How to Get Rid of Smelly Hair Without Washing It

Step away from the shampoo for the day and try this oil-and-odor absorbing trick.
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Maybe you leaned on the snooze button a few too many times, and now you're scrambling to get out the door, or perhaps the water's been cut for road work and your shower has turned its back on you -- whatever the reason, sometimes you just can't wash your hair. Even if your tresses smell far from fresh, you don't need to spend the day dodging the down winds. You can make any excess odors disappear from your hair by using dry shampoo -- and maybe you can even hit that snooze button one more time.

Select your dry shampoo. Choose a powder formula is you have fine hair; opt for an aerosol formula if your hair is thick. If you have light-colored hair, regular formulas are suitable. If you have dark hair, opt for a clear product or a formula containing a tint that is the same color as your hair.

Place your thumbs above your ears and move them towards the back of your head until they meet. Clip all hair that lands above your thumbs up on top of your head.

Shake the can of dry shampoo vigorously, if you are using an aerosol formula. Lift the bottom section of hair, hold the product 8 inches away from your head, and spray the shampoo along the roots. If you're using powder, gently tap it straight onto the scalp along the roots.

Spray dry shampoo underneath the top section of hair in three short bursts, moving directly along the roots. Hold the product 8 inches away from your head to avoid buildup. If you're using a powder dry shampoo, tap the product gently, as less is required.

Remove the hair clip and massage the dry shampoo throughout your entire head and into your scalp with the tips of your fingers.

Allow the product to sink in for two minutes.

Brush through your hair to disperse product from root to tip.

  • Do not use dry shampoo on wet hair; it will be ineffective and it will make hair appear matted.

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.