Q: My boyfriend started working with his uncle’s roofing business this summer and in spite of being warned, he refused to wear a hat and repeatedly got spatters of tar in his hair. As a result he would
have his mother “trim out” the tar bits, which means that his hair has gotten shorter and shorter over the course of the summer. He has really great curly hair that I love to play with, but it’s now almost too
short to curl any more. He plans to keep working with his uncle on weekends during school, so is there anything beside cutting to get tar out of hair, or do I have to watch my boyfriend’s hair gradually get
trimmed to the scalp?
A: There are two schools of thought regarding removing tar from the hair.
First are those who follow the “heat and peel” method, which requires sandwiching the affected hair between two sheets of wax paper then passing an iron (on low heat) over
the paper to melt the tar. When the tar begins to melt it is drawn to the wax paper and can then be peeled off the hair with the paper. You could also use a hair dryer if the tar is too close to the scalp.
This may need to be repeated multiple times for full benefit.
Secondly, there are those who use the same methods as with chewing gum to remove the tar. The difference is that in this case you use a non-vegetable oil, such as mineral oil or
baby oil. Apply the oil to the tarred hair, allow it to sit for a short time, then gently work the tar out of the hair using a comb. If you wish, you can use a little iced water poured over the tar to keep it
firm and make it easier to comb out.
The trick here (as with chewing gum removal) is that the oil penetrates the hair shaft and soaks into the hair. As it gets into the sections of the strand where the tar is stuck,
it makes the hair harder for the tar to adhere to and the tar slides off more easily.
Of course, both of these methods require follow-up care to remove the removers. In both instances, you can shampoo the hair afterward with a clarifying shampoo to remove either
the wax residue or the oil from the now tar-free hair.