You heard it here first, folks: homemade flaxseed gel is the OG zero waste curly hair product. Good hold for your curls. Buy your flaxseed in bulk to minimize plastic. (Plus you can also use flaxseeds as an egg replacement to vegan-ize recipes, since you’ll already have it in the kitchen.)
A little background
Eco-friendly gel is hard to come by, and unfortunately pretty essential for many curly styles. As of the time of this writing, Earth Hero (a great resource for the most sustainable products) does not offer any hair styling products. Lush has one styling cream that claims to have “medium-to-firm-hold” but seems to be marketed more as a men’s pomade. And don’t even get me started on Ecoco Eco Style gels. Their greenwashing is a post for another time…
The environmental impact of traditional hair gels is two-fold: (1) the inescapable plastic container and (2) the production and use of unnecessary chemicals. While I might be able to accept having to use a plastic container if a company had exceptionally good ingredients and business practices, there don’t seem to be any companies making any sort of ethical or eco-friendly hair gels.
Since this is the case right now, I think homemade flaxseed gel is the best alternative.
How to make it yourself
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that it’s an easy switch to make because making the gel is fairly time consuming and it can’t be made too far in advance because it spoils quickly. That said, it’s super easy to make. I use the method from Whitney of Naptural85, which you can check out in this flaxseed gel how-to video on her YouTube channel.
The TL;DR (with my own commentary) is this:
- Boil about ¼ c whole flaxseeds + 2 c water until it begins to thicken (about 20 minutes).
- Let cool for an hour. The gel will continue to thicken as it sits.
- Strain through panty hose (or a nut milk bag).
- Store in fridge for up to two weeks (or until you can’t stand the smell anymore).
- (Compost the spent flaxseeds.)
This recipe makes about 4oz of gel, which is a little bit too much for me since I don’t wear my hair down that often. I’m working on scaling it down to the appropriate amount that I will actually use up within its shelf life. Also, Whitney mentions that you can re-use the seeds a second time, but I did NOT have success with this. I boiled seeds for a second time for over an hour and they did not thicken up.
How I use it
I use this gel for wash-n-go styles and cornrow braids on top of a leave-in conditioner or other moisturizing product. YouTuber Zero Waste Curls says she uses it as the only product for her curls. She has much looser curls than I do, but I’m looking forward to seeing if that could work for me!
Post Script: I recently got an ad on Instagram for CurlMix, which claims to have organic, cruelty-free, vegan, handmade flaxseed gels. They do come in plastic bottles, but if the product is as good as they say, I just might have to try it out! Looking forward to doing some more research and letting y’all know if they’re a viable option.
Have you tried flaxseed gel? Do you know of any other eco-friendly gels?