Why Does My Hair Smell Burnt?

It’s no laughing matter when you’re flustered over why your hair smells burnt. You know it didn’t come out of the salon this way or even the curling iron!

The answer might be simpler than you think. Using any heating tool, like a straightener or blow dryer, the heat can singe the hair and cause an unpleasant burned smell.


This is because the acid in the heated iron plates reacts with the proteins in the hair cuticles, producing an off-putting smell. This issue is most common when using chi or ceramic flat irons, as they don’t evenly distribute the heat over the entire plate surface.

This issue is more likely to occur if your locks are heavily damaged from regular styling and coloring.

Using very hot styling tools on already damaged locks only perpetuates the problem, leading to longer-lasting damage with potential long-term effects on your hair’s health.

An Alternative to Ceramic Flat Irons When You Can’t Be Without One

A great solution to this problem is investing in a ceramic coated that emits infrared heat.

This flat iron provides a more even heat distribution and helps seal in moisture for glossy smooth locks without odor issues. It warms up quickly and maintains a consistent temperature throughout use, so it takes less time to style your hair effectively.

iKonic Hair Straightener Ceramic Flat Iron Professional No Damage Hair Straightener Infrared Hair Flat Iron, Temperature Control, Hair Straightener and Curler 2 in 1, Swivel Cord, Dual-Voltage (Black)
77 Reviews
iKonic Hair Straightener Ceramic Flat Iron Professional No Damage Hair Straightener Infrared Hair Flat Iron, Temperature Control, Hair Straightener and Curler 2 in 1, Swivel Cord, Dual-Voltage (Black)
  • 100% Ceramic Flat Iron with Infrared Technology – The Persona is made from pure stone ceramic that regulates and distributes heat evenly with infrared technology that delivers less damaging direct heat. With our hair straightener, less passes are needed to straighten or curl your hair
  • Adjustable Heat & Tangle Free Swivel Cord - Our flat iron boasts a 360° swivel cord, soft-touch finish, and dial temperature control. The temperature control reduces heat damage and heats up Instantly & evenly up to 410 degrees and the tangle-free cord allows easier maneuvering as you style
  • Floating Plates with Curved Edges - The Persona floating plates allows smooth styling without snagging the hair. Each pass of this precision styling tool will awaken a radiance in your hair! The floating plates work from the scalp down, evenly distributing 140-410° F of heat for styles that stay!
  • Ideal for Traveling - The built-in dual voltage converter works with most outlets between 110v-240v, so you can make sure your hair is flawless even when you travel! Our flat iron is lightweight and will easily fit in your luggage so that you can take it with you and look superb anywhere
  • Styling Tool for Salon Results - Persona Hair Straightener was designed to give your hair the sleek, professional style you have been looking for, fast! Elevate your look with salon quality results AT HOME! iKonic was developed for professional use and is Recommended by Stylists All Over the World

The benefits of using a ceramic-infused flat iron are numerous; there’s no frying or burning of strands, frizz control for up to 3 days, sunny and hydrated hair, plus fewer split ends!

Act now, and don’t let smelly hair hold you back from achieving beautiful styles; try out ceramic-coated flat irons today!

Also, try pre-treating with a conditioning serum before using any heat styling tools and quickly reducing the temperature settings of those tools as needed. Finally, using cold air when blow drying can work wonders.

Natural Haircare Products to Kiss the Bad Smell Goodbye

Try switching to natural haircare products free of sulfates and parabens to address this unpleasant smell and help make your mane healthier. 

Davines Minu Shampoo

Cleansing with Davines’ Minu is an invigorating experience. Its sulfate and paraben-free formula revitalizes your strands, as natural ingredients such as Sicilian lemon, basil, and rosemary create a nourishing effect. Without stripping away natural elements, it refreshes the scalp and guards against damage.

As for scent, the shampoo’s perfect balance of fragrances won’t overwhelm your senses. Its lathering abilities perform without leaving any excess behind. And afterwards? Your hair appears soft and lustrous — with no greasiness or flakes in sight!

Minu keeps my mane feeling lightweight yet hydrated all day long without weighing down its movement. My strands feel healthier from root to tip after each wash — allowing me to rock every style with confidence!

Davines MINU Shampoo | Color Retention Shampoo for Colored, Treated Hair | Protects & Keeps Hair Bright, Shiny for Longer | 8.45 fl oz (Pack of 1)
2,472 Reviews

Forget about compromising protection for hair growth and opt for Minu instead. Using this shampoo guarantees optimal results that are not only nourishing but also strengthening. You’ll be equipped to show off your most eye-catching looks while protecting tresses at the same time.

When washed with water, the effectiveness of the cleansing power is doubled, which allows for thorough dirt removal from your scalp yet still keeps its natural hydration levels balanced.

With regular use, it can improve even further, resulting in healthier-looking strands over time!

