Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt Explained Causes & Solutions

Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt: Explained Causes & Solutions

First, why does my hair smell burnt?

The smell of burned hair can be caused by excessive chemical processing, excessive heat styling done without protection, or a combination of both types of damage. This can happen even if your hair never actually burns; in fact, burned hair is rarely the source of this horrifying scorched-smell odor. 

Stop using damaging practices and equipment as soon as you notice that your hair smells burnt. You must address the underlying cause if you notice the burning hair smell because it is a sure sign that your hair strands have been physically harmed.

Please continue reading so I can give you more specific information about why my hair smells burned.

Smells Like Burnt Hair

You probably recognize the smell of burning hair if you frequently use hot tools to style or control frizz in your hair. It smells bad, but it’s also a warning sign that you’re using the heat styling tool too much. After washing your hair, if the smell persists, you might have done serious harm. “You will burn the outer sections of the hair when you wrap a chunk of hair around extremely hot irons and either hold the hair there for a long time or repeatedly run the hot tool over the same area, according to James. “Your hair still smells like it’s on fire even when it’s clean because you burned the cuticle and molecules that make up the hair shaft.” She explains that prolonged, unprotected sun exposure can also cause your hair shaft to burn. The Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Color Velvetizer Leave-in with UV and Heat Protection is a heat-protective product that we advise using before going outside in the sun. 

Unfortunately, the burned smell won’t go away anytime soon once you’ve removed the protective layer of the cuticle that keeps hair healthy. “James asserts that the only way to fix the damage is to have it severed. “Because of this, it’s crucial to take good care of your hair and treat it with the same respect you do your face.”  

How Come My Hair Has A Burnt Smell? 

There is nothing else like the smell of burnt hair. It combines the odd aromas of burnt popcorn, a wet dog, and the unmistakably pleasant scent of sebum and human hair. 

Chemical Damage

The distinctive smell of burned hair can be caused by chemical damage to your strands. The naturally occurring sulfur in your hair escapes during any treatment that damages the protein bonds in your hair, as we previously mentioned.

This may cause the smell of burnt hair, especially if you’ve overprocessed your hair to the point of observable damage.

The type of chemical damage that results in the smell of burnt hair can be caused by over-processing your color, bleach, perm, or relaxer by letting it sit on for too long or by using too-strong chemicals for the job.

As well as processing already damaged hair, back-to-back processing is also a problem (for example, following a perm with a color or twice-daily bleaching). Even if you never use hot tools to dry or style your hair, the smell of burned hair can still linger after a chemical treatment. 

That’s because the source of the odor isn’t the act of heating and burning your hair – it’s the damage done to your hair when you do anything that breaks down those sulfur-containing protein bonds

Heat Damage

The smell of burnt hair you’re smelling in your strands could be the result of heat damage. When you heat-damage your hair, sulfur is released into your hair and the air around it because high temperatures cause the protein bonds in your hair that contain sulfur to break. 

Several factors can cause heat damage to your hair, but the following are the most common ones:

  • Using a heat setting that is too high for your hair
  • Not using a heat protectant before heat-styling
  • Leaving hot tools on your hair for too long

You put your hair at risk of heat damage if you use a flat iron, curling iron, or hair dryer at a temperature that is too high, use these appliances on your hair for longer than is necessary, don’t use a heat-protectant product before heat styling, or all of the aforementioned circumstances apply. 

The protein in your hair will physically break down at the extreme temperatures that most hot tools can reach, releasing a lot of sulfur in the process. You’ll be able to tell if that occurs because your mane will start to smell like burnt hair.

Chemical & Heat Damage Combination 

Your hair may frequently smell like burnt hair because of a combination of chemical and heat damage.

If you regularly attack your hair with harsh chemicals and infernally hot hair tools, it won’t be long before you’ve done enough damage to your hair to cause it to release sulfur fumes. 

This may take weeks, months, or years to develop gradually. Or it might all happen at once. How healthy your hair is to begin with will determine everything.

It may take months or years of intense heat styling or chemical treatments if your hair is very healthy and undamaged to cause enough damage to give off the burnt hair odor. But suppose your hair already has physical, chemical, or heat damage while still smelling fine.

