Recipes and Projects

This page will be updated from time to time with new recipes. Also, visit the "Allergen-free Recipes" page for even more recipes for alternative cleansers and scrubs. 

These recipes are for your own personal use. They are not designed to be safe or appropriate for sale. If you share these recipes, please state (and link to) your source - this blog.

  Recipes on this page: 
  1. Gelatin Protein Treatment for Hair
  2. Flaxseed/Aloe hair gel with protein (below)
  3. Link To: Flaxseed Curl Cream (This is the version with strong-hold hair gel in it)
  4. Link to "Super Smooth Flax Curl Cream"   (This is a light-to-medium hold curl cream for smoothing & defining hair)
  5. Link to Basic Flax Gel Recipe
  6. Link to Flax-Free Hair Gel
  7. Link to Homemade hair cleansers and scalp/body scrub
  8. Link to Humectant Wave/Curl Boosting Jelly
  9. Link to Easy Humectant Curl Defining Jelly-Cream  
  10. Projects: How to Line a Winter Hat
  11. Link to Oil Blend Recipe - Multi-purpose, for coarse or porous (even just a little porous) or dry hair 
  12. Link to: Thick Gelatin Protein Treatment - better distribution = better result and no drips.
  13. Link to: Flax-Oat Gel - Thick, curl-enhancing, grippy gel for hair that needs help staying in its own lane.

Gelatin Protein Treatment for Hair - recipe created late summer 2010 A.k.a "IAGirl's protein treatment" - that is/was my username on
New (April 2014), thick gelatin protein treatment.
Gelatine PT frequently asked questions (link)

* Note, some people with fine or shorter hair use half the gelatin - if you find this recipe too strong, try halving the gelatin content
1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin powder (0.25 ounces, 7.2 grams, 2 1/2 teaspoons) If you cannot get Knox, look for gelatin(e) flakes or sheets or powder and use this weight - or crumble it well and use about as much as fills the cupped part of your cupped palm. It seems that 3-4 sheets of gelatine equal one packet of Knox gelatine. Use half the gelatin for a milder treatment or for shorter than shoulder-length hair

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup boiling water (60 to 75 ml)
  • 1-3 drops of oil
    • [Optional] 3-5 drops vinegar -or- a tiny pinch of citric acid (about enough to fill the letter "o" as typed here). Test the pH, it should be 5 and no lower. A pH around 5 helps the protein bond to your hair. 
    • An easy way to make sure the pH is "just right" is to use distilled water.
- Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, stirring constantly (you may want to soften the gelatin in a small amount of water first - this eliminates lumps!
- Add any add-ins, mixing thoroughly (you can put it in a blender if you like)

Here is my (June 2012), quick, microwave preparation method:
Mix gelatin and about 3/4 of the cold water you plan to use in a microwave-safe cup. Let it sit for about 30 seconds. Then microwave for 20-40 seconds. Long enough to dissolve the gelatin so there are no tiny gelatin grains visible. Add the remainder of the water to help cool down the mixture before adding other ingredients and applying.

Optional add-ins:
1 teaspoon honey
yogurt (unsweetened, lowfat or full fat)
Full-fat mayonnaise
2 to 3 teaspoons of conditioner
coconut milk
use herbal tea instead of plain water
More oil - up to 2 tablespoons of oil - olive, coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, apricot kernel, sweet almond...
1 tablespoon aloe vera juice or gel 
1/4 pureed banana (in a blender). Banana baby food works well.
1/16 or 1/8 teaspoon magnesium sulfate

