Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt?

Hair is a fascinating part of our body, often seen as a symbol of beauty and personal style. However, there are times when we encounter strange situations with our hair that leave us puzzled. One such situation is when we smell something akin to burnt hair while styling it. This can be quite alarming, as it suggests that something is not quite right.

Imagine this: you’re getting ready for a big event, your outfit is perfect, and now it’s time to style your hair. You plug in your hair straightener or curling iron, and as you start to style, you notice a distinct, unpleasant smell. It’s the smell of burnt hair. This is not only off-putting but also a sign that your hair might be suffering from damage.

Reasons for the Burnt Hair Smell

Burnt Hair Smell reasons

Over-Processing with Chemicals

One of the main reasons for the burnt hair smell is over-processing with chemicals. Hair dyes, bleach, perms, and other chemical treatments can cause significant damage to your hair. These chemicals can strip away the natural oils and proteins that protect your hair, leaving it vulnerable to damage.

When hair is overprocessed, the chemicals used can break down the protein bonds in your hair. This process releases sulfur, which has a distinct, unpleasant smell often likened to burnt hair.

Excessive Heat-Styling

Another common cause of the burnt hair smell is excessive heat styling. Just like chemical processing, heat can also break down the protein bonds in your hair, releasing sulfur and causing that burnt hair smell.

Using high heat settings on your styling tools, not using a heat protectant, or keeping the heat on your hair for too long can all contribute to this problem. These practices can cause your hair to overheat, leading to the breakdown of proteins and the release of sulfur.

Combination of Chemical and Heat Damage

In some cases, the burnt hair smell can be a result of a combination of both chemical processing and heat styling. This double whammy can cause significant damage to your hair, making it more likely to release that unpleasant burnt smell.

Whether the damage is gradual from repeated exposure or sudden from a single intense session, the result can be the same: the breakdown of protein bonds and the release of sulfur. This can lead to a burnt hair smell, signaling that your hair needs some serious care and attention.

How to Get Rid of Burnt Hair Smell

Hair smell how to get rid

Apple Cider Vinegar and Shampoo Cleanse

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a natural remedy that can help remove the burnt hair smell. It works by preventing additional damage and sealing the cuticle layer of your hair. This helps to lock in moisture and protect your hair from further harm.

To use this method, mix equal parts ACV and shampoo. Apply this mixture to your hair, making sure to cover all the strands. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all the mixture is removed.

Essential Oil Spritz

Essential oils can also be used to mask the burnt hair smell. While this method doesn’t remove the smell, it can help to cover it up temporarily.

To create an essential oil spritz, mix warm water with a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s). Spray this mixture on your hair for a quick and easy solution.

Alcohol and Water Spritz

Alcohol can also help eliminate the burnt-hair smell. The alcohol works to neutralize odors, making it an effective solution.

To use vodka for this purpose, mix equal parts alcohol and water. Spray this mixture on your hair and allow it to evaporate. The smell should dissipate as the alcohol evaporates.

Baking Soda and Shampoo Cleanse

Baking Soda & Shampoo Cleanse for hair smell

Baking soda is another home remedy that can help to remove the burnt hair smell. However, it’s important to note that baking soda is highly alkaline and can cause damage to your hair if used too often.

To use baking soda, mix it with your regular shampoo. Apply this mixture to your hair and rinse thoroughly. This should help to neutralize the burnt-hair smell.

Preventing the Smell of Burnt Hair in the Future

1. Stop Using Hot Tools for a While

One of the best ways to avoid the burnt hair smell in the future is to stop using hot tools for a while. This will give your hair a chance to recover from any damage.

2. Pause on Chemical Processing

Similarly, taking a break from chemical processing can also help to prevent the burnt hair smell. This includes pausing on hair dyes, perms, and other chemical treatments.

3. Start Repairing Damage with Hair Masks

Hair masks can help repair damage and prevent the burnt hair smell. Look for masks that are specifically designed for damaged hair.

4. Switch to Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfate-free shampoos are gentler on your hair and can help to prevent damage. Making the switch can help to avoid the burnt hair smell in the future.

5. Switch to Damage-Reducing Tools

Many hair tools on the market are designed to reduce damage. These include hair dryers with ionic technology and straighteners with ceramic plates.

6. Use a Good Heat Protectant

Finally, always use a good heat protectant before styling your hair. This can help shield your hair from the damaging effects of heat and prevent the burnt hair smell.


In conclusion, the burnt hair smell is more than just an unpleasant odor; it’s a sign that your hair is suffering from damage. This damage can be caused by overprocessing with chemicals, excessive heat styling, or a combination of both. To effectively eliminate the smell, it’s crucial to address these root causes. This means taking steps to repair and protect your hair from further damage.

Similar Posts