Long hair? Smelly head? Nothing shifts that rotten stink? Some people compare the smell to sweat, weed, wet dog, cheese or mildew. Does that sound like that smell hovering round your head like a clingy damp rag?
OK. Let's work this through together.
Hair is neutral
Firstly, your hair is neutral - it doesn't smell unless you coat it in something. Pull your hair in front of your nose. It ought to smell of whatever you last dipped it in, whether that was fresh air, cigarette smoke, chip fat vapour, workout sweat, hairspray, soapy water or dust from a vacuum cleaner.
Locate the problem
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Grab a length of your hair with your fingers and rub it with your finger tips. Smell your finger tips. No bad odour? Ok, great. Now, rub your scalp with your finger tips. Make sure you rub around the roots of your hair then smell your fingers. Is there any hint of the smell that's bothering you? If so, read on...
When you do physical work or vigorous exercise with long hair you create a steamy sweating dark damp tropical climate under your mop of insulating hair.
Do this often enough without rinsing your scalp and drying it completely and you risk creating something unwanted on your head… a jungle. Put simply, you are creating the perfect breeding ground for living things.
Think of these multiplying friends as worms, mushrooms and fungi. All humans play host to bacteria but under optimal conditions don't be surprised if they supersize. Think athletes foot.
"Rubbish. I'm washing my hair every day now - sometimes twice a day. I couldn't get my body any cleaner."
Water won't wash
Note the worms and mushrooms analogy. One can burrow. The other has an umbrella over its head. Once established, no amount of shampooing will wash your new adoring groupies away. In fact, regular shampooing may make matters worse.
Think about it. If you are leaving your hair wet after every wash you are leaving your scalp warm and damp even more of the time. The tropical species are loving it at the base of your hair follicles - it's like sheltering from the rain at the bottom of a giant jungle tree.
But this is a nightmare!
If you are still reading you are probably at your wit's end. You've tried everything but that rotten stink still has the audacity to waft by the moment you step out of the shower. It's like a mouldy, damp patch on a magic carpet flying round your hair, this stinky ghostly voodoo curse. It couldn't be more annoying. What in the hell did you do to deserve this? It's getting embarrassing!
The Secret Weapon
So, how can we fix the problem? Funny as it sounds, the solution may be cheaper and much less hassle than you imagine. Try this for size:
1. Apply a water/vinegar solution to your roots after exercise
2. Blow dry your scalp after rinsing your hair with water
3. Stop shampooing
Get yourself a 500ml squirty gun bottle (the type surface cleaners come in). Rinse it very thoroughly. For 500ml, fill it with a mix of:
75% tap water
25% white vinegar
20 drops of tea tree oil
10 drops of lavender oil
You should be able to get white vinegar (nothing fancy) very cheaply from a supermarket. You'll only need the smallest 10ml bottles of the two essential oils. Shake the mixture and leave to stand. Shake again before use.
Combine with Exercise
This is the plan. When you exercise vigorously your pores will open and the critters you want less of are going to start grazing. That's when you want to hit them with your secret weapon.
Immediately after the type of exercise where you've worked up a sweat:
1. Wash your hands and shower your head with warm water
2. Shake bottle, spray solution onto the palm of one hand
3. Rub palms together to spread solution onto your fingers
4. Work solution across your scalp from back to front with fingers
5. Focus on scalp and hair roots avoiding the rest of your hair*
6. Repeat until a light film of the solution covers your scalp
7. Leave this to do its work for a few minutes
8. Rinse your scalp and hair thoroughly with water
9. Repeat steps 2 to 8
10.Towel dry and blow dry your roots
"I don't want to smell of fish and chips!"Yes, it's true that you will notice the smell of vinegar on the first few applications but this will evaporate very quickly. Follow this routine for a few weeks and once you are enjoying the benefits you can start reducing the strength of your secret weapon, by topping up the squirty bottle with water. Less strength, less odour.
Dry your roots
Bear in mind that persistent warm dampness creates the jungle climate. To reduce the damp at source, towel dry and ideally blow dry your roots after showering. Get the blower air to your roots and scrunch with a free hand with your head down to get them dry faster on a gentle heat. A minute or two of blow drying should suffice to get the roots and scalp dry. Don't worry so much about the rest of your hair - in summer that should dry naturally if properly towel dried.
"If I stop using shampoo my head's going to smell doubly bad!"Here's a third part of your new strategy - perhaps the hardest to follow through - to stop using shampoo. Why? The body's response to too much shampooing is the overproduction of natural oil (sebum). Sebum is food for bacteria. For this reason it's going to be much better to get your natural oil production back in balance.
Ditching your shampoo will cause your hair to look lank for up to 4 weeks. Over the months it will then look less and less greasy. Brush it with a boar bristle brush to spread the natural oil along the length of your hair and to clean it. A final wipe with a clean dry towel should do it. Wash your brush under a warm tap to keep it clean.
Swimming (drowning the critters) and getting more sun (critters don't like ultraviolet) can also help. And aloe vera.
Aloe vera gel is a great healing product and can reduce dryness. It's good for dry hair ends, fantastic for cuts and grazes and might help if your scalp is dry or itchy. Just wash hands, add a little water to a pea size blob in one palm, rub palms together and apply.
Voila. Simple painless solutions to a real PAIN of a problem.
Ends | 28 June 2010
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* Please note that this is a very strong solution. Apply a thin film to scalp/roots only. If you use it on the rest of your hair it will make your lovely locks dry and brittle. Rinse it out thoroughly. As the bad smell lessens over the weeks, dilute the solution (keep adding water, then try reducing the amount of vinegar/drops used on refill).
ps. Natural deodorant crystal pebbles are brilliant for armpits, backs, necks and other nooks which invite jungle conditions . They are far more effective than perfumed supermarket deodorants, last much longer and don't clog your pores with aluminium.
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