Natural Hair Gel Recipe (with How-to Video)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist February 20, 2013

A few months ago, my friend Leslie told me that she was looking into making a natural hair gel herself at home. She suggested I look into it also as we both have long curly hair.

I started researching the idea of making a natural hair gel myself right away as I found the concept intriguing.  I scoured the internet for various recipes and started experimenting to see which would work best for my type of hair.

In this video, I demonstrate the best natural hair gel recipe I tried for curly or wavy hair and it only takes about 10 minutes to make!

If you use store hair gel, I would recommend that you give this homemade gel a whirl and see what you think.  If you’ve ever checked the label on commercial hair gels, you know that they are loaded with chemicals and synthetic fragrances.

Even though these toxins aren’t going to absorb into your bloodstream like they would if you slathered it on your skin, these chemicals still get on your pillowcase at night potentially contacting your skin while you sleep.  In addition, anything on your hair is close to your nose so you would breath in the hormone disrupting fragrances.

I would particularly recommend this natural hair gel if you are pregnant or nursing as you don’t want to come into daily contact with the toxins that could potentially harm your baby.

Do you make your own homemade, natural hair gel?  If so, please share your recipe in the comments section!

The natural hair gel I demonstrate in the video below is made with flax seeds, but there are many other ways to make it.  Don’t worry that you can’t use this recipe if you have thyroid issues because flax seeds are goitrogenic.  This would be a problem if you ate them.  Putting them on your hair is fine!

Natural Hair Gel 

Makes about 4 oz

Ingredients

1 cup filtered water

2 Tbl organic whole flax seeds (where to source)

Few drops of essential oils for natural fragrance (optional)

Few drops of aloe vera gel for a moisturizing effect (optional)

Directions

Bring the cup of filtered water to a boil.  Stir in the flax seeds, turn down the heat to medium and let simmer for between 7-10 minutes.

*Do not simmer longer than 10 minutes else you won’t be able to strain out the flax seeds from the gel.

Strain out the flax seeds using a strainer or cheesecloth and let the gel cool.  Mix a few drops of essential oils and/or aloe vera if desired.

Pour gel into a small bottle and refrigerate.

Refrigerate.

Pour a dollop into the palm of your hand and mix through wet hair as frequently as desired.

This gel will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

More Information on Healthy Personal Care

Why Store Deodorant Stinks

Want Babies in your 30′s or 40′s? Lose the Makeup

Go Primal with Your Personal Care

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source: Flax Seed Hair Gel Recipe

Picture Credit

 

Comments (89)

  1. So many people do not realize how many chemicals and toxins can enter the body from hair and body products.
    Thank you Sarah, for providing a safe alternative.

    By the way, readers, I have had the pleasure of meeting Sarah in person, at the WAPF conference, and her hair looked great!
    Stanley Fishman\’s last post: Let Them Eat Grass

    Reply
  2. I find that a mixture of coconut oil, castor oil and avg work way better to moisturise, define and reduce frizz.

    Scant 1/8 teaspoon coconut oil
    Couple drops castor oil
    3/4 teaspoon aloe vera gel

    Mix well and distribute into hair. If this is too much use the rest on your legs, knees, elbows, wherever

    Reply
  3. I am thrilled! I have curly hair as well and I can’t wait to give this a try! I recently did a total overhaul of my bathroom products, but have not had any luck replacing my hair gel yet. My hair without some sort of product is pretty much a disaster! lol But, I don’t want to sacrifice my health either!!!

    Thanks Sarah for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Thank you so much for sharing this super simple recipe. I stumbled across this while looking for one of your food recipes, and I had to laugh. I was intruduced to your blog by a relative who said I look a lot like you – curly hair and all (except mine is longer). ☺ So, this will be a fun recipe to try. Alyssa, you’re not alone in the “my hair without some sort of product is pretty much a disaster.” Friends with sleek, straight, tangle-free hair have no concept of what is involved in caring for curly hair. My husband, two of my kids, and I all use hair gel every morning. So if this works well for us, I will be sure and post our results.

    Reply
  5. Flax seed gel is so good for curly hair! I’ve got really dry hair with lots of tiny curls and I love it even without aloe vera added. But I’m definitely going to try this next time :)

    Reply
  6. I can’t wait to try this! I have super curly hair, too, and I use a mousse daily to make it look decent. I hope this works – it would not only save me chemicals but also a lot of $. I burn through mousse like crazy! :)

    Reply
  7. Sarah, I use to use this recipe, but I got tired of two things: burning my fingers trying to strain the seeds out when it was easiest to do so; and having to keep it across the house in the fridge. Now I dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup boiling water, add 1/2 cup cold water, add any EOs I want and put half of this in my sprayer. The other half gets refrigerated. With my LONG curly hair, the amount kept in my sprayer is used up before it turns bad (and I get to keep it in the bathroom where I do my hair). Just an alternate recipe for you.

