Natural Hair Mag

What! Mildew In The Hair

Updated 6/17/2014::


How to Prevent Mildew and Mold

Yes, this is a real issue. You won’t believe how many people suffer with the funky smell of mildewed/molded hair. The remedies that are found online may only work for people with a straighter curl pattern as opposed to those that have curlier patterns.  As a professional stylist, when I was fresh in the game, I dealt with two clients that had mildewed hair. One had locs and the other had natural hair. With the locs I tried everything listed online from vinegar, to tea tree oil to Listerine and everything in between and absolutely NOTHING WORKED. After several treatments their hair still had a sour smell. (I was baffled) Eventually my client decided to go with a blade-to-blade treatment that ended the sour smell (as he reported back to me) and our client stylist relationship.

Now with that I’m Just going to be completely honest with this concern of some.  It’s a foul odor that offends yourself and others. NEVER ALLOW your hair to become a breeding ground for mildew/mold, because you can silence the smell for a few days but it will come back.

Cause of Mold and Mildew in Hair

Mold spores are naturally found in the air and they are invisible to the naked eye. Dark damp places are havens for these spores. Mildew comes from moisture that is trapped inside your hair shaft and doesn’t completely dry. Many of you favor ponytails/ buns/ stylish updos, yup your go to style is wonderland for mold /mildew spores. (Gross I know). For those of you who like to shampoo your hair and hate to sit under dryer, those that like to Deep Condition Treatment (DT) over night or those that work out or sweat a lot in the head.  You have to allow your hair to dry preferably with heated air as oppose to air dry hence the mold spores will be attracted to your damp hair and will make home in your ponytail, bun or style.


If you are an avid shampooer, overnight Deep Conditioning Treatment or active individual who sweats a lot in the head, you will need to do the following:

1)     Spray scalp with a tea tree/ peppermint oil/ witch hazel blend prior to drying your hair to assist with the prevention of mold spores hibernating in your tresses. Studies have shown that essential oils have antibacterial and antifungal properties. (Great for those with cute styles that want to maintain and keep.  After spraying scalp and hair with this blend, blow dry hair completely dry by alternating between hot and cool setting to better gauge the dryness level of your hair.)

2)     Also those that sweat a lot in the head or are extremely active need to shampoo more often and do an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse. You may even want to do a soak in Baking Soda water to help remove build up and mold/mildew spores.  I would recommend alternating between the two. One week do ACV, the following week do Baking Soda Soak. Both will need to sit for approximately 5-15 minutes. If you are deep conditioning without a dryer, sit with product on hair for 30-60 minutes. (No need to sleep with hair wet all night, inhibiting a grounds for mildew)

3)     Completely rinse all products out of hair. Rinse hair until water runs clear. Also, squeeze hair as tight as possible to ensure all products are out of your tresses before drying. ALWAYS use a clean dry towel remove moisture out of your crown, by wrapping hair in sections with towel and squeezing as hard as you possibly can. Wring all moisture out with the towel.

4)     Allow your hair to completely dry. You can do this by several methods, blow-drying, sit under hair dryer or using a hand dryer if in restroom no hair dryer is available. Dry hair alleviates the ideal conditions for mold and mildew to grow.

Speaking from experience, NEVER allow your hair to become a vacation home turned into permanent residence for mold or mildew. COMPLETELY DRY YOUR HAIR when it becomes, damp or wet with moisture from water or sweat. By following the aforementioned steps will help you to S.imply K.eep Y.our H.air H.ealthy.


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  • Sara

    Thank you for the information. I am going into the military and during boot camp I’ve been told I will not have time to blow dry my hair at night and will have to sleep with wet hair, which will be put up in a bun all day. Hence the likelyhood for mildew to occur. Any suggestions?? I’m thinking I’ll just bring apple cider vinegar and essential oils, but I’m not sure what else I can do.