Q1: Why does gel flake?
There is one main reason that hair gel will flake and this is that the hair gel does not combine well with a previous product applied to your hair (e.g a hair conditioner or water based leave in).
Q2: Isn't it a good thing to apply a hair conditioner or leave in before applying gel?
It absolutely is a good step to apply a hair conditioner or leave in before applying a gel. The purpose of a gel is to get hair strands to 'gel' together and this process can be drying which is why a water based product applied previously is useful. The general process for using a hair gel is
1. Wet hair
2. Apply a small amount of a water based conditioner or leave in to the wet hair.
3. Apply hair gel
Q3: So why does the hair gel not react well with the hair conditioner previously applied?
Let me be clear, most hair gels will have a certain range of conditioners that they will work well with. However, the ingredients in some conditioners do react with ingredients in some hair gels to form these gloopy balls or flakes. It is not the fault of the hair conditioner or the hair gel solely, it is more a case that the particular combination of the gel and conditioner does not work
Q4: How can I get the gel to work with the hair conditioner?
This is the wrong question. If the gel flakes up then it is likely that it always will with that conditioner. In some instances minimising the amount of product used can work but in general, once you start to see those balls, the combination does not work. You can solve the problem by changing the hair conditioner or the gel.
Q5: But I really like my conditioner and my gel?
Well, you are going to have to like them separately.
Q6: Can I test whether the conditioner and gel combination works before putting the products in my hair?
Yes, just wash and rinse your hands, then place a small dollop of the conditioner in your hand followed by a small dollop of the gel and rub your hands together to mix. I even found a video where the vlogger has done exactly that!