Guar Gum Hair Gel

in , by FroBunni, Tuesday, May 27, 2014
guar gum gel results
On the left is my hair with the guar gum gel, while on the right is my hair without the guar gum gel but not define which actually causes breakage for my hair

I've been researching natural hair gels since the end of last summer. My hair doesn't do well with humidity, and wearing wash n gos or buns is really my only option to avoid an entire summer of bad hair. My wash n gos require gel, but unfortunately, my hair doesn't really like commercial hair gel. The culprit…PVP.  

PVP isn't exactly good for my hair, I was actually willing to continue experimenting with it until I stopped washing my hair with commercial shampoos. My baking soda and aloe vera cleanser is great, but it cannot stand up to commercial ingredients like silicone and PVP, and I knew if I were to continue with my natural hair cleanser, I would have to completely ditch certain hair products. So I resolved to only use Giovanni hair products (minus the gel, shampoo, and serum) and everything else I would make. 

I was actually going to make it easier for myself and just wear a protective style all summer. I've only done two strand twists on my hair, but I was thinking of doing yarn braids instead. Eventually, I realized that yarn braids weren't going to work because I hate protective hairstyles, lol. I have to have my hair out in some form, otherwise I just go crazy. I started researching all natural hair gels without PVP to see if I could pin down exactly what is used to help curls clump and keep its shape. After reading the ingredients in 5 different hair gels and curling cremes, I began to notice an ingredient that was in all of them - guar gum. According to wikipedia, guar gum is guar seeds that are dehusked, milled, and screened and is produced as an off-white powder. It is used in gluten-free cooking (see this Wikipedia article for more information). Guar gum has thickening properties, similar to cornstarch, making it perfect for use in a homemade gel. I wanted to know if others had used guar gum to make gel, and a simple google search revealed that it is actually fairly common (Eco-friendly, low cost hair conditioner and gel, a YouTube video comparing guar and xantahm gum results, and Make your own hair gel or mousse with guar gum gel) so I decided to give it a go.

guar gum gel
My guar gum shampoo mixed. I added a bit too much guar gum, hence the clumps

Last week, I decided to go to Whole Foods to test out guar gum gel. I bought a small 8oz bag of Bob's Red Mill Guar Gum for $8. I wasn't planning on fully trying it in a gel that night, so I added it to my baking soda, aloe vera hair cleanser mix. Amazingly, it gave the best slip. My hair wasn't tangled at all, and it rinsed out clean leaving my hair really soft. I was so amazed that I decided that after I conditioned and  detangled my hair, I would add it as a gel. I made a gel mix of my Giovanni direct leave-in, water, and about 4 teaspoons of guar gum powder. I let the mix thicken and added it to my hair, two strand twisted, and in the morning, undid the twists to see perfectly defined curls. I was amazed.

Frobunni guar gum gel results
Top left: Guar gum gel with Giovanni direct leave-in, Top right: my clean hair without guar gum, Bottom left: my clean hair with guar gum just applied, Bottom right: Dried hair with guar gum

After a couple of days, I got bored with my wash n go, lol, which is normal. I decided to comb out my kinks and curls and, unlike PVP that leaves a sticky coating on my hair until it is washed out, I couldn't even tell my hair had gel in it. It was soft and had great movement, but didn't feel coated. I am excited to continue to experiment with guar gum hair gel. I am hoping that it helps with preventing frizz during the summer (I'm not going to hold my breath just yet), but the results from the wash n go make this gel very promising as a staple product in my natural hair regimen.

Edited December 2015: When I originally wrote this, I did poor research on PVP citing a source that, upon further inspection, I disagree with. I have since removed it, but also want to reinforce that PVP has consistently made my hair dry, so I leave it out of my regimen. However, this does not mean that everyone will have a probelm with it, and I have seen many use it with success. So, like everything, try products with and without that ingredient to see if you like it.

As someone who has a Master's in Library Science, I pride myself on providing accurate information, and in the case of ingredients in hair products, science. As such, I am citing articles from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. The CIR "reviews and accesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner, and publish the results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature." Here is their report on PVP (Polyvinylpyrrolidone) and also PVP/ Copolymer (Polyvinylpyrrolidone/Vinyl Acetate Copolymer)
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  1. I have a very important question. ive made a DIY hair treatment consisting of all natural ingredients (Avocado, Aloe, Egg etc) however i wan to learn how to preserve it because after a day or two it starts to grow molds and the colour changes to brown. what can i use to preserve it?

    1. Unfortunately, I don't know. I would say to make enough for a single use so that you don't have to worry about the mold.