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?
- 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
- 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
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.