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Curly Nikki

Does Your Natural Hair Smell Good?

By January 27th, 2021123 Comments

Does Your Natural Hair Smell Good?Kay of Life as a Nappy Headed Black Girl writes:

While browsing a beauty forum the other day, I came across a thread about good-smelling hair. The poster said one of the things that originally attracted her husband was her hair. He said it smelled wonderful, not like “typical black hair.”

The first thing I did was *roll eyes* Her husband must be white because really, what kind of dumb mess is that to say?

But then I continued to read some of the responses and realized that I could relate and that maybe you can, too.

Let’s be real…black women have some funky-smelling hair products. I’m not saying that women of other races don’t; I’m just speaking the truth from my side.

You know that “feel-it” tingle in your favorite grease? Or the super-gro complex in your trusty hair treatment? That ingredient is called Stankonium Funkdiferous.

And to make matters worse, many of us don’t have the best hair practices. I’ll use myself as an example:

· Not washing my hair for weeks to preserve a style…

· but continuing to pile on products

· Old, stanky extension braids

· The “I just curled my hair this morning” stench

· Pump It Up spritz

· Oil sheen, grease, black gel…

Lawdhammercy, this list could go on forever! And the sad part is that I know some of you can relate and I know people who still follow these practices.

I have an acquaintance who smells like straight Ultra Sheen grease every day. You know, the green one. It’s so strong that it actually lingers when she passes. When she walks by I get flashbacks of my old hot comb days.

I mentioned the smell to her one day (I’m tacky like that) and her response was:

“Well, I already got a husband, so I don’t have to worry about that.”


Which brings us back to “typical black hair.” Maybe men are just used to our hair smelling a certain way. Maybe we’re used to it smelling that way, too.

How important is good-smelling hair to you? Are you walking around smelling like Soul Glo? Has anyone ever commented (good or bad) on the smell of your hair?


  • Anonymous says:

    @ Trace/Killa Nov 30th 2010 ….I too prefer fresh scents but there are very few products like that. Other than that, I try to only use lightly scented products. I can remember when my hair was chemically relaxed many years ago and I had Optimum (a slightly thicker pink one) in my hair and while speaking to a friend, she stopped speaking, sniffed the air and said “eew, is that your hair?” I could not wait to go home and wash it out. Since being chemical free, I haven’t had any negative comments at all, my boyfriend is always telling me my hair smells nice and when I had kittens, their noses were constantly in my hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    since relaxed hair is changed by using chemicals to physically change the protein, etc. that make up your hair, it is only natural that this would produce a strong odor. And many African-American women relax their hair or perm it (similarly with the chemicals and smell), so it does sort of make sense if a person would say that ^

  • maya says:

    I like the smell of Ultrasheen and super grow. My all time favorite is Murrays Pomade. It just smells so good. I like smelling like this. What I don't like is a sour smell. From leaving water and conditioner on hair and it not drying properly. Reminds me of mildewed clothes.

  • Anonymous says:

    Smelly hair is a real issue for social and amorous life.
    I am always nicely surprised when some people tell me that my hair smells good because I just take care of them not bothering of the smell.
    Still, I use floral rosewater, coconut oil and essential oils like ylang-ylang.
    I don't use greasy commercial products with perfume or very light ones with natural perfumes. I use oils like castor oil (I have discovered that mine even if organic is desodorized).
    So, my essential oils just blend delicately with the oils (coconut, castor oil) to produce a sweet and natural smell even sweeter when my corporal heat rises 🙂
    Of course, I don't use a lot of EOs because they are very powerful in small quantities and I don't wait a whole month to wash my hair because it is the best way for me to experiment dandruff and hair breakage 🙂

  • jaybird says:

    I too hated the way my hair smelled after my perm. Today my daughter said that my hair smelled like yams. Better than that hard boiled egg smell of yesteryear

  • aprilslove08 says:

    I love for my hair to smell good more now than when I was relaxed. I actually smell my products and if they smell gross I don't use them in my hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair currently does not have a chemical on it, but I wear a ceramic fusion (flatiron) on it. I have noticed that my hair has a worse smell now than it did before, when I wore a relaxer, right after my flat ironing. My stylist hipped me to a product by Bed Head called After Party. I apply a squirt of this thru my hair afterwards and I have a great smell in my hair

  • DrChuck24 says:

    Natural hair (of ANY race) smells bad when it is not cleansed frequently enough. Some of us with natural hair wash our too infrequently. . . that will result in a bad odor. Not a racial issue, but a hygiene one.
    Do you know anyone who waits 2wks plus before washing hair (or any other part of their body, for that matter) whose hair smells good right before washing? I don't.

    ——–> what this person said (anonymous) was to the tee!!
    I never realized how I used to wait two weeks to wash my hair..OF COURSE its going to smell…with natural hair I wash it way more often…

  • Anonymous says:

    I am another witness of random people sniffing my hair! Usually they are people that I know … lol

    A lot of the time people tell me that I smell good and I don't really wear perfume so unless they are smelling my soap, they are referring to my hair (this is normally after hugging them). In my personal opinion, I think men in general appreciate hair that smells yummy instead of burnt because I get most comments from guys.

    I love having great smelling hair! And aside from my hands-in-hair syndrome I also sniff my own curls throughout the day especially if I have whipped shea butter in it : )

  • Joan says:

    This is shea butter – just shea butter. I wish someone had told me that the raw stuff smells horrible. Another reviewer mentioned that it smells a bit like plastic and I think that’s a reasonable approximation. There is good news however, the smell dissipates pretty quickly (about a minute or so) once you put it on.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've had quite a few traumatizing experiences of being teased about the way my hair smelled before I went natural. I must've gotten used to the smell, because now I smell people and think, "How did I not realized I smelled like boiled eggs, fire and chemicals?" Now that I'm natural, I rarely think about buying products that purposely make my hair smell good, though people often compliment me on it. I think even more than the products, washing more frequently helps the smell not be present.

