DIY Homemade Natural Hair Gel Review – Does it Work?

4 out of 5 leaves
4 out of 5 leaves

Hair gel is a styling product that is applied wet to hair and then stiffens the hair when dry to preserve a desired style. Hair gel is typically made of specialized stretchy polymers that allow the hair to hold it’s style while still having some flexibility.  Many major consumer goods companies offer hair gels of different varieties.  But can you make your own hair gel at home using natural gelatin?  And does it work?

The Good

  • Better for you – homemade hair gel has all natural ingredients that are not harmful to your body
  • Better for the earth – all that hair gel eventually washes down the drain – better for it to be made of natural ingredients
  • Saves Money – natural hair gel can be made for about 1/6th the price of the commercial stuff
  • Fragrance free – no overpowering odors
  • Easy to make – the recipe is quick and simple
  • Works just like commercial gel – can be used on wet or dry hair

The Bad

  • Must be kept in the fridge – to keep it gelled and prevent spoilage
  • A little inconvenient – must be retrieved from the fridge, and is COLD on your hands

My Experience

Gelatin and water are all you need to make a super simple hair gel!

I have rather wavy, but not quite curly hair.  Without proper styling it can get very frizzy.  I also have two small children and a full time job in a professional work environment.  I have very little personal care time in the morning, but also have to show up at work looking reasonably put together.  I’ve found the best way to fix my hair in the morning is to run some gel through my wet hair, scrunch and go.  (A note to my dear SAHM friends:  don’t be jealous that I get a shower every week day.  I sacrifice sleep to do it…).

I’ve never really thought much about the gel I use in my hair.  It’s heavily fragranced, too much for my liking, but it does the job and the fragrance fades quickly.  I ran into a recipe for homemade natural hair gel and thought it might be a great way to save money and reduce the amount of chemicals in my home.  I also looked up my favorite brand of hair gel on the EWG Skin Deep Database, and read about things like endocrine disruption, bioaccumulation, and neurotoxicity.*

The homemade natural hair gel recipe is pretty simple: 1/4 tsp of gelatin, and 1/2 cup of hot water.  Mix together and leave in the fridge to set.  I mixed it up and left it in the fridge.  I did not leave it in a closed container, so it was promptly knocked over by my husband rummaging in the back of the fridge.  Sigh.  I cleaned up the fridge (it dripped from top shelf to bottom, naturally), and made some more.  Then I knocked it over in the fridge.  Kill me now.  I grumpily scooped up the remaining and put it in the fridge in a small container with a lid. This blog is about real life, people.

The next morning, after getting out of the shower and towel drying my hair, I padded out to the kitchen to retrieve my hair gel.  I scooped it out of the little cup I was keeping it in, and spread it between my hands as I usually do.  It was super cold on my fingers, and really not that pleasant first thing in the morning.  I worked the gel through my hair as usual, and while it seems a tad runny, there wasn’t a big difference in application.  My hair looked the same as it usually does in that 1.8 second mirror glance I get before fixing breakfast for the little ones.

As it dried, I noticed that the sections of hair with the most gel were super stiff.  This bothered me a tiny bit, but running my fingers through from the roots seemed to resolve, and I don’t think it was noticeable to others.  One bonus feature I found was that this gel has no nasty taste if a wisp of hair blows into my mouth. Nice!

Overall I found this homemade natural hair gel worked well.  I was easily able to achieve my normal style without any extra fussing.  The gel was unscented and super easy to make.  It was a tad inconvenient to retrieve from the fridge.  I also didn’t like scooping out of the jar with my fingers, but I think it could easily be put into a tube or small bottle with pump for easier dispensing.  I don’t think it would travel well, but for home use, I’m planning to use the homemade gel from now on.

Have you ever tried homemade hair gel?  What other natural hair products do you use?

*I know that the EWG’s methods of testing and sensationalism in reporting are somewhat controversial.  Also I think a product applied to hair, or rinsed off of the skin is of less concern than something that is absorbed in.  That being said, ridding my home of ingredients like VP/Dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate Copolymer and Triisopropanolamine is probably a good thing.

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16 Responses to DIY Homemade Natural Hair Gel Review – Does it Work?