How to apply: Cool the mixture until it's cool enough to put your finger in (about 100 degrees F).
Apply to clean, damp hair (squeeze the excess water out). Pour some of the gelatin on the top, sides, and back of your hair. Work it in towards the scalp and from roots to ends. I'm suggesting time to leave it on, you can leave it on as long as you like. Your hair will bond with as much protein as it can and no more after that, no matter how long you leave it on.
How long to leave on:
  • Option #1: (No fuss) Leave on hair for at least 2-3 minutes, then rinse and use conditioner if your hair feels tangly or rough.
  • Option #2: (with heat, in the shower) Wrap your hair in a plastic bag or plastic wrap (or a shower cap, but it will get coated with gelatin) and keep your head under the shower (this is loud, try to keep your ears outside of the plastic) for several minutes, rinse well and condition if needed. Some people like to leave this treatment on for much longer periods of time, but don't start with a long treatment if you have not used it before!
  • Option #3: (Blow-dry method - extra potent!) Do this outside of the shower. After saturating clean, damp hair with the gelatin mixture, blow-dry the hair without agitating it. Hair will become very stiff. Rinse very well afterwards and apply conditioner if needed. This uses a lot of heat, which may be drying to hair and skin, but works better for some people. If you like the PT, but don't feel it is giving you quite what you want, try this method.
After protein (important!): After you use this treatment, you might find your hair a bit rough or tangly feeling. 
1) Always: Make sure you rinse very, very well - leftover treatment in your hair can feel awful. 
2) If your hair feels rough and/or tangly while wet: Follow up the treatment with an extra generous application of conditioner. Or follow up with a "deep conditioner" or intense conditioner and leave it on with or without heat for 5 to 30 minutes - conditioner's softness and lubrication helps balance out the support and stiffness of protein.
3) If your hair feels rough or tangly or stiff (or overly soft and limp) when dry: If you did #1 and #2, then this might be too concentrated a treatment for your hair (cut the gelatin in half or fourth, or choose a different product). If there are proteins in other products you use, this treatment might have pushed your hair "over the edge" protein-wise. It may have been too soon since you last used protein, or gelatin may not be well suited to your hair.

Why gelatin and why protein? Hydrolyzed proteins bond especially well to the damaged parts of hair, but bonds to the cuticle of hair in general. For fine, porous, bleached or damaged hair, protein adds strength, shine, and body. For wavy and curly hair, protein can perk up limp waves and curls and protein does wonderful things for gray and white hair - dyed or not. Protein tends to make hair feel "stiffer" whereas oils and moisturizers in conditioners make hair feel softer.
  • Gelatin is one of the few hydrolyzed proteins you can buy at nearly any grocery store, so it is accessible and inexpensive. Unmodified proteins like egg, yogurt, and mayonnaise have limited ability to add protein to the hair's structure and can carry harmful bacteria (raw eggs, for example).
  • This protein treatment is always made fresh (don't store it in your fridge for more than a few days if you make extra) so there is no need for preservatives which might cause skin sensitivity. It is also a strong protein treatment. Used alone, it can make the rinsed hair feel a little stiff. Conditioner will usually resolve this feeling. You can always use half the amount of gelatin if it is too strong.
  • This treatment is not vegetarian. Gelatin is hydrolyzed collagen which is a byproduct of meat manufacturing. You can find a veg-friendly "recipe" here. Or look for products with hydrolyzed wheat, oat, quinoa, soy, rice or jojoba proteins.
  • What if I'm not sure this will work for me? Then for goodness sake, don't apply it to your entire head if you have any worries. Make up the treatment and apply it to a small section of your hair and see how you like it. If it works, use the rest on all your hair the next day.

Flaxseed Gel Recipe (#1)
Flaxseed/Aloe gel with protein: Good for fine hair, enhances curls for spring and definition - use alone for medium hold or under a harder-hold gel. Using honey or agave will give you more hold, but be sure to use enough oil in the recipe to control the "crunch."
(Please wipe down the bowl you'll strain into with rubbing alcohol and all your utensils as well)
Boil 2 to 3 tablespoons whole flax seed in 1 1/2 cup distilled water (almost 300 ml) for about 5-6 minutes (stir so they don't stick). If you lift a few seeds out, a thin string of gel should fall from whatever you are stirring with. If it's very thick and goopy now, you've probably boiled too long and it will be difficult to strain.
Strain through metal mesh strainer (or the foot of pantyhose for the very patient) right away.
The Magic Long Soak: If you soak your flaxseeds in the water for 4-6 hours or overnight, your gel will be thicker.
Add thickener to 1 tablaspoon of cool water and mix well, then pour this into hot, strained gel: 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and stir/whisk in in a pan or double boiler over low to medium heat.
As gel cools add:
1 tablespoon aloe gera gel (the edible kind - mash out the lumps first if there are any)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon protein (Colorful Neutral Protein Filler, or another hydrolyzed protein) or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon gelatin - which needs to be re-heated in the strained gel to dissolve.
1/16 to 1/4 teaspoon oil (or more if you have dry hair) - I like grapeseed oil or apricot kernel oil for fine, silky hair and coconut oil for kinky or dry hair
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey (optional, adds hold but can be crunchy, not good for humid weather)
Mix very well and refrigerate immediately.
Other thickeners: 
Arrowroot starch or Cornstarch: After straining hot flaxseed gel, mix 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot starch (flour) in a couple teaspoons water. Pour the gel and the arrowroot mixture back into the pan and bring to a boil, stirring for about 2 minutes.
Pectin: You need a pectin which will gel without sugar (they usually indicate this on the box). Add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons powdered pectin to strained flax gel in a pan, being to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
Other proteins: Unflavored gelatin(e) - put strained flax gel back into the pan, sprinkle 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (powder or crumbled flakes) over the gel and whisk madly while bringing to a boil. Heat until all the gelatin is dissolved.

