Chemistry Question #1105

Josh, a 12 year old male from niagara falls asks on December 15, 2002,

What is the ingredient used to make "hair gel" stiff and hold?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on December 15, 2002

The typical ingredients of a hair gel are: Water, Polyquaternium-11, Polyvinyl Pyrolidone (PVP), Polyquaternium-10, Dimethicone Copolyol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Aromatic Fragrance. Of these, the following could be responsible for stiffness as they are long polymers (chain-type molecules) that probably get all tangled up together and stiff as the gel dries out a bit: polyquaternium, PVP, and hydroxyethylcellulose.

The methylparaben and propylparaben are preservatives, specifically mold inhibitors. "Paraben" is short for para-hydroxybenzoate.

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