Does Peanut Butter Actually Help Get Gum Out Of Your Hair?

Tasty and nutritious, peanut butter is a pantry staple that promotes healthy eating. Whether you spread it on toast, eat it by the spoonful, or add it to a recipe, you can enjoy eating peanut butter every day. This heart-healthy food is a great source of vitamins and minerals, notes Denver Health Medical Plan.

According to the National Peanut Board, peanut butter has been enjoyed by humans since ancient times. More modern recipes were developed in the late 1800s, one notably by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of breakfast cereal fame. While inventor-extraordinaire George Washington Carver didn't develop peanut butter, he creatively utilized peanuts in over 300 other ways, per Biography. Carver harnessed the versatility of peanuts to use as instant coffee, peanut punch, and even beauty products like shampoo and shaving cream (via Tuskegee University).

Given that peanut and hair product association, when a sticky glob of gum inadvertently gets tangled up in your hair, could peanut butter come to your rescue? If you try to take the mess out with your fingers alone, you likely won't have success. According to Science in School, due to its elastic nature, pulling on stuck gum stretches the sticky mess and makes the hair situation worse. So before you reach for the scissors and cut out the gum, consider this peanut alternative.

The oil in peanut butter is ideal for unsticking gum

It turns out that a lunchtime staple has a hidden superpower when it comes to sticky gum. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, applying creamy peanut butter to gum that's attached to your hair can help extract it. Give the peanut oil a few minutes to eliminate the gum's stickiness. Gently slide the gum out and wash away the peanut butter. When removing the gum/peanut butter mix, L'Oréal Paris suggests using a comb to extricate the hair from the gum and prevent damage. 

There's an underlying chemical reason behind peanut butter's success. UC Santa Barbara's ScienceLine notes that gum is hydrophobic, so it resists dissolving in water, which explains why washing gum out is not effective. However, oils like peanut butter are also hydrophobic, so they stick together. As Daily Break explains, "Essentially, the oils in the peanut butter are able to get in between the gum and the strands of hair, creating a barrier and making it easier to remove."

Once the gum crisis is over, "a clarification shampoo on that area will remove impurities," Maxine Salon stylist Adrianne Johnston told InStyle. If the treated hair is really oily, Johnston says, "Maybe even [use] dish soap on that section of hair to make sure everything is removed."  

Other ways to remove gum without resorting to a haircut

If peanut butter isn't an option due to allergies or personal preference, there are other ways to remove gum without using scissors. According to Healthline, other oils such as canola, olive, or coconut are great choices for removing gum. These oils have the same hydrophobic properties as peanut butter. Other oily options include Vaseline and toothpaste, per Taste of Home.

For a less-greasy, cool gum removal option, try ice. Best for taking out smaller amounts of gum, Vedix notes that you can use either ice cubes or a lunchbox ice pack.

Celebrity hairstylist Nick Stenson also recommends vinegar to unstick gum (via Mind Body Green). The acid in this common household item dissolves gum's sticky connection to the hair. However, this method is not recommended if the gum is near the scalp since it can burn your skin.

Similarly to vinegar, a combo of baking soda and water helps disintegrate gum polymers. StyleCraze suggests making a paste and putting it on the gummy strands.

In addition, depending on your hair type, some removal methods may work better than others. For instance, using oily removers on fine hair can make it limp and greasy, while vinegar can exacerbate the lack of moisture on already dry hair.