Want to tame flyaway frizz, keep curls in check, or spike short hair with a non-toxic version of your favorite store-bought stuff? Many of the styling gels on store shelves contain hormone disrupting fragrances and formaldehyde releasers, but you can make natural hair gel with just 1-3 simple ingredients. And just like with this three ingredient body wash, you probably have what you need to make a batch right now.
Below are three recipes that I’ve used over the years with my boys. They’re too young to care about styling their hair on most days, so it’s not until we have a special occasion coming up that I remember to make hair gel. I don’t always have the same ingredients on hand, so I’ve experimented with a few variations and these are the best I’ve tried.
In terms of hold, I’d say the flaxseed recipe is the strongest, the gelatin is medium, and the aloe vera is the lightest, but all have worked really well for us. A few friends with curly hair have reported that they help a lot with frizz, too.
Adding Essential Oils To Natural Hair Gel
If you want to add essential oils for scent and their therapeutic benefits for the scalp and hair, here are a few of my favorites:
- Peppermint and rosemary essential oils stimulate hair growth and add shine. They’re very strong, though, so I recommend using about half the maximum number of drops recommended in the recipes below.
- Patchouli and tea tree have astringent properties which are beneficial for oily hair
- Lavender and cedarwood are helpful for dry hair
Natural Hair Gel Recipe With Gelatin
Gelatin contains keratin proteins which bind with hair to strengthen it. It adheres especially well to damaged areas and helps to smooth the hair cuticle, boost shine and reduce breakage.
It is possible to get too much of a good thing, though. As I shared in this post on gelatin hair masks, healthy hair is both strong and flexible, and hair that has too much protein can harden, lose flexibility, and become vulnerable to breakage. The amount of gelatin in this recipe is so small that this likely won’t be an issue even if used very frequently, However, if you do notice that your hair loses flexibility, it’s a good idea to deep condition and rotate this recipe with either the flaxseed or aloe options.
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon gelatin (where to buy gelatin)
- 1/2 cup very warm distilled water
- up to 24 drops essential oil (optional)
1. Dissolve the gelatin into warm water, using 1/4 teaspoon for less hold and 1/2 teaspoon for more hold.
2. Add in essential oils if desired. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Aloe Vera Gel For Hair
Aloe vera is a wonderful hair moisturizer and scalp conditioner that also happens to work beautifully as styling gel. Some brands contain additives I prefer to avoid, but this one is pretty good.
- 1/2 cup aloe vera gel (this is what I use)
- up to 24 drops essential oil (optional)
If using essential oils, add them to the aloe vera gel and stir to combine. Place aloe in an airtight container. Because store-bought aloe is stabilized to extend shelf life, this gel should last at room temperature for at least three months.
Flaxseed Hair Gel Recipe
- 3/4 cup distilled water
- 1 tablespoon plus 1.5 teaspoons flax seeds (where to buy flax seeds)
- up to 24 drops of essential oil
1. Place water and flax seeds into a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. While the mixture is simmering, line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth.
4. Once the liquid has simmered for 10 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and pour the liquid through the cheesecloth. When the liquid has filtered through, bring the corners of the cheesecloth together and lift so that the flaxseeds are at the bottom of a pouch (it should look a bit like the images in cartoons of a stork carrying a baby) and squeeze any remaining gel through the cheesecloth with a pair of tongs. (Don’t use your fingers because the liquid is very hot.)
5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
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