October 5, 2022


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Guar Gum

3 min read

INCI: Guar Gum or Cyamopsis tetragonoloba

Guar gum! It is outstanding to have around because of the superslip it gives to almost whatever water based concoction you put it in.

{snippet adszooright} Guar gum is a thickener, co-emulsifier, stabilizer, and viscosity builder without requiring heat. However, using heat may help to dissolve it into your liquid quicker and it may create a thicker mix in the end.

Technically, Guar gum is a fiber made from the seeds of the guar plant. It requires very little of the actual product to start to do what it does. It is said to have about 8 times the thickening power of corn starch.

FNWL says Guar can form a gel when combined with borax and water, but who wants to use borax!? Some say using a type of calcium ingredient instead of borax will have the same gel effect. I haven’t tried that though.

In addition, if you use over 1% of it in your concoctions, it becomes highly susceptible to thinning out when you mix it with a high shear blender (like a hand mixer or stick blender).

TIP: If you’re looking for something with self gelling properties, check out locust bean gum (wikipedia)

Anyway, guar gum can be used to form a super, super, super slippery version of thick flaxseed gel if you use a certain amount of it. Even if you add 1/8 of a teaspoon into 8 oz of water, it will give it some kind of slip. Although, if the pH is too low (like 2 or 3), you will most probably lose some of the thickness.

Using Guar gum is how I make my Hibiscus based detangler. Literally, just make a hibiscus tea, add guar, then add bit of oil. That’s it. Everything else is extra (honey, agave, etc). BTW, Hibiscus is a low-pH-creating herb.

TIP: If you’re making a type of gel, using too much guar gum can cause flakes in the hair when used by itself in water. Add an oil to your mix and don’t be heavy-handed during application to stop or to help combat flaking in hair.

Guar gum, a polysaccharide, is used in ice cream to keep ice crystals from forming and to help keep it from getting hard. This is because Guar gum is an “all-natural” thickener, unlike some of its competitors (like cellulose gum, modified food starch, etc). You may also find it in tablets (pills) as a binding agent.

Guar gum, when taken internally, is thought to help lower blood glucose and insulin levels too, putting it on the radar of diabetes researchers.

I have found that Guar gum is less expensive than its lab-cousin, Xanthan gum by the way.

I will keep saying this until more people catch on to it: guar gum is an incredible, natural ingredient to add slip to your products. It provides more immediate slip than boiling marshmallow root herb and a little more slip than flaxseed gel. Its also quicker to use than both.

Just plain guar gum and water can be an awesome detangler so don’t be afraid to use it (just don’t use too much, girl!)

10 thoughts on “Guar Gum

  1. Hi – so do you use warm or cold water with the guar gum? And do you leave the detangler in your hair or wash it out?

    1. When I used to use guar gum, I used it as rinse out detangler. While experimenting with it in leave-in products, I noticed it would always leave flakes. So, I stopped using it completely in leave-in products where the percentage was substantial enough to cause issues. Later, I stopped using it completely for haircare products. If you want a gel-like thickener, I suggest trying out something like Sepimax Zen. I’ve almost completely moved away from Guar Gum. However, I haven’t found anything that provides as much “slip” as it does. There may be something else out there that gives a crap ton of slip, but I just haven’t found it yet.

      1. Update: Hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) provides a crap ton of slip. 😀 But don’t ask me for any recipes yet. I’m still experimenting on the best use of it for my needs.

  2. Hello,

    Just across this old post. I’m intrigued, why did you stop using guar gum in your hair products? I use it in everything I haven’t noticed any issues (yet!)

    1. The quality of guar gum (regular guar gum, not the cationic version) left my hair full of flakes at anything beyond a completely minute amount. I thought it was something else, but it turned out to be the guar gum so I stopped using guar completely because I didn’t want to risk it or worry about it ruining a great recipe.

      1. Thank you 🙂 I’m just seeing your response. I love it so don’t want to eliminate but your experience is very useful to know. I keep it at no more than 0.5% and it’s been so far fine for my hair but I always wondered if my products with guar gum are more likely to cause scalp build up although I never intentionally cream my scalp.

  3. Hello Curly Tea!
    I have been experimenting with guar gum and have a love hate relationship with it! It provides super slip and softness like I’ve never seen before but when my hair dries there is literally no moisture in my hair and feels super dry even with a boatload of other oils and butters. I added the guar at 1.24% straight into the cool down phase of my creation. Do you know if Guar Cat would do the same? I know it’s supposed to have added conditioning properties unlike regular guar. Or do you know of any other things I could sub the guar gum with?

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