So you’ve decided to make s’mores by the fireplace, and the kids have bust out the marshmallows and roasting sticks. Everyone’s laughing and having a marvelous time. All of a sudden, you hear a yelp and find your child’s hair covered in a white, sticky gloop of fluffy sugar. Yup, it just happened – melted marshmallow is now stuck in your innocent angel’s locks. The only thing you can think about now is how to get marshmallow out of hair.
A candy stuck in hair fiasco can happen to the best of us grown-ups – what more with children who are overly excited about the sweet, gooey goodness of a roasted marshmallow?
But don’t sweat it! Getting marshmallow unstuck from hair is relatively easier than other sticky substances like gum, slime, or glue. The important thing is that you have a thorough understanding of what marshmallow is made of.
Once you have that, it’ll be easier to know exactly what you need to do to help it slide right out of your little one’s hair strands.
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Understanding the science behind marshmallows
The fluffy, bouncy marshmallows we all know and love actually just take a couple of ingredients to make. Sugar and gelatin are all it takes to make them.
All you have to do is melt the sugar down to a sweet, sticky syrup and beat it together with the gelatin, while incorporating lots of air (the third and final ingredient of marshmallows).
Over half of the volume of a marshmallow is made of air. That’s how you get those confectionery pillows of fluff.
Marshmallows are known for their ultra-sticky texture beneath their outer layer of powdered sugar.
And it’s the type of stickiness that spreads to different objects if you happen to touch other things while eating roasted marshmallows.
It’s a specific kind of gumminess that is hard to scrape off when the marshmallow accidentally comes into contact with something.
The usual casualty, especially among kids who move around a lot while eating their snacks, is hair.
What you need to remember when a marshmallow gets caught in your hair is that marshmallow is not chewing gum.
Gum – another sticky candy that causes many hair mishaps – is made with synthetic rubbers that never melt off.
The way to remove gum is to harden it with ice or peanut butter, to make it easier to pull out of the hair.
But the same methods don’t apply to marshmallows – quite the opposite, actually.
Marshmallow is sugar. And unlike gum, sugar melts.
The ingredients used to make marshmallows can easily be broken down if you use the right techniques.
The marshmallow-in-hair nightmare: What exactly are we dealing with?
Welcome to your marshmallow troubleshooting session!
If you’re wondering how to get marshmallow out of hair, don’t worry!
These accidents happen more commonly than you think.
You’ll usually hear of such occurrences during family camping trips and whenever kids and teens try to roast marshmallows at home during the colder months.
It’s essential to take action right away when you realize that you’re in a marshmallow-stuck-in-hair predicament.
If you don’t work on getting rid of the stickiness as soon as possible, it will be harder to remove later on.
Apart from having an uncomfortable gloopy substance stuck in the hair, another hassle you have to find a way around is tangling.
The more you pull and tug at the hair to figure out how to remove the marshmallow, the more likely a matted knot will develop.
This makes it even harder to take care of.
And then we have the drama about cutting the hair.
Many young children and their parents wait so long for their hair to be a certain length, so it’s heartbreaking to have to cut it because of one accident that could have been prevented.
Luckily there are a couple of very effective ways to get rid of marshmallow in hair without resorting to an impromptu haircut.
The best part is you can do it with items that are probably already in your kitchen or pantry.
Here’s how to do it without having to reach for the dreaded scissors (and deal with even more kicking and screaming at home).
How to get marshmallow out of hair
Today I’m going to teach you four easy ways you can get rid of the marshmallow stuck in your child’s hair or your own.
These are very simple tricks that are quite commonsensical now that you know what marshmallows are made of. Let me run you through them:
Remember what I said marshmallows were made of? They’re only comprised of sugar and gelatin – both of which are very quick to melt when exposed to heat.
So the first (and based on experience, the most effective) method to remove marshmallow and all its remnants from hair is with hot water.
Take a mug and fill it with hot water. Place the lock of hair with marshmallow stuck to it inside the mug and wait a couple of seconds to just under a minute.
Hot water makes marshmallow turn to goop fast.
When the marshmallow has loosened up, you can release the lock from the mug.
Use a towel damp with warm water to gently pull all the gooey substance off the hair.
Because it’s fairly melted, it should be easy to do in a couple of swipes.
Make a rubbing motion and be patient. Don’t tug on the marshmallow while it’s too hard or stiff.
Wait until it has been dissolved and melted enough, or else you’ll just end up frustrated.
The water doesn’t have to be boiling for this to work – hot water will do.
Also, make sure to remind your toddlers and young children not to move around while this is going on, so that the hot water doesn’t spill over and burn anyone.
Shampoo and conditioner
You can also hop straight into a shower to try to get rid of the marshmallow there.
All you need is shampoo, conditioner, and warm shower water.
It requires a bit more effort than the first method, but it’s great for detangling the hair and feeling clean and fresh after going through a sticky situation (literally!).
Taking from the logic of the first method, the marshmallow will break down easily after a rinse with warm water.
