My hair stinks like mildew.
June 9, 2019 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Well now I've done it. So apparently in the humidity hell I now live in, if you leave color conditioner (overtone) in your hair overnight you will end up with lovely colored mildew-scented hair and scalp.

I tried shampooing with extra strength TGel shampoo and used a tea tree oil hair mask and it only defeated the funk for 24 hours (and it FRIED my hair). These products are recommended to be used only once a week.

I do not wish to stink for the next 6 days while I regret every life choice that led me here.

Please recommend any and all cures that don't involve shaving my head bald.

And if you know someone in the DC area, or metro-commutable area who can assist, I will pay what I must to solve this problem.
posted by Space Kitty to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apple cider vinegar rinse? Sunlight? These are things that help me combat mildewy laundry.
posted by Mizu at 4:25 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]

Try Nizoral shampoo. It's 1% ketoconazole and a potent antifungal.

If worst comes to worst, a goat's milk kefir rinse would at least offer the mildew some living competition.
posted by jamjam at 4:41 PM on June 9

I haven't had this specific issue personally, but neem oil is good for the hair and the scalp and I have successfully used it on houseplants with mildew -- so cosmetic-grade neem oil might help de-frizz you while also keeping the mildew at bay?

I would also suggest trying the tea tree in a simple dilution rather than a commercial mask -- I know a friend who had a similar issue did 1 tablespoon of tea tree oil diluted in 1 cup of water as a rinse treatment. (Up the ratio depending on how much hair you have, of course.) Let sit 5 minutes, wash, then blow-dry VERY thoroughly.
posted by halation at 4:54 PM on June 9

You will need rosemary oil, cheap steam distilled is fine but pure is best not dilute, and a good comb to apply it to dry hair conditioned or dirty is fine ,
Begin in the crown and work your way round combing up, plastic bag sunny window cup of tea a book, if you are a brunette bonus highlights , rosemary brightens not lightens .
Avoid vinegar rinse for now, the acid can strip the chemically combined water in your already stressed hair ,
Rosemary is a very light oil and evaporates quickly, I'd just rinse with water and blot with a towel , test a dab of oil inside your elbow before you use a lot of rosemary on your head .
If you are blonde, chamomile strong tea rinse has a soothing effect, brightens up old hi-lights .
once services I offered in salon to help my 'chemically sensitive' clients with dandruff related issues .
posted by hortense at 7:20 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Have you tried clarifying shampoo? It strips the hair of built up conditioner and oils etc. Hopefully it will work for your situation too.
posted by Jubey at 8:57 PM on June 9

So, I've had similar issues it the past, living in the tropics. This isn't mildew. It's the way the dye decomposes in humidity. It's a chemical issue, not a microbial one.

The suggestion to rinse with apple cider vinegar is a solid one, but with one caveat - you need to do an alkaline rinse first. The by product has been absorbed into the hair shaft and an alkaline rinse will open the cuticles on the hair up and help get things out. Bicarb dissolved in water will help do that - depeding on how bad it is I'd go for a paste worked into the hair and scalp, left for twenty minutes or so, then washed out with water.
posted by Jilder at 2:42 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]

Agreed. Especially because overnight is really not enough to get proper mildewy and the dye solution is most likely inhospitable to something growing in it that fast.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:59 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]

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