Hair gel side effects

Hair Gels: Are They Really Bad For Your Hair?

You see an awesome hairstyle and want to try it for yourself. You go to the saloon, you get your hairs trimmed, and the style appears flawlessly. But soon after your hair gets dry, or blown by the wind, Boom! The hairstyle vanishes. You try to keep up your messy hair in place, but time and again the hair doesn’t stay in place as you desire. Don’t even try to deny it; we’ve all been there. Those footballers, models, and actors having such hairstyles you crave for. Do you know the secret behind their hair getting in style even after a rough day? Well, having a personal hairdresser, dedicated products do help, but among those, all secrets also lie a hair product called “Hair Gel.” Today I am going to tell you all about hair gel side effects.

The history of hair gel dates back to the early 19th century when a small pharmacy located in the heart of Buenos Aires, Argentina manufactured the first fixative for hair. Later on, the British company introduced the first worldwide renowned hair gel, Brylcreem, which went on to be a hit hair styling product.

Ever since, hair gel has become an indispensable styling product, used widely in the fashion industry. Hair gel is used mostly by men as it provides perfect and stiff hair, making your hairstyle last longer throughout the day. It’s no doubt that, hair gels are always on the rescue when you are having a bad hair day, or when you’re rush and don’t have time to go to a salon, but experts have discovered that excessive use of hair gels have severe side effects on your hair and skin.

What is Hair Gel?

As the name says, a simple definition of hair gel is a jelly-like substance used in styling a person’s hair. Hair gel is a popular hairstyling product which is used to harden hair into the desired hairstyles. Hair gel supports your hair putting it into a particular hairstyle. It is mostly composed of water and may contain different humectants, proteins, conditioners, and oils. There is a wide range of different types of hair gels in the market. Hair gel can be applied to wet or dry hair, but it’s best to apply to the wet hair. The gel is not quite designed for dry hair, so it’s better you apply gel to your wet hair and let it air-dry or use a hairdryer.

How Does Hair Gel Work?

To shape your hair, the consistency of hair’s cuticle must be strengthened. The cuticle is the outer cellular layer of a hair. In most of the gels, the main ingredient is a plastic called Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), which is a polymer sealer. PVP does the job to strengthen the hair cuticle consistency. The polymers in PVP, when dissolved in water or alcohol, forms a clear film between each hair strand, attaching hair strands. After the gel is applied to wet hair, PVP or similar ingredient absorbs water quickly. When the gel dries, a fixed connection between hair strands is formed. The Polyvinylpyrrolidone has positively charged areas that attach themselves to negatively charged areas of the hair strands.

Now since you know about the hair gel and how they work, you might be wondering if it is a safe product for your hair.

Is Hair Gel Safe?

The quality of the hair gels does differ from the chemicals used in the gels. First of all, using different chemicals and substance over your hair will inevitably do harm your hair to some extent. No, hair gel is not safe due to the use of different ingredients in it. The branded hair gels might be more reliable than those low quality or cheap ones, but they still do affect your hair. Hair gels contain the high concentration of alcohol, and it’s not recommended to use. The presence of alcohol tends to de-moisture the scalp and dry out your hair, which makes your hair weak.

The chemicals and alcohol used in hair gel make your hair dry and dehydrated, which messes up the moisture level of your hair. It might result in dry, brittle and breakage prone hair and also result in the itchy and flaky scalp. If you have a good hair gel and you won’t use it, it is recommended not to use hair gel daily. Also, make sure that it does not last on your hair for more than seven hours.

Since you know that hair gel is not much safe to use and not recommended, you might surely be curious about the effects of hair gel.

Hence, with much controversies and curiosities, today we’ve brought you some of the possible side effects of hair gel that you probably aren’t aware of.

Possible Hair Gel Side Effects

Dry/Dehydrated Hair

Hair gels like hairspray are composed of a wide range of chemical products including alcohol as a preservative and neutralizer. Alcohol and corrosive chemicals suck in all the moisture from your hair and scalp, leaving it dry like a Spanish wine! On top of that, excessive use of hair gel disrupts the pH balance of your scalp, resulting in the dry and itchy scalp. These gels reduce the production of sebum, which protects your hair. This results in dry, brittle and breakage prone hair which also leads to itchy and flaky scalp.


Shedding of skin on the scalp is a natural process, but when the process continues at a faster rate, then dandruff is formed. This occurs when your scalp undergoes dehydration or if you suffer skin condition like dermatitis/eczema or if your scalp is infected by yeast-like fungus. Once you start using hair gel, your scalp eventually goes dry, resulting in flakiness and itchiness, unbalanced sebum production, clogged skin pores, air follicles and so on.

