Remove Pine Sap from Hair

Pine sap
Photo: Mary Dimitropoulou/Shutterstock
Q: Help! I went on a hike with some friends. We stopped to eat lunch in a small grove of trees, and I somehow ended up getting pine sap in my very curly hair.
My hair grows so slowly, that I really don't want to have to cut it out, and since the sap is on the outside layers of the hair, cutting just that part will likely mean I have to cut a lot more than I want in order to keep it from looking strange. What can I do?

A: Pine sap is a problem much like that of having gum stuck in your hair. And fortunately, the same solution that works on gum works on tree sap. The one difference in the two is that usually, tree sap will "dry" and harden on the hair. This can have pros and cons.
On the plus side, if the tree sap is in small clumps, then dried it will be easier to slide off the hair. However, it becomes a con when the sap is in a large glob that dries, as this means it will likely have hold of many strands all twisted up, which makes it infinitely harder to remove.
If the sap has dried in the hair, you should start by breaking it up as carefully as possible. This may involve wrapping the affected hair in a cloth or piece of wax paper, and crushing it with a plier or having someone tap it with a hammer for you. Then the obvious step is saturating the affected hair with oil. The type of oil depends on the kind of tree sap. For a thick, gloppy pine tree sap, I recommend baby oil, while with some lighter-weight saps, you could use olive oil.
Allow the oil to soak into the hair for many minutes (at least 20) and then use a comb to gently work the sap out of the hair in small bits. Depending on the location, this may require the aid of a friend, and be prepared to take your time. Remember, haste makes loss, and the goal is to remove the sap without cutting the hair.
The removal of pine sap from hair is not without risk. Be very careful and preferably seek professional help, such as from a hairdresser.
See also:
How to remove bubble gum or chewing gum from hair
How can I get spatters of tar out of my hair?
I have dry paint in my hair. How can I remove it?