I have to say that of all the things that I have heard that people have gotten stuck in their hair, I think that tar has to be one of the worst. Yes there are some remedies for hair traumas like gum, Vaseline, castor oil, paint and rancid odors, but in some cases, your only option is to cut it out.While it never hurts to try and remove a foreign object or subject yourself, keep in mind that you may need professional help. Your favorite stylist might have some secret tips tucked away that can help. When in doubt call a hair pro so see if they can talk you down from your latest hair jam.
Gum & Sticky Candy
Take a little bit of creamy peanut butter and work it slowly into the gum that is stuck in the hair. Use a wide tooth comb, pick or the tail of a rattail comb to remove the peanut butter and the gum. Work on very small sections of the hair at a time. If the gum is hard to remove try multiple applications of the peanut butter. Never use crunchy peanut butter or you may add to the ultimate problem.
An alternative option is Wesson or other salad oil. The oil will soften the gum and make it easier to dislodge from the hair. Work a little oil into the hair around the gum or candy and use a pick or rattail comb to work the object out.
Another option is to apply ice cubes to the gum and "freeze" the gum until hardens and is easier to pick out of the hair.
Be sure to shampoo hair well after all the gum is out. You may find that your hair has a lingering smell of peanuts or salad so don't hang around elephants for a few days. Other than that, your hair should be just fine.
Yes, believe it or not, I have had a few emails from frantic moms with tar headed babies. Don't ask me how it happened, you don’t want to know. Keep in mind that anything in life can occur when you least expect it. Just be prepared.
Tar can be a little trickier to get out but it can be done with lots of patience. Get some old fashioned wax paper from the grocery store. It has to have wax. No other paper will do as well.
If the tar is in the hair in a spot that makes it possible to drape over an ironing board you are in a better position to try and "iron" it out Apply the wax paper to either side of the hair. Set the iron on a very low heat setting. Carefully touch the iron to the top of the wax paper. Experiment with the heat until you are able to soften the tar from the iron and it slowly attaches to the wax paper. Press down on the wax paper with your fingers to help pull the tar up. Use your fingers to pull the paper with the tar off the hair. Sort of like pulling pie dough from wax paper.
This may take a little experimentation. If you take your time and work the iron's heat onto the tar it will eventually soften to the point that the paper will help pull it out of the hair. You may need to try more than one application of heat.
If the tar is near the scalp you have a completely different issue. Do not use a warm or hot iron near the scalp or any part of the head that could be burned by the appliance.
You will still need the wax paper for removal. Use a blow dryer and direct the heat to the tar area. Soften it with the heat. Apply the wax paper and gently blot it down on the softened tar to remove.
When all else fails head for the scissors. Tar can be unbeatable if it is close to the scalp, in a large ball or super hard.
Luckily the news is good. Vaseline, which is composed of petroleum jelly (petrolatum) can be removed from hair. One of the most reliable removal methods involves cornstarch.
Apply a little cornstarch to the hair and carefully pat, (don't rub), it into the hair. The cornstarch will absorb some, if not all of the Vaseline. After you apply the cornstarch shampoo it out with a good clarifying shampoo or a similar product. Most, if not all, of the Vaseline should be removed with the first treatment. If not, repeat until all the greasiness is gone. Be sure to use warm not hot water for the shampoo. Cold water makes the Vaseline worse. If you are out of cornstarch you can try a baking soda/shampoo option. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with a regular baby shampoo. Pat the mixture onto the hair while it is still dry. Then add warm to hot water. This should help. Repeat until all the Vaseline is removed.
Although flour will work as a cornstarch substitute, it is not usually as effective. Flour may also tend to dry the hair out more than the cornstarch.Keep in mind that after applying cornstarch, flour or baking soda, you hair may need some extra TLC and a good deep conditioning treatment.
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I’m a pro at this one. During a high school folly I decided to pour an entire bottle of castor oil on my hair. Why? I thought it would make it super healthy. Well duh! The result was a giant grease spot that lasted for days.
After several days of agony my Aunt Margie, the family hairstylist, took pity on me. She helped me degrease. First she patted and blotted a lot of the oil off with paper towels. She then poured a dime sized blob of Prell shampoo into the palms of her hands. Aunt Margie patted the mixture on top of my greased hair. She applied a little bit of warm water and worked up a lather that she spread throughout my hair. After just two applications of Prell my hair was castor oil free.
