If you’ve been in the company of smokers or around an open fire, you’ve probably noticed that your hair easily absorbs the smell of smoke.
This lingering smell of smoke is called “thirdhand smoke.” Besides the unpleasant odor, it also contains compounds that have been linked to certain health risks, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or sudden infant death.
To help you avoid this, we’ve created this guide with several practical tips and tricks on how to get smoke smell out of hair, so you can feel fresh and clean again.
How to Get the Smell of Smoke Out of Your Hair
Sometimes the best methods for removing the smoke smell from your hair are the simplest ones, such as washing it with your preferred shampoo. Let’s review all the options.
Washing your hair with a regular shampoo is the most effective and practical way to remove unwanted smells, smoke included.
A thorough wash with a shampoo will likely remove all smoke molecules stuck in your hair. And if one wash is not enough, you can soap and rinse twice.
However, washing your hair may not always be an option. For instance, if you’re on a camping trip, at a festival, a party, or a work conference, you’ll probably need another quick solution.
In these cases, let’s review other hacks that can help you get through the day until you can wash your hair.
Over the past few years, dry shampoos have become very popular thanks to their convenience. Initially, dry shampoos contained no scents, but today, many scented variations exist. So, if you want to remove the smoke smell from your hair immediately, a dry shampoo would probably be your best choice.
To apply dry shampoo, you’ll need to flip the bottle upside down and apply the shampoo to the roots. Don’t hold the bottle too close to the head because you can hurt your scalp. Ideally, you should keep your hand six inches away from the scalp.
Use your fingers to fluff the hair, then comb it with a brush or your fingers.
Just like regular shampoo, dry shampoo comes in various forms and types. For example, people with oily hair will likely need a dry shampoo for greasy hair, while those with dry hair will probably prefer a brand with added moisture for hydration. Those who want a combination of both should choose an all-hair-types option, preferably an organic product.
Dryer or Fabric Softener Sheet
Most people associate dryer sheets with laundry, but did you know they contain chemical compounds that help reduce the levels of static electricity and retain scents?
This makes dryer sheets or fabric softener sheets very powerful at removing the smoke smell from your hair. You can even expect your hair to have a fragrant smell afterward.
However, remember that these sheets will have the best effect on mildly affected hair, and we can’t guarantee that the effects will be satisfactory for a more pungent smoke smell.
Applying these sheets is very easy. Simply take a sheet and run it through the entire hair length, from the roots to the ends. This will be effective in getting rid of the smoke smell from your hair.
Dryer sheets don’t take up too much space, and you can easily buy them at your local supermarket. They can also easily fit into any purse or bag, so if you find yourself surrounded by smokers during a night out or you decide to smoke a few cigarettes yourself, this trick will help you get the unpleasant smell out of your hair.
One of the most common DIY smoke smell removers is baking soda. Many people use it to freshen up the air in the fridge, pantry, cellar, and ceilings. It can effectively reduce unpleasant odors from foods and works well with indoor smoke smell, too.
But did you know that you can also use it on your hair to remove the smoke smell?
Regardless of how the smell got into your hair, baking soda can remove it. Simply put a small amount of baking soda on the scalp and spread it over your hair with a brush or your fingers.
Just don’t use too much baking soda, as it can leave a white residue on your scalp.
While you may not have rosewater at hand, you can easily find it at local stores and online shops. Besides being useful for removing the smoke smell out of hair, it’s also excellent for cleansing the skin and fighting against skin inflammation. So, if you are looking for a multipurpose cosmetic product for your hair, rosewater is the way to go.
The application is simple. Spray it on your hair and spread it with a brush, comb, or your fingers.
Essential oils have many purposes. Some are good for our skin, while others should only be used as air fresheners.
Essential oils with different scents have different effects, too. For example, lavender is known to be relaxing, while citrus feels fresh.