  • Anonymous says:

    I typically use the black vanilla or tui line from CD and aussie moist sometimes. My bf loves it! When we're chillin watchin tv I can always tell when he is sniffing my hair…he starts takin deep breaths through his nose lol

  • Ash says:

    I have a classmate who always says how he looooves sitting next to me because I smell so good. When he told me it was tropical smelling I told him it was my hair products. He said I want to use some of that! CD Mimosa Hair Honey/ Cantu Shea Butter are the products

  • Alisa says:

    i recently got a full weave as a winter protective style and when i came home from the salon the first thing my BF said was "your hair smells like black girl hair…" and i had to agree. lol

  • Angie says:

    There are a few black haircare products that are funky, but I think that for the most part stinky hair can be attributed to infrequent washing, using heavy hair grease that makes scents stick to the hair, relaxer processing (rotten egg smell), and heat styling (burnt hair scent). The odor resulting from combining all of that is greater than the sum of its parts!

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural hair (of ANY race) smells bad when it is not cleansed frequently enough. Some of us with natural hair wash our too infrequently. . . that will result in a bad odor. Not a racial issue, but a hygiene one.
    Do you know anyone who waits 2wks plus before washing hair (or any other part of their body, for that matter) whose hair smells good right before washing? I don't.



  • Anonymous says:

    I had my hair pressed and my man did complain about the burnt hair smell. Its funny the things that become normal to you after awhile that you don't even notice. I don't like my hair or anything to have a strong. I tend to buy fragrance free fabric care products and everything. I like my hair to just be clean.It doesn't need to smell like a fruit salad lol.
    The only hair product I did really enjoy the smell of was Carol Daughter's Tui and her black vanilla leave in. Unfortunately those products did nothing for my hair so I discontinued.

  • Anonymous says:

    I remember my father complaining that he could smell it when we were "burning hair". That distinct smell of straightening your hair, especially with a straightening comb – he couldn't stand it. LOL

    I give a sniff test to all products. Even when I was relaxed, I couldn't stand that tell tale "I'm a black hair care product!" smell. I love what I'm smelling on most natural products.

  • curlykinkynfrizzy? says:

    OMG! I was just thinking about this earlier! And it's sooo true! I remember back when I was relaxed and none of the "black" products I used smell good (the commercial stuff you buy at CVS or Wal-Mart or the BSS lol)! And now that I'm natural scent is the #1 deciding factor in whether I will purchase a proudct or not- no matter how well it works or the rave reviews. I am a huge "smell" person. I'm not big on fruity smells but I like the "creamy & fruity" smells (like creamsice for ex) or "fresh & clean" smells. I esp love the smells like vanilla, coconut…yumm! I get more compliments on my hair smelling good now! Well probably for the first time actually!

  • Anonymous says:

    This post reminded me of an experience I had years ago, when I was still relaxing my hair.

    I had relaxed my hair and went to a party that night. The music was bumpin' and I danced up a mean sweat. My boyfriend's brother was standing next to me and said, "You permed your hair didn't you?" I refused to answer and asked him why he asked. He said that he'd recognized the smell because of his sisters – when they relax their hair. Smells like rotten eggs. He was cool about it, but wanted confirmation that his nose was correctly offended by MY hair. Lol!
    I was too embarassed, but I have always hated that strong odor.

  • The Retro Natural says:

    I don't like the press n curl smell ugh! My hair smells so much better now.. I never thought much of it til now but my hair smells so nice! It smells like Knot Today this week lol

    LMAO at blue magic..ugh!

  • PrettyFlower says:

    I remember when me and my sister used to use dax (she still does?) I remember walking past construction on the road, and thinking how I couldn't stand that hot smell of road paving and tar. Nevertheless I got home and could still smell it, thinking the smell had stuck in my clothes I did smell checks and thought it might just be me. I sat down to apply dax to my hair and was like "Whoa!" while looking at the tub that said contains tar oil???? I mean like seriously – TAR OIL?? Who wants to smell like a road, I mean come on! I'm so glad I'm natural, I smell peppermint wherever I go (due to my excessive usage of the oil LoL* ).

  • Arianna says:

    great post and fantastic comments 🙂
    its interesiting, everyones weigh in
    we seem to have a lot in common with hair that smells clean and not chemically
    even some new stuff has arisen about not smelling like 'incense' or to natural
    as well as some discussion on race
    i can conclude that im not the only one to flock towards the good smells stuff after the flat-iron is put away 🙂
    aaand i conclude we all smell pretty damn good

  • b. says:

    LOL @ Luster's Pink Lotion!!!! You ain't lied, RoddyG 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    My sister-in-law recently gave me a leave-in conditioner from her stylist that she uses on my biracial nieces. She loves it. It has this chemical smell and I haven't been able to bring myself to try it. I'm going to give it back. I've gotten spoiled with the nice fragrances of natural products.

  • Anonymous says:

    y boyfriend def loves the smell of my hair and i can say i love it too. I remember my old press and curl days that had that oil-smoked-grease combination. Noe whether its carols daughter, my own shea butter mix, sheamoisture, etc he loves it.

    I remember when i used to grease my scalp, and clog all my pores, and i knew i could never have a man out he face in my hair cause he would have grease all over his face, but going natural i have been able to use less product in my hair and my bf likes to put his face in my fro.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is so funny yet so true, when your relaxed you tend to be dependent on a hair dresser so those females tend to not even touch their hair until they go to the hair dresser which could be two weeks from a style they are trying to preserve, yes hair smells it will even smell in the winter when it has product build up and not being washed after a couple of days and also the products (I remember by oil sheen days too lol).
    Since i am natural making my year in Feb 2011 I have noticed my hair's scent smell cleaner, and healthier because of the ingredients i now use. Because i have the control over my hair and take care of it there is no need to wait weeks on end to do the same style that i have in my hair that i absolutely love.

  • RoddyG says:

    I can't speak for others, but I am personally a SMELLS person. This ranges from my body, to my room, to my kitchen and YES… MY HAIR! I like things to smell universally pleasant. If I walk past someone I want the scent that catches their nostrils to be a fond one and not a "Oh my…!" So yes, when I went natural I for sure decided that how my hair smelled from here on out was just as important as how it looked, felt and maintained. The trick, of course, if finding products that smell nice and do what you need them to do. I've used a leave-in called Cantu for YEARS… it is my staple product. That may change, but for now while I'm still on a budget it's the most readily available, it's affordable, and it SMELLS GREAT!! I often use it in combination with other products, but sometimes that's all I use and I have NEVER received a bad compliment to its smell. I've been told I smell like everything from a tropical fruit to a pina colada. I'm so used to it, however, that I don't even notice anymore. But, it's a nice reminder when someone does notice. I find it more difficult to retain a nice smell when I straighten my hair…but don't believe the hype, there are GREAT smelling products out there – affordable and higher up the scale. You do not have to smell like Pump it Up, Blue magic, or Luster's Pink Lotion!

