How to get the formaldehyde smell out of your hair after a straightening or perm treatment

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There is no better feeling than when you’ve recently left the salon with your hair perfectly straight and radiant.

I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t want to move because I was afraid the threatening curls would come back again. But that didn’t happen at all.


I had my hair smooth, shiny, and straight like I had always dreamed, of course, I noticed something strange.

Something that made my nose wrinkle.

And it was a nauseating smell, a smell of formaldehyde that almost made me dizzy.


At first, I thought that this smell would go away after the first day. But the smell persisted.

After three days, finally, the moment came to wash my hair. I felt like I had been invited to the Oscars party.

Finally, I would get rid of that formaldehyde smell from my hair!


But nothing prepared me for what would happen. I washed my hair with a citric-based shampoo, whose smell reminded me of the fruit trees planted at my grandmother’s house.

I washed it not once, but twice. Also, I applied the same brand of conditioner.

But after rinsing, that unpleasant smell was still there.


  At that moment, all the happiness that I had from straightening my hair was erased by the smell of wet, rotten fish.  

So, I decided that I had to go back to the root of the problem, the place where that bad smell started in my hair.

Can you imagine what that is?


Exactly, I went back to the salon where I had done the treatment.

And there, I found the answers I was looking for.

That’s why, if you are looking to do a straightening or perm treatment, don’t stop reading what I will write below, because I will tell you:

  • Why after doing a straightening or perm treatment, sometimes a formaldehyde smell stays in the hair
  • How to get rid of that nauseating smell in your hair


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Why does a straightening treatment leave that horrible smell in your hair?

Like I told you before, I decided to go directly to the source to get rid of the formaldehyde smell in my hair. Meaning, I went to see my stylist.

I should tell you that she treated me well, and she took the time to explain to me why my hair still smelled bad after fifteen days and various washes.


I have pretty defined, curly hair, even though I wouldn’t call them afro curls, it’s pretty curly.

 From there, my stylist used formaldehyde which was concentrated in more than 2%. The higher the percentage of formaldehyde, the greater the nauseating smell of the product.  

That means that the unpleasant smell was the price I had to pay to have the straight hair that I wanted.


What was made clear to me after visiting my stylist was that the higher the concentration of formaldehyde that is applied to the hair to straighten it, the worse the smell.

Looking at this picture, I only was left with one question: how to get rid of the ugly smell in my hair.


I can assure you that the answer that my stylist gave me left my jaw on the ground.

Do you want to know what she told me?


How to get rid of the formaldehyde smell of the hair

remove bad smells from hair

Unfortunately, when a higher concentration is used to straighten the hair the bad smell will last longer, even up to three months.

What’s more, a lot of times, using the flat iron or hairdryer can make the formaldehyde smell stronger.

But, my hairstylist gave me some tips so that the smell was less intense.


  • First off, she recommended that I use dry shampoo, which also has a strong smell that can cover up the formaldehyde.

Using a dry shampoo has two advantages. The first, it helps hide the bad smell of the product used in the straightening treatment.

And also, you expose the hair less to water, which lengthens the effect of the straightening treatment.

use between washes

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Instead, I use the coldest water I can stand when I rinse my hair at the end.


 As you can see the intense formaldehyde smell will disappear as the product disappears from your hair.  

Now, not all straightening or perm treatments leave such an intense smell in your hair. It only lasts when the percentage of formaldehyde is high enough to get the effect that you want.


Nowadays, it’s been about five months since I did the treatment, and I notice that slowly, the nauseating smell has become less notable.

As my grandmother says, every cloud has a silver lining. After all, I prefer to hide the unpleasant smell of formaldehyde in my hair but still have soft, shiny, straight hair.


Now you know how to hide the formaldehyde smell after a straightening treatment for your hair.

Have you ever smelled an unpleasant smell after straightening your hair or doing a perm?

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