How to make your hair smell GOOD! (DIY Recipes for Anyone on No Poo)

How to Make Your Hair Smell Good 750px - Just Primal Things with watermark

How to make your hair smell GOOD! (with Easy DIY Recipes)

One benefit that shampoo actually gave us was a hefty amount of fragrance for nice smelling hair. I remember back to the days when I would frequently browse the shampoo aisles of stores (never satisfied with my current one and hoping to find a shampoo that would deliver on its promises). I remember one of my criterion for purchase-worthy shampoos was its scent. I know some of you are like me: I would browse the aisles and discreetly pop open the lid, only half an inch, just to get a whiff of its fragrance. Sometimes that one whiff smelled so wonderful that it would sell me on it right then and there. I know some of you are like me, and I think it goes to show how important the scent of our hair is to us.

A lot of you who use No Poo hair washes (clays, honey, water-only, herbs, etc.) have commented that you miss your hair smelling like flowers, but now it can again! You can customize your own scent, and you don’t have to subject your body to the irritants or toxins that are associated with commercial fragrances… win-win. Here are a few options you can use to make your hair smell delicious, flowery, or damn good again.

Option #1:  DIY Easy Essential Oil Spray

You can make your own customized hair mist by adding your favorite essential oils to a spray bottle of water and spraying it onto damp hair. It’s super easy to make, quick, and easy to use. The best part is your can use whichever essential oils you like (or a combination of them) to create your desired fragrance. Popular essential oil scents are lavender, rose, lemongrass, cedarwood, orange, pink grapefruit, and more. Some essential oils can even be beneficial for your scalp & hair.

If you’re unfamiliar with essential oils, it’s important to note that you MUST dilute essential oils! Never use undiluted essential oils on your skin or body or you risk irritation. A few drops of essential oils goes a long way. A dilution of 2% should be fine for most people (12 drops of essential oil per ounce of water), but you can use less if you have sensitive skin.

I purchased my spray bottle for $1 at the dollar store (sometimes you can get a pack of them for only a dollar). If you don’t want to wet your hair between washes, I recommend a mister spray nozzle to get a mist of fragrance without dampening your hair too much. Here’s my recipe:

DIY Essential Oil Hair Mist
A quick & easy customized hair fragrance mist
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  1. Small bottle with spray nozzle
  2. 1/4 cup (or 2 ounces) (or 60ml) of water
  3. 12-24 drops (total) of your favorite essential oils (for 1% - 2% dilution)
  1. First, figure out how much water your spray bottle can hold, so you'll know if you need to divide the recipe in half to fit the bottle.
  2. Mix the water and add drops of your favorite essential oils.
  3. Screw on the spray nozzle, and shake the bottle very well to mix. You will need to shake the bottle before and during use to keep mixing the oil and water.
  4. Mist a few sprays on your hair and gently massage it into your hair and scalp.
How to use
  1. You can spray the mixture on damp hair after a hair wash/rinse.
  2. You can also mist it onto dry hair to refresh the scent between washes, but I recommend misting it onto your hair brush if you don't want to re-wet your hair.
  3. Keep shaking the bottle during since oil and water naturally separate.
  4. Be careful you don't get it in your eyes!
Just Primal Things

Option #2: Perfume!

This one is pretty straight forward, but it’s one that a lot of people don’t think of right away. If you don’t already own or want to purchase essential oils, but you have a bottle of perfume laying around that you never use, a good option for you might be to fragrance your hair with perfume or body spray. (You can actually even buy “hair perfume” specifically designed to fragrance your hair.) A little goes a long way with this option and the scent can last a long time. The one I really like right now is Noir – Tease by Victoria’s Secret. I was gifted a little teaser sized bottle of it a while ago, and recently found it in a drawer. It is the perfect way to fragrance my hair before going out, and some fragrance comes off it every time I swish or flip my hair. :)

Option #3: DIY & Silicone-Free Styling Products

I know some people like to use pomades to style their hair, or some could benefit from using an oil or cocoa/shea butter to hydrate and soften the ends of long hair. If so, you can use any of these products as an opportunity to add fragrance to your hair. I don’t need to use styling products anymore, but when I started no poo, I used a shea butter/cocoa butter/coconut oil/french vanilla blend that smelled absolutely amazing to hydrate the ends of my dry hair, and it made my whole head smell delicious. The product I used was actually meant to be used as a body butter, but the ingredients didn’t contain silicones (like many lotions/skin care butters) so I felt comfortable using it on my hair. There are a few things you want to be careful of when choosing/applying a styling product on no poo.
Requirements for Choosing a Product:
  1. No matter what no poo method you use, if you aren’t using sulfates to wash your hair, you must make sure you aren’t using any products that contain silicones!
  2. Make sure you can sufficiently wash out any styling products you add to your hair. Whether or not you can, depends on your no poo washing method. For those of you who use the Water Only method, make sure you choose a product that is water soluble (dissolves in water).
  3. For oil-based products, make sure you use a tiny amount of product as to not make your hair look oily, and keep it away from your roots! When I used the oily/buttery, delicious smelling product, I would rub a very small amount between my palms and distribute it sparingly at the ends of my hair and at the base of my scalp (not at the top or crown of my head).
DIY Pomade / Hydrating Oil: You can absolutely make your own homemade pomade or hydrating oil. Beeswax + essential oil of your choice makes for a good pomade. And coconut oil + shea butter + essential oil of your choice makes for a great hydrating hair oil. I’ll share my own recipes with you in the future, but for now feel free to search online for some existing ones. :)