The bad news about Prell is that it may also remove hair color and natural hair oils in the process. My hair felt very dry and brittle after the removal operation was completed. Aunt Margie slathered on lots of gooey conditioner and let me sit under a dryer for several minutes. Viola, my hair was back to normal. Well almost.
Another option is to apply a thin layer of cornstarch and pat it carefully into the castor oil sections. Flour or cornmeal can also be used in a pinch. Apply shampoo to the dry hair first. Then apply water. This process will help to cut the oil more efficiently.Remember to always deep condition after any drastic gunk removal operation. Better yet, skip the castor oil routine all together.
Cornstarch - Miracle Oil Remover
Whether you find yourself gooped up with Vaseline, castor oil, mineral oil or any other oil that won't easily rinse out, try the cornstarch remedy first. The beauty of cornstarch is that it will bind with many oils and help to lift them from the hair cuticle. This is a lot like pouring salt on icy roads to help get traction for walking. The cornstarch will work well with most oils and many grease based products.
Smoke & Other Odors
The instant remedy is to wipe a softening sheet like Bounce through your dry hair. The chemicals on the sheet will grab the odors and remove them as the sheet makes contact with your hair.
For super stubborn odors rinse your hair in undiluted tomato sauce. If you have damaged or porous blonde hair be advised that this may not be the best treatment for your hair since it may leave a slight stain.
Hair Color That Is Too Dark
If you or your stylist colored your hair and the shade is too dark you have a few options. Pour some Prell shampoo into the palm of your hand. Pat the shampoo on top of your dry hair and make sure the shampoo covers completely. Leave the shampoo on your hair for 30-45 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Apply hot oil to your hair. Use extra virgin olive oil if possible. Wrap your hair in plastic and let sit for 45 minutes. Take Prell shampoo and pat on top of the oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse well with warm water.
Apply Queen Helene, Vo5 or similar hot oil to your hair. Wrap your hair in plastic and let sit for 60 minutes. Shampoo with clarifying shampoo like Philou Green Apple or Suave clarifying. Rinse well with warm water.
Combine 1/4 to 1/2 box of baking soda (not powder) with enough spring or distilled water to make a paste. Pat the paste onto wet hair. Don't rub the mixture unnecessarily or it may cause fragile ends to break. Rinse well. Apply a good rinse-out and leave in conditioner.
Most artist’s paste and glues will wash out with shampoo and warm water. Sometimes the paste or glue will dry in clumps in hair. It is best to use a pick to pick the clumps out first and then try shampoo.
Glue & Super Glue
This is definitely stickier. There are products on the market designed to remove super glue. The best idea is to contact the maker of the super glue and ask what they recommend for removing the glue from hair and skin. Some hardware stores will also have a special glue remover that can be used on hair and skin. Always test a very small part of the area with the remover before going full blast with the removal process. Some removers may be harsh for hair and should be used very carefully.
Most paint on the market today is water based and will wash out with shampoo and warm water. If for some reason the paint does not wash out it is best to call the store where you bought the paint for suggestions. A tiny bit of paint remover can also be carefully deployed. The key is to use only a tiny amount to avoid harming your hair. Always read the bottle of paint remover to be sure it is safe for hair or skin.
Ink, Magic Marker, Crayon & Toner Ink
Most ink will wash out with a few shampoo applications. Some ink may be more difficult to remove. One possible ink blasting solution is to apply a tiny bit of WD40 from the hardware store. Don't apply more than a small amount or you may damage the hair.
WD40 will also remove printer toner ink, crayon and some magic marker stains from hair. Before whipping out the WD 40 always try shampoo and water first. If that fails to remove the stain, experiment with the WD40. Apply a small test amount with cotton balls to determine if it will remove or fade the stain.
Another option is to try undiluted Prell shampoo. Apply the undiluted shampoo directly to the target stain on dry hair. Let the Prell set for a few minutes and then rinse to see if the stain will wash out.
In most cases the various stains will fade over time. If the stain is huge or totally unsightly you may have to consider the scissors as a last resort.
When it comes to dealing with foreign objects in your hair, keep an open mind, but be ready to compromise and call your hairstylist for help. I am sure that I have not heard of everything that can get caught in hair. If you have experienced an unusual problem with a foreign object please email me with the details.