Guar gum helps to hydrate and thicken hair, so it’s fabulous if you’re looking to boost your lackluster locks. That said, guar gum can leave white flakes in your hair if used incorrectly.
Written by Alice Carlill
If you don’t take care to use guar gum powder correctly, you can end up with a build-up of white flakes in your hair. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to ensure that you benefit from guar gum powder without experiencing any flaking.
Below, we take you through what guar gum is and how best to use it.
What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum comes from the cluster of guar bean. You’ll typically find it as a powder, which is used as an additive in products across multiple industries, from food and cosmetics to textile and pharmaceutical.
This powder results from grinding the beans, and is then dissolved into water to form a viscous, paste-like substance.
This is because guar gum has this viscosity and is excellent at providing emulsification that it’s used across so many industries.
It also has a very high protein content. All of these reasons explain why guar gum is so popular for use in hair.
Why Is Guar Gum Used In Hair?
Guar gum is an excellent emulsifier. It absorbs water well and thickens any mixture into which it’s added.
When applied to your hair, this means the guar gum works to coat your hair strands, thereby acting as a natural thickener and helping to minimize breakage.
It can also add an attractive sheen and slippery feeling.
You can add guar gum powder to your conditioners, shampoos, and detangling mixtures. Just like oil works as a detangler, so does guar gum. It can help you get your fingers through even the peskiest knots.
What Are The Benefits Of Guar Gum?
Guar gum is appealing for a number of reasons, including the below:
Guar Gum Is Natural
As we move into a period where increasing numbers of consumers are turning to products that will minimize their environmental impact, guar gum is an attractive natural hair care product.
It Is Hydrating
Because guar gum coats the hair strands, it also locks in any moisture, therefore ensuring that your locks stay happy, healthy, and hydrated.
It’s therefore a fantastic conditioning product, making hair silky-smooth and shiny.
Guar Gum Prevents Breakage
It’s a pretty simple formula: extra hydration means less risk of breakage.
It also means that guar gum will work to reduce frizziness in hair, minimizing static.
Makes Hair More Manageable
As guar gum is a fabulous detangler, it can work to significantly help you maintain sleek hair.
When added to water, guar gum becomes soft and slippery, working through hair strands to gently loosen any knots.
It’s therefore a great addition to any conditioning hair care routine.
Why Does Guar Gum Cause Flaking?
Guar Gum is a very versatile polymer. Polymers serve an important function in hair care – in fact, most hair products contain some kind of polymer.
The polymers are behind the success of the product, so they’re very important.
Essentially, polymers are very large molecules made up of repeating units of small molecules that are chemically bonded.
They’re found in spider’s silk and cellulose, and in DNA, but can also be lab-made.
Polymers work in a number of ways for your hair – they can help to thicken products and make them more viscous (like guar gum), support the hair cuticle, or provide the ‘hold’ in any styling product.
Polymer molecules aren’t flexible, however. Once they’re broken, the structure won’t hold together.
This is why you can end up with white flakes in your hair – particularly if you’re prone to touching your hair after styling it.
Also Read: How To Use Pomelo Oil For Hair Growth
How To Avoid Guar Gum Flaking
Thankfully, there are a number of things that you can do in order to prevent or reduce any flaking of guar gum building up in your hair.
Don’t Use Too Much
You really don’t need huge amounts of guar gum in order to get the viscosity that you need. If you do add in too much, be sure to leave the mixture to settle – it will thicken over time.
Be sure to mix the guar gum powder in well, so that it’s fully dissolved into the water with which you’re mixing it.
You don’t want any lumps, as this means the guar gum hasn’t fully hydrated and therefore won’t work.
To reduce these lumps (known as ‘fish eyes’), add small amounts of guar gum powder into the water, mix well, and wait.
Then add another small amount. It’s time-consuming but worth it. You can also use an electric blender to mix it in if you really want to go for it.
You can encourage this solvent process along by adding glycerin mixed with water before the guar gum. The addition of glycerin will reduce any flaking.
Don’t Touch Your Hair
Yes, it’s super appealing to play around with your hair, but if you want to stop guar gum from leaving white flakes in your hair, don’t.
Once you’ve applied your styling products, leave the hair alone. That way, you won’t disturb the lacquer that the polymers are forming, so you should reduce the risk of flaking.
Apply On Wet Hair
If your hair is dry when you’re applying your guar gum, it won’t absorb into the strands, and you won’t get the benefits. It will also sit on top of your hair, creating a nasty build-up that results in white flakes.
Use A Clarifying Shampoo
This will be beneficial for your hair regardless of whether you use guar gum or not – but if you do, it’s essential. Once monthly, use a clarifying shampoo in order to remove any trace of build-up – whether natural or chemical.
How To Make Guar Gum Conditioner
Below, we take you through the steps to make Guar Gum conditioner.
Be aware that guar gum has a high pH level so you can add drops of lemon juice to your mixture in order to reduce the pH level if you’d prefer. You can also use essential oils for added scent.
Natural Guar gum powder should only be used in dosages of between 0.2 – 2%. It’s best to use less initially, and then build up your percentage usage.
To use guar gum powder in hair:
- Take a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of guar gum powder. Slowly sift the guar gum into the water, taking care to minimize any lumps and letting the powder dissolve entirely into a gel. You can even strain it if you’d like to be sure.
- Once the guar gum is all added to the water and has completely mixed in, cover it and set it aside for an hour. It should form a jelly-like paste.
- Add this natural paste to your conditioner or detangler. If you divide your hair into sections, it will make the application process easier, and you can take care to ensure all of your scalp and hair is treated.
- Leave the mix on for 15 minutes or so, and then rinse off with warm water. Be sure to rinse it all out. If any is left on hair, this might result in guar gum build-up.
How To Make Natural Guar Gum Gel
If you’re looking for a natural gel to incorporate into your hair routine, try making this guar gum gel.
It is free from many of the chemicals of preservatives you find in normal gel and it doesn’t take too long to make.
You will need:
Half teaspoon guar gum powder
1/4 cup aloe vera juice
1 cup of distilled warm water
2 drops of essential oil of your choosing (we like lavender or peppermint)
1/2 tsp natural preservative such as ascorbic acid
Handheld or electric mixer
- Add 1 cup of water into a bowl
- Carefully sift a third of the guar gum into the warm water. Don’t stir.
- Once you’ve sifted it through, mix the powder into the water until it has dissolved and there are no lumps.
- Continue sifting more guar gum powder into the water. Repeat the mixing process until all the powder has dissolved and the jelly-like mixture is free from lumps.
- Place the strainer over your storage jar and pour the gel into the jar. make sure to catch any lumps.
- Pour the aloe vera juice into the mix and stir.
- Add the essential oils and ascorbic acid to the jar.
Refrigerate gel before using.
Side Effects Of Guar Gum
As with all products, there are some potential side effects when using guar gum. Don’t ever consume it orally – it’s only for use on the skin or hair.
If you do eat it, seek medical help, as you may experience stomach cramps, bloating, and other discomforts.
If you have sensitive skin, be sure to patch test first, and if you’re allergic to soya then don’t use it.
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