Did you ever get gum stuck in your hair as a kid, and your parents used peanut butter to get it out? At the time, it probably seemed counterintuitive, and for good reason. Seriously, why would you get a sticky substance out of hair with another sticky substance? And does any of this actually wash out with normal shampoo?! We're diving into that question today, so you'll be prepared should you end up with some bubble trouble on your hands.
It all starts with the chemistry of gum...
Traditional chewing gum is made up of -- you guessed it -- a natural gum base. This is usually made from trees, and then mixed with sugars, syrups, food coloring and whatever flavor the specific gum will be. Gum's base molecules cling to the proteins found in dry hair, meaning once they grab on, it is pretty tough to get them out. Water won't help, because gum is actually what's known as "hydrophobic," or afraid of water. It won't dissolve in water, either, so you can wash and wash and wash and likely, make no progress. (A caveat: this also means gum won't stick to wet hair. The more you know.)
Then you add the chemistry of peanut butter...
Peanut butter is -- obviously -- made from ground and roasted peanuts. Throughout the process of being made into peanut butter, peanuts produce a lot of oil, and many manufacturers even add additional peanut oil throughout to make it more creamy or flavorful. So, in a nutshell (no pun intended), there is a lot of oil and fat happening here. And if you've ever tried to mix olive oil and water, you know that oil is *ding ding ding* also hydrophobic, similar to gum.
And that's when the magic happens.
Because chewing gum and peanut butter are both hydrophobic, their chemistry makes it easier for them to stick to each other rather than to the dry proteins found in hair. Essentially, the oils in the peanut butter are able to get in between the gum and the strands of hair, creating a barrier and making it easier to remove. When the chunks of gum are all gone, you can simply wash the peanut butter out and be good as new.
Pro tip: other oils or even mayonnaise will work in the same way since they are filled with oils. Just beware of putting too much mayo on your hair...you could smell like it for weeks.
Do you have any other hacks for removing gum from hair?