Do you have chewing gum stuck in your hair? If you’re a gum fanatic, then you’ve probably experienced a couple of sticky situations.
Those who aren’t careful with their chewing gum can end up getting into quite a mess. This scenario isn’t just pertinent to children, either.
Even adults can find themselves with gum on the soles of their shoes, on their pants, and yes, even in their hair.
It’s easy to panic if you find yourself with gum stuck to your hair strands, but this guide will teach you how to get gum out of your hair without cutting it.
Why Does Gum Stick to Your Hair?
What makes gum so sticky? Love it or hate it, chewing gum is one delightfully sticky concoction. Yet, what is it that actually makes gum, gummy?
This substance gets its chewy texture from the synthetic rubbers and resins that it’s made out of. This is why you can blow bubbles with your gum or place it in your hands and stretch it.
The resins in chewing gum work as stabilizers, preventing the gum from breaking down as you chew it. There can also be plasticizers in gum, such as natural wax or paraffin, which also work to stabilize the gum and make it well, gummy.
The elasticity and stickiness of chewing gum are all thanks to the strong chemical bonds, called polymers, that keep the rubbers and resins stuck together.
That’s why it’s so hard to get gum off of a surface, such as a desk, clothing, or your hair. Some of the polymers in chewing gum are elastomers, a polymer with weak bonds between molecules, but high elasticity and viscosity.
In addition, many types of chewing gum are hydrophobic, meaning they don’t dissolve in water, which can make it extremely difficult to remove it from hair and clothes.
The polymers in the chewing gum repel water, sort of how our own saliva does. On the other hand, polymers will cling to oils.
What this does tell us, however, is that we can use another hydrophobic substance to get that gum out.
If you think back to your school science fair days, you might remember that oil doesn’t dissolve in water. Bingo! This gives us a clue as to how to get gum out of hair.
Now let’s check out some tips and tricks, some of which come from professional dermatologists who have experienced this kind of gum-in-the-hair catastrophe.
Getting Gum Out of Your Hair: First Things First
You’re having fun blowing some harmless bubbles with your chewing gum when POP! The bubble bursts all over your face, making its way into your hair.
Your first line of defense is to get any unaffected hair out of the way. Save as many strands as you can and see if you can get any of the sticky pieces of hair free from the gum.
Keep your unaffected hair separated (e.g., in a ponytail) so you can focus only on the affected area.
You may have heard that you should use an ice cube to freeze the gum that’s stuck to your hair. This is actually an old wive’s tale and there isn’t any evidence that this will help you get the gum out any faster or more successfully.
You may think that freezing the gum will harden it enough that it will detach from your strands and fall off.
The thing is, you won’t be able to get the gum hard enough with an ice cube, plus we want to use hydrophobic materials to get the gum out, remember?
Trying to get the gum out with ice (which is water) won’t help much. Now, if you have liquid nitrogen you might be able to freeze the gum, but we’re pretty sure that’s not the case for you.
Instead, you might want to try exposing the gum to some heat, just a little bit. If you have a blow dryer nearby, that’s perfect. Put some heat on the gum to soften it so that it’s easier to pry from your hair.
Just be sure that you’re careful when applying the heat. You don’t want to burn yourself and you definitely don’t want the softened gum to sneak into any other parts of your hair.
It might help to have a friend assist you with this process. It also helps to use a blunt butter knife to scrape off excess gum.
You might want to use a comb, but just be careful that you don’t yank out big clumps of your hair as you’re combing the gum out. You could end up doing more damage to your hair than good.
Once you have softened the gum and extracted as much hair as you can from the gummy mess, check out these additional methods for getting gum out of your hair. Give one or more of these methods a try to eradicate the gum completely.
How to Get Gum Out of Your Hair: 6 Recommended Methods
Method #1: Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar gets a lot of love from health and beauty gurus, and for good reason. It has antimicrobial properties and can be used in a variety of DIY products, from at-home cleansers to facial toner.
If you want to go all out, you can use the apple cider vinegar all over your hair as an anti-dandruff treatment.
That being said, we will focus on using it to get gum out of hair. Pour a quarter-cup of the apple cider vinegar in a microwave-safe cup and heat it on high for 30 seconds.
Then, grab the strands of hair that are covered in gum and carefully dip them into the cup of apple cider vinegar. Again, it helps to have a friend here!
After you drench that section of hair, use a butter knife to get large pieces of gum out, and then use a toothbrush to gently brush away the gummy residue.
Then, you can wash your hair as you normally would. Note that if you do not have apple cider vinegar at home, you can also use white vinegar.
Keep in mind that it will be smelly, so make sure you wash your hair afterwards!
Method #2: Use an Oil-Based Cleanser
Remember what we said earlier about using a hydrophobic substance since gum is hydrophobic? Well, oils and fats are two perfect examples.
Many oil-based cleansers include liquid paraffin in the ingredients list. This is a type of mineral oil made from complex saturated hydrocarbons.
Paraffin is used in some types of rubber, so you can see why it would work against something such as chewing gum.
To try out this method, apply a few drops directly to your hair and use a toothbrush to work the cleanser into your strands. You should see the gum starting to thin out and slide out of your hair.
Method #3: Use Olive Oil
Canola oil or coconut oil can work here too, but we’re partial to olive oil thanks to its beneficial properties.
The fats in olive oil have hydrophobic properties just like chewing gum, so they sort of cancel each other out, resulting in easier gum removal from the hair.
To avoid making a huge mess (or a bigger mess than you currently have), pour a bit of olive oil in a cup and then dip your gum-infested hair into it.
Soak the strands and then lift your hair out of the cup and use your fingers to slide off any excess oil. Then you can use your fingers and/or a toothbrush to work the olive oil into your hair and loosen the gum.
So, while you’re getting the gum out, keep in mind that you’re also getting a bit of a deep conditioner for your tresses.
Method #4: Use Peanut Butter
We know, it seems like such a shame to waste your delicious peanut butter on your hair, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Much like olive oil, the fats in peanut butter work as a similar hydrophobic substance, helping to loosen the gum from your locks.
Chemically speaking, peanut butter contains lots of carbon and hydrogen molecules, so it’s a wonderful material to use as a natural gum remover.
Make sure that you are using a creamy variety, as the chunky version will make a bigger mess and be harder to work with.
Start by spooning out a tablespoon or so of the peanut butter and applying it to the gum in your hair. Work it in a bit and then let it sit for about eight to 10 minutes.
Afterwards, you should be able to use a butter knife or your fingers to work the gum out of your hair. Then, wash your hair as normal.
Obviously, if you’re allergic to peanuts, give one of the other methods a try.
Method #5: Use Petroleum Jelly
Got some petroleum jelly or Vaseline in the house?
These substances are gentle enough to use on your hair, but they also work to loosen and soften the gum while making it less sticky.
You want your hair to be dry when you put on the Vaseline or petroleum jelly so that it can adhere more to the gum and less to your hair.
Grab the jar of petroleum jelly or Vaseline and use your finger to scoop out a dollop. Place it on the gum and work it into the sticky area of your hair.
You should feel it softening up, and then you can use your fingers or a comb to remove it from your hair. Then, shampoo and condition as normal.
Method #6: Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol works to neutralize the tackiness of chewing gum by breaking down the gum’s polymers, which will be a huge help in getting it out of your hair.
Polymers are essentially large molecules that are chemically bonded together. The keratin in your hair is a polymer, as is the protein that makes up your fingernails.
To try the rubbing alcohol method, use a cotton round, cotton ball, or Q-tip and pour a bit of rubbing alcohol on it.
Then, apply it to the gum and use your fingers to work it in and totally saturate the gum and the affected hair.
You should then be able to use your fingers or a toothbrush to coax the gum out. Then, wash your hair as you normally would.
Aftercare: Some Final Considerations
You might have to try more than one of these methods, or alternatively, you might need to repeat a method to get all of the gum out.
Once you get the majority of the gum out, hop in the shower and start washing your hair.
You can shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would, but just take some extra precautions to make sure there are not any gummy stragglers remaining in your hair.
Ideally, you will use a gentle shampoo, and for best results, you might need to repeat the lathering process one or more times, especially with all of that oil in your hair.
Then, you can moisturize and condition your hair. Even if you did your very best to get the gum out of your hair, there might still be some tiny pieces in there.
So, just be patient and work your fingers through the length of your hair, starting from the crown of your head all the way down to the ends. Rinse with warm water and dry as you normally would.
Now that you know how to get gum out of hair, you can chew your gum and blow your bubbles with more peace of mind.