  • Anonymous says:

    I want to have good smelling hair!! I've been natural for almost 11 months now and I haven't found a good smelling hair product I like. Any recommendations?

  • Anonymous says:

    So true!!! I was just thinking about that the other day. I just finished flat ironing and my hair smelled burnt! Yuck!! I am currently transitioning and plan on cutting it all off Jan. 1 2011. Can't wait!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with November 30, 2010, 2:48pm!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I hate the smell of freshly done "beauty shop/salon" hair! Ugh! I hated that darn smell when I had a relaxer. And as far as some black products smelling awful, whoever said that is right on target.

    It's like the creators (most of whom are probably caucasian & you would think they would put some better scents in our products since a majority of THEIRS smell so nice) of black products & whatever labs (it has to be a lab involved with they way some of these products smell so chemical) or wherever that stuff is created & pumped out by the case loads made sure they added an extra drop of "stank" in those concoctions made for our hair.

    Hmmpf! And putting up with those products & scents for hair growth, well it's not even that serious & it's a lie as far as I'm concerned. My mom did my natural hair with those products from infancy to preteen so if those products "worked", my hair should have been down to my butt by the time I was 12! And I'm sure every African American woman can agree with me on that one, you may think that those commericial black hair products are growing your hair but it reality it is most likely genetics, protective hair style, & good haircare practices!


  • Catrise says:

    Like most of the comments posted I can totally relate to the "just relaxed" smell. When I was relaxed my husband would never come to close to my hair, or he would say "it smells funny", but since being natural he now literally while sleeping places his face right in my hair at night. LOL!!

  • CashmereKinks says:

    oh… and i DO wash my hair… but i did that when i was relaxed too.. fresh perm or not, I hated an oily scalp (that was probably my problem… SLS and heat damage!) lol

  • CashmereKinks says:

    bahaha.. omygosh. this post made me LAUGH! I think about the way my hair smells all of the time. I try to make my spritzes and hair products smell good. Sadly, that means making them myself or buying things that are mineral-oiless and not geared towards black people (like aussie moist and garnier fructis s&s leave-in)…

    Idk. I'm transitioning right now. So i can do that… i wonder how i will accommodate when i'm COMPLETELY natural.

  • iri9109 says:

    i used to love the way oil sheen smelled…and bb super gro abd blue magic organics grease lol…its funny though because my friend/tutor (she's iranian/persian) was looking at my hair and she literally put her nose in my hair and was like omg it smells so good, and told my friends to come smell my hair lol…we were in the library and i told her to stop b/c she looked like a crazy obsessed creeper lol…but all i did to my hair was spritz it with a mix of aloe vera juice/gel, rosewater and jojoba oil, so i guess thats what she smelled

  • AusetAbena says:

    Good smelling hair is very important to me, but it is only one factor that affects whether or not I buy a product. Everything doesn't have to smell great, but it can't smell bad. I don't use the Yes to Carrots because of the smell. The Yes to Cucumbers, however, smells great. Too much product buildup can always lead to bad smelling hair. Clean hair is a prerequisite for good smelling hair.

  • Ms. Sassy says:

    LOL @ PumpItUp Spray. So true. I get many compliments on how my hair smells now that I'm nutural. I have this co-worker who loves to smell my hair every time they see me lol. I think it because of the dismissal of excessive product build up. I love Shea Moisture products because of the heavenly scents.

  • LBell says:

    Funny that you have Ultra Sheen Original as the graphic…when I was a kid I loved that scent. lol

    I have been caught sniffing bottles in the products aisle at Target. I will not buy a product if I don't like the scent.

    Another great benefit of going natural for me has been learning how to use essential oils. My castor oil spritz has clary sage, and my ACV spritz has peppermint. I don't care about what they supposedly do for the hair and scalp…I like what they do for my nose!

  • Kemi says:

    Yes! The poor hair hygiene..I've only noticed this in relaxed/natural flatironed hair that has little or NO water touching it.. I know of some people that will wash, set (roller or flatiron) and wrap their hair and not wash their hair again for weeks! 3-6 to keep it looking crispy…no no no.. i can't describe the smell it just stinks..

  • ethomasFL says:

    actually since I started falling this blog and reading the forums about all the best products to use on my natural hair, everything is so natural and it smells so good so I've gotten so many compliments regarding how good my hair smells! The women that I work with have commented on how good my hair smells, my hubby likes the smells (he is in love with the Shea Moisture Hibiscus Curl cream smell for his own hair!)and I love it. My dogs love when I open a new product & they get to get a quick wiff! My pit mix loves the the JC Nourish & Shine smell the most! Before wearing my natural hair, no one ever talked about its smell and I wonder now if it every did smell bad or funny…glad those days are over 🙂

  • Alicia says:

    I have a friend who smells like dog food…actually, she doesn't smell like that, but her hair does! She is relaxed and to preserve her fresh 'do she rarely washes her hair. That mess stinks and makes it seem like its her body thats unclean.

  • Anonymous says:

    My boyfriend used to make comments on how smelly my hair was (when it was relaxed). I went to the hairdresser every week or week and a half and I was always self-conscious about how my hair smelled. After I went natural (and co-washed 2-3 times a week), the complaints did stop! LOL. However, he can smell an old and moldy weave or extension A MILE AWAY!

  • Carla says:

    Since I wash my hair twice weekly (especially since I workout every other day and sweat like a pig!) I think my hair smells good. My BF always comment on how good my hair smells, "like vanilla", though I tend to switch products, so I'm not sure why that is.

  • Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    While I'm not offended by the he must be white thing, it was a bit rude/unecessary. Thank you Anon @6:43. Why do we always have to bring race into this type of discussion? It's just hair…keep it that way.