    Reply
    • Heather,
      I am interested in how much gelatin is used in your recipe. Although I do not have curly hair it would help me greatly to have some gel to run through my straight hair before styling.

      Thanks Sarah for a great recipe. Any idea if chia would work as well as flax?

      Reply
  8. Ellen McLaughlin - van Dijk February 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Can you also suggest something for thin straight hair ? I need a mousse or something to give my hair body and in order to keep an elastic in (otherwise it slides out).

    many thanks,
    Ellen.

    Reply
  9. I used to have curly hair but after having three children it is really just wavy now. I used to use hair gel all the time to keep the curls looking nice and frizz-free but I gave up looking for a chemical-free brand.

    Needless to say, I am excited about trying this. I don’t have any flaxseed but I was wondering if flaxseed meal would work just as well since that’s what I have on hand? If so, would I still use 2 Tbsp.?
    Jamie Wright Bagley\’s last post: The Ragged Prayer of a Weary Mom

    Reply
      • I honestly use ground flax seed and you don’t even notice, it all comes out when you blow dry it. Saves a lot of time and frustration. I also add one egg white for extra hold – keep in the fridge.

        Reply
    • it doesnt absorb THROUGH the hair—but in the video Sarah mentions that you sleep with your hair on your pillow, and your face will be in the chemicals that were on your hair. also, when you shower, the water carries those chemicals over your skin. and when the water is hot, your skin absorbs more of the toxins. hope that helps. im sure someone can give more details. :)

      Reply
  10. This is AWESOME! My husband has thick, wavy, course hair and we’ve struggled for years now trying to find something chemical free and DIY that is able to “manage” his hair.

    I’m wondering, though. Do you think replacing the flax seeds for chia seeds would do the same thing?
    Mindy, The Homespun ARTisan\’s last post: Wedding Drawing (Mad) Libs Game – Guest Book – Customizable PDF / Design – Bridal Shower / Bachelorette Party by TheHomespunArtisan

    Reply
  11. Thank you for your recipe for the hair jel- I have short hair and I like it spikey but I’ve found a recipe for palmade and it works great! +homemade pomade from Organic Authority uses beeswax and jojoba oil as its base. You’ll need a mason jar, which you’ll place in a double boiler by adding water around the jar until it reaches the middle of the jar. Gently drop in a 1/2 lb of chopped beeswax. Turn up the heat until the water boils, then remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 tbsp jojoba oil. Add in 1 tbsp arrowroot powder, and then stir in a few drops of peppermint oil. Let the mixture cool and then pour it into whatever container you will use to store your pomade.

    Reply
  12. I’ve been looking for a product for my toddler sons hair for those days when I want to smooth it away from his eyes … So far we use a paste that my husband uses but it’s not natural at all. It bothers me. So I wish there was a way to make a hair paste!

    Reply
  13. I’ve found just aloe gel and jojoba oil to be very effective for frizz, and the jojoba adds condition and shine (and it’s the closest thing to natural skin sebum there is, so you can also use it for skin too). Just mix the proportions to your taste (very dry hair = more jojoba) and no refrigeration required!

    Reply
  14. When I saw the caption that said “Natural Hair Gel” I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie “Something About Mary.” Enough said!

    Reply
    • baking soda in a lil water. say 1Tlb to 1 cup water put in hair rub then raise then cider vingar for conditioning. again about same as above. if really greesy use lemon juice to help get out greese, smae as above. been doing this for over 5m works great.hair will go thro detox so it will look bad for a week or 2. just push thru and ened up with great hair. I could see my scalp before now I can’t!!! looks thicker now. i igure there was something in shampoo even the natural on es that was killing my hair.

      Reply
      • I don’t recommend baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice on hair. Please research it on online. On YouTube, there’s a very informative series done by Kimmaytube called The Structure of Hair. She explains the scientific reasons these substances are really harsh on your hair (has to do with pH levels being drastically different than our hair/skin). It’s a great idea to use natural substances as much as possible, but it’s also good to remember that even natural substances can cause harm, just like their chemical counterpoints. I’m not trying to be rude or controversial. Just thought you might like to have a heads-up on that (no pun intended).☺

        Reply
  15. My hairdresser from Honduras gave me that tip years ago but I never used it! I’ll try it now =)
    I have tried plain coconut oil but it just leaves my hair a little greasy, even when I am careful to barely use any.

