This is based on my Easy Humectant Curl Boosting Jelly recipe and inspired by reader comments, and by the problem some of us have with glycerin in winter or dry weather. It's a light-hold curl and wave definer. This recipe is very easy to make.
-Addition of your choice of emollient blend to make this creamy for softness and lubrication (oil+plant butter or oil+conditioner).
-Increased acacia gum to keep the definition in waves, curls and coils.
-Options for humectants for those who avoid glycerin.
-Adjust the amount of emollients (oils, butters, conditioners) to suit 1) your hair's needs and 2) the amount of "hold" you want (see below)
-Water: Solvent, dliutent
-Xanthan gum: Creates a thick "gel," provides medium hold with humidity-resistance, may slow water loss.
-Humectant of your choice. Glycerin(e), or hydrolyzed protein, or panthenol or Hydroxypropylrtimonium honey (honeyquat) or a combination of these: Humectants bind water, boost curls, maintain hydration. NOTE: Panthenol is sold as a cosmetic additive, hydrolyzed proteins are sold as cosmetic additives but are also more widely available as products like Neutral Protein Filler and Green Beauty Products Real Protein. Hydroxypropylrtimonium honey is sold as a cosmetics additive.
-Acacia gum (gum arabic): Adds a bit of "crunch" for more hold, helps emulsify the oils. This powder is sold as a dietary soluble fiber supplement and also sold as a cosmetics ingredient.
-Emollient: Shea butter (or cocoa butter, mango butter or whichever butter you prefer) OR commercial hair conditioner
-Oil: Jojoba oil OR grapeseed oil OR any oil you prefer (avocado, olive, sweet almond, rose hip, etc.)
I use a double boiler to control the heat for this recipe.
|The gel, before adding any oils or butter blends or conditioner.|
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
- 1 cup water (plus an extra tablespoon or 2 which will evaporate as you heat). 230 ml
- 1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum (2% or 5g or 6.15 ml)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon acacia gum (gum arabic) - more for more hold or if you use more emollients (0.6g to 1.25g, 1.25 to 2.5 ml)
- Shea butter and jojoba oil as your hair requires (see "How much butter blend to use" below) OR oil and commercial hair conditioner blend
- Humectant options: 1/2 teaspoon glycerin - make this a scant half-teaspoon; more than 1/4 teaspoon, less than 1/2 teaspoon (1% or 2.5 g, or 2.5 ml)
- Instead of glycerin: 1/2 teaspoon liquid panthenol or 1/4 teaspoon powderedpanthenol, or 1/2 teaspoon hydrolyzed protein or protein additive or 1/2 teaspoon "Honeyquat" (Hydroxypropyltrimonium honey).
1) Make the oil blend (If you are using oil and conditioner instead of butters, skip this step)
Measure out 2 parts liquid jojoba oil (or an oil of your choice) to 1 part solid shea butter. Either combine these in a bowl and place in a larger bowl of warm water to melt, or add to the heated, prepared gel to melt.
How much butter blend or conditioner/oil to use?
- To keep the most hold (or for silky, not-dry hair): 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 ml)
- Hair that needs extra flexibility and does not get oily-looking easily: 1 to 3 teaspoons (5 to 15 ml)
- Hair that really loves oils and butters: 3 teaspoons to 3 tablespoons (15 to 45 ml)
2) Make the gel
Put water, xanthan gum and acacia gum the double boiler over medium to high heat. When water boils, turn it down. Whisk the ingredients well throughout the heating time. The mixture will thicken right away, but it is not finished yet. Whisk until no more xanthan gum powder is visible and the gel goes from thick and heavy to smoother, less stiff and easier to stir. Turn off heat.
3) Add the oil/butter blend or oil and conditioner
For oil/butter blend: Add the melted oils or liquid jojoba oil and solid shea butter to the warm gel and allow it to melt as you mix. Mix well with a fork or whisk to combine oil and gel. If you like, use an immersion blender. Once well blended, remove from heat and cool to a touchable temperature.
For oil and conditioner: Add equal parts oil and conditioner to the cooled (comfortable to touch the bowl) gel and mix well
4) Add humectant
Mix the glycerin or hydrolyzed protein or panthenol or honeyquat into the cooled gel.
Scoop into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate immediately - or add preservative according to manufacturer specifications. Xanthan gum is anionic; check that preservatives are compatible with anionic ingredients.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Recipe Variations (other additives and ingredient substitutes)
- Magnesium sulfate (1/2 teaspoon) - this is a humectant and curl enhancer but it can be drying to hair.
- Aloe. Replace up to half of the water with aloe vera juice - the edible/drinkable kind, not a pre-thickened gel.
- If shea butter makes your hair look dull and waxy, skip the butter and use liquid oils only.
- Agave nectar - provides hold, especially in dry weather. Adds shine. Use 1/4 to 1 teaspoon.
Need more hold?
Mix equal parts of this curl definer with your favorite stronger-hold styling gel. It has mixed well with the gel I mixed it with, which is a basic hair gel similar to Ecostyler or LA Looks or Salon Care gels.