Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Make your own hair gel or mousse ~ a simple thrifty recipe using guar gum ~

Finding suitable hair products can be a bewildering experience: whole rows of supermarket shelving are devoted to these multifarious products, which vary incalculably in name, effect, ingredients and price.  Once a suitable product is found it's entirely possible that it may never be seen again, either because the manufacturer decides on a sufficiently different container, or because it simply fades out of existence.  One then has the thankless task of finding something else that 'works'.  It's a worry!

Guar gum powder from Ceres Organics
Making one's own products can be a happy release from dependence on the whims and fortunes of manufacturers so I was delighted when a friend devised this simple recipe.  Her motivation was that she wanted to put fewer chemicals on her head - now there's a thought!

Once she had progressed past the purely experimental stage she gave me some and we both tried it out - and then shared it with another friend.  Now all three of us are using it very happily!  Despite us having hair that ranges from soft and fine to big and bushy we are all pleased with the results - a good indication of its value!

Here is the recipe:
I give the ingredients in small quanities as the mixture doesn't keep all that long even when kept in a covered container in the fridge.
1/4 teaspoon of guar gum powder
1/4 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of water
If your hair is wiry and / or tends to be dry you might like to try increasing the amount of vegetable oil - to double or even triple, but first see what result you achieve with the original ratio. 

Home recipes such as this one will often be 'a work in progress' which we can change and adjust as we go along to find what works best.

Measure the oil into a cup, stir in the guar gum powder and then mix in the water.  The mixture will begin to thicken immediately.  Take care to get the mixture as smooth as possible. 
This mixture may have a slightly beany smell from the guar gum.  You can counteract this by substituting rosewater for some of the water, or by adding a few drops of essential oil, but this isn't necessary as it is very slight and disappears once dry.  It has to be said that the mixture has a rather unappealing appearance, but that doesn't matter in the slightest once you've put the very small amount you will need through your hair.

To have any degree of longevity the mixture needs to be kept in the fridge in a small covered container.  It may be helpful to put the date on it.  

It definitely lasts longer if the stored gel is not touched with the hands at all.  When taking a portion to apply to my clean wet hair I use a teaspoon to remove it and then put it into a cup and dilute it slightly with a tiny bit more water. 

If it deteriorates toss it out.  Deterioration may be indicated by an odd small, discoloration, traces of mold, or it may have reverted to being runny after having been jelly-like.  If any of these signs are present discard it and make a fresh batch.  If stored carefully in the fridge mine lasts anything from about two to four weeks. 

To apply:
The mixture makes a fairly wet gel that is best applied to clean, wet or at least damp hair.

If your hair is long and bushy for best results rub onto your hands and finger-comb it thoroughly through your hair, making sure you get it all the way to the ends.  Once the gel is in, scrunch hair to restore waves or curls, and fluff gently as it dries.  If you put quite a bit in you may find it seems stiff in your hair initially but this will soften if fluffed a little and allowed to fully dry.

My hair is fine and soft so I need only a little.  Before applying it I comb or brush my wet hair into some kind of order.  To apply the gel I wet my hands under the tap and then scoop a small amount of the gel onto my hands and rub it over my fingers to coat them; I then bend over so that my hair is hanging down, and rub it in as much possible around the roots of the hair.  After that I stand up I finger-comb it into the shape.  As my hair dries I scrunch and lift it a bit to encourage the waviness and add that little bit of extra volume that I want.

Note from April 2018: I've been using this recipe for a number of years now and am still pleased with it. 
If you like this article you may like to read this companion article:

What is guar gum?
According to Wikipedia's article it is derived from guar beans and has a range of uses both in food and industry, with the greater demand being for its use in foodstuffs.  It can be used as a thickener, and a very economical one as it is eight times more potent than cornstarch!  One of its most common uses is as a replacement for gluten in baked products for those on gluten-free diets.  You can read more about it in the article here:

The back of the packet shown above includes this information: 

'Guar gun is a natural food thickener used in cooking and baking to bind, thicken and emulsify gluten-free ingredients.  Without guar gum, your gluten-free baked goods will most likely end up as a pile of crumbs. It has significantly more thickening ability than cornstarch for less the cost.'

That packet contains 100 grams and cost between $3 and $4.  My guess is that this packet will last me at least a year!  Now I call that economical! 

This article is one in a series about thrift in the medicine chest and bathroom cupboard.  These articles will be listed together on the page entitled:
Once on that page scroll down to the heading:  
Health issues, the thrifty medicine chest and personal care.

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