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How do I make my hair smell like a salon?

Having hair that smells fresh and clean like you just left the salon can make you feel put together and confident. While most hair products have fragrances added to them, getting that true salon scent relies more on the right shampoo and conditioner selection along with proper hair washing techniques. With the right products and habits, you can make your hair smell salon-fresh every day.

Wash Your Hair Less Frequently

One of the biggest mistakes people make is overwashing their hair. Washing too often with shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils, drying it out and causing damage over time. This leads your scalp to overproduce oil to compensate, making your hair greasy and limp. Only shampooing your hair 2-3 times a week allows your natural oils to moisturize and protect your hair shaft. Your hair will have a fresher, cleaner scent if you aren’t over-stripping it with shampoo.

Use Salon Quality Shampoo and Conditioner

Drugstore shampoos often contain lots of cheap fillers and synthetic fragrances that can make your hair smell more chemical-like. Invest in a professional salon brand shampoo and conditioner without added perfumes or dyes. Quality ingredients like amino acids and botanical extracts will leave a light, natural scent. Stay away from 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners, which don’t properly cleanse or condition the hair. Take your time working the shampoo thoroughly through your roots and scalp before rinsing. Apply conditioner from your mid-lengths to your ends and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing for extra moisture.

Alternate Shampoo and Conditioner

Using shampoo and conditioner together every wash can be overkill. Try alternating washing your hair with just shampoo one day and just conditioner the next to avoid stripping your hair too much. Lightly scrubbing your scalp with conditioner will help dissolve product buildup and oil between shampoos. Just focus the conditioner on your scalp and roots rather than all over your hair.

Use Clarifying Shampoo Occasionally

Clarifying shampoo is formulated to deep clean and remove residue, hard water minerals, and dulling product buildup. Over time, regular use of styling products can make your hair smell stale. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week or every 2 weeks to refresh your hair. Massage it thoroughly into your roots, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse. Follow with a moisturizing conditioner.

Dry Shampoo Between Washes

Spritzing dry shampoo at your roots and scalp between washes helps absorb oil and sweat that can create odor. Dry shampoo adds volume and makes your hair smell freshly washed by neutralizing odors with starch or talc. Just don’t overdo it or the powdery residue can dull your hair. Brush through your hair after spraying to distribute the dry shampoo evenly.

Use Leave-In Treatments

Look for lightweight leave-in treatments made for your hair type, like serums, creams or sprays. Apply from mid-shaft to ends after washing when your hair is still damp. The added oils, vitamins and proteins in leave-ins not only help protect your hair but also impart natural fragrance. They lock in moisture and eliminate static for smooth, shiny hair that smells fresh.

Skip Perfumed Products

Hair products like mousse, gel and hairspray contain synthetic fragrances that tend to smell cheap. They can also irritate your scalp and dry out your hair with prolonged use. Styling products without added perfumes will allow your shampoo’s clean scent to come through. If you do use scented stylers, apply them lightly and only to your mid-lengths and ends.

Let Your Hair Air Dry

The heat from blow drying or hot tools can deplete your hair’s natural moisture, causing damage and odor over time. Allow your hair to air dry after washing to retain oils and fragrance. If you must use heat, apply a heat protectant spray first to shield your hair. Keep the temperature and speed on blow dryers and irons low to minimize drying.

Use Dry Shampoo Before Bed

Applying dry shampoo at your roots before bed helps absorb any odor and oil during sleep. In the morning your hair will smell fresh and clean. Shake the dry shampoo can well and hold it about 6 inches from your scalp as you spray. Let it sit for a few minutes before brushing it through your hair from roots to ends.

Vinegar Rinse for Buildup

A weekly vinegar rinse helps remove any residual styling product buildup that can create stale odors. After shampooing, mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 2 cups water. Gently pour it over your hair, scrubbing your scalp. Let sit for a few minutes before rinsing clean. It will also restore your hair’s natural pH levels, boost shine and remove dandruff.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils like lemon, lavender, rosemary and mint provide natural fragrance without irritating your scalp. Add a few drops of your chosen oils to your shampoo or to the palm of your hand along with a teaspoon of lightweight carrier oil. Massage the mixture into your scalp and hair before rinsing. You can also make a hydrating scalp scrub by combining sugar, oil and a couple drops of essential oils.

Avoid Heavy Oils and Creams

While hair and scalp oils make hair smooth and shiny, using them too heavily can lead to a rancid smell. Apply oils and creams sparingly, focusing only on your mid-lengths and ends. Omit any extra products like pomades if your hair already feels sufficiently conditioned. Overloading your hair causes buildup that traps odors.

Brush Your Hair Thoroughly

Regular brushing distributes your hair’s natural oils from the scalp throughout the lengths. It also helps remove dirt, sweat and styling product residue that can create odor when allowed to accumulate. Use a boar bristle brush to brush your dry hair each day. Make sure to brush all the way from your scalp to your ends.

Rinse With Cool Water

Washing your hair with hot water can dry it out, especially if you have color treated or dry hair. Rinsing with cooler water helps keep your hair’s natural oils intact for added shine and moisture. Start with warm water to wet your hair and open the hair cuticle. Rinse out shampoo and conditioner with a blast of cool water to seal the cuticle.


Getting your hair to smell fresh day after day relies on using the right techniques and products. Wash hair less often with a salon brand shampoo and conditioner. Alternate between the two and use clarifying shampoo weekly. Apply leave-in treatments and style with light products. Let hair air dry and use dry shampoo to refresh between washes. With these tips, you can make your hair smell like you just left the salon every day.