  • Jheanelle Kale says:

    So glad you brought this up! Just 2 days ago I was standing in line behind a woman that must've had her weave in for too long. I wanted to gag! I was the same way before with my weaves and wraps so I get it but wow I hope no one ever smelled my hair. Even now, I can't go more than about 2-3 days without my scalp smelling a little funky. My hair definitely smells better now that I'm natural but I definitely have to wash it every few days.

  • MommieDearest says:

    OMG this reminds me of a commercial from back in the day for a shampoo called "Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific." LOL!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Back in my press n curl days I was seeing this guy. He was bi-racial but wasn't very aquainted with the black side of his family so he ALWAYS had questions/comments about my hair. So one day we were spending"quality time" and he tells me that my hair smelled weird. When I asked him to elaborate he said it smelled like VOMIT.
    I was so embarassed and p.o'd. LOL Nowadays my hair smells delicious haha.

  • Anonymous says:

    I remember the days when I got my hair pressed. My hair smelled awful but looked pretty so I was happy. Now that I'm natural my hair smells AMAZING. The other day I tried AOHR and I was in love! My hair smelled so good I didn't know what to do.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh yes! That sulfur rotten egg smell from the perm and after I grew out my perm there was that cooked hair smell from the blow dryer and flat iron…I HATED IT! My hair just smelled funky.

    I really like clean smells like a light citrus or lavender…I love aveda products everything they have smells so good. I do find that most natural hair products smell very tropical or extremely fruity and sometimes like incense…very herbally and sometimes it's too much for me. I really like the smell of Deva One conditioner but it's so dang expensive and I have yet to find a cheap detangling conditioner that's not overly fruity or tropical smelling.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love to smell good,period! I love that my hair holds the smell of the shea butter or conditioner I'm using. People touch my hair and then smell their hands, all races… and they love it. I hated when I would use the curling iron on my relaxed hair that needed washing and my hair would have this awful smell. I would try to cover it up with more pomade, praying I wouldn't sweat. Those days are GONE,,HALLELUYER!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Try putting a few drops of essential oil of lavender, magnolia, ylang-ylang or pikake lei to your henna mix to make it smell better. Lavender oil actually acts as a terpene (something that helps release the dye).

  • Franki says:

    This post reminds me that it's time to whip up another batch of my yummy-smelling coconut oil/shea butter mix.

    I love pleasant-smelling hair, whether that smell is herbal or fruity or just generic Patene-clean. I've downgraded my bottle of Jane Carter leave-in to "use only on up-dos on days when I plan on washing" because the smell is just a little too funky, and not in the George Clinton way. I probably look a little bit strange in the drugstore, sniffing products before I buy them, but that's how I roll. I probably need to invest in some more unscented products, though; I'm beginning to miss my perfume but it's too much to wear with my coconut-floral-fruity-herbalicious hair products

  • Anonymous says:

    Super offended by the "her husband must be white" line. I'm black, my husband is white and he loves my natural hair. The smell, the texture, the color…everything. Please try focus on the topic at hand…not on race.

  • Alexia says:

    Since starting my HHJ journey and washing my hair often I have gotten countless compliments on how good my hair smells. Mostly from black men…one even said when he hugged me, "Wow you're hair actually smells good." I laughed because I knew what he was thinking and said "Are you surprised because I'm black?" He laughed and responded yes. But yes ladies we can't act like we don't know the typical black woman hair smell.

  • shamigreen says:

    I only use conditioners & styling products that smell good. Unscented products are fine, but stinky ones are a no go. You can add fragrance oils or essential oils to common carrier oil concoctions (coconut, jojoba, castor, sweet almond, olive oil, etc.) to give them something extra… sells all kinds of oils, shea butter, african black soap, not to mention makeup galore!!!

    *this message has been approved by a certified product & makeup junkie*

  • jaimitch says:

    Some of the products do have a very strong smell to them and it gets worse when you add the heat from the curling or flat iron. When your hair is dirty and you add the products and heat, that is the worst. I found this hair mist at Target called Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist, it smells soooooooo good, I'm sometimes tempeted to use it as a body spray. Also Jane Carter's Nourish and Shine smells heavenly, I use it on my son's hair and grease his face with it too. He's a good smelling baby.

  • SaBrina says:

    Natural Hair Length Check #2 Video for "Naptural85" fellow Youtuber.. My goodness everyone you have got to check out her latest video, I love it and she got all of this amazing growth within 2years.

    Me personally on the smell I like the Sheamoisture Smoothie and Elasta Mango Butter, they leave my hair smelling really good. Half the time I don't even need perfum, and will have people asking what I'm wearing. Now I like CD Black Vanilla Leave In Refresher Conditioner that gives off a good scent that people like as well.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a wonderful topic. I have noticed that many of us (relaxed OR natural) have hair that smells from washing too infrequently. Im not saying that one needs to wash her hair daily, however I have experienced smelling "dirty" hair (no product necessary) when walking into a room with someone who does not wash her hair frequently enough. Im not sure how long it takes for this smell to kick in, but it is so disgusting to me when I smell it. I have even had women of other races comment to me about this issue ( as it pertains to a black woman they know who is guilty of this).
    I wash/cowash no less frequently than every 4 days to avoid bad hair odor as well as to encourage a clean scalp and hair shafts.

  • courtface says:

    That's so funny. Thats the compiment i get the most. My Fiance hates when i henna because it takes like a week of poo and co washing to get my normal scent back. Im a performer and you can always pick my wigs apart from others because of the nice

  • Jessica says:

    Since using Coconut Oil and co-washing with suave shea moisturizing conditioner i've been getting plenty of compliments on how my hair smells.

  • Annedrea says:

    LOL this post and article really relate to me. I was the "Pump It Up Girl" the stinch of spritz made my neighbors know when I'd be almost home lol. Now my hair smells like cakes and flowers and just dern clean. I love it and whenever I walk in a room my coworkers often compliment my lotion and I have to remind them it's my hair. LOL I love this.

  • LukaLomi says:

    Interesting that an article was written about this. I used to think about this all the time. I hated that people always new when I got a fresh perm from the smell that was apparently overwhelming. My hair smells a million times better now. I'm learning that as long as my scalp is clean my hair generally smells good.