Flaxseed Curl Cream:

1 tablespoon thick, rich conditioner (use less for fine hair) - add a few drops of canola oil or whatever oil you like if the conditioner has no oil in it
2 tablespoons flaxseed gel (with protein added if your hair likes it - I used the recipe above)
1 tablespoon strong hold hair gel
Optional: 4 drops honey or agave nectar ( or 1/8 teaspoon or more - this is meant to add more "hold") Not good for humid weather.

Apply fairly liberally, style as you usually do.
This gives great curl definition and "clumps," controls frizz, enhances curls and feels soft in the hair. For the hair gel, use whatever feels like "strong hold" to you - whatever you have on hand. You can always use more honey or agave if you need more hold.

Cut the batch! (Trial size) Use 1 teaspoon of conditioner, 2 teaspoons of flaxseed gel, 1 teaspoon of strong hold hair gel, and 1-2 drops honey or agave.


  1. Your blog is so informative that I have linked it to by business page for other curly girls to do their own research. You have dispelled many curly hair theories I had once thought to be true/ Thank you!

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
    Curly Hair

  3. This is all really great! Putting you on the resources page of my blog, you are such a fountain of knowledge! Thanks for doing this! :)

  4. Hi and THANK YOU for this blog. It is the holy grail of info for those who want healthy hair. We're not worthy. We salute you.

    I'd like to try one of the above treatments and I'm hoping you can steer me towards the right one for me?

    I've got fine/normal straight-ish hair. My natural color is dirty blonde but it's currently a champagne blonde after several rounds of bleach and toner. It's very brittle, has no stretch and has reacted poorly to protein in the recent past (I may have possibly overdone it). Which one of these treatments do you think would give my hair softness, shine and manageability?

    Thank you again! xoxox

  5. Hello Korka! It sounds like your hair has become more porous and is dried out more easily than in the past - it has difficulty staying hydrated. It probably also needs a dose of softness. If this was my hair, I would start with an oil pre-wash treatment with either a mixture of hair-penetrating oils or coconut oil, left on for 4-8 hours before washing (so it can really "soak in") to help with porosity. Oil pre-wash treatments help prevent the dehydration that occurs when your hair is wetted and washed. Here is a link to a post about that:

    For protein, you might look for keratin protein or collagen. There is a list of protein-containing products on this page:
    The gelatin protein treatment recipe could be helpful, but you may need to dilute it by using less gelatin or more water. Honey might be a good additive for more hydration.
    One or both of these treatments should help move your hair in the right direction. Some experimentation is necessary with oil pre-wash treatments and protein regarding how long to leave them on and how much to use. Both oil pre-wash treatments and protein help improve the elasticity and hydration of your hair. Oil pre-wash treatments can make hair feel much softer and add some weight (swingy-ness).

    The post about deep treatments may help you with how to use conditioner or modify a conditioner to add more softness to your hair.
    Good luck!

  6. I have learnt so much from your website thank you very much. Please help me , i have afro natural hair that is very coily and my hair is very dry. when i pre-poo (all night) and then deep condition the following day my hair is only soft for a few hours then its rock solid , i moisturise it more than 2 times everyday by spraying water in it but this still hasnt helped. What can i do to make my hair soft all day long every day?

  7. Hello Mai-Melissa.
    If you are using coconut oil for your overnight pre-wash oil treatment, you might need to switch to a different oil or make an oil blend.
    It also sounds like your hair is missing out on some hydrating/moisturizing ingredients that would help it stay flexible and soft after it has dried. You might try using protein-containing products if you have not already. Usually hydrolyzed keratin or collagen work for many people's hair. Protein can help hair stay hydrated in a way that oil and conditioners cannot.
    Aloe vera or warmed (not boiled) honey or baby food banana are good additions to a deep conditioning treatment to help hair stay hydrated longer.
    If you have never tried mixing up a moisturizing spray - try mixing some conditioner and distilled water, maybe some aloe vera juice and a little oil in your spray bottle. Keep this in the refrigerator so it doesn't spoil - the preservatives are diluted by the water. Use this to moisturize your hair instead of plain water.
    If you do a search on this blog, there is a lot of information about choosing proteins and doing oil pre-wash treatments and which oils to choose (the penetrating oils post).
    Good luck!

