A great shampoo can only take you so far. On particularly hot, humid days, a powerful anti-frizz product or even some hair gel may be in order to keep your curls looking their best. But what if you're not into those chemicals or don't respond well to glycerine? Enter homemade, natural hair gel.
It sounds way more complicated than it is, we promise. Plus, it's a great option for anyone looking to clean up their beauty routine, since even the most strong-hold DIY hair gel is made with just a handful of all-natural ingredients.
Here's how to DIY your own hair gel:
For a standard hold, use this recipe, courtesy of Eliut Rivera, hair stylist and owner of Eliut Salon in NYC.
- 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
- 1 cup warm water
- Dissolve gelatin in warm water and stir to combine.
- Pour into storage container and let cool in the refrigerator, approximately three hours.
And, to customize...
Whether you want a stronger hold or a more attractive scent, there are plenty of ways to tweak the standard recipe.
For a strong hold:
For a standard hold, a 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin should be sufficient. If you want a stronger hold, add 1/4 teaspoon of gelatin to the recipe above.
Essential oils will give your hair gel a sweet scent that's free from synthetic ingredients. However, to avoid premature spoilage, it's a good idea to add fragrance with each use, rather than as part of the big-batch recipe, says Kerry E. Yates, CEO of Colour Collective and a trichologist (a.k.a. a hair and scalp expert) in training.
Before working it through your hair, simply put the gel in your hands, then add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil and mix it together. (Note: Too much oil can change the viscosity of the gel, rendering the product less effective.)
Some good options include:
- Bergamot: Bergamot encourages hair growth, is fabulous for lifting mood, and smells like sweet flowers, says Martha Krejci, an essential oils expert.
- Lavender: Lavender essential oil also moisturizes a dry scalp, helps improve circulation, and has a calming effect, says Krejci.
- Lemon: Lemon essential oil aids in collagen production, plus helps unclog and strengthen hair follicles, says Krejci.
Then, store it in a dark glass jar.
When it comes to DIY hair gel, the biggest challenge is storage. Since homemade products don't contain preservatives, they tend to break down when exposed to light for long periods of time or if they're exposed to extreme temperatures, says Yates.
To avoid this, store homemade hair gel in a dark glass jar with a tightly sealed cap. And for even more protection against breakdown and potential contaminants, stash your DIY hair gel in the refrigerator between uses, says Yates.
If you're skipping the gelatin, try this recipe:
For a vegan alternative that's even easier to DIY, you can use aloe vera instead, says Yates.
- Simply cut a leaf (you can find plants in many garden stores or even Whole Foods) and peel back the layer to get to the pulp.
- Gather the pulp in your hands, rub together, and apply as you would traditional hair gel.
In a pinch, you can also...
If find yourself without hair gel (and no time to make a fancy DIY version), there are a few other common beauty products that can stand in brilliantly, says Yates. Try using:
- Body lotion: To keep fly-always at bay, apply a dollop of body lotion to your hands, rub together, then sweep across the outer layer of your hair.
- A moisturizing face mask: For a light hold, follow the above instructions using your favorite face mask. (Yates uses Clinique Moisture Surge.)
For more ways to live your best life plus all things Oprah, sign up for our newsletter!