  • Anonymous says:

    ye i have 3c hair and i basically never wash my hair except rinsing and giving my scalp a little rub while the water runs over it…and i was using herbal essence conditioner and everyone wud always tell me my hair smelled awesome..and thennn i coloured my hair and switched to mouse…and it took me 2 washes with shampoo to get the smell out…not good…back to the good old stuff that works.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lol this is so funny! Yes good smelling hair is important to me now that I can help it. Since going natural and getting rig of petroleum products my hair actually smells good! I'm not afraid to have someone get too close to me head. I remember when I used to use Pink Oil Moisturizer and all those gro greases and my hair would smell so bad at the end of the week! So I would spray it with perfume! Now, I have nice smelling products with no heavy grease smell.

    Oh I remember that curling iron smell…nasty!

  • Anonymous says:

    Kay – thank you for a wonderfully timely article!

    I have always had a sensitive nose, so I don't appreciate old musty hair scents.

    This past summer, one of my loc'd classemates fanned herself in our stifling classroom. I though I was gonna hurl. Good grief sis, really now?

    I can understand why some ladies on the two week program at the shop are reluctant to wash all that good money down the drain twice weekly, but we natural ladies don't have that excuse anymore – yes sis, for real though.

    Women may underestimate that hair scent is part of the body scent – and functions as an aphrodesiac whether we're married or not. We are judged by our attractiveness whether we like it or not.

    We should be more aware of these subliminal evaluations – especially if we're a Q-2 week shampooer. As soon as I get up in the morning, my Hubs rolls over onto my pillow! If my pillow smelled like the dog's bed mat – what signal does that send to him?

    I am so happy I went natural.

    I am 48 and no spring chicken, so a standup comedien's comment that "older women smell like Motions and cocoa butter" kinda struck home. My kids were ROFL, and I'm like "cut that out – it wasn't that funny"

    Motions and cocoa butter, y'all…

  • Anonymous says:

    I just BC'd two days before Thanksgiving and my hubby told me afterwards that my hair smelled good. Since we've been married (13 yrs), that is the only time he has ever told me that. I only had KCCC along with the leave-in conditioner in my hair. Oh how I love being natural!


  • Anonymous says:

    I am constantly putting my finger sin my hair and smelling them (superstar!). I sometimes try to do it on the sly when others are around. I get a lot of compliments on the smell of my hair and I want to keep it that way. I think a lot of people associate natural hair with smell, unclean hair so they are surprised when they see that it isn't stinky at all.

  • Anonymous says:

    I just ordered some oyin handmade(greg juice, honey hemp conditioner and shine and define). I love finally feeling comfortable enough to wash my hair more often and not being insecure about my hair smelling funky. I always hated that wet, permed hair smell when I got caught in the rain.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Trace/Killa, I recently used a leave in for two strand twist… I could hardly sleep throughout the night, my hair just had that too overbearing sweet smell, I didn't let a good twist out go to waste though. I washed my hair immediately after work. I'm all for CLEAN not fruity.

  • Mone't says:

    I can totally relate. When I was natural, I wouldn't wash as much for fear that I wouldn't be able to attain that just permed look again so my hair would smell terrible from the grease, pump it up spritz natural oils and sweat that would build up in it. Now that I'm natural I don't have that issue any more because I wash almost everyday, and my hair smells delish! no more flat iron smelling hair for me!

  • StaceyMarie says:

    Good smelling hair is very important to me, but it's not difficult to achieve as most of the products I use happen to smell good. I had a Jheri curl in '87 and have no desire to inflict that stankness on anyone. I choose products based on their contribution to the health of my hair and of course, smell is a factor, too. My boyfriend, who is white, frequently compliments me this way, "I don't know what you put in it and I don't care. I love your hair and I love how good it smells!" He says the smell of my hair was one of the first things he noticed about me. We just started a long distance relationship and I sent him off with a bottle of Yes to Cucumbers so he can smell "me" when he misses me.

  • Kristen says:

    OMG that's Hilarious!!! (original post) I remember back in high school my mom had been using this stuff on my hair, some kind of hair grow oil, similar (if not exactly the same) to DooGro oil…well I guess I had had it in my hair for weeks, i dunno cuz my hair was FUNNNNKYY!!! LOL I could smell it so you know it must have been bad. I think I went home that day and washed!!! I can smell it now!! You know how you can remember smells?? LOL

    But these days, now more mature and grown, I can say my hair doesn't smell (unless right after a workout) and even then it doesn't smell bad. I do not pile product on my hair other than oils and conditioners, no gels or mousses, nothing sticky.

    Natural products smell so yummy and I love em. As soon as I get back to Trader Joe's I'm gettin what I can!!! :o) No funkdiferous hair for me!!! LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    "I have to admit, sometimes I'm worried about having that "black, natural hair" smell"

    Im sure there is a negative stereotype of natural haircare products just as there is with permed. Matter of fact, I've heard complaints of hair products that smell like "incense and poutchulli" i.e. Carols Daughter.
    Truth is, some people are going to complain about black women's hair no matter what. Unfortunateley, our hair is considered fair game for ridicule, no matter how it looks, feels, or smells.

  • Anonymous says:

    Everytime I cowash my hair, which is about 2x a week, this guy at my job tells me Im his 'aromatherepy'! lol! One of the benefits Im sure Im going to love once Im completly natural 😉

  • T.Turner says:

    @Anon 2:22pm
    Ahh, thank you for saying that. lol, I feel a bit better about myself. Seriously, sometimes I find myself turning things down that smell "too natural" lol…What IS that? And you're right, sometimes it's hard to find a middle ground between performance and scent. AND price. haha I also latch on to products that have a good smell, right now I can't get away from the Garnier Fructis line. I know they say their stuff is fruit-based, but the scents just smell "clean" to me…not exactly fruity.

  • Moni says:

    The qhemet biologics products that I have used are lightly scented and smell faintly of lemon, for those who prefer a "clean" smell.