  8. I think I landed on DIY heaven! I am a big DIY freak and your blog is feeding my DIY "itch"! :D Great following :)

  9. I wanted to make a gelatin protein setting lotion for my fine wavy hair. I tried my commercial products which are expensive and don't work. They leave my hair limp and greasy. I spoke to my hairdresser and he advised against using protein in the hair. He said that adding protein was a fad. That they had many clients coming to them who had damaged their hair by using excessive protein proteins. He said it leaves the hair brittle and damaged. Now I am too scared to try. Could you please let me know what you think about this? Thank you.

    1. Susan,

      Using protein in hair is not a fad. Hydrolyzed protein ingredients have been used for decades to condition and "repair" hair, to volumize and protect. They are invaluable ingredients in cosmetics.

      Protein can leave coarse (hair which is wide in diameter) hair dry and stiff, and too much protein or too frequent protein can make some people's hair dry or rough. Sometimes too much protein makes hair overly soft and flyaway. Usually hydrolyzed keratin and hydrolyzed collagen are beneficial for the widest variety of hair types (widths, textures, exposure to chemical processed or sun or swimming). Use the search function (top, left) of this blog and do a search on protein - or use the "popular posts" at the right for more about protein - which ones are better for different hair.

      Gelatin as a hair gel works for some people. When dry, it does not have a very flexible quality in the hair. If gelatin is the only ingredient in a hair gel, a person could very easily over-do protein and end up with a very unpleasant result. You can make gels with xanthan gum or flaxseeds which will be a little nicer end result. Gelatin can be added to these if you like, anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon gelatin per cup of gel. There are recipes for homemade gels with xanthan gum and flax on this blog and elsewhere.

      When using protein treatments, try it once and see what happens. If it is a good result, repeat the treatment when the benefits begin to fade. If you felt it was good but could have been better, you use some heat and maybe leave it on longer. If the result is not as good, it may have been too soon to repeat the treatment. The same applies to protein in styling products or frequently used products. If you get a good result - great! If you notice your hair becoming too soft or too stiff or rough or shedding, stop using the protein for a while and then add it back less frequently when your hair is back to normal. Maybe only when your hair needs a boost and nothing else works.

      Your hair will show you what works and your hair "knows" what works for it better than any stylist or hair science blogger or cosmetics chemist.

  10. I need help!! I have naturally curly hair and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to take care of it. At shoulder length my hair is thicker, the longer it gets the more stringy it gets. The curls that fram my face do not curl well or at all. My hair is dry and frizzy with no volume or shape. I don't know where to start or what to do from here. I've tried just about everything and I'm getting tired of throwing money into products that don't work. Any advice or suggestions would be great :)

    1. Hello Anthrea. Take a deep breath! Is your hair getting more "stringy" because it is spreading out once it reaches your shoulders? Or do you have breakage? To check - braid some hair. If the braid narrows significantly towards the end of the braid, it may be breaking. On the other hand, if you are having your hair cut - a stylist may be thinning your hair (and you may not be aware of it) so be sure to ask. Often if stylists thin or "de-bulk" curly hair without taking care to honor the curl pattern, the curls will not hang properly. Indiscriminate thinning or over-layering can ruin a nice curl pattern. I have a post with a sample hierarchy of things to try (copy and paste link: But you may have gone through most of these. It's important to establish what you think your hair needs before you decide which direction to go so you can rationally work your way through various options. Dry hair needs hydration (deep conditioning with heat for 5-30 minutes, protein if your hair is not coarse [wide hairs], plant-based styling gels that preserve water in the hair). Frizzy hair tends to respond to whichever thing is most needed. If your hair needed the hydration of protein - that will help with frizz. If it needed the softness, lubrication and flexibility of deep conditioning, that should help. If your hair is porous, using coconut oil or sunflower oil as a pre-wash treatment for 4-8 hours before washing should help protect it during washing. At the top right of this page is a link to my shop for hair analysis (GoosefootPrints). Both versions of that analysis can tell you how wide your hairs are, whether there is damage to manage, how porous your hair is and what aspects of your hair need attention. Accompanying documents explain which ingredients can help you achieve the result you are after.
      I like to focus on basic, simple, inexpensive things for my own hair. Oil blends or sunflower oil treatments, my gelatin protein treatment recipe, oil added to my rinse-out conditioner and honey for deep conditioning, using a little of the same rinse-out conditioner as a leave-in conditioner.
      Check out the page "Products by Ingredient Category" to see how products fit certain hair needs - maybe something will "click" for you. Hang in there. When we get really frustrated, we're often at the edge of gaining new understanding.

