Home Hair 7 Best Shampoos For A Stinky Scalp

7 Best Shampoos For A Stinky Scalp

by Gabbi

Hair can be quite difficult to maintain and keep in good condition. While we spend a lot of time getting our hair right, we don’t always focus on our scalp. For a few different reasons, you might have noticed a bad smell coming from your scalp, or suffer from this daily.

Having a smelly scalp is more common than you think, and there are some treatments on the market that can help eliminate the odor and still keep your scalp and hair healthy and clean. Many people can get rid of a stinky scalp with a simple hair wash, but for others, extra help is needed.

What is the best shampoo for stinky scalp? The best shampoo for stinky scalp will contain the right ingredients to reduce any inflammation, bacteria, or extra oil, and take your scalp back to a normal, healthy state. It also helps if the shampoo has a light fragrance, to keep your scalp smelling great for longer.

It can be difficult deciding on the right shampoo to use for a stinky scalp. You want to choose one which is effective, but which won’t irritate your scalp further. Here is how to choose a good stinky scalp shampoo, and which are the best to choose from!

Buyer’s Guide – Shampoo For A Stinky Scalp

There are quite a few reasons why you might battle with a stinky scalp. From infrequent hair washing to a smelly scalp condition, it can be difficult to find the product that is right for you.

Below is what you need to look for when choosing a shampoo to use for a stinky scalp, to ensure that it helps give you fresh, delightful smelling hair, and a healthier scalp as well. Make sure the shampoo you choose ticks all the right boxes!

Removes Buildup

There can be a lot of buildup of skin cells, oil, and product on your scalp. This buildup goes a long way to produce an unpleasant odor, so you need a shampoo that you can use to remove this buildup and leave your scalp clear.

Dandruff Removal

If you suffer from stinky scalp, you might find that you have dandruff as well. A shampoo that helps to remove dandruff and stinky scalp is always great, and works to eliminate two problems in one go!

Gentle Ingredients

You really do not want to use a shampoo that is going to irritate your scalp further. Make sure that the shampoo you choose to use for stinky scalp does not have any harmful or irritating chemicals. It should use gentle, soothing ingredients that care for your skin, not irritate it.

Pleasant Smell

With a bad-smelling scalp, you would want a shampoo that adds a nice scent to your scalp and hair. Try to choose a product with a natural, light scent, not something that is heavy and over-perfumed.

Some perfumes and aromas might contain strong ingredients, and it best to stay away from these to not irritate your scalp further.

Color-Processed Friendly

If you color your hair, it pays to find a stinky scalp shampoo that is suitable to be used on color-processed hair. You do not want the shampoo to strip the color from your hair!

7 Best Shampoos For A Stinky Scalp

Here are the best shampoos to use for stinky scalp. They will not only clear and soothe your scalp, but they will care for your hair as well!

RankShampoo BrandFeatured Ingredients
1.Biolage Cooling Mint Scalpsync ShampooInvigorating menthol
2.Redken Detox Hair Cleansing CreamAHA fruit acid
3. OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp & Tea Tree Mint ShampooTea tree oil, peppermint extract, witch hazel
4.Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue ShampooLicorice root, coltsfoot leaf, yarrow
5.Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength Therapeutic ShampooCoal tar extract
6.Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend ShampooColloidal oatmeal extract, vinegar
7.Home Health Everclean Anti-Dandruff ShampooAloe vera gel, chamomile, grapefruit seed extract
BonusDenorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff ShampooCoal tar solution, menthol

1. Biolage Cooling Mint Scalpsync Shampoo

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Biolage has utilized the anti-bacterial and calming properties of mint leaf to create this cooling, cleansing shampoo that helps to gently remove excess oil from the scalp and hair, and give a refreshing, cooling sensation that reinvigorates.

Awakening the senses with a refreshing sensation, the shampoo helps to cleanse excess oil and remove buildup from the hair and scalp, soothing any irritation as it cleans. The buildup of oil, skin cells, and products can contribute to smelly scalp, so having this removed effectively removes any bad odors as well.