  • T.Turner says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Trace/killa (2:07pm) You are not alone in wanting to smell clean, not fruity. I too struggle with various scents that make me smell like cookies,lol. I don't want to smell like a baked good, I just want nice smelling hair. At first it was hard to find that balance between not smelling medicine-y and not smelling super sweet. Sometimes I use my bf as the tester…if he says that I smell like a little kid or pre-teen it's out! There are some things that are just too strong…for example, I love Jane Carter's Twist and lock, but the smell reminds me of lemon pledge…When I do find a reasonable smell, I latch onto that product. The other problem can be conflicting scents when using more than one product. I have taken to ordering nonscented products when I can. That seems to help.

  • Lorraine says:

    I've always been perm-free, but since deciding to abstain from a heat a few months ago I've had some difficulties maintaing my once smell good hair. Whenever I buy a new product my boyfriend lets me know if it has passed the smell test and I can add it to my hair artillery. He's crazy about my Burt's Bees Body Butter and Naturelle Bioterra conditioner but not so fond of vatika's coconut oil or Deva Curl conditioner. A few months ago I replaced my store bought face moisturizer with avocado oil. During a visit to see my bf, he politely asked if it was his place that smelled like feet as he pulled away from me. Now the avocado oil goes in my hair, not on my face.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair smelled bad when I was permed. This was due to infrequent washing, stinky products, old extensions, burnt hair from heat tools, etc.

    In stark comtrast, my natural hair smells awesome! It smells good because the natural products I use smell good. I don't go out of my way to make my hair smell good but it's a nice side effect of using natural products. I couldn't use a product that smelled bad. It just wouldn't make sense.

    Catching a whif of my hair make me smile. Others have noticed it too–My BF said my hair smells like chocolate and my little sister said my hair smells like perfume. 🙂

    It's nice being proud of the way my hair looks, smells and feels instead of embarrased of it. I should have gone natural sooner.

  • LaToya says:

    This is funny, but so true. I notice that a lot of the products that are "for us" (Miss Jessies, Dr. Miracle, Carol's Daughter, to name a few)have very strong, off-putting scents. But my hair smells so much better since I started my hhj in 2008. Prior to that I would wear weaves and braids for weeks at a time, exercise, go to the club and yes, my hair did stink! lol

  • Anonymous says:

    This really hits a chord with me….One time I was watching an episode of "Friends", the one where Richard comes in to the kitchen of the restaurant where Monica works to compliment the chef and it is her…well when he hugs her he takes a huge whiff of her hair…now at the time I was a teenager and was about 10 years away from being the natural that I am today, so I had the typical stinky, product filled, hot-curled-everyday hair, and so when I saw this, I thought ewwwwwww…I wouldn't want someone to do that to me!!!! Now I know that it was all the chemicals and the use of heat that had my hair all stinky! And now, just yesterday someone complimented me on the smell of my hair!!! I work in an office, and when I go out to lunch and the sun hits my curls, and lovely smell of my latest leave in (HEHH) wafts up! YAY NATURAL HAIR!!!

  • steffiejulia says:

    this is funny to me because just today i met up with my boyfriend at the bank. and the first thing he says is "omg your hair smells soo good!!" "are you wearing a new perfume/body spray? " me: no its my hair him: omg it smells soo good, you just dont know"
    i thought it was funny for me to come on curlynikki and thats the first article i see listed. lol

  • T.Turner says:

    I'm soooo glad I'm not the only one who notes that certain distinction! Cheers to you Kay (Original Poster), great topic! I can't stop laughing at all the funny quips in your post!

    But anyway to add my two cents, yes scent is super important to me when purchasing a hair styling product. I have walked away from buying quite a few products because I did not favor the smell (i.e. a LOT of the Carol's Daughter line), and I'll definitely put something down if I think it smells too much like a "black hair" product. It just reminds me too much of something my mom would put in my hair back in the day. It just feels…outdated I guess? I'd like to think that I've graduated from the childhood days of Blue Magic and Pink Oil Moisturizer. Back when it seemed like some of us didn't know any better and believed that products geared toward black people were the only products that we were "supposed" to use. They probably all used a lot of the same ingredients, which is why the scents are similar. Now that I'm older and know more about caring for my own hair, it's liberating to know that I'm not limited to that particular section. I can just go with what works (and smells good). (^_^)

    Question for ya'll: Do you think that with the insurgence of all these products geared toward black natural curlies, that there's a similar scent trend going on now? Do you embrace it, does it even matter to you, or do you feel that it sets us apart in the same way as say, an Ultra Sheen? I have to admit, sometimes I'm worried about having that "black, natural hair" smell…Going around smelling like coconuts, pudding, and berries from the Motherland. I just want something that smells clean. A scent that doesn't remind someone of food. Am I alone on that one? I hope I'm not too out of line…

  • Anonymous says:

    …talk about "in yo face fo real not fo rude, but fo real kinda talk"

    yep, that's what is going on with this piece here!!!!!!!!!!

    LOVE IT!

  • Cinni says:

    My hair must smell good and ever since I went natural, the compliments roll in on the smell of my hair.
    Gone are the burnt smells of flat irons and chemicals and hello to yummy scents!
    I'm a college student and one day I was in the elevator at my dorm, a girl asked me if I was eating coconut ice cream (because i had a cone in my hand) & I'm like no..she goes "I smell coconut and it smells wonderful!" I go "That's my hair" =)

  • Unknown says:

    ugh!!! this post is the truth…alot of my friends have smelly hair because they go for weeks at a time without washing and continue to slop on "blk products" and i hate the smell of relaxer or flat iron or culing iron…i always tell my friend her hair smells like shop (which in my mind is a combo of burnt and chemical) i love for my hair to smell good and ppl always say how great it smells and asks what i use..i try n help em out by letting them in on my lil secret but they then scrunch up their face and say do you ever use blk ppl products im not puttin wht ppl stuff in my head…and im lik iight gon head then wit ya stank a$$ hair lmao…

  • Anonymous says:

    I use all natural products due to my sensitive skin/scalp and all of them smell great. When people occasionally get into my personal space they comment on how my hair/skin smells delicious.

  • Sherri says:

    This is so true!! My mother used to grease my scalp with Pine Tar. Anyone within a mile could smell my stank head!! Now the only stinky product i'm in love with is my S-Curl activator, but I mix it with my berry spritz from butters and bars, so my head smells like fruit. And the frequent cowash helps also. As a child i was terrified for someone to touch my hair b/c they'd pull back a greasy hand. Now I'm still not a fan of someone molesting my fro, but at least there'd be no embarassing residue on their hands!