  11. Hello! I completed my first batch of the flaxseed gel, but the gel seems to make my hair dry, strawlike, and extremely shiny. I used 3 T. flaxseeds, 1.5 C. water, 1 T. aloe, and 1/4 t. apricot kernel oil. My hair is very fine and wavy. The curl formation and clumping are good; it's just the texture that is a problem.

    I have recently had problems with dry hair, I think because of reacting to a protein in a new shampoo that I was trying, but I was able to condition my hair well with my usual conditioner plus an equal amount of oil (as you instructed in another comment of mine). Any ideas about what might be occurring with the flaxseed gel in my hair? I have chin-length hair and used probably a silver dollar-sized blob of gel. Thank you for your blog!

    1. Ah, I read your second comment first. Protein can cause a dry or stiff or rough reaction in some people's hair. Some detergents can do that also. Some people's hair doesn't tolerate protein well. Or can only handle protein occasionally. If that is you, the proteins your hair may do best with for occasional use might be the smaller (lower molecular weight) ones like hydrolyzed: silk, keratin or collagen.
      Aloe tends to be moisturizing and softening, but occasionally people can have an odd reaction to aloe - but that is more like a dull build-up or hair that begins to dry almost immediately after getting out of the shower.

  12. I forgot to mention that I also scrunched a couple of pumps of argan oil into my hair before applying the flaxseed gel. I have been using the oil for only a few days--coincidentally, I started it at the same time as starting the gel. Do you think maybe the strawlike texture is from the argan oil and not the gel?

    1. I am not aware of argan oil causing dryness in hair. Coconut oil sometimes can cause hair to be brittle or rigid or feel dry, but argan oil has a different fatty acid composition.
      There may be something else going on - protein in products? Any other strong hold gels? Hair color changes? Another product change. All things to consider.

  13. Where can I find pectin with no sugar needed in the grocery store or online?

    1. Hello Carolyn,
      It depends on how well-stocked the canning section of your local stores are. Pectin for low sugar and no sugar recipes (for jam) is usually available right along with the pectin for jams with lots of sugar - just read the labels carefully. Sure-Jell is one brand to look for. Grocery stores, department stores, even hardware stores often carry canning supplies. Otherwise you have to go online - but it should be available locally.

  14. Do you NEED a double broiler to make the gelatin protein treatment? Also, how long do you reckon it lasts when stored in the freezer?

    1. Sophie - you can make the gelatin protein treatment in a microwave or in a pan on medium heat. I usually mix the gelatin with a little water so it's thick, but not stiff - a bit less than half the water I plan to use. Then I microwave it for about 10 second intervals - it boils up and over quickly, so watch it carefully and use short bursts. There should be absolutely no little balls visible - totally clear when it's fully dissolved. Then I add the rest of the water to cool it down and it's ready to use.
      It lasts for ages in the freezer - probably up to a year. If you're keeping it very long in the freezer - label the bag. Save yourself the mystery.

  15. Hello, I love the informed nature of your blog :) I have a question about steam hair straighteners.

    I'm not sure what heat does to damage hair, but I've rarely ever used hot tools and would like to use them more. I'm wondering if there is anything I can mix up or put in the steam straighteners water reservoir for a) heat protection, and b) moisturising.
    The problem is - steam straighteners work like clothes steamers and can get clogged by scale or product buildup and thickening.

    I'm thinking along the lines of this type of product:
    But, I'd like to consider what would actually be beneficial or not, particularly when applied with heat and steam.

    I have fine, wavy black hair strands - silky, soft, low-mid porosity except where it's longer than 15cm or bleached. I use a light everyday conditioner as my 4-day, and a dose of thicker conditioner when it starts getting ratty again. My hair can get quite dry and static.

    Any recommendations?

