What Is the Best Shampoo for Smelly Scalp Issues?

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

If you have a smelly and irritated scalp, you’re not alone in dealing with this frustrating problem.  There are several potential causes for scalp odor that leave individuals searching for the best shampoo for smelly scalp.  If you’re ready to learn more about what is causing your scalp to smell and want some suggestions for a shampoo that can help resolve the problem, you’re in the right place.  Keep reading to discover the answers you’ve been searching for.

What Is The Best Shampoo For Smelly Scalp Issues?

Table of Contents

The Best Shampoos for Smelly Scalps

Let’s dive right into our top picks.  Continue reading to learn more about each of these shampoos to decide if they feel like they’ll be the best fit for your smelly scalp problem.

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Best Drugstore Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo, Gentle Non-Irritating Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Hair Build-Up & Residue, 12 fl. oz
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  • Removes up to 90% of residue left behind from hair care products
  • Non-irritating shampoo
  • Gently cleanses hair
  • Suitable for use with all hair types


Product buildup is one of the common causes of smelly scalp.  If that’s the underlying problem you’re dealing with, the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo may be the answer you’ve been searching for.  This clarifying shampoo works to remove as much as 90% of residue and buildup left behind by shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, mousses, and more.  The formula works gently without irritating the scalp. 

Using this clarifying shampoo for a smelly scalp about once a week can help leave your hair clean and resolve odor issues.  It can even help add more volume to your hair.

What Users are Saying

If you talk to individuals who have tried this shampoo, you’ll hear a lot of positive feedback.  Many customers are impressed with how clean the shampoo leaves their hair and how well it works to remove product buildup. 

However, not all customers are as happy with this shampoo as others.  Some do not like the shampoo’s fragrance, while others complained about the way the shampoo was packaged and shipped.

Best Medicated Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Selsun Blue Medicated Antidandruff Shampoo/Selenium Sulfide 1%

Selsun Blue Medicated Anti-dandruff Shampoo with Menthol, 11 fl. oz., Maximum Strength, Selenium Sulfide 1%
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  • Formulated with 1% selenium sulfide to clear up dandruff
  • Menthol leaves scalp soothed and refreshed
  • Lathers quickly
  • Decreases itchiness
  • Clears up visible flakes from dandruff


Dandruff can also contribute to a smelly scalp.  If your scalp smells and you’ve been dealing with persistent dandruff, working to clear up the dandruff with this medicated antidandruff shampoo from Selsun Blue could resolve both issues.  The shampoo is medicated and formulated with menthol to help sooth the scalp with a cooling sensation.  It lathers quickly to help you clean hair and remove visible flakes from your hair. 

The 1% selenium sulfide in the formula allows it to effectively reduce dandruff and improve the overall health of your scalp.

What Users are Saying

This is a very popular dandruff and smelly scalp shampoo among those who have tried it.  Many customers have shared that this shampoo was the only thing that they found to be effective for clearing up their dandruff.  They also love that the shampoo is reasonably priced compared to some other more expensive, but less effective, options. 

Unfortunately, this shampoo didn’t work to resolve dandruff issues for all customers.

Best Antibacterial Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Nourish AB Antibacterial Shampoo

Healthy Hair Plus ANTI - B Antibacterial Shampoo
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  • Soothes the scalp tissue
  • Rehydrates dry scalps
  • Delivers antiseptic properties
  • Reduces itch
  • Gives hair and scalp a deep cleaning


An antibacterial shampoo may also help resolve smelly scalp issues.  The AB Antibacterial Shampoo from Nourish offers antiseptic property to sooth and heal irritated tissue along the scalp.  The shampoo is also formulated with a hydrating mix of vitamins and minerals designed to moisturize the scalp and reduce dryness and itchiness. 

In addition to helping reduce irritation and odors, this shampoo also provides a deep cleaning to your hair, leaving it fresh and ready to style.

What Users are Saying

Overall, most customers are happy with their decision to try this antibacterial shampoo.  Several have shared that it decreased itchiness and irritation on their scalp or hairline caused by psoriasis, pimples, and other issues.  Most users also shared that the shampoo has a very pleasant scent. 

However, the shampoo didn’t deliver the desired results to all users, with some sharing that they didn’t notice as much improvement as they were hoping for.