  • Anonymous says:

    Smell is VERY important to me and I won't use a product if it smells funky unless it is absolutely necessary. I'm very conscious about my hygiene and the way I smell and I figure if I can smell me, others can as well. That may not always be true but I have no intentions of finding that out.

    Even before finding hair care blogs I had to wash my hair once a week, or my scalp would be frowzy. If I didn't I'd be paranoid and keep my distance from people for fear they'd smell me too. lol

  • Anonymous says:

    When I was old enough to begin to understand how to take care of my hair .. then I have wanted it to always smell good .. I never felt like I only had to use "black products" So I would wash my hair with vo5 or herbal essences ect ..and try dif conditioners .. I would wash my hair 2 to 3 times a week .. Many times sisters would think I was nuts ! But I hated that "hair" smell lol .. I love when my boyfriend or a friend says my hair smells good , and one of my ex's told me that it was one of the things he always remembered about me …

  • Moni says:

    One of the things my bf loved about me going natural was the smell of my hair. When I was relaxed I always took good care of my hair (washed it and my scarf weekly, didn't use smelly products, etc) but there's an underlying chemical smell that relaxed hair has that isn't present in natural hair. He told me this when I first went natural and I didn't believe him (because I was so used to it), but now that I haven't had a relaxer in over three years, I can notice the smell when I'm close to family members. And I definitely don't miss the very distinct smell of burning hair!

  • LadyV69 says:

    This is one of those "Thank God I'm natural" moments. I remember that rotten egg smell of a fresh perm that took weeks to dissipate. And the smell of burnt hair after using the curling iron. Also, as others have noted, many of the hair products targeted to blacks either smell medicinal or just plain funky. Now, since I no longer put chemicals in my hair or use those funky smelling products, my hair has thrived. I once used KCKT on my w n'g and a neighbor's baby kept trying to eat my hair. He said it smelled like marshmellows. LOL!

  • Anonymous says:

    well what i find hilarious is people keep telling me that my hair smells like coconuts and while i wish it would, it doesn't. So i wonder, why do they keep saying that. I use Kinky curly products and they dont smell like coconut. idk

  • Ayeshia Powell says:

    First off, I'm a college student who is about 3 months natural, long term transitioner. To tell the truth, I NEVER put anything in my hair that I don't like the smell of myself. My mother used to make this little concoction that would make my hair grow 1-2 inches per month but that stuff was as Stank as dog poo mixed with baby throw-up. As soon as I was old enough to say "no" without getting whooped, I stopped putting the grease in my hair despite the growth benefits simply because of the smell.

    Nowadays, I'm using only "SMELL GOOD" organic hair products like Elasta QP Olive Oil & Mango Butter Moisturizer and Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar. I love when I get compliments like "Your hair smells great! Like fruit!" or "Can you stand here and let me smell your hair?" (And, my fiancee loves to just sit and smell it too.)

    I may be crazy for choosing smell over growth but I refuse to walk around this pre-dominately white campus smelling like dead old man–repulsing my professor and drawing more attention to my cute curly black self in the process.

  • Sharmer says:

    You know I never thought about, but they really dont make black hair care products smell very good most times. I wonder why that is. I havent used heavy grease or gel for at least 4 or 5 years, because I prefer oil or natural moisturzers, and stylers that give hold, but still leave your hair feeling soft (QP elasta LSG or setting foam is awesome for this!) I love ORS oil moisturizer, but I really dont think it smells that great. I usually just spray something sweet smelling and that helps.

  • Sharmer says:

    You know I never thought about, but they really dont make black hair care products smell very good most times. I wonder why that is. I havent used heavy grease or gel for at least 4 or 5 years, because I prefer oil or natural moisturzers, and stylers that give hold, but still leave your hair feeling soft (QP elasta LSG or setting foam is awesome for this!) I love ORS oil moisturizer, but I really dont think it smells that great. I usually just spray something sweet smelling and that helps.

  • ChardaeD says:

    Oops, I meant in agreement with anon@ 1:10. My bad!

  • Anonymous says:

    yes I'm obsessed with the smell….who wants to be around someone that stinks??? I'm not as much of a fan of the intense odors that many natural products have….I prefer lighter fragrances. But I hug people all day and I swear the first thing they do is bury their nose in your hair so why not be fresh and so clean!

  • ChardaeD says:

    In agreement with anon@ 12:57pm. The "black girl hair smell" phrase…I didn't take that offensively at all. I know exactly what the person was trying to convey, and I'm curious as to what other phrases could've been used to describe the smell.

  • Anonymous says:

    1:10 why are you being dramatic? Can you not understand a thoughtful comment about the underlying issue of this topic and the author's initial offense? It seems you lack the nuance that was referenced in the comment above.

  • ChardaeD says:

    I think my natural hair smells waaay better than my relaxed hair ever did. There are no crazy chemical smells, and I co-wash my hair 2x a week. So any sweaty smell or funky scents disappear very quickly!

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG at Anonymous…smh, it's not that serious.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I agree with all that has been written here about the hair scent issue, I think what is problematic about the initial discussion is the "black girl hair smell" comment. There are more nuanced ways to phrase the conversation so people don't feel defensive on an entire population. In other words, it's not just what is said but how it is said.

  • RhythmAndDrama says:

    I have ALWAYS been a stickler about good smelling hair. Even when I was relaxed I would wash my hair weekly and use great smelling products to straighten it. Guys would always compliment me on how well I "maintained" my doo.Now I co-wash more frequently so I'm just have a smelling good time! I do get more comments about how good my hair smells from women simply because the natural hair products I use smell stronger so you don't have to be close to me to smell them.

  • MissFenty says:

    Well first my hair always smelled pretty bad when I was still relaxing but mainly when I straightened it and because I just had scalp issues overall. But since I've been taking care of it, it smells a LOT better and there have been times when people will compliment me on the smell.

