As a hairstylist, I’ve long since swapped chewing gum for mints during work hours to protect my clients’ delicate hair. An accidental drop of gum could mean disaster, so this switch helps me dodge any sticky situations. Now that I’m a parent, I’ve realized that my own hair isn’t immune to such mishaps.

Photo credit by: @nicoleballardini

Removing gum from hair without sacrificing length is like removing a stain from a beloved shirt: everyone should know a few reliable DIY tricks to tackle the problem. To compile the best strategies before reaching for the scissors, I consulted fellow hairstylists Becca Raziuddin and Jennifer Korab for their tried-and-true methods of gum removal.

Vinegar Solution

Vinegar offers many perks to our strands, including assisting in removing unwanted gum. “The acidity will help dissolve the gum, making it easy to remove,” Korab says. You can use vinegar or a combination of vinegar and water, depending on your hair type. For finer hair, color-treated hair, or any strands with pre-existing damage, diluting the vinegar may be the gentler option.

“This solvent will break up the bond between your hair and the gum,” says Raziuddin. “However, it will leave a strong odor behind.”

  • Pour or mix your vinegar solution.
  • Soak your hair in the solution by dipping the affected area into a bowl or saturating closely with a spray bottle.
  • Leave the hair submerged in the solution for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Gently slide the gum out using your fingers or a comb.

Ice Cubes

Thanks to its cold temperature, “using an ice cube is one of the best ways to remove gum from your hair,” says Korab. Freezing the gum to a cooler temperature will help it harden rather than stick. The hope here is that by losing the adhesive component, it’s easier to discard.

Here’s how Raziuddin recommends using ice to eliminate gum:

  • Hold an ice cube or ice pack to the affected area for a few minutes until the gum has hardened.
  • Once solid, gently break it into small pieces.
  • Carefully remove the gum piece by piece.

Natural Oils

Natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil will help break down the gum’s stickiness, making them ideal for removing unwanted gum from the hair, according to Korab. And thankfully, many of us already have a variety of natural oils to be found in our homes.

Raziuddin and Korab share how to use any natural oil for gum removal in three easy steps:

  • Apply a tablespoon of oil to the gum.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes, allowing it to penetrate the affected area.
  • Gently work the gum out of your hair using your fingers or a comb.

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