The shampoo has a great lather that helps you to cover all areas of your hair and scalp, with a little bit of the Scalpsync shampoo going a long way.

You are able to use the shampoo on color-treated hair, and anyone can use the shampoo thanks to the unisex, fresh scent.

2. Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream

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It’s time to kiss a stinky scalp and dull hair goodbye! Redken has the perfect shampoo to rid your head of damaging buildup and reveal clean, soothed skin and shiny, healthy hair.

If you struggle not only with odor but also with excess oil, this shampoo will help clear it all away and manage oil production.

This formula deeply cleanses hair at the root and instantly clarifies and strengthens your hair cuticles.

While you may think that a clarifying shampoo would strip your hair of all its natural oils and leave it dry, that’s not the case with Redken. You’ll be left with incredibly soft and luxurious locks!

2. OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Scalp & Tea Tree Mint Shampoo

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The Tea Tree Mint Shampoo from OGX deeply cleanses the hair with a burst of freshness and helps to clear and treat the scalp. Mint and witch hazel work to invigorate the scalp, removing any buildup, and providing nourishment.

The shampoo works to remove residue and buildup without stripping any natural oil from the strands, allowing your hair to stay healthy and nourished after washing. 

With a light minty tingly sensation, your scalp will be invigorated and refreshed. The lightweight shampoo delivers a long-lasting clean that keeps your scalp smelling better for longer, and which leaves hair soft, hydrated, and healthy.

The natural formula of the shampoo is infused with tea tree oil to nourish the scalp, peppermint extract to give the shampoo a fresh and delightful aroma, and witch hazel to remove buildup and provide extra nutrients for the scalp.

Not only does the scalp treatment work wonders to cleanse and nourish the scalp, but it will keep your hair and scalp smelling fresh for an extended period. It is paraben-free and sulfate-free, so it will be gentle on your skin and hair.

3. Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Shampoo

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Made to help with sensitive and problematic scalps, the Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Shampoo is essential to keep at home!

The shampoo was formulated with the perfect pH level to reduce the risk of cuticle damage and fiber breakage and leaves you with a healthy, clear scalp and strong, manageable hair.

Using a superior mix of botanical extracts, vitamins, and essential oils,  the formula helps to treat your scalp and hair at the same time, while giving them both the attention and care they need.

The herbal infusion and botanicals assist with dry, itchy, flaky, and smelly scalp, and removes any dandruff. The shampoo is also effective at controlling psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Containing natural and organic ingredients, the shampoo is safe for all hair types, and is safe to be used on color-treated hair as well. The whole family can benefit from the shampoo as well, as it is safe to use from the age of 6 months and up!

Being free from sulfates, silicones, parabens, DEA, TEA, propylene, glycol, and ethoxylated ingredients, as well as harsh detergents found in normal shampoos, it is gentle and caring on your skin and hair, but still effective at removing unwanted odors and keeping your scalp healthy!

4. Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength Therapeutic Shampoo

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The Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength Therapeutic Shampoo contains coal tar extract, which helps to tackle persistent symptoms of flaky, itchy, and smelly scalps.

As an anti-dandruff shampoo, it helps to remove any excess buildup on the scalp and offers relief to redness, itchiness, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, bad odors, and dandruff.

The extra-strength formula contains a 1% coal tar extract, which is an ingredient that has been proven to deliver scalp therapy for healthy scalp and hair. The shampoo is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation for its effectiveness.

While it is an extra-strength formula, it is still gentle enough for everyday use, and you will notice a difference in your scalp and hair after the first wash. One wash is all you need to have lasting effects, and reduce symptoms, for an entire week.

The alcohol-free formula gives lasting relief from day one, effectively controlling odors, redness, and itchiness, caused by various scalp conditions. It is a therapeutic shampoo that nourishes and cleanses the scalp, leaving your hair smelling great and feeling healthy too!

5. Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo

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When using a shampoo for smelly scalps, you want one which will give shine and volume to your hair as well, and that is exactly what the Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo does! 

