This gel is easy to make, and it works very well to control my naturally frizzy hair. It isn't sticky or drying like some store-bought gels I've tried, and ever since I discovered this, I don't even use conditioner anymore!
A lot of people ask me if my hair color is real, and the answer is yes. I have never colored my hair, and none of these photos were altered or enhanced in any way. It does look brighter in the sunlight, though. I also get asked if it's naturally curly a lot, and again, the answer is yes. In fact, I do not do a single thing to my hair beyond what I'm going to share in this instructable. So let's get started!
Step 1: A Brief Hair History
This picture shows my hair after I've washed it and let it dry, but haven't put anything on it. This is my hair in its natural state. It's very curly, but the individual hairs are all doing their own thing, making it look fuzzy and messy.
Up until a few years ago, I didn't know what to do about my frizzy hair, so I kept it in braids a lot. One day I searched "crazy frizzy curly hair" on the internet, and that's where I learned about keeping conditioner in your hair and not rinsing it out, which is a method that a lot of people use to control their curly hair.
The problem with leaving conditioner in my hair was that it made it feel stiff, a bit greasy, kind of heavy... and it darkened my hair so that it didn't show its natural color. Many people commented that my hair was turning brown, when it was actually all that conditioner on it that made it look darker! I searched the internet for a clear conditioner to use, thinking that a clear one wouldn't look darker while it was on my hair, but instead, I ran across this flaxseed hair gel. I've been using it ever since, as my "conditioner" as well as a styling aid that defines my curls. The only thing I put on my hair is shampoo and this gel. I love how it makes my hair feel, and how well it works to banish frizz!
Step 2: Boil Flaxseeds in Water
Place 1/4 cup (60 grams) of flaxseeds in a saucepan, and add 4 cups (1 liter) of water.
Bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and let it cool for one hour.
Start with these proportions for your first batch, but after you see how your hair likes it, you can play around with the recipe. You may need more or less holding power, which can be adjusted to suit your hair's needs.
These things make the gel thinner, with less holding power:
- Using Golden Flax seeds
- Boiling it for a shorter amount of time
- Using more water
- Using fewer flax seeds
- Applying the gel to wet or damp hair
- Reusing the flax seeds
These things make the gel thicker, with more holding power:
- Boiling it for a longer amount of time
- Using less water
- Using more flax seeds
In its plain form of just flaxseeds and water, the gel will smell very mildly like bread. If you want to, you can add essential oils to make it smell nice! I use 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) each of lime and ginger essential oils, but you can use whatever you have on hand, or omit them entirely. It's up to you.
It will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze it in a plastic bottle and take it out of the freezer on the morning or night before you plan to wash your hair. You can also add about 2 teaspoons (9 grams) of vitamin E oil if you want, to make it keep longer in the fridge.
Step 3: Strain Gel
Line a bowl with a clean kitchen towel.
Pour the contents of the saucepan into the towel-lined bowl.
Gather the edges of the towel and gently squeeze, straining the hair gel through the towel and into the bowl.
Discard the seeds that are left in the towel, and pour the gel into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Step 4: Put the Gel on Your Hair
Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo. Don't use a shampoo that leaves your hair feeling "squeaky clean"... in my experience, that squeaky clean feeling means that your hair is dried out! I use Pantene's Curly Hair series "Moisture Renewal", but you probably have one already that works well for you. If you have incredibly dry hair, you could certainly use a moisturizing conditioner after you shampoo, and then rinse it out. However, I do not do this, as it seems to make the gel not hold as well.
After washing, let your hair dry.
Apply the gel to your hair by getting some on your hands, rubbing your hands together, and then rubbing your hands through your hair. Make sure to get all of your hair coated evenly, even the roots! Sometimes it's easier to separate your hair into sections and work with one section at a time.
See how much longer and darker my hair looks when it's wet?
Step 5: Brush Your Hair
For my hair, this is the kind of brush that works the best. I used to use a wide-toothed comb, but it didn't press the curls together as well as this brush does. It has really thick, flexible bristles that bend very easily. My brush is infused with jojoba oil, but I don't think this makes much of a difference. I've heard good things about Denman's line of hairbrushes, but the one I use is made by Goody.
Separate your hair into 8 to 12 sections, and brush each section well while it's wet with the gel. And then leave it alone! Let it dry without playing with it or running your fingers through it. I just go to sleep at this point, haha. You could probably use a good diffuser to dry your hair if you're in a hurry, but make sure that the airflow is gentle enough not to blow your curls apart. You don't want to start the week out looking like you rode in a convertible for 8 hours!
Don't ever brush your hair while it's dry! Curly hair looks frizzy and fuzzy when the individual hairs are farther apart. Brushing your hair when it's dry will turn it into fuzz instead of smooth, well-defined curls.
Step 6: Scrunch It!
Once your hair is completely dry, it will still look wet, but it will feel very stiff. You can see in the first pictures how it's standing out straight all by itself. It will also sound stiff when you move your head. Now is when you scrunch it! Squeeze it in your fists, pack it against your head, and just in general mash it until it's soft, bright, and fabulous! It should only take about 30 seconds or so.
Step 7: Continued Care and Tips
I don't do a single thing to my hair after that until it's time to wash it again, which will be in 4 to 8 days. I'll need to wash it sooner if I've gotten caught out in the rain, or ridden in a car with the windows down, or gone hiking and gotten my hair snagged on twigs and branches. Usually I wash/gel/brush it exactly once a week.
When I take a shower, I just put on a shower cap to protect my 'do from the water and humidity of the shower.
When I sleep, I just... sleep. I do not braid it, or put on any sort of hat, or use a special pillowcase. I just go to sleep, roll out of bed in the morning, and my hair is good to go. My hair probably does most of its frizzing while I'm asleep, from me rubbing my head against the pillowcase, but I haven't bothered to try to prevent that. I figure an average of washing/brushing my hair once a week is pretty darn low-maintenance! All told, the entire routine (excluding drying time) takes me about 40 minutes every week.
The flax gel doesn't seem to work very well for people who have straight hair, but user zialeon recommends using fenugreek seeds for fine, straight hair. Soak them overnight, and then proceed as you would for the flax gel. Or use part flax and part fenugreek if your hair is in-between fine and thick.
Users JudesJewels, chall35, and zialeon recommend adding some dried herbs to the water, if you don't have essential oils on hand. Let the herbs boil right along with the seeds, then strain the whole mixture. The herbs give the gel a nice scent.
User DeeRilee suggests using muslin to strain the gel.
User raginmama recommends using a silk pillowcase to avoid frizzing your hair while you sleep.
User JudesJewels says that the flaxseed gel works well as a facial moisturizer, as well!
Thanks so much for the tips, to everyone who has contributed. You all make everything awesome!