Best Sulfur Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Sulfur8 Anti-Dandruff Hair & Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner

Sulfur8 Anti-Dandruff Hair & Scalp Care Shampoo 7.5oz + Conditioner 2oz Duo
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  • Designed to treat dandruff and dry scalp
  • Restores pH balance to scalp
  • Reduces itchiness and irritation
  • Safe for all hair types
  • Designed for twice weekly use
  • Set also included anti-dandruff conditioner


Choosing a sulfur shampoo, like the Sulfur8 Deep Cleaning Shampoo, can help if you’re dealing with seborrhea with itchy yellow crusty sections along your scalp.  This medicated shampoo targets the conditions that cause seborrhea and smelly scalps and helps decrease itchiness and irritation to provide relief to users.  It also works to restore the ideal pH balance to your skin, which can be a contributing factor for smelly scalps. 

The shampoo is designed to be used twice a week and can be used on all hair types and textures.

What Users are Saying

So many users are thrilled that they finally found a shampoo that would clear up their itchy and flaky scalp.  They have shared how much the shampoo helps and are happy that it doesn’t feel too harsh or sting their scalp when they use it. 

While some users like the scent, others think that the shampoo doesn’t smell very good.

Best Shampoo for Itchy Smelly Scalp

Mizani Scalp Care Dandruff Shampoo

MIZANI Scalp Care Dandruff Shampoo | Pyrithione Zinc | Cleanses Hair & Scalp | For Curly Hair | 16.9 Fl Oz
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  • Removes excess bacteria from hair and scalp
  • Refreshes scalp with a tingling sensation
  • Moisturizes scalp and reduces itchiness
  • Doesn’t strip moisture away from hair


Are you plagued by an itchy scalp?  If so, consider trying the Mizani Scalp Care Dandruff Shampoo.  This shampoo’s formula works to effectively remove excess bacteria from the hair and scalp.  Clearing up this bacteria helps alleviate itchiness and irritation.  The shampoo is also very refreshing to use and leaves a tingling sensation behind on the scalp. 

You’ll also find that this is a nourishing and moisturizing shampoo, but you won’t worry about it stripping any moisture away from your hair.

What Users are Saying

According to users, this smelly scalp shampoo is more effective at relieving itchiness and clearing up flakiness than others they’ve tried.  Many swear by it and, now that they’ve found it, will not use anything else to help them keep their scalp healthy and smelling great.  They also love how clean it leaves their scalp and hair feeling after each use. 

Unfortunately, some users really did not like the way the shampoo smells and others said that it left their fine hair feeling too oily.

Best Tar Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Extra Strength Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo Therapeutic, Extra Strength 6 Fl Oz (Pack of 2)
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  • Formulated with coal tar extract
  • Relieves itchiness and flaky scalp symptoms
  • Treats scalp issues caused by seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and more
  • Gentle and suitable for daily use
  • Delivers results after the first use


If you want to find the best smelly scalp treatment, you should take a look at the Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Extra Strength Shampoo.  Designed to treat a range of scalp issues caused by psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and other issues, this smelly scalp shampoo is formulated with coal tar extract that helps it to alleviate irritation and decrease itchiness. 

You should notice results after just the first use.  The shampoo is gentle enough that it can be used daily, if desired.

What Users are Saying

If you take a minute to see what users have shared about this shampoo, you’ll quickly notice that some see it as a miracle worker.  Customers have shared about their long-lasting struggles with various scalp issues and how this shampoo has been the only thing they’ve found that has helped. 

Some users don’t like the smell, but most feel that the impressive results they’ve seen are worth the inconvenience.

Best Dry Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

OGX Purifying + Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo

OGX Purifying + Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo Spray with Activated Charcoal & Kaolin Clay for Fresh Full Hair, Dry Shampoo to Absorb Excess Oil & Revive Dull Second-Day Hair, 5 Ounce
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  • Absorbs excess oil
  • Formulated with activated charcoal and kaolin clay for overall scalp health
  • Freshens hair without washing with water
  • Sulfat-efree formula


Do you need to find a good dry shampoo to help reduce smelly scalp odors? 

The OGX Purifying + Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo may be able to help.  Featuring activated charcoal and kaolin clay, this shampoo works to detoxify the scalp, leaving it healthier and less likely to smell.  The shampoo also helps absorb excess oil and stretches out the length of time you can go between washing your hair in the shower with water.

What Users are Saying

The majority of users are glad that they decided to try this dry shampoo for smelly scalps.  Many found that the shampoo did a good job of removing product buildup from their hair and thought that their hair felt smooth and clean after using it. 

However, the shampoo didn’t work as well for all users, as some shared that their hair still had too much buildup or felt too frizzy after using it.

