Daughter’s Hair Smells Even After Washing? 3 Common Reasons

Whenever you think of little girls, you probably imagine them with sweet-smelling hair. However, there are some situations where that’s simply not the case. No matter how much they wash it, some parents just find that their daughters’ hair smell anyway. Fortunately, this issue can be addressed by learning about the different common reasons why this happens in the first place.

Improper washing is one of the most common reasons for your daughter’s hair to smell bad. Not washing the hair thoroughly can leave dirt and debris behind which can then lead to a foul odor. Your daughter might also be using the wrong products for her hair. Lastly, hair can smell bad if there are underlying conditions such as psoriasis, dandruff, seborrhea, or other scalp problems.

This article will discuss the common reasons why your daughter’s hair smells even after washing. Possible solutions will also be provided for these common reasons.

Reasons Why Daughter’s Hair Smells Even After Washing

mom kid hair

1. Improper Washing

If your daughter’s hair smells even after washing, you might want to look into how she’s washing her hair in the first place. One possible reason why her hair smells is that she’s been washing her hair improperly this whole time.

The point of washing hair is to remove dirt, debris, sweat, and other odor-causing particles. When properly done, the hair should be clean and devoid of all foul-smelling substances. However, improper washing can leave certain traces behind, thus causing hair to smell bad.

Does your daughter do sports? The odor can be exacerbated if your daughter participates in active sports. When girls play active sports, sweat and dirt can accumulate in their hair. Supposedly, these debris particles should be removed during washing.

If you suspect that your daughter is not washing her hair properly, you can ask her how she washes her hair. Once you hear her account, you can then determine if she’s been washing her hair correctly this whole time.

For reference, a proper way of washing hair is as follows:

  • Thoroughly wet the hair. This might take longer for girls with long and thick hair compared to girls who keep their hair short. It is important to do this step thoroughly as most hair products (e.g., shampoo, conditioner, etc.) require moisture to be activated. Girls can rinse their hair by standing under the shower for a minute while gently massaging the hair to make sure the water can get everywhere.
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It is also recommended to use lukewarm to warm water during this step as warm water can help open the pores, making it easier for the wash to be a thorough clean.

  • Apply product. Once the hair is thoroughly wet, girls can begin to apply their shampoo. Aside from requiring the correct type of shampoo, they must also apply the right amount as well. A dollop of the product might be enough for girls with short hair while more is required for those with long hair.

bubbles palm

An easy mistake to make is to overlook shampoo instructions. While some shampoo products can be directly applied to the scalp, some products might require preliminary activation. This means that you might have to lather the shampoo on your palms before applying it to the hair.

While applying the shampoo, you have to do it gently. You might think that aggressively applying the shampoo will help loosen the dirt and debris. However, an aggressive wash can leave the scalp vulnerable and irritated. Instead, take the time to massage the shampoo into the hair evenly. A gentle massage should avoid damaging anything on the scalp.

Although this step is not strictly required, many women use conditioner to further improve the quality of their hair. Conditioner aims to hydrate and replenish hair which is why hair feels so soft after conditioning it.

Since a conditioner is specifically to improve the hair quality, the conditioner can be directly applied midway to the end of the hair – it does not have to be directly applied to the scalp. Not applying conditioner to the scalp also helps prevent unnecessary scalp buildup.

In terms of making hair smell good, conditioner helps by making hair soft and pliable. This makes it easier for dirt and debris to fall off during the day. On the other hand, rough and tangled hair makes dirt and debris more prone to remain in the hair. 

  • Thoroughly rinse the hair. Once the product has been sufficiently applied, take the time to thoroughly rinse the hair. This could take a minute or two of standing under running water, making sure that no product is left on the scalp. Leaving the product in the hair and scalp can lead to scalp buildup which can also contribute to a foul odor.
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For rinsing products out of the hair, you might want to consider using cold water. While warm water initially opened up the pores, cold water will now help close the pores, thereby sealing in the moisture. This will contribute to a healthier scalp.

  • Dry the hair. Once everything is done, hair should be dried properly by patting it with a dry towel. Many people damage their hair by incorrectly rubbing their hair dry with a towel instead. If you have a choice of towels, a microfiber towel is best as it can provide the most absorption with simple patting.

It is important to note that girls need to dry their hair properly as this is also a common reason why their hair can smell bad. If your daughter takes baths before they sleep, ask her if she dries her hair all the way before sleeping. Unfortunately, many girls are guilty of sleeping with their hair wet. When they lay their wet head on a pillow to sleep, this prevents ventilation to access the hair. With the moisture and the warmth of the girl’s body, her hair becomes a breeding ground for microbes all night as she sleeps.

If this is a possible reason for her hair smelling, ask her to avoid washing her hair before sleeping. She can do this by wearing a bathing cap when she takes her nightly bath. She can still wash her hair during the night, but she has to make sure that it is properly dried before getting to bed. A hairdryer might also help speed things along.

2. Incorrect Products

hair products

If your daughter is washing her hair correctly, then the next culprit to check is whether she’s using the correct products. If you’ve ever been to the hair product aisle, you know that there are hundreds of different shampoos and conditioners available. However, that doesn’t mean any of those will work for your daughter. In fact, there are so many shampoos and conditioners because they are all meant for specific hair types.

The best way to make sure your daughter is using the correct type of hair products is by first determining what kind of hair your daughter has. Does she have greasy hair? Does she have dry hair? These are noteworthy characteristics as there are specific products that aim to address those concerns. Using the wrong products can be the reason why your daughter’s hair smells even after washing.

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For example, let’s say your daughter has greasy hair. However, she’s using products aimed at people with dry hair. This means that the products she’s using are adding more oils and moisture into her hair and scalp when in fact, she does not need any more of that. Excessive oils can be the reason why her hair smells bad. This is especially problematic as an excessively oily scalp can promote the growth of foul-smelling microorganisms.

3. Scalp Problems

If you’ve determined that your daughter is washing her hair properly with the correct products, then you might have to consider underlying issues that could lead to smelly hair. One common reason to consider would be scalp problems. These common scalp problems can include psoriasis, dandruff, seborrhea, or simple scalp irritations.

Psoriasis is a common condition that can affect the scalp. Specifically, it’s a disease that causes the skin to form red, itchy, and scaly patches. Unfortunately, the causes of psoriasis are still being investigated but it is possible that psoriasis is a result of a problem with the immune system. The problem with psoriasis is that it can cause the scales to accumulate, leading to scalp buildup.

While dandruff may not be a specific cause of bad-smelling hair, it can be an indicator of a different underlying condition that can lead to hair smelling bad. For example, dandruff can be an indicator of an imbalance in the scalp microbiome – that is the collection of microorganisms that live on the scalp. Importantly, this can indicate an overwhelming increase in Malassezia, a genus of yeasts commonly associated with dandruff.

If you suspect that your daughter has one of these scalp problems causing her hair to smell bad, it is best to proceed and make an appointment with a dermatologist. The dermatologist should be able to prescribe an appropriate medication that would address the problem directly.

Once you’ve made an appointment with a dermatologist, you could also inquire about practices that could affect the scalp. For example, diet can also be an important factor that affects scalp health. An oily diet might contribute to an oily scalp, which can explain hair smelling bad. It could also be a hormone imbalance. Either way, a healthy diet should be a good step toward a healthier scalp.