Option #4: Scented Dry Shampoo

You can deodorize your hair (so it doesn’t smell like anything) with a simple, homemade dry shampoo: arrowroot powder or cornstarch. This is a great method to use if your hair gets excessively oily and possibly starts to smell like dirty hair between washes. I recommend brushing/scritching/preening throughout the week with a clean brush to keep oils at bay, especially since oil buildup is usually what causes dirty hair smell. But at a certain point scritching/preening/brushing isn’t enough, so dry shampoo is a great option to make your hair look and smell clean again, without requiring a hair wash. Dry shampoo should deodorize your hair of any smells and soak up excess oils, but you can also add fragrance to your dry shampoo.

Dark Hair: Arrowroot & cornstarch are white powders so they blend best into blonde hair. If you have dark hair, you can mix together equal parts arrowroot (or cornstarch) and unsweetened cocoa powder to create a color that blends better into darker hair, which should absorb without leaving a white haze. 

Add Fragrance (Optional): For every 2 ounces (or 60 ml) (or 1/4 cup) of dry shampoo, add approximately 10 drops (total) of your favorite essential oils (for ~1% dilution) and mix well. You can add less EO if you have sensitive skin.

To Apply: Sprinkle a small amount of powder into your hair (a little goes a long way), and fluff or brush your hair until it absorbs. If you can see a white haze on your hair, it generally means you used too much dry shampoo, but you may be able to fluff it away with a towel. Also be careful of how much you use because if you use too much, it can dry out your scalp (incoming itchiness) which can encourage your scalp to produce oils to moisturize your head again. So only use as much as you need, a little goes a long way.

For more info about dry shampoo (and a homemade recipe) see “Tip #3” here.

I hope this post was helpful to you. What are your favorite ways of deodorizing or adding fragrance to your No Poo hair? :)



  1. Leave a Reply

    August 26, 2016

    Hey there :-) first of all: Thank you so much for this beautiful and information-packed page! You’re doing great work :-)
    I’ve got a question and reaaaaallly hope you can help me: I’m trying water only for about three weeks now, and my hair is not really oily but so iiiincredibly waxy, so I have the urge to wash it at least once a week with a low-poo shampoo, but my hair is then afterwards so dry. Before I used to wash every Second day with a baby shampoo and before that I tried every crazy thing with my hair but the result was always dry and ststic hair :-(
    I would be soooo happy if you could help me!!! Thank you :-)

    • Leave a Reply

      Lisa Owens
      April 11, 2018

      I’m a 60 year old woman who is looking to get back to her hippie roots. I find that the shampoos of yesteryear that I loved, namely Clairol Herbal Essence, the real green kind, and Bodycology, Chamomile and herbs, are gone now, and those are the only two I ever liked enough to try to find. Now that I am more savvy about chemicals and have dry, flyaway thinning hair, I’m really liking your simple recipes, like the no shampoo method! I’m going to give it a try! I wonder if there’s a way to control my flyaway dry hair, even on the ends. Tried olive oil, castor oil, but it’s still too greasy, even with a light hand. Any suggestions? (yes, it’s color treated!)

      • Leave a Reply

        Just Primal Things
        October 8, 2018

        Hi Lisa, Sometimes just using the scritch / preen / brush method can help distribute scalp oils throughout your hair which acts as a natural conditioner and styling product. I recommend trying this out and see if it helps your dry hair and flyaways. If that doesn’t work, I recommend trying argan oil on your ends. If you use a tiny bit, it’s one of the least oiliest oils I’ve personally tried, and it can help nourish your hair. Jojoba is another one that people often recommend. Be careful with how much you use! And keep it away from your roots to avoid looking oily. Hope this helps you.

  2. Leave a Reply

    September 15, 2016

    Hi! I loved your recipe for dry shampoo btw, and for the essential oil mix! I am currently using a lemon-scented one :)

    I have a question though, I hope it’s okay to ask here! I’ve been doing the no shampoo/BBB for about 6 months, and although I do like it as my thin hair responds MUCH better to this than standard shampoos, I’ve never actually been able to get the oil to absorb throughout my hair after BBBing. Like, I comb it usually from the second day, and while it helps for when I wash my hair with water, it doesn’t actually make it less significantly less oily where I can leave it down, etc. I wash my BBB only after I wash my hair (so once a week), should I be washing it after every use? So I would wash it daily from day two until my shower? Or maybe I am not brushing it thoroughly enough? Any suggestions/ideas would be VERY appreciated!!! Thank you for the awesome blog!

  3. Leave a Reply

    January 31, 2018

    I’ve so enjoyed your blog and its tremendous amount of information as I venture into the world of water-only washing. But I wonder if there is a way to remove odors from hair without using shampoo? I’m thinking specifically that lovely smokey campfire smell that is just so wonderful in the woods but not so wonderful when it’s back to work! Any tips would be appreciated.

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