L’Anza Healing Remedy

Give your hair a luxurious treat by feeding your scalp the natural botanicals it deserves. Calendula, rosemary, and chamomile oils have been specially chosen to nourish even the driest hair types.

Plus, yucca root helps replenish lost keratin for stronger, shinier strands.

L'ANZA Healing Remedy Scalp Balancing Conditioner, 8.5 Fl Oz
215 Reviews

No need to fret about negative side effects here. L’Anza takes sustainability seriously and sources only natural ingredients that won’t harm our planet or four-legged friends: no animal testing is ever used in the production of L’Anza products.

OUAI Detox Shampoo

Ready to rid your hair and scalp of dirt, oil, and product buildup? The OUAI Detox Shampoo is just what you need. Powered by apple cider vinegar, this clarifying cleanser provides the ultimate cleanse without the negative effects of harsh sulfates or parabens.

OUAI Detox Shampoo. Clarifying Cleanse for Dirt, Oil, Product and Hard Water Buildup. Get Back to Super Clean, Soft and Refreshed Locks. (10 oz)
2,421 Reviews
OUAI Detox Shampoo. Clarifying Cleanse for Dirt, Oil, Product and Hard Water Buildup. Get Back to Super Clean, Soft and Refreshed Locks. (10 oz)
  • OUAI DETOX SHAMPOO. Move over juice cleanse, it's time for a hair cleanse. Get rid of product and hard water buildup, dirt and oil with this 1-2x a week clarifying treatment. Here's your fresh start, see you next week.
  • YOUR HAIR'S HOLY GRAIL. This concentrated shampoo with apple cider vinegar gets you back on good terms with overworked tresses. Wet hair, lather up and rinse clean. Follow up with any OUAI conditioner to soften your squeaky clean strands.
  • OUAI (or "way") means yes in that casual, Parisian way. We believe in effortless routines and good for you ingredients. Haircare customized to your hair type to nourish, strengthen and condition. Giving you the confidence to win life your OUAI.
  • INGREDIENTS THAT GET THE JOB DONE. All OUAI products are carefully crafted to cut styling time and nourish your hair health. We put the good stuff in and leave the bad stuff out, without ever sacrificing quality. We are always trying to do better for the planet.
  • FOR REAL LIFE, FOR REAL PEOPLE. Celebrity stylist Jen Atkin had used every product on the market but couldn't find a brand she or her friends could relate to. OUAI offers luxury products at affordable prices that are user friendly — no glam squad needed.

With the perfect blend of strengthening and nourishing ingredients such as keratin, biotin, and chia seed oil, it won’t strip away essential natural oils that make your hair healthy. Instead, it leaves hair feeling soft and refreshed with every wash.

Whether you have color-treated or Brazilian hair, thick or fine locks – our detox shampoo is tailored for all hair types. Get rid of product buildup without worrying about damage or harsh residue that often comes with other chemical cleaners. Make OUAI’s detox shampoo work for you!

Three Ways to Get Rid of the Smell of Burnt Hair

So, if you’re like me and accidentally overcook your hair, fear not! Here are three tried-and-true methods that can help make that smell go away.

  • First, soothe your scalp with an apple cider vinegar rinse. The acidic properties of ACV can neutralize foul odors and restore pH balance.
  • Second, use a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup and impurities from your strands. This can provide deep but necessary cleansing to banish unwanted scents long-term.
  • Third, add a couple of drops of aromatherapy oil, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, onto damp, towel-dried locks after showering. A few spritzes of this refreshing mix are all you need to wave away any unpleasant odors.

Signs of Heat-Damaged Hair

Despite the warnings, some of us stay oblivious until it’s too late. So don’t brush away the danger signs!

The telltale signs are:

  1. excessively frizzy ends;
  2. discoloration at the tips;
  3. breakage;
  4. an excess of split ends;
  5. an unusually dry texture;
  6. more tangles than usual;
  7. loss of elasticity in curls;
  8. negative responses to heat protectants;
  9. severe bleeding if combed.

Other Causes of a Smelly Scalp

If heat damage from styling tools is not the culprit, other medical reasons might be to blame.

A common cause of a smelly scalp is an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia, which is naturally present on our skin. It may overproduce due to an imbalance in the microbiome or colonization caused by certain medications.

Other medical causes for odor include infection with bacteria, fungus, or sebaceous cysts, clusters of oil-secreting glands underneath the skin’s surface. Psoriasis and Eczema are inflammatory skin conditions that can alter your body’s natural oils and lead to bad odors on your scalp.

The good news is that treatments exist to address these issues and remedy your smelly scalp.

A doctor or dermatologist can review your symptoms, examine any potential sources of irritation, and suggest appropriate remedies, from topical anti-fungal creams or lotions to antibiotics or oral medications, depending on their diagnosis.