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Split Ends and Damage

Another major hair gel side effects are split ends and damaged hair. The different chemical compounds like benzophenone, oleth and other polymer rips off the nourishment and natural hair cycle that breaks the hair, causing split ends and damage. The hair eventually goes dull and unhealthy, potentially leading to hair fall as well.

Discoloration and Damage of Natural Hair

Discoloration is one of the very common side effects of hair gels. It split ends and fades the natural color of the hair. But this doesn’t mean your hair goes grey, but in time being you might lose your natural hair color, making it look faded, dull and dry. The hair gel does not let the hair to nourish properly and disturbs the pH balance of the hair. Hair gels make the hair unhealthy, scarce and dull. Some hair gels might contain harmful chemicals causing ill effects on colored hair like fading and discoloration. Prolonged use of hair gels can also result in early graying of hair.

Hair Loss

Hair gels severely dehydrate your hair making it stiff and brittle. Brittle and undernourished hair are prone to hair loss. The chemicals and preservatives found in these gels, as well as the pollutants together, settle on the scalp, causing the hair follicles to clog in, resulting in hair fall. Hence, long-term use of these products can cause hair problems like baldness, receding hairline, thinning of hair and so on.

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Hair Gels Lead to Greasy Hair

Hair gels help to achieve a “wet look” to the hair and are quite popular. But is leads your hair to appear greasy and hard to style. It makes your hair texture feel a bit hard rather than smooth or soft.

Now you know the effects of hair gels, think twice before using one. Now you will be wondering if all those hair products are harmful for your hair too. You may wonder about the products that you can use in place of hair gels. So, hand on a minute and bear with me. Let me tell you some of the hair gel alternatives you can use.

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Hair Gel Alternatives

Hair Gel Alternative

Hair Wax

You might also hear hair wax called by the name ‘pomade.’ Hair wax can be applied to either wet or dry hair depending upon what kind of looks you desire. Using this to your wet hair will give less hold but more shine. Applying pomade to your dry hair will provide you with stronger hold and less shine. There is no stickiness due to hair wax, and you can comb your hair anytime in the day. You can also reshape your hair if you need to. Hard wax can deliver the most holding power for your hair, while soft wax will hold with less structure. A hair wax can be a bit more expensive than other products, and it contains very little or no alcohol, unlike hair gel.

Hair Cream

Hair cream is a non-sticky alternative to hair gel. The hair cream is also known as a styling cream. It is used to style and hold hair, though it does not hold hair as strongly as gel or wax. But it does prevent heat damage to the hair and prevents frizzing hair.


Hairspray is quite popular for its ability to hold the hair in place all day long with no sticky feel or residue and preventing hair from wind damages and humidity. They are highly flammable and prone to cause fires. Some of the hairsprays contain chemicals which can be sensitive to some people. It adds volume and shine to the hair and makes hair smell better.

Hair Paste

If you don’t like the wet shiny looks of your hair, this might be the best product for you. This is similar to hair wax and is usually very thick. It doesn’t dry like hair gel. One of the best thing about hair paste is that it is water based which helps to protect hair follicles. It is quick and easy to apply and has moderate to the stronghold for hair. But it can make your hair feel hard or tacky after use.

Hair Serum

The hair serum does not hold your hair in place, but it instead prevents your hair from tangles and fizziness resulting in natural-looking shine and softness. Hair serum is mostly silicone based, and it protects your hair from sun damages and other factors. It is recommended to apply the serum after using the wax or pomade for the best results.

Gelatin Hair Mask

Gelatin hair mask has been a popular alternative to hair gel for the proteins in it. It is a healthy alternative, the proteins in the gelatin help damaged areas, smoothen out hair cuticles, help to shine the hair and reduce breakage of the hair. For people with protein enriched hair, it is recommended to use a tiny amount and not to use frequently.  It is easy to make, and healthier to use.

Aloe Vera Gel

This is also a healthy alternative to hair gel, and it is a natural alternative. Aloe vera gel moisturizes hair and scalp and helps to make conditions which makes hair stronger, shiny and healthy. Finding in stores is easy. The smell may not be friendly to some, and they may need to add a little fragrance.

This is it. Now you know about the hair gel, how it works, it effects and also the alternatives to it, it will surely help to choose the right products for you. No matter what product you want, make sure of one thing that “NEVER USE HAIR PRODUCTS AFTER THE EXPIRY DATE.”

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To summarise, any product that is not natural and has excessive chemical is bad for your health. Therefore, long-term use of hair gel is not good for your hair health, and it’s better to use natural products like wax and other natural hair mousses as alternatives to commercially available hair gels.

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