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 see 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 happy with the results - a good indication of its value!

Here is the recipe:
Grace's hair gel:
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.

1/2 teaspoon of guar gum powder
1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
Note: 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.
Measure the oil into a bowl, 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 makes a fairly wet gel that can be applied to wet or dry hair.  For best results rub between hands and finger-comb thoroughly through hair, making sure you get all the way to the ends.  Once the gel is in, scrunch hair to restore waves or curls, and fluff gently as it dries.  You may find it seems stiff in your hair initially but this will soften if fluffed a little and allowed to fully dry.
Thank you Grace - I'm delighted with mine!  

I wash my hair just as usual, and then after towelling most of the water out of it I dip my fingers into the guar gum mixture, rub my hands together and then massage a small amount through my hair, comb it vaguely into shape and then, just as Grace says, scrunch it up to encourage it to fluff out a bit and get some nice waves.  Fluffing it up more as it dries improves the effect.  

The mixture in its storage container is a rather unappealing grey, 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.  If it smells odd or becomes discoloured, or if it has reverted to being runny after having been jelly-like, toss it out and make a fresh batch.

Please note that the above paragraph has been amended (17th July 2013): I previously said that the mixture needed to be kept in the freezer if it was to last at all long.  This was a mistake.  The batch I did this with froze solid, and once unfrozen I found it had lost some of its jelly-like consistency.  It went off soon after.  If you have tried this I hope it hasn't put you off.  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.  To better address the issue of shelf-life I have halved the quantity of ingredients given to make a smaller batch.  Even a small amount goes a very long way!

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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