    I have hair like yours, Sarah, and I live in a humid area. So I dealt with both frizzy “big” hair but also hair that would really dry out horribly (I have Hashimoto’s which I assumed contributed to that). Several years ago I read a book I got at my library called Curly Girl. She suggests that “curly girls” not use shampoo! I know that sounds jarring, but I was desperate and I stopped using shampoo. I am amazed at the difference. I “wash” my scalp with conditioner, then condition my hair. After a couple of weeks my hair already looked better. It is incredible. I will never go back to shampoo! That was probably 4 or 5 years ago.

    Reply
  16. I have curly hair too. 2 drops of almond oil works great. I’ve also used coconut oil. Have to be careful or it could look too oily with either. But very cheap and no trouble at all.

    I have recently been using drrons.com MSM shampoo and MSM condition. It makes hair very soft. But it doesn’t help my curls so I still need to add a moisturizer afterward for that. No bad stuff in the shampoo/conditioner.

    Reply
  17. What does it take to remove this from your hair? Would water alone do it? If not, would conditioner? I don’t use shampoo anymore, and only use products that rinse out with water. Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Thanks for this recipe, I can’t wait to try it. I would love it if you did a post on the cosmetics that you use, and shampoo and conditioner. Thanks for all you do!!

    Reply
  19. I prefer hair putty over gel so I make my own hair putty. The putty from the store is horrible and can even sometimes have hydrogenated oils in it! I don’t want that anywhere near my skin, head or brain. So I make a hair putty out of beeswax, coconut oil & essential oils. I usually use rosemary, lavender, & tea tree.
    You need a double boiler to melt chunks of beeswax with the coconut oil. The ratio of oil to wax depends on how solid or liquidy you want it. The more oil you use, the more liquid it will be. I generally usually use twice as much wax as oil to make for a hard putty that holds the shape of your hair for a long time. Avoid adding more wax than a 2:1 ratio, b/c it will not rub easily into your hair. After it is melted & off the heat is when you add the essential oils. You must stir the mixture until it is cooled significantly enough for the essential oils not to separate. You want a homogenous mixture. This is evidenced by solidification/thickening. To apply: dampen hair, rub putty into hands until smooth (you don’t want yellow chunks showing in your hair), and then rub into hair + style it.

    Reply
  20. I have waist length curly hair. Made this gel today….followed directions exactly. Applied to my hair about 5 hr ago and so far I LOVE it. My hair is MUCH softer than when I use store bought gel too! Soo excited to find this recipe!

    Reply
  21. Hahaha Susan!!!
    Thanks all for the putty recipes! Having short straight thin hair necessitates putty. Since this is the only Junk I put on/in my body I’m going to try this for sure! So excited :)

    Reply
  22. Sarah,

    Thanks for this recipe. I made this years ago and had forgotten all about it. Would you tell us what else you use in your hair? It’s so shiny, and that’s not always easy for curly girls to achieve. Thanks.

    Michelle

    Reply
  23. We have been making this for about 6 months and it’s wonderful.
    Instead of cheesecloth I found a small screen strainer is alot easier.
    We shampoo with bubbleandbee shampoo rinse with vinegar

    Reply
  24. Thank you for this recipe! And since you use makeup as well, why not let us in on what brand you use! Likely it’s not a mass manufacturer either!

    Reply
  25. To someone who about the consistency of this gel recipe, it’s almost identical to egg whites. Highly viscose. If you’re not careful, the whole “puddle” will fall off your hand! I’ve only tried it in my hair a couple times so far, and haven’t washed it yet, but I’ll post my results when I do.

    If you have curly hair, I agree with Mary Ann who said that the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey was a huge help to her. I have not been able to do “no-poo” (no shampoo), but I do use a very mild shampoo and lots of conditioner. Curly girls need lots of moisture and not as much washing as straight-haired girls because their hair is more dry, by nature.

    To those of you who use baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice in your hair, I would encourage you to do your research on that. Look on YouTube for videos put together by Kimmaytube. She did a series called the Structure of Hair which is excellent in explaining the scientific reason that these substances actually put your hair through a pH roller coaster and can be VERY damaging. I’m all for natural personal care products, but not if they cause damage. Her videos were enlightening.

    And last, but not least, I discovered that the flax seeds can be reused after you make this hair gel recipe! Just boil some more water, put the drained seeds back in the pan and simmer them again! I did it two more times with the same seeds after the first batch. Probably could have kept going too, but I figured that would be plenty of gel for now. ☺ Each batch turned out darker than the last. Second batch didn’t take as long to thicken; third batch took longer.

    Reply
  26. I’ve been using this recipe for about six months now and love it. It’s not too stiff though so I if i am too active before it dries, my frizzies start to return. I’m too lazy to use aloe since I have to get it from my aloe plants.
    At first i thought refrigeration was a pain too, but now I’m in the habit of swinging by the fridge on my way to the bathroom.
    It washes right out with water, and I store it in a repurposed soap pump for easier application since it’s a bit liquidy.
    NOW I need a natural hair spray!!

