand to brand, but most contain starch as a key ingredient. Starch, a finely ground powder produced by plants, is super absorbent and combats malodor by soaking up the excess sweat and oil on the scalp before bacteria swoop in and break it down.

a woman holding a jar of dry shampoo against a tan background

Another way dry shampoo can help with smelly hair is by masking an unpleasant odor with fragrance. For instance, our eco-friendly dry shampoo contains natural and organic fragrances (rosemary, clary sage and geranium) to keep your hair smelling fresh and looking its best, minus the toxic chemicals or petroleum by-products.

How to Best Apply Dry Shampoo for a Fresher-Smelling Scalp 

Using dry shampoo to get unpleasant smells out of your hair isn’t complicated. In fact, it could be as simple as applying the product to your roots and waiting a few minutes before brushing the clumpy bits out of your hair. If the smell is particularly strong, though, you may want to consider using dry shampoo at night. The reason? Applying dry shampoo to your scalp at night gives the product all night long to soak up the oils and odor, leaving you with a fresher and cleaner-smelling mane in the morning.

In a similar vein, if your scalp tends to get stinky after a workout, you may want to try using dry shampoo before you hit the gym. That way, your dry shampoo has a head start on eliminating the sweat on your scalp.

When It’s Time to Wash

Lastly, don’t forget that dry shampoo is not a suitable replacement for actually washing your hair. If your hair is starting to smell and lifestyle choices aren’t to blame (i.e., hanging around a campfire or being in close proximity to a deep-fryer all day long), it could be a sign that you’re starting to get buildup in your hair. Buildup on the scalp — whether from oil and dead skin cells, hair care products or all three — can suffocate the follicle root, limiting growth and causing hair loss.

Don’t let it get to that point! Wash your hair regularly with a gentle shampoo (hint, hint: our solid shampoo bars) and use dry shampoo sparingly. Your hair and scalp will thank you for it!

a woman holding a jar of earthling co dry shampoo in front of a tree with blooming flowers

Treat Your Hair to Natural Ingredients 

While convenient for combating smelly hair, dry shampoo is usually loaded with problematic ingredients: butane, propane and isobutane, to name just a few. If you want a fresher, cleaner-smelling ’do without the toxic chemicals, treat your tresses to our natural dry shampoo. Available in light and dark tins, our natural dry shampoo is made with powerful, plant-based ingredients that are better for your hair, your body and the planet.

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