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Why does my hair smell like smoke after being around smokers?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

If you've ever wondered why you can't shake the cigarette smell after spending time in a smoke-filled room (or with a few heavy-puffing friends), it's because your hair acts like a paper towel - it's absorbent. And hair also often has a mild electric charge, particularly in very low humidity, and this can attract charged pollutant particles. So in a nutshell, your hair takes the stink from the air, and brings it home with you. This is a time to shampoo, as the toxins in smoke are harmful to your hair.


Smoker Silhouette
YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

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YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

Most people think that beauty revolves around such things as lipstick, sweet eyes, or skinny jeans -- all those things that we can see (and obsess over) in the mirror. But the fact is that beauty...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Your hair smells like smoke after being around smokers because of a phenomenon that some scientists are now calling "third-hand smoke," which refers to the toxins, particles, and even the smell of smoke that lingers in furniture, carpet, drapes, and other fabrics after someone has smoked in a room. Third-hand smoke can also linger on your clothes and hair if you spend time with a smoker, particularly in an enclosed space.

Although the health consequences of firsthand and secondhand smoke have been well studied, the research on third-hand smoke is less comprehensive. However, because cigarettes contain more than 250 toxins, including lead, cyanide, and arsenic, all of which can pose health hazards to humans, some scientists believe that third hand smoke may be dangerous, particularly if small children are exposed to it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.