This easy homemade hair gel can be made with or without aloe vera, and is the perfect natural hair gel for when you are on the go. It can be preserved with natural preservatives for up to 3 months.
A couple of years ago I showed you how to make a homemade hair gel using flaxseeds. I really loved how natural it was, and how it left my hair with defined curls while feeling soft to the touch. I had previously been blow drying my hair almost all of the time, and had finally decided that I wanted to leave my hair to do its thing and be its naturally wavy self.
With as much as I love a flaxseed hair gel, it isn't the most convenient thing to make and keep up. Not only do you need to cook the flaxseeds with water over the stove and strain the mixture, but most people store it in the fridge and make a new batch each week.
I love making things myself, probably more than anybody I know, but I still don't have time for that sort of thing. Every week.
Since then I've learned a thing or two about natural preservatives, and I've been meaning to make a new batch of flaxseed hair gel to test the pH (although I have read that it is usually around 6-7) and see how well it would work with natural preservatives. Being able to naturally preserve it for up to 3 months with something like Leucidal (which is possible at a pH of 6-7) would greatly increase the convenience factor of the old gel. That said, I haven't gotten around to trying it because I've since gotten hooked on something new. This new, easy homemade hair gel keeps for so long that I haven't been inspired to make the old flaxseed gel in quite some time now.
Watch how to Make the Homemade Hair Gel
How to Make an Aloe Gel
I accidentally stumbled on this homemade hair gel when trying to make myself a non-sticky, homemade aloe gel to soothe our skin after being out in the sun.
I had recently bought some aloe vera juice, and I figured that xanthan gum was a good thickener to use to make a gel-like substance with it. I went ahead and made myself a homemade aloe gel using aloe vera juice and xanthan gum.
The homemade aloe gel was great, and it didn't feel slimy like a homemade aloe gel made from blending up the pulp of aloe vera leaves. Plus, it had the consistency of a store bought aloe gel- well, kind of, sort of…
The problem with aloe gel made with xanthan gum?
When you put a xanthan gum gel on your skin and allow it to dry, it leaves a bit of a dry, cracking feeling. It doesn't feel sticky, but does feel slightly weird on your skin. Once the formed skin cracked, though, it wasn't really noticeable anymore. (I've since found that one of the more natural brands of aloe gel that my husband bought also leaves the same sort of feeling on your skin as it dries.)
Because my homemade aloe gel gave the same sort of sensation that my homemade flaxseed hair gel left on my hair, it dawned on me that it may make a perfect hair gel. The flaxseed hair gel dries stiff, which helps hold your curls, but when you play with your hair and “crack” it, it feels soft and clean, but keeps its shape.
What is xanthan gum?
Xanthan gum is a thickener and stabilizing agent that is used in foods, cosmetics, and industrial products. It is made by fermenting glucose with a bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris. It is solidified when reacted with alcohol, and then the solid precipitate is dried and ground into a powder.
The powder is often used in the same way as gelatin is used to thicken certain foods.
The benefits of a xanthan gum hair gel
When I first posted my flaxseed hair gel recipe, a lot of people told me that they loved it, but that they found it inconvenient to make, especially when traveling. They wanted to know if I could suggest something that could be made on the go.
While a pre-made and preserved flaxseed hair gel should keep for the length of most travel stays, some people prefer to not travel with liquids and gels.
Xanthan gum is a powder that you can easily take with you and mix with water as needed once you've reached your destination. Since you don't need a stove or a strainer, like you do when making flaxseed gel, the process of making the gel away from home is simplified.
Tricks for blending xanthan gum with liquids
While you don't need a stove to make this gel, I will admit that it can be tricky to mix xanthan gum with water without it clumping. Xanthan gum is so good as a thickening agent that it starts thickening before it gets well dispersed throughout the liquid, making thick, hard clumps within your gel.
To avoid getting a clumpy mixture, the ideal way of mixing xanthan gum with either water or aloe juice is to pour the powder right into the whirl cause by an immersion blender as you blend and pour simultaneously. Of course, if you're traveling, it isn't likely that you have an immersion blender on hand. I have a tiny, inexpensive milk frother that I like to use for this sort of thing, but most people don't take even something like that along with them on their trips.
Another way to help blend the xanthan gum with the liquids is to divide the liquid in half, and slowly add the powder to half of the liquid while stirring constantly. Then, more liquid can be added as needed until all of the water or juice has been used. I've found that any clumps that do remain will eventually hydrate enough so that stirring later on will break up the clumps. So, if you do end up with lot of little clumps in your gel, just allow the gel to rest for a couple of hours before stirring again.
If you do have access to a stove, using a double boiler to help slightly heat the gel with the xanthan gum powder is another option for keeping the clumps out. I used to always heat up my liquid before adding the xanthin gum powder, but now rarely do anymore.
Easy Homemade Hair Gel
Easy Homemade Hair Gel (With or Without Aloe Vera)
- Mix together the xanthan gum with the aloe juice or distlled water. This is easiest when using an immersion blender.
- Add in the Leucidal, or another natural preservative if you plan on keeping the gel for more than a few days. You can also add in any essential oils that you like for scent and hair beneficial properties. Lavender and rosemary are great oils for your hair and smell great in a homemade hair gel.
- If you have lumps of xanthin gum, you can either heat up the mixture to help dissolve them. You can also leave the gel to rest for several hours so that the clumps are better hydrated. After several hours, you can blend the mixture again and the clumps should disappear.
- Pour the gel into storage containers. I prefer silicone travel tubes because it's easy to dispense the gel without contaminating it with bacteria from your fingers. They also travel well without spilling or leaking.
- You can use the gel on both wet or dry hair. I usually use it right after having towel dried my hair. I find that it defines my curls well as my hair dries. You can also apply it to frizzy hair or dry hair when you want to smooth it or define your curls. I often wet my hands and dampen my hair slightly with my wet hands before working the gel in so that I can distribute the gel well more easily.
This post is also available in Español.