What is mucilage?
Mucilage is a gelatinous substance. It is a viscous, soluble fiber that is produced from certain plants. Upon contact with water the substance will increase in volume and maintain a layer of moisture in the plant (or in our case to hair). Mucilage is one of the ingredients that makes a product slippery! We love slippery products because they help to reduce tension when unraveling tangles, snarls, snags, and knots. Here are some of the most popular ingredients that have mucilage and aid making detangling sessions shorter and less hectic.
Aloe vera gel comes from the aloe vera plant. It has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and is grown in tropical climates worldwide. Aloe vera is commonly used as a moisturizer for skin and hair and it helps to trap moisture and lock it in. It also helps with scalp healing, restoring hair’s pH levels, decreasing frizz, and improving detangling sessions.
Flaxseed or linseeds are a rich source of micronutrients, fiber, manganese, and essential fatty acid omega-3. The golden and brown flaxseeds have similar profiles. Flaxseed gel is created by boiling and then straining the flaxseeds. Besides nourishing hair, flaxseed gel leaves hair soft, shiny, and moisturized along with giving curls more definition.
Irish moss is not really a moss but a seaweed that is found along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and especially in Ireland. Rich in antioxidants, anti-viral properties, iodine, and nutrients, Irish moss is also one of the plants that has mucilage. To turn Irish moss into a gel simply requires putting the moss into a mason jar, sitting it into a pot of water, and boiling for an hour to create a viscous, gel-like tea.
Marshmallow root is a perennial herb that is native to damp areas of northern Europe and western Asia but is now naturalized to the Atlantic coast of the United States. This is a soothing, slippery herb that is used for digestion, skin, and hair. Marshmallow root can be found in numerous hair products like Kinky-Curly Knot Today to aid in detangling or it can be turned into a gel for a DIY detangler instead.
Okra is a versatile vegetable that is green with tapering ridged pods containing double row of seeds and a slimy texture when opened. This low in calorie vegetable is loaded with vitamins like A, thiamin, B6, C, folic acid, calcium and zinc. Okra has been successfully used as a setting lotion, a hair detangler, and hair rinses as a volumizer and even to rid hair of lice.
For centuries slippery elm has been used as an herbal remedy to heal wounds, boils, burns, skin inflammations, and ulcers. It contains mucilage and becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It is also a popular ingredient found in hair detangling products but can easily be used in DIY creations.
Have you used any of these items or tried creating your own DIY detangling gel? Share your favorite ingredient and recipe below!This article has been updated.