Using the main ingredient of colloidal oat extract, the shampoo soothes the scalp and offers comfort and clarity. The apple cider vinegar added in helps to clarify the scalp, removing buildup, and adding shine and volume to dull hair.

The clarifying bend cleanses from root to tip, and is free from sulfates, dyes, and parabens, so it is safe for all hair types, and even safe to use on color-treated hair.

A perfectly blended formula contains only wholesome ingredients to soothe and nourish from your scalp to your hair and removes any excess oil, dead skin cells, and products that could contribute to an unpleasant smell. The shampoo gives your hair a fresh, delightful aroma once washed as well, further helping to combat stinky scalp!

6. Home Health Everclean Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

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This gentle shampoo from Everclean helps to reduce flaking and scaling, and removes unpleasant odors, and works to reduce the symptoms associated with psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, helping to reduce any unpleasant smells from the scalp!

With a gentle, nourishing formula, the shampoo contains salicylic acid, aloe vera, natural pine tar, vitamin A and vitamin D, all of which help to clear buildup, provide hydration and care, and treat any smells.

Soothing and improving the condition of your scalp and hair, the gentle extracts of chamomile, henna, hops, nettle, horsetail, and rosemary are all-natural and caring on the skin.

Free from parabens, phthalates, and artificial colors, the shampoo is fine to use on all hair types, and is suitable to be used by both vegans and vegetarians.

Bonus Product: Denorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo

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The Denorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo contains some of the highest levels of coal tar that you can get without needing a prescription, offering you easy access to one of the most effective scalp treatment products at home.

The shampoo penetrates deep to relieve itching and flaking and removes any causes of odors. Not only does it remove these during a wash, but it helps to stop the symptoms from returning. 

You are able to use this as a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, as the formula is enriched with provitamin B5 to give hair shine and body, as you would expect when using a conditioner.

The shampoo and conditioner blend contains cooling and soothing menthol that gives your scalp a tingling feeling, invigorating your skin and providing a fresh, menthol scent that lasts well past the first wash!

What Causes Stinky Scalp?

There is no one set reason that causes stinky scalp. It could be caused from a variety of issues or a combination of a few. Understanding why your scalp has an unpleasant odor really goes a long way to help you treat the root of the problem.

Here is what might be causing your scalp to smell:

Infrequent Washing

You need to wash your hair often enough to remove any excess dead skin cells, oils, and products. These could become trapped in your scalp and cause a bad odor! 

This is a common cause of a smelly scalp for those who have oily hair, as there is a rapid buildup of oil over a shorter period of time. You should aim to wash your hair every two to three days to maintain the correct pH balance.


Just as you can under-wash your hair, over-washing it can cause bad odors as well. If you wash your hair too often, you strip it of its natural oils, which are beneficial for your hair and scalp. If you strip these away too often, your skin might overcompensate and produce more oil than it needs to.

This then leads to a bad odor as well! Do not wash your hair every day!

Smelly Hair Syndrome

Yes, this is a real thing! Smelly hair syndrome, or SHS, is when your oil and sweat glands are hyperactive and cause too much oil and sweat to be present on the scalp, which leads t bad odors.

While shampoo made for stinky scalps could help with this, it might call for a visit to the dermatologist. You would know that SHS is a possibility if your hair still smells bad after washing it.

Various Skin Conditions

If you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis, your scalp could suffer a buildup of dead skin cells and oil, and once again this could lead to an unfortunate smell. Treating these with appropriate shampoos really does help!


Your diet can lead to a smelly scalp! Strong-odor foods can cause your scalp to have an off smell, but this does fade after a while.

Related Questions

What is a natural way to get rid of stinky scalp?

To naturally remove stinky scalp if you do not have the right shampoo at home, you could mix in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into coconut oil or almond oil. Massage this into your scalp and leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

What does it mean if my scalp is smelly?

A bad odor from your scalp can be a result of bacterial activity. You always have bacteria on your scalp, and excess oil gives these bacteria exactly what they need to grow and thrive. This then gives off a foul odor that needs to be treated with medicated shampoo.

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