To avoid damaging your hair, don’t apply the essential oil directly. Instead, dissolve a few drops of your favorite oil in purified water, then spray it on your hair. Massage your scalp with your fingers or a brush to help spread the scent all over.
Cooling Blow Dryer
If your hair smells only slightly of smoke, you could remove most of the smoke smell by blow-drying it.
To avoid hair damage, put the hair dryer in cooling mode, and let the cold air blow through your whole hair and scalp.
If the smoke particles are still lingering on your hair, the cold air will easily remove them, but if the smell is powerful, a cold blow dryer will not help much. In that case, we recommend resorting to some of the previously mentioned methods.
Perfume won’t remove the smell but rather mask it. This is not a long-term solution but maybe a quick save in urgent situations. Spraying a little bit of perfume can be enough to freshen up your hair and hide smoke odors temporarily.
For this method to be effective, it’s best to use a lighter perfume. Heavy scents may not mix well with smoke smells. You can also spread it through your hair with a brush, comb, or your fingers.
This method isn’t perfect because it can make your hair slightly sticky, but on the other hand, there’s no better way to keep your hair smelling fresh and clean than by treating it with a lemon juice and water solution (when washing it is out of the question).
To create the solution, squeeze one lemon and add its juice to a bottle with purified water. You can also add a bit of lemon zest to the mixture. Leave it overnight so that it sets. In the morning, the mixture will be ready, and you can put it in a spraying bottle and carry it around with you.
This may come as a surprise, but vodka has unbelievable odor-removal characteristics that will help you remove the smoke smell from your hair in seconds. It’s also the new buzz trend for treating oily hair.
After all, there are some situations, like during a camping trip or a night out, when vodka may be the most convenient hack.
But what about the smell of vodka? The good news is – there won’t be any smell. Once it’s dry (and that will be pretty quickly, given the alcohol percentage), the smell of vodka will evaporate together with the smoke smell.
Of course, don’t pour pure vodka on your hair. Instead, create a solution with water and vodka in a 1:1 ratio, then splash it on your hair and disperse it with your fingers.
Although everyone knows about body sprays, perfumes, and deodorants, not too many people know that there are specialized hair perfumes, although they are becoming increasingly popular.
Hair perfumes come in various scents, and they are designed to be added to the hair without drying it out or making it greasy or sticky.
Unfortunately, hair perfumes are usually quite pricey, making them a better option for people who plan to deodorize their hair often.
How to Keep Your Hair Smoke Smell Free: Prevention Tips
Before we wrap up, let’s see how you can prevent getting smoke smell into your hair.
Here are a few useful tips on how to avoid making your hair smell like smoke.
Wash and Change Your Sheets and Pillows Regularly
If your hair smells of smoke and you go to bed without washing it, the smell will spread to your sheets and pillows. So even if you wash your hair the next day, you might still wake up with smelly hair after sleeping on your contaminated sheets and pillows.
Take off the sheets and pillow covers and wash them on a high-temperature program to ensure no smoke molecules remain on them. Air out the pillows to freshen them up.
Wash the Hairbrush or Comb
If you’ve been combing your hair while smelling of smoke, wash the hairbrush or the comb you used to make sure that no new smoke particles are being transferred to your washed hair.
If you smoke inside, your furniture and walls will slowly soak in the smoke molecules. This means they’ll be constantly floating in the room and sticking to your hair. If you’re a smoker, smoke outside — the chances of making your hair smell of smoke are lower.
Clean the Air With an Air Purifier
If smoking outside is not an option, an air purifier with a HEPA filter should help you eliminate smoke in the air and reduce the chances of your hair smelling like smoke.
There are many ways to get rid of the smoke smell in your hair — from simple cold air blow drying to applying unexpected things, such as vodka or lemon juice, to good old baking soda and shampoo. Depending on the conditions and available resources, you can decide what option works best for you.
In case you are a smoker, there are some preventative measures you can take to reduce the chances of getting your hair soaked with smoke, like smoking outside and regularly washing your sheets, brush, and comb.