  1. I had just given up on hair gel and let the friz take over but then my kids and farm animals don’t really care all the much. I will have to give this a try, my youngest had super ringlet curls before chemo, now it is growing back not quite so curly on its own. I will have to let him try this too as he really wants his “super curly crazy hair” back and this just might do it :)

  2. Jaimie says:

    Interesting! I have fairly thick, naturally wavy hair, but only use any styling products on occasion. Usually it’s a little hairspray to hold up an up-do. I do use a conditioning “gel” stuff sometimes, but I’ve had the one little bottle for a couple years and it’s still not gone! Plus I love the smell and so does my hubby. :)

    However, if I used gel on a regular basis, this is definitely what I’d do! I’ll have to keep this in mind! :)

  3. I just made some homemade hair gel yesterday! I actually made a flax seed one, though, based on the recipe/technique here: http://www.dyno-mom.com/2012/06/two-weeks-into-curly-girl-method.html

    Today is my first day using it but so far so good! I’d previously been using a leave-in conditioner and aloe vera gel and I’m curious to see if this flax gel reduces frizz more. I recently discovered that I have curly hair (I thought it was just big and puffy, but that’s because I was constantly brushing out my waves) and it’s an adventure trying to figure out the best natural products to use on it.

  4. Saeriu says:

    Interesting! I’m curious about how easily it washes out of your hair? When I was in 8th and 9th grade I swam on the synchronized swimming team and for the last meet of the season, we gelled our hair up with knox. We actually made quite a stiff concoction to the point where our hair was as hard as wood (literally). The purpose was to have ‘pretty’ hair while we swam. It was a huge pain to get out and my last year, I was so frustrated with trying to get it out, I ended up having to cut about 15 inches off my hair. I’m assuming it was the really stiff mixture we made and that the recipe above would NOT produce wood grain qualities. Still, my past haunts me but makes me curious nonetheless.

    • Victoria says:

      HI Saeriu! With this recipe I’ve found it washes out as easily as any other hair gel. Fun to know I can use it for permanent hair sculptures if I need to!

  5. This is interesting and now I just have to give it a try and see how it turns out for me! thanks for the details…and the recipe. We’d love it if you’d come link this up to our Homesteading & Homemaking Link Party- “Home is Where the Heart is”. http://www.homesteadsimple.com/home-is-where-the-heart-is-link-it-up-wednesdays-2/

  6. Nancy says:

    Interesting recipe — I don’t use gel, but I can see where it would be a great alternative to the commercial brands.

    Thank you so much for sharing at Rural Thursdays this week. xo

  7. I have the SAME hair. This is such a great tip…thanks!

  8. Pingback: DIY Homemade Liquid Hand Soap Review – Does it Work? | Green Idea Reviews

  9. Dea says:

    I can’t use hairspray because of the strong scent, ditto for the gels, but I might try this. Thanks

  10. Prajna says:

    This gel is amazing! I have very curly hair and this gel set every curl perfectly without being stiff or flakey. I put it on after towel drying, style with my fingers/brush, and allow to air dry. When it’s dry I rub my hands over it and it becomes smooth and soft. I can’t believe how well it works; even on a rainy day my hair didn’t get frizzy.

  11. Lily says:

    Hey are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m
    trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Lily. I use WordPress, but my husband did all the set up work. I don’t know any code at all, and just barely even know how it works – basically only enough to get a photo into the post. I think some coding knowledge is helpful if you want to get fancy with your sidebars. I recommend WordPress – they have lots of neat apps, or widgets that can help you do what ever you want to do. My understanding, though is that you want to use wordpress from your own domain (i.e. mine is http://www.greenideareviews.com) rather than having wordpress.com host your blog for you.
      Good luck, and I hope this helps!

  12. Ramona says:

    Hello are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and
    create my own. Do you require any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  13. Jon says:

    Hello,
    The blogger wrote that the gelatin gel was a tad runny. I’m wondering if it will thicken up a bit more with slightly more gelatin to water ratio? Instead of a 1/4 tsp of gelatin, has anybody tried 1/2 tsp to the same amount of water?

    Also being that gelatin and hair each contain protein, I wonder if leaving the gel in our hair will help strength and / or repair damaged hair? Any comments are appreciated. Thank you.

    Jonny

  14. Rachel says:

    I made this last night and used it for the first time today. I used 1/2 tsp of gelatin and 1/2 cup hot water. I boiled fresh rosemary into the water first for scent and also added 6 drops of lavender essential oil. I also found it to be quite runny, even with 1/2 tsp gelatin. I used some by hand, but it was quite messy, so I decided to put it into a spray bottle and use it as a spray gel. I was quite happy with the results!

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