Today's post is centred on hair gel thanks to Idy Ekanem ( hi!) who is looking for more info on this styling product. I must admit I never gave much thought to hair gels, apart from the usual tip to avoid the ones with drying alcohol. Let's get into it.
What is hair gel?
Hair gel is a styling product that is used to mould hair, and help it retain the shape created by forming a film over the hair. This film which constructs physical bonds between the strands which prevent them from being displaced, and thus sets your hair.
What is it made of?
Commercial gel is mainly composed of;
emulsifiers (to mix the water soluble ingredients with the non-water soluble ones),
viscosity modifiers (otherwise known as thickeners),
additives (for shine, UV protection, moisture, stability of the products and any other function the manufacturer may want the gel to perform) and;
cationic polymers ( to form the adhesive film)
The cationic polymers are the functional ingredients in the gel which make it thick and are essential for binding the gel to the strands.
How does gel work on my hair?
The cationic polymers are what give the holding function of the gel ( as stated above). Different combinations of polymers are what create the range of hold/hardness depending on the ones used. That is why the formula of polymers is so essential. Some combinations provide excellent hold but are brittle, which results in visible residue and flaking when you use the gel. Whilst other manufacturers may use a different formula for softness and moisture leaving your hair susceptible to the humidity ( which kind of works against the whole reason you are using the product).
What is it used for?
Gel is great for setting styles that need hold and definition such as twist outs, braid outs, flexi and perm rod sets, keeping edges under control, creating the high puff, wash 'n go's, and defining/clumping your curls. It is also used by some as part of their moisturising method, although the type used is the all-natural flaxseed or aloe vera gel with less commercial additives and ingredients.
|Youtuber lovelyanneka used eco styler gel to get her sassy updo (tutorial here)|
Does using it have any adverse effects on my hair?
We'll explore that in next week's post. (cliff hanger)
What is the best type of gel to use?
The type of gel you should get is dependent on the effects you want. In next week's post i'm going to go more in-depth as to the types of polymers that provide certain functions and would be suitable for different environments. However try by all means to get a brand that is alcohol free. And by this I mean it should be free of the drying alcohols such as ethanol, SD alcohol, propyl, propanol, isopropyl, and SD alcohol 40.
I'm not one for very long posts when things get technical so we'll see you next week :-)
What's your favourite gel and what do you use it for?