    BUT OMG I have a friend who is natural but mainly presses her hair or puts it in braids and as a result she washes her hair like once a month or so and OMG her hair has a VERY distinct odor. I hate it with a passion!!!! She's beginning to take better care of her hair but she still doesn't wash it very often so it always smells awful. I told her it smells like a goat (we're from the islands so we both know what that smells like lol) and she almost died laughing, because she knows it stinks but she can't be bothered to wash it more often. But anyway hair smell can be very important.

  • Anonymous says:

    Scent is important to me, if a product smells good it is definitely a bonus to me. It's always funny to me when I give someone a hug and they comment on how I "smell natural". They usually mean it is a positive way so I don't take offense. I just laugh, say thanks and keep it pushing.

  • Anonymous says:

    Now that I'm used to the smell of natural hair products, I can't stand artificial fragrances anymore. At the end of the day, herbs, oils and flowers are a better version of what human beings have been trying to emulate. I used to be clueless about the term "aromatherapy", but now I understand.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL this is the truth! to be completely honest when i had a relaxer i always thought i HAD to stick with the medicated "SOLUTIONS" and that the garnier fructis type of product weren't for black hair, and i do remember not washing my hair for the sake of preserving my wrap! sad i know!
    NOW its extremely important for me to have GREAT smelling hair! right now i'm hooked on oyin products so im usually smelling like(according to my sister) spicy vanilla cake!

  • socialitedreams says:

    it's very important for my hair to smell good. I HATE HATE HATE that burned hair just pressed smell and used to cough around my cousins and bestie when they'd have it done, going so far as to have them get the pink sugar hair spray to cover it. blech! Black hair products that are commercial do tend to smell rank, so i wouldn't jump to the offense because someone said "well your hair doesn't smell like typical black girl hair" because my hair DOESN'T smell like a lot of black girls hair that I know use blue grease and other smelly products. Give me coconut oil, sweet curly butters that smell like frosting, and essential oils ANY day.


  • Anonymous says:

    SOUL GLO OMG!!!!

    Good smelling hair is extremely important to me. Throughout my hair journey I've used all the stinky stuff from Care Free Gold to Sulfur 8. Now I'm using thei lemongrass shea butter stuff, don't know the exact name off hand. But I love it! It's really light, does the job, and smells wonderful. People compliment me on how my hair smells pretty often.

  • Unknown says:

    Scent is important to me. I just read part of this post to my hubby (the part about the "being married so it doesn't matter that I smell like grease"). He gave me the side eye. I like the scent of most of the natural product lines — Fleurtzy's HHB, KBB Cranberry, HE's Totally Twisted. Reg hair grease smells… medicinal. For some reason it reminds me of vinyl and linoleum. Ehhww.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think this is one of the most wonderful things about natural hair-more washing and typically better smelling products than those used to maintain straight hair. When I pressed my hair it would smell like burnt hair. It was a smell you got used to, but it's not a nice scent. I wash my hair with tea tree shampoo and use knot today as a leave in with jojoba oil. I rinse my hair and scalp almost daily (after every run/work out) and wash the scalp once a week. It always smells fresh and not like much of anything. I prefer products without much of a scent just "clean".
    I also think it is very important to make sure hair tools including combs, clips, and scarves are cleaned regularly as well. I had a friend in college who had a head scarf that could rival a skunk. I was all of my hair tools weekly and my sleep scarf is rinsed daily and washed once a week.

  • tpayne22 says:

    This is funny but one time I was in a nightclub and this guy was standing on a platform and I was below with my friends. I washed my hair that morning and took out a braid out and pinned it in a updo. Well you know when you can "feel" someone doing something behind your back, so I turned around and he was trying to discreetly take a whiff of my hair. Dang on near bumped heads and he embarrassedly said "You hair smells like vanilla cake or something." So of course I'm looking like dude your sniffing my hair and he goes on to say "Naw Naw I mean it smells good real good."I'm thinking apparently if you are sniffing a strangers head!! I chuckled and politely said thanks! SO yes hair fragrance is a good thing to look for in products.

  • Anonymous says:

    LMBO@Stankonium Funkdiferous. uuummm yeeeeahh (in my valley girl voice). I've been a sniffer since I was a child and I MUST have good-smelling hair. My nose is VERY sensitive to pungent odors. Hair can become rank after a few days of product, spritzing with water, and let alone applying grease to the scalp….EWWW.

  • Candace says:

    "hair smells" is a big reason my husband likes my hair natural more then he ever liked it relaxed. He frequently comments that he is glad that no longer have to burn my hair (or leave the bathroom smelling like it was on fire) due to the curling iron. I am also really glad that I no longer have to deal with that chemically smell from a fresh relaxer that becomes more poignant after the first workout but before the first wash.
    I love the way most of the natural products smell. The yummy smells keep me from crawling back to the cheap chemically stuff.

  • Hyspin says:

    My man loves the smell of my hair if nothing else. He quite indifferent on natural hair it normal state (so no braids or extensions). But he loves the smell which can be awkward sometimes.
    me: what are you doing?
    him: Your hair, it smell so good.
    me: let go
    him: just a little longer.

  • SoulfulSista says:

    I have had someone comment on my hair. It was a few years ago, and I had my hair in twists. I applied a CD product to my hair (I think it was called Honey Mimosa or something like that) everyday other day so that my twists would be shiny. One day while out for drinks, this guy leaned over to whisper something in my ear, but he didn't say anything. I looked at him like "what is wrong with you?" and he told me he forgot what he was going to say when he smelled my hair because it smells so good. I was giddy the rest of the night after that. LOL. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    back when i was relaxing, my friend's used to comment on how my hair "smells like burning" whenever i had to flatiron it. my shampoos always smelled good (shoutout to Herbal Essences) but the final steps wasn't as appealing. my boyfriend at the time always liked that my hair smelled like flowers, so maybe the burning smell didn't linger…

    now that i am natural, after cowashing and putting in gels and butters, my labmates always comment on me smelling like flowers or dessert or food. chemists have a strong sense of smell. one guy didn't even say good morning; he just put his whole face in my fro. so, i wouldn't say it's overly important, but i might be subconsciously choosing products that smell good.

  • Anonymous says:

    I like my hair to smell good and I think it does more so now than when I was "relaxed". I love the way natural products smell! I had my hair "straightened" (will never do that again!) and it smelled awful for weeks and weeks!

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