By adding a new source of damage, such as getting a new color or using a new hot tool without heat protection, you can end up with burnt hair after just one damaging hair event and accelerate the damage process.

Imagine it as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Don’t know if your hair has already been damaged or not. Check out our concise guide to learn more: 6 Clearly Visible Signs of Damaged Hair.  

How To Get Rid Of A Burnt Hair Smell Fast

With the appropriate treatment, a persistent burnt hair smell can be eliminated. Continue reading to learn about some practical solutions to cover up the smell and give your hair a lovely scent. 

Baking Soda Shampoo Formula

Baking soda, also referred to as sodium bicarbonate, has absorbing qualities that make it an excellent odor-neutralizing substance. Most offensive odors are quickly eliminated when used at the proper concentration. This makes it an excellent way to get rid of the smell of burnt hair. 

How To Do A Baking Soda Wash

Use your shampoo after thoroughly mixing in a teaspoon of baking soda.

You can repeat the procedure if the potent smell does not fade after one wash. As both baking soda and shampoo can be drying to the hair, it is crucial to assess the condition of your hair after a wash with baking soda.

Apply a conditioner or deep conditioner to your hair if it feels dry to add moisture. 

Essential Oils

Numerous essential oils work wonders at disguising and even eliminating the smell of burnt hair. For any DIY enthusiast, this is the ideal solution. If you want your hair to smell good, use any of the following hair oils. 

  1. Lavender Oil
  2. Tea Tree Oil
  3. Peppermint Oil
  4. Ylang Ylang Oil
  5. Rosemary Oil 
  6. Lemon Oil
  7. Lemongrass Oil
  8. Frankincense Oil
  9. Rose Oil
  10. Cedarwood Oil
  11. Jasmine Oil
  12. Orange Oil

How To Use Essential Oils For Odor Elimination

By combining a few drops of the essential oil with water in a spray bottle (10–12 drops of oil per ounce of water is fine), you could use any of the natural oils mentioned above as a spritz. Spray the mixture on your hair after thoroughly shaking it. 

Another option is to mix a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil (like almond, coconut, or olive oil) and apply the resulting concoction to your hair and scalp with your fingers. Avoid overapplying to prevent overly shiny hair. 

Warning About Essential Oils

In case you’re new to essential oils, it’s crucial to note that you must dilute essential oils! Your skin and scalp may become inflamed if you use essential oils undiluted. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera not only works wonders at removing odors but also aids in repairing heat damage. 

Pick up an aloe vera leaf from a nearby plant nursery or buy pure aloe vera gel to try this odor-removing remedy. 

Make Your Own Aloe Vera Juice

Use the steps below to perform your own aloe vera treatment: 

  • To reveal the gel inside, slice the aloe vera leaf. Up until you’re left with a piece of aloe vera gel, keep cutting the leaf away. 
  • Throw the leaf fragments away. 
  • Add three drops of rosemary essential oil and five tablespoons of olive oil for flavor (the essential oil is optional). 
  • Pour the juice into a bottle or jar after thoroughly blending the mixture until it has a smooth consistency. We caution you against skipping the straining step because aloe vera pulp can be challenging to remove from hair. 

Apply The Aloe Vera Juice

Applying aloe vera juice to your hair at this time will help. 

  • Juice from aloe vera should be applied to hair. Make sure the mixture is all over the strands. 
  • The mixture should sit on the hair for 20 to 30 minutes while it is covered with a plastic bag or processing cap. 
  • Rinse the mixture with cool water. After this treatment, there’s no need to shampoo and condition your hair. 

Each of these treatments is simple to try and doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. To permanently eliminate the smell of burned hair, try one or more of these remedies. 

Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt Explained Causes & Solutions
Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt: Explained Causes & Solutions

How To Avoid The Burnt Hair Smell In The Future

Why does my hair smell burned? is the first question you posed.” Now that you know the causes of the smell of burned hair (chemical, heat, or a combination of both), you can also find out how to get rid of the odor once it has started to linger in your hair. 