Best Men’s Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo

Degrease Shampoo for Oily Hair Care - Clarifying Shampoo for Oily Hair and Oily Scalp Care - Deep Cleansing Shampoo for Greasy Hair and Scalp Cleanser for Build Up with Essential Oils for Hair
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  • Degreases oily hair
  • Hydrates hair and scalp
  • Clears up dandruff
  • Removes product buildup from hair
  • Sulfate-free formula


If you’ve been asking, “what shampoo should I use for an oily smelly scalp,” this Degrease Shampoo from Maple Holisitics may be exactly what you need.  Made with natural ingredients, this smelly scalp shampoo works to remove excess oil from the hair, leaving it hydrated and healthy. 

This also works as a clarifying shampoo to remove excessive product buildup from hair and will also alleviate dandruff problems.

What Users are Saying

According to individuals who have tried this shampoo, it is a very effective option for improving the overall health of the scalp.  Customers have noted that it has reduced oiliness in their hair and that their hair and scalp feel much cleaner and healthier. 

Unfortunately, some users found that they were still dealing with oily hair and other scalp issues after trying the shampoo.

Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Smelly Scalp

New York Biology Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Virgin Coconut Avocado Conditioner Set

New York Biology Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Coconut Avocado Oil Conditioner Set - Helps Restore Shine, Hair Gloss and Hydration for Dry Hair and Itchy Scalp – Clarifying and Nourishing – 16.9 fl Oz
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  • Shampoo and conditioner set
  • Repairs hair
  • Promotes growth
  • Reduces oil and product build up
  • Detangles hair
  • Soothes the scalp


This shampoo and conditioner set from New York Biology is another top option to consider when you want to get rid of the odors causing a smelly scalp.  The set includes a clarifying apple cider vinegar shampoo the removes excess product build up from hair and works to control sebum and oil. 

A moisturizing virgin coconut avocado conditioner is also included in the set, helping to detangle hair and soothe irritated scalps.

What Users are Saying

Customer reviews for this set are very high.  Individuals have shared that it has helped to reduce itchiness and dryness on their scalp, while also leaving their hair feeling clean and soft. 

Some users found the scent of the shampoo to be very strong and unpleasant, however.

How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Smelly Scalp

As you’re shopping for the best shampoo for a smelly scalp, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.  Use the different factors below to help guide your search.


Always consider ingredients when shopping for a new shampoo.  Not only do you want to try to avoid potentially harmful ingredients, but there are also some ingredients that can do a better job combating odor. 

Some of these more beneficial ingredients include zinc pyrithione, apple cider vinegar, citric acid, and mint.  Also be sure to choose a shampoo that will work gently and won’t cause any further irritation that could exacerbate the odor.


Similarly, you should also consider the fragrance of each shampoo you’re considering.  If you’re already dealing with odor issues, you’ll want to make sure that the shampoo you choose offers a pleasant scent that you’ll enjoy.  Something with too strong of a scent or one that you don’t enjoy won’t be enjoyable to use.

pH Balanced

The scalp and hair are both slightly acidic.  Finding a pH-balanced shampoo can help prevent irritation and odor issues by messing with their ideal pH.

Consider Your Specific Needs

Finally, think about whether you have any specific needs that could impact which shampoo is best for you.  For example, do you think you have product build up that is contributing to your smelly scalp?  Is dandruff to blame? 

You will also want to take your hair type and whether you have sensitive skin into consideration as you decide which shampoo will be the right choice.

Why Does My Scalp Smell?

There are several reasons why your scalp may smell.  Read on to learn more about some of the possible reasons that you could be dealing with an odor on your scalp.


A hormonal imbaalance is sometimes to blame for a stinky scalp.  Our hormones can fluctuate, causing changes in oil production and other factors that may make your scalp smelly.

Wash Routine

Both under and overwashing can contribute to a smelly scalp problem.  It is likely pretty self-explanatory why not shampooing your hair frequently enough can cause it to smell, but the opposite can also be true.  If you wash your hair too frequently, it can lead to product buildup on the hair.  If the buildup isn’t taken care of, the hair and scalp may begin to smell.


If you want to reduce body odor, changing your diet can also help.  What we eat affects the odor of our body, including our scalp.  Avoid overly strong foods to see if it helps with your odor problem.

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Making a Decision: Which Smelly Scalp Shampoo is Right for You?

Dealing with a smelly scalp is no fun and can even be embarrassing.  Understanding the cause of your smelly scalp, making modifications to improve the scent, and choosing a shampoo that will help remove the odors can make a huge difference.  Now that you’ve learned more about the best shampoos for smelly scalps, which one do you think will help resolve your issue?  Place your order now so you can clear up your problem as soon as possible.

Learn more with these related posts on our blog;


What Should Your Scalp Smell Like?

Ideally, your scalp shouldn’t really have any odor.  If you notice an odor—particularly an unpleasant one—it is an indication that something is wrong.  We’ll go into some of the causes of a smelly scalp in this blog.

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