Girl with headphones blowing bubble gum

How can you remove chewing gum from hair?

Do you ever feel like your hair (or your child’s hair) is a magnet for gum?

Well, don’t worry — there are ways to get the sticky gunk out of their hair without resorting to an emergency session in your bathroom “salon.”

“Parents often think the only way to remove gum from the hair is to cut it out. Fortunately, common items from your pantry can do a great job at removing the gum — and sparing an impromptu haircut,” says board-certified dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

A sticky mess: How to remove chewing gum from hair (without scissors)

To remove chewing gum without damaging the hair, Dr Mirmirani recommends you follow these steps:

  1. Find a jar of creamy-style peanut butter or some kind of vegetable oil, such as olive oil.
  2. Cover the gum completely with peanut butter or oil using your fingers or an old toothbrush. With peanut butter, the oils in the product make the chewing gum base stiffer and less sticky.
  3. Wait a few minutes to allow the product to work.
  4. Remove the gum from the hair. (Vegetable oil is especially useful when removing gum from eyebrows or eyelashes.)
  5. Wash your child’s hair as normal.
Oil is the cure

Other sources suggest similar oil-based materials — everything from mayonnaise to butter to mineral oil — but the net effect is the same.

UCSB ScienceLine, from the University of California Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory, offer a little more information about how the oil helps:

Gum is a hydrophobic material – it doesn’t want to dissolve in water. Unfortunately, gum is also very sticky. So if it gets stuck in your hair, and you can’t use water to get it out, how do you get it out? The answer would be to use another hydrophobic material! And it turns out that one class of materials that is very hydrophobic is fats and oils. And this is precisely what peanut butter is made of!

Remove gum from your hair or your child’s hair (video)


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