Less Seedy Hair Gel

I have come across many recipes for setting gel that call for nothing more than flax seeds and water. I tried one in the past that failed to gel, but a few days ago I tried another, this time following the directions in Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. The resulting gel had a very soft hold, but sufficient for my purposes (taming fluffiness, not sculpting). However, I don’t think I’m likely to switch from my old recipe. Despite the small ingredient list the actual making of the flax seed gel was more time consuming than my gelatine-based product. It also yielded less – I attempted to strain it through a sieve but the consistency was like that of a raw egg white and quite a bit of the stuff wouldn’t pass through. I think I would have had better luck if I strained it through cheesecloth and gave it a good squeeze.

What I regularly use to keep the curls in line is a combination of several recipes I came across, which I have tweaked over the years into this:

  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (This is the binding agent, which provides the actual hold. Varying the amount of gelatin will lessen or increase the hold level.)
  • contents of one flax seed oil capsule (For shine and softness.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (For its emollient properties. It also seems to help the other ingredients cooperate – when I have omitted this ingredient the consistency is greatly affected.)
  • 4 drops tea tree oil (its antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties act as a preservative and are good for your scalp)
  • 3 drops rose geranium oil (Originally, this was the only essential oil in the recipe and chosen for its antibacterial properties. However, those properties were not as strong as in the tea tree oil and the first few batches didn’t make it a week after they left the fridge before they were furry and green. I left it in because it takes the edge off of the tea tree scent. You can use whatever scent you prefer.)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

I used to also include a little honey because its a humectant, but I ended up removing it from the formula for the very same reason – it sucks moisture out of the air and into your hair, but in my case that just meant frizz.

Combine all ingredients other than the boiling water in a measuring cup and fill to the ½ cup line. Whisk for several minutes and pour into a sturdy plastic squeeze bottle. (My first one melted, so choose carefully.) Throw it in the fridge and leave it there overnight or at least 3-4 hours to set. Some of the oils, especially the flax seed oil, may float to the top, so before you put it on your head give it a good shake. Apply as you would the commercial variety and allow to air dry. When dry, it may appear to have frozen your hair like extra-strength Dippity-do®, but if you run a comb through it quickly the crunchiness will disappear and your hair will stay right where you wanted it.

The consistency is more like Jell-O® than store-bought gel, especially for the first few days. Over time, in the moist heat of the bathroom the mixture will “melt” and become thinner, but its properties are not diminished. It keeps for about two weeks, and that’s about how long it takes me to use it up.

– Amanda

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