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Is there a verb for "applying/putting gel"? Applying or putting doesn't sound like the verb you would use for someone who did his hair with gel before going to school? What's the proper way to say this? I am not necessarily looking for a synonym of applied or put, because I have no idea what people say when commenting about someone's hair.

For example:

What gel did you ___ on your hair?

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As katatahito suggests, "put" or "use" are the most common for this situation. Either "in" or "on" is fine:

What kind of gel do you put/use in/on your hair?

Alternately you can comb or brush gel into your hair, but this is a more specific action.

If instead you want to put gel on something other than hair -- for example some kind of chemical treatment -- then "apply" might sound better.

Apply the gel to the surface to be treated, and wait ten minutes.

Less formally you can also smear gel over something

As a prank the students smeared gel all over the teacher's locker, so that it was too slippery to open.

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    What's colloquial about "smear"?
    – Nanigashi
    Jul 8, 2019 at 21:59
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    @Nanigashi Yeah you're right. I should have said "less formally".
    – Andrew
    Jul 8, 2019 at 22:45
  • gel is also a verb in its own right, and one of its senses is "apply gel to": What did you gel your hair with? May 24, 2021 at 12:04
  • And there's slather, for when you use way too much product in your hair! Aug 2, 2023 at 5:54

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