Hair gel is a hairstyling product that is used to stiffen hair into a particular hairstyle.
Hair styled with hair gel
Many brands of hair gel in North America and the United Kingdom come in numbered variants. Higher numbered gels maintain a greater "hold" on hair, while lower numbers do not make the hair as stiff and in some products give the hair a wet look. A category typically referred to as "ethnic" gels are designed and manufactured specifically for sculpting the hair texture common to African Americans. Ampro Industries is a common example of this category.
Some forms of hair gel include temporary hair coloring for the hair, including variants in unnatural colors associated with various subcultures, and are popular within the goth and raver subcultures.
Cationic polymers are one of the main functional component of hair gel. The positive charges in polymer causes it to stretch, making the gel more viscous. Hair gels resist natural protein conformations and allows hair to be styled and textured. This is because the stretched-out polymer takes up more space than a coiled polymer and thus resists the flow of solvent molecules around it. The positive charges also bind the gel to the negatively charged amino acids on the surface of the keratin molecules in the hair. More complicated polymer formulas exist; e.g., a copolymer of vinylpyrrolidone, methacrylamide, and N-vinylimidazole.
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