    1. Ashley, for heat protection that you put on your hair, look for products that contain any of these ingredients:
      Quaternium 70 (Stearamidopropyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride or Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine)
      P/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer
      2% glycerin (that is a lot for any formulation)
      Hydrolyzed wheat protein
      Sodium polystyrene sulfonate
      Sodium laureth-40 maleate/styrene sulfonate copolymer
      Cetrimonium Bromide
      These ingredients help prevent the cracking that comes with (dry) high heat styling tools. When hair is exposed to high heat styling tools, it loses a lot of water quickly - whether blow-drying or iron straightening or curling. That rapid change in hydration causes cracking in cuticles. That cracking leads to increased porosity as cuticles crack, split and break off, so this means that these ingredients slow down the increase in porosity that goes with using high-heat styling tools. Oils and silicone ingredients also help with heat by dispersing heat. Like wetting your finger before testing the heat of an iron or skillet.
      None of these can protect your hair from over-heating at temperatures near boiling (212°F/100°C), that weakens hair and softens (cooks) the proteins.
      You can't add ingredients to steamers unless they are made for that - like the Joico product you mentioned. And I wouldn't use anything other than their product - or risk damaging the product and voiding any warranty.
      I think it might be simpler to choose products (leave-in conditioners, styling products) with ingredients that are heat-protecting, using oil treatments (oil pre-wash - see the post linked over on the right) on your hair as necessary and hydrolyzed protein if your hair does well with that. All of these (heat-protectants, protein and oil pre-wash) help manage porosity in hair. But they do it in different ways. Heat protectants should be in your hair during heat styling. Oil pre-wash treatments with penetrating oils protect your hair during washing to prevent dehydration. Protein slows water loss from hair, keeping it hydrated and flexible - even if it is in a rinse-out conditioner.
      Good luck!

  16. Need help...What do i use for dry stringy kinkyhair

  17. You said baby food banan to help with moisture retention, what about real banana?

    1. Real banana needs to be very ripe and very well mashed or pureed very smooth. If it's at all under-ripe, it turns to lumps in your hair - so use the sniff test and squeeze test for ripeness - it must smell like a very ripe banana (deep yellow with brown spots) and the skin should feel thinner and a little more soft. Then you know its okay to use. I kid you not about the banana lumps! Don't use banana with any aloe or acidic ingredients. They seem to promote banana-lumping in the hair.

  18. hello, can i replace the acv or just skip it? , i can't find it where i live...

    1. Hello Mayra,
      Just skip the ACV. If you happen to have lemon juice or orange juice, you might add a few drops of that, but it's nor absolutely necessary. I often forget to use ACV (or citric acid) completely.

  19. I tried to make the flaxseed gel, and it was so goopy it wouldn't go through the strainer. I tried two batches, boiling one for a few minutes less. I used reverse osmosis filtered water, not distilled water. Could that be why? I didn't time my boiling exactly, but I didn't think it was more than 5 minutes. The strainer is a fairly fine mesh. Any thoughts on how I can get a strainable gel? How vital is the aloe vera gel in this recipe? I don't have any and am hesitant to go buy a large amount for the 1 tbsp. required until I get a sense of whether this product will be something I use - I'm not in the habit of using any gels or products on my hair. Any thoughts appreciated.

    1. Hello Heather,
      This happens to almost everybody who makes homemade flaxseed gel: The un-strainable, gooey mass. Try a shorter boiling time and use a strainer that has a mesh nearly the size of window screen - just big enough to catch the seeds. Aloe is not terribly important to the recipe overall. It adds subtly more lasting hydration for some people. But it's not necessary when you're just starting out. Good luck!

  20. Hello WS!

    Thank you so much for all of your wonderfully well researched articles! I have learned a lot but unfortunately still find myself a bit bewildered regarding my own hair. It has always been extremely frizzy and i am used to having it in braids and just not worrying about it (and not doing anything to take care of it). This was mostly because when my hair was out, I was never able to tame it. I recently took out two strand twists that I had done at a salon and they had rolled them so tightly that my hair was basically looking like locks (even though I had had these in for less than a month). Needless to say I shed A LOT of hair and that was before even de tangling. After reading your blog I decided to do the coconut oil pre-poo. I applied so much oil that if I squeezed my hair some would come out (better safe than sorry), out on a plastic cap, a bonnet and left it in for 12hours. When I finally took off my cap and went to take out the large brain da I had I was shocked: almost all the oil was gone and my hair has never been softer!! I was so exited! I got into the shower and curls starting popping all over my head! I had never had that! I co-washed with As I Am. Unfortunately it's all downhill after that which is