Affordable Hair Gel Without the Plastic Packaging or Chemicals
by Rebecca Rockefeller
My dancing daughter has her first public performance this week and that means I’ve been tasked with taming her curly and rather wild hair into a well-mannered, high ponytail. The hair falling down is allowed to do its thing, but everything around her face and top of her head needs to be free of wisps and curls.
I thought we’d take this opportunity to tackle a new DIY Buster for Trash Backwards – We test projects we see online to see if they truly do work for real people in the real world. I’m happy to report that this one worked beautifully! Her hair stayed in place through the entire day of costuming, makeup, warm up, dress rehearsal, and celebratory post-dance running around in our backyard. In fact, she was one of the only dancers in her class who didn’t need additional hair gel from the makeup artists backstage, where her hair was up against other pony tails held in place with store-bought gel.
We tested this gelatin-based recipe from DIY Natural and made just a few simple changes (we didn’t use distilled water, and we didn’t really measure out the essential oil drops). If you’re looking for vegan hair gel, you could give this flax seed version from Crunchy Betty a try (and please report back with your own DIY Buster appraisal).
DIY Hair Gel
- 1/2 cup hot clean water; we filter our well water, but you can use tap water if yours is clean
- 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- a few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)
- Pour hot water into a small bowl and sprinkle the dry gelatin on top. Water should not be boiling, just hot enough to dissolve the gelatin; I heated mine for 30 seconds in our microwave.
- Stir well until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance – We went with lavender, one of my daughter’s favorites.
- Pour into a small glass jar or bottle, put the lid on tight, and let it set for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- Use as desired – Dip your fingers into the gel, smooth onto hair and repeat as necessary. A thin coating, evenly combed through wet hair, will give a firm set and a bit of shine without any flakes. Too much gel will create flakes when everything dries, so go easy to start and use only as much as you need.
- Store in the fridge between uses; it will stay fresh and strong for about 2 weeks. If you still have some left at the end of two weeks, use it up as conditioner for your hair after shampooing, being sure to rinse it out well.
Looking for other DIY ideas that will save you money while also saving the planet from single-use plastics? Visit our Trash Backwards app – You can search by item from the home page or visit our Clean & Simple inspiration page for a range of ideas that harness the Rs of Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, and Rethink.