How can you prevent this from happening to your hair ever again? Let’s discuss:

Take A Break From Using Hot Tools

It’s time to put away the hot tools for a while once you’ve noticed the burnt smell in your hair. To get your hair back on track, try to air dry it for at least 2 weeks without using any heat styling tools. Even if you typically use a heat protectant, you can repair the damage more quickly and make sure the odor doesn’t return once you stop regularly damaging your hair with heat styling. 

Activate The Processing’s Pause Button

You should stop all processing for a month or two to give your hair a break if you want to stop the burnt smell from moving back into your mane. This includes any coloring, highlights, perms, relaxers, or bleaching sessions. You can concentrate on repairing the damage and nourishing your hair to restore its health once you stop causing chemical damage and aren’t using hot tools every day. 

Use Hair Masks To Start Repairing The Harm

Nutritious moisturizers and strengthening ingredients are found in damage-repairing hair masks, which replenish and repair damaged hair. See our top 3 hair mask picks for damaged hair in our guide, and find out how to make your own by following the instructions: 3 Products That Slay & Homemade Recipe for Hair Mask for Damaged Hair When you resume using hot tools and chemical treatments as part of your routine, the more damage you can repair, the less likely it is that you will once again smell like burnt hair. 

Use Sulfate-free Shampoo Instead

Shampoo without sulfates is the best choice for any type of damaged hair. Change to a sulfate-free shampoo and use it consistently if you want to significantly reduce the harm you’re doing to your hair and get back on the right track to never again having burnt hair smell. Try various varieties until you find one you like. With these gentle shampoos, massage and lather a bit more for best results! 

Use Tools That Cause Less Damage

If you simply do not want to live an airless life, you must alter your hot tool lineup. Choose more expensive appliances with built-in damage reduction technology, such as the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, which regulates heat to prevent burning or overheating your hair. The Dyson Airwrap only reaches a maximum temperature of 302 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to straighten, wave, or curl your hair without risking heat damage.  

Pick Up A Reliable Heat Shield

Heat protection shields your hair from burning and release of sulfur compounds that give off an offensive burnt-hair odor. Purchase a reliable heat shield that offers protection at temperatures as high as 450 degrees. Because it’s simple to apply sprays evenly throughout the hair, we like them.

Heat Affects Your Hair

You may have changed the hydrogen bonds in your hair cortex and temporarily changed the shape of your hair if you frequently use heat to style your hair.

The harm caused by heat doesn’t end there, though. Continuously applying heat to your hair causes all of the moisture to evaporate, essentially drying it out.

If your hair smells burnt after curling or straightening, the other layers have also been impacted. The cortex and cuticle both require moisture. You run the risk of losing your hair’s elasticity, strength, and texture without the moisture.

Once the cuticle is damaged, it can no longer serve as a protective layer because the raised shingles create pores that allow complete access to the innermost layer of hair. Consequently, more damage can be done by the heat’s increased penetration.

On both natural and colored hair, heat damage can result in the oxidization of the pigment. This would cause hair color to fade, especially if it was already damaged. The reason you need a redye so frequently may be the cause of your colored hair still smelling burnt after washing.

The Smell Of Burned Hair Sound

It’s difficult to miss the smell of burning hair. A sulfurous smell is released when hair burns, primarily because of the keratin in the hair. Cysteines, an amino acid with sulfur, are abundant in keratin.

The smell of burnt hair is also present in hooves, nails, and tortoise shells when they are ignited because these materials also contain keratin. Burnt hair has an unpleasant odor that lingers in the nostrils for days.

How Long Does The Smell Of Burned Hair Linger?

How much heat damage there has been will determine how long burnt hair smells. The smell ought to disappear in a day or two if you only slightly burned the hair’s outer layer.

However, there is a chance the smell won’t go away at all or until you cut off the majority of the burned hair if the heat has damaged the cuticle and medulla and penetrated the hair’s deepest layers.

Final Words

So, why does my hair smell burnt?

Fortunately, using baking soda, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, or even vodka makes it simple to get rid of the smell of burnt hair. However, once you’ve smelled that horrifying, scorched scent, you’ll probably never forget it.

Let the unpleasant smell remind you to be gentle with future hair care and to protect your hair from damage as much as possible.

Do you finally understand why my hair smells burned? I’m grateful that you read. Finally, have a good day and enjoy your trip!

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