"I feel that she smells like patchouli oil... or weed," Rancic said flippantly during Monday's episode.
The host's comments were not taken lightly by the young singer-actress, who posted a note on Instagram criticizing Rancic's "ignorant slurs."
"To say that an 18 year old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive," Zendaya wrote in her lengthy post, before listing a number of celebrated and respected African American celebrities who wear dreadlocks. "None of which smell like weed."
"There is already a harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair," she continued. "My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough."
Many took to Twitter to slam Rancic for her remarks.
Rancic later took to Twitter to clarify her remarks, arguing that her comments were not racially motivated.
"I'm sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!" Rancic tweeted.
Dear @Zendaya, I'm sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!