Wash the hair as you typically would with shampoo, paying extra attention to gentle massaging and rubbing the lock of hair where the marshmallow was stuck.
When all the marshmallow is gone, all there is to deal with is the knots and tangles left in its wake.
That’s where the conditioner comes in. Conditioner has a slipperiness that helps detangle knots.
Leave the conditioner in for a few minutes and comb the hair until no tangles are left.
Rinse off with warm water.
If the first two methods weren’t very effective for your situation, you could also look to vegetable oils for a plan C.
Slather any type of vegetable oil (olive oil works great for this) on the hair and let it soak for a while.
This makes the marshmallow less sticky, and therefore easier to pull off.
You can use either your fingertips or a towel for this.
It really just depends on how much marshmallow there is and what you feel comfortable doing.
The hair will definitely get greasy after doing this method, so I would recommend washing the hair with shampoo right after.
Treat this fourth and final method as a last resort – only when you’ve tried the first three and are still desperate for a working solution.
Vinegar is excellent at breaking down and disintegrating sugar in marshmallow, making it a popular science experiment for young children.
Dip the compromised lock of hair into a small bowl of vinegar, and rub the marshmallow between your fingers to help it break down faster.
Continue to do this until all the stiff and sticky remnants are gone.
The downside of using vinegar to do this is that it can dry out the hair and even irritate the scalp.
With that in mind, use as little vinegar as possible, and never bring it too close to the scalp area.
Note that it leaves behind a strong odor too, so it’s best to jump in the shower for a quick bath after.
What you should NOT do
While there are many ways to get rid of marshmallow that determinedly latches itself onto hair, there are some major no-nos too.
There are some mistakes you can make that will either damage the hair or aggravate the marshmallow situation, making it harder to pull out.
Here are some of the things you should avoid doing while trying to remove marshmallow from hair:
Don’t treat it like gum
Your first big mistake is assuming that you can get rid of marshmallow the same way you would chewing gum.
But they have entirely different properties and textures.
While gum contains synthetic rubber that is borderline impossible to break down, marshmallow is water-soluble and easy to melt.
So don’t use ice cubes to try and harden the marshmallow in the hopes that it will be easier to pull off.
To be frank, stiff marshmallow is even harder to deal with than a gooey, syrupy one.
This trick may work for gum, but there are easier ways to handle marshmallow.
Bringing out your jar of peanut butter to stiffen the sugar is unnecessary too. This will just leave the hair smelling like a sandwich.
Remember, your goal is to dissolve the sugar and gelatin to swipe it off easily. Don’t give yourself a harder time doing the opposite.
Don’t pull out the marshmallow while the hair is dry
Water, conditioner, vinegar, and oils help soften the marshmallow to give it an easier time slipping off from the hair strands.
The last thing you want to do is try to get all the gunk out of the hair by tugging on it without the help of these substances.
When marshmallow is left by itself in the hair, it gets super sticky.
Without water or any other substance to help give it some slip, it gets even more persistently gummy.
You also shouldn’t be tugging at the hair mindlessly and without a plan, because it can lead to hair damage.
This can lead to strands of hair accidentally snapping or pulled from the root, which can be painful for young children.
You wouldn’t want to make your child’s undamaged, untreated hair more prone to and breakage, would you?
Don’t brush it out
Don’t try to remove all of the marshmallow bits by brushing out the hair.
All you’ll do is spread the marshmallow to more parts of the hair, making it stickier and more difficult to work with.
You’ll ruin a perfectly good hairbrush too, because marshmallow will be challenging to remove from its bristles.
Only brush out the hair when you’re in the shower and your hair is slathered in a slippery conditioner to aid the marshmallow in sliding off.
Don’t lick the marshmallow off
Obviously, this is more of a reminder for your child than for you.
Technically, this method should work – it is an edible candy after all.
While your little one may be tempted to go on ahead and do it while you look for a more logical fix for the problem, it simply isn’t the most hygienic solution.
For one thing, there could be sweat, grease, and germs in the hair.
Those are things you never want a child to ingest for health reasons.
It’s the same reason you wouldn’t want your baby sucking on a dirty object that’s fallen to the ground.
Another thing you’ll have to worry about is the smell. It would be very unfortunate if your child comes out of this predicament smelling like drool, wouldn’t it?
If you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are trying to find out how to get marshmallow out of hair, there are a few tricks to help you prevent this from happening again.
One is to make sure you and the kids always have your hair tied when you’re out roasting marshmallows.
You should also try snagging some roasting sticks that aren’t too long and thus harder to maneuver around a fire.
Simple adjustments to steer clear of sticky hair anxiety.
See? Easy peasy. Getting marshmallow out of hair isn’t rocket science, although it does take an understanding of what helps its properties disintegrate.
Just follow these dos and don’ts, and you won’t have to bring out the scissors, which will no doubt make you a lot less popular with your children (and earn you a tantrum or two).