    Reply
  27. Megan thanks for the soap pump idea. Perfect! I would like to hear about hairspray also.

    I too absolutely love this gel. I’ve never used gel before but tried it this morning and I’m totally enamoured with it. It’s given my fine hair such a full bodied look and feel.

    I love that day by day, my trips down the aisles of the stores are becoming more focussed on just a few.

    Reply
  28. Polly Ross via Facebook February 23, 2013 at 11:45 am

    do you think chia would work? It’s all I have at the moment. I use gelatin too but I don’t like how it sets and doesn’t stay soft.

    Reply
  29. Stacey Gorham via Facebook February 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I will be trying this! I have had a hard time finding an alternative and my hair is super curly and frizzy in summer!

    Reply
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  31. Okay, so I’d made three different batches of this gel the other day. (See my post above regarding reusing the flax seeds in subsequent batches.) This evening, I was reheating some bean mixture on the stove and it was a bit dry. I’d already throw out the “bean juice” from cooking, and I didn’t have any broth to use to add moisture to the mix. I saw the gel in the fridge and thought, hmm. No weird odor. Doesn’t seem like it would affect the taste of beans. It might even add nutrients….

    So, after my kids finished their beans, I disclosed the fact that they’d just eaten some of Mom’s hair gel (clean batch, of course). The look on their faces was priceless. ☺ (After they smelled it and watched me pour it back and forth between two jars, they were fascinated by the gooey substance. My sons decided it was as good as the colored “slime” in the stores.)

    Then I got curious, and Googled it. Turns out that consuming “boiled flaxseed oil” has other health benefts, including clearing mucus from the lungs and helping rid the body of disease.

    Check it out:
    http://christadovel.hubpages.com/hub/Breathe-Easy-with-Flax-seed-Oil

    Reply
    • Awesome! I’m drinking a version of the orange drink as I type. I got right up when I read the link you posted and made some. I’ve had horrible congestion and a cough that doubles me over (and makes me cross my legs – oy!) for a week. I’m now hoping that’s gone by morning. I didn’t have orange juice concentrate, so I used a fresh clementine and raw honey instead of sugar. It’s very palatable.
      By the way, I was also happy to find a use for the flaxseed oil, as it didn’t do well on my hair yesterday… guess I won’t be retiring that flat iron just yet (re: my comment above).
      Thanks, Rachel!
      Pam O’Brien\’s last post: My Favorite Finds

      Reply
  32. Rachel thanks for the “slime” idea. My grand daughter has been wanting to buy that stuff and I refuse. I’ll be making some for her tommorrow colored with beet juice.

    Reply
    • V ivian -

      Great idea! I’d be curious to hear how the slime-making goes. ☺ One suggestion: try using either more water or less seeds and/or cooking it longer to make the mixture thicker and easier to hold. Won’t your granddaughter be surprised when you tell her it’s edible (though definitely not advisable if the slime goes everywhere the store-bought slime typically goes). ☺

      Rachel

      Reply
  33. I have been making this hair gel (without EO’s) for years. I love it!
    I have waist length curly hair and it works wonderfully. Initally I made it during
    a time where we were very tight on money, but now, I would never go back to
    store bought stuff!

    A hint I didn’t see mentioned: it helps to add honey to prevent frizz. I just eye the honey into the gel when it hot and stir with a fork. I also store it in a peri bottle in the fridge, it is easier to apply that way. I wrap my hair in an old cotton t-shirt after applying it helps the drying process and gives me less frizz.

    Reply
  34. I made a batch using rosewater. It smelled funny while it was still hot, but once cooled, it smells wonderful! I’m going to use some orange blossom water next.

    Reply
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  36. I am wondering what you do to clean your hair. I have very similar hair and have been using the conditioner-only cleansing method for years now, but would love something a little cheaper and more natural. The baking soda/vinegar idea that is popular was terrible for my hair – very drying. I am interested in trying this gel. I have lots of curls, but my hair is fine and gets very limp very quickly.

    Reply
  37. I am currently looking for a good thermal guard/anti friz treatment for hair that does not affect ones lungs or skin poorly? This is for long, Straight hair with a little body, but not curly. Most everything on the shelves hurt my lungs, especially after blown dry. I am getting tired of looking.

    Reply
  38. Thank you so much for this great recipe. I have waist length long layered straight hair that is very fine. I needed something to help control frizz without being heavy because my hair gets weighed down quite easily. I changed up the recipe a bit by adding some EVOO and doubling the water so it’s not quite so viscous. I also added some jasmine EO and I love it!!!!!!!! It feels so good and did exactly what I wanted. I will definitely be using this from now on.

    Reply
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