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Gum can relieve stress. It can freshen your breath, too. But when it gets stuck in your hair, it becomes your worst enemy.
You’re a mom. You have a million things to do in just 24 hours. Maybe your little one stole the gum right from your mouth, and it somehow made its way up into your hair. Maybe your older child was chewing gum, and it got stuck in her (or his) hair.
However it got here, that gum needs to be removed – pronto.
It’s important not to pull on the gum, as it will only rip out the hair. If your child is the one with gum in her hair, make sure she knows to leave it alone.
Okay, what next?
You have a few options when removing the gum. You could cut the hair. That’s the simplest solution, but not the favorable one, especially if the gum is stuck up by the roots.
We’re going to show you how to remove gum safely and without cutting any hair.
How to Remove Gum without Cutting Hair
There are a few different ways to remove gum without having to cut your or your child’s hair. They may require a little patience, but it’s well worth the effort, especially if you hadn’t planned on a dramatic haircut in the near future.
Here are the most effective, mom-tested solutions for getting gum out of hair:
1. The Peanut Butter/Oil Method (Best)
This simple method uses either peanut butter or a vegetable oil (we like olive oil, but coconut works, too). If the gum is stuck on the eyelashes or the eyebrows, vegetable oil is the best option because it won’t irritate these sensitive areas.
Start by covering the gum completely with the oil or the peanut butter. You can use your hands or an old toothbrush for this task.
The peanut butter will make the gum less stick and a little firmer, which will make it easier to remove without damaging the hair.
After applying the oil or peanut butter, allow it to soak in for a few minutes. Next, slowly and carefully remove the gum from the hair.
The only thing left to do is shampoo and style as normal.
The great thing about the peanut butter method is that it’s easy to work into the hair, especially if you use creamy peanut butter. While chunky peanut butter will also work, those chunks may be hard to get out of the hair when shampooing.
The last thing you want is to spend an extra half-hour brushing bits of peanuts out of your child’s hair.
Peanut butter is the go-to method for most moms, and that’s because it works every time. And most moms have a jar of peanut butter in the pantry, which makes it an easy go-to method for gum removal.
But again, oil will work just as well. Anything fatty or oily will remove gum effectively.
2. Ice It Up
Another effective and simple way to remove gum from hair is to freeze it. No, you shouldn’t stick your head – or have your kid stick her head – in the freezer.
To freeze the gum, use ice cubes or a freezer pack.
The cold will make the gum hard enough to pick at it and remove it (slowly and gently).
This method works best when it’s only a small piece of gum that’s stuck.
3. Use a Lubricant
Lubricants help remove the gum in the same way peanut butter and oil does. The lubricating effect helps separate the gum’s hold on the hair, and makes it easier to remove.
Oil is a type of lubricant, but you can use other products, too, if you want to remove the gum, such as:
- Hair mousse
- Cold cream
- Hair silicone
- Adhesive remover
The idea of putting Vaseline or WD-40 on your or your child’s hair may not sound too pleasant, but if you can’t find any other solutions, they’ll get the job done. Washing the hair afterward will help remove that gunk, and any leftover residue that may still be in the hair.
4. Dissolve to Resolve
Another effective option is to use a dissolver to remove the gum. If visions of heavy-duty chemicals come to mind, don’t panic – you have plenty of dissolvers right in your home whether you realize it or not.
Effective dissolvers for gum include:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Adhesive remover
- Rubbing alcohol
- Mayonnaise (yes, really)
- Lemon juice
- Baking soda (dissolved in water)
- Eucalyptus oil
Once you’ve chosen a dissolver, apply it to the gum and allow it to sit for several minutes. This will give the gum time to break apart. If it doesn’t, let the dissolver sit for longer.
When touching the gum, it should break apart and dissolve in your fingers.
Once all of the gum is out of the hair, cleanse the hair to remove any remaining residue.
The hair may need a little extra conditioning to recover from the gum ordeal.
Which Method Works Best?
These are the four most effective ways to remove gum from the hair, but most moms agree that the peanut butter method works best. Most of us have peanut butter in the home, and it’s a foolproof method that almost always works.
Plus, kids think it’s funny to put peanut butter in their hair, so they may be more willing to cooperate.
If you don’t have peanut butter or your child has a peanut allergy, almond butter will also work. Vegetable oil can be just as effective, too.
All of these methods work with any type of hair at any length.
Why Do These Methods Work?
What makes peanut butter or oil so effective at removing gum?
Gum is a hydrophobic material, which means it doesn’t like water and it won’t dissolve in water. That’s why gum doesn’t just wash out of the hair with a good shampooing and a hot shower.
If water won’t dissolve gum, how do you remove it?
Another hydrophobic material. That’s where the peanut butter, oil and all of the other methods come into play. As you know, oil doesn’t play nice with water. Peanut butter contains a high amount of peanut oil, which is why it works so well to remove the gum.
How to Prevent Future Gum Mishaps
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent gum from sticking to your child’s hair. Kids chew gum, then play with their gum, and then it winds up in their hair. Some kids think it’s funny or want to experiment with putting gum in other kids’ hair.
The best way to prevent these fiascos is to lay down the rules, and teach your kids proper gum-chewing habits.
Even if your child doesn’t follow the rules and still gets gum stuck in her hair, at least you know which methods work – and work quickly.
Many parents find that they have to remove gum from their kid’s hair at least a few times before they learn their lesson. Some parents will cut the gum out of the hair just to teach the child a lesson, but this may be overkill. A simple peanut butter solution is all that’s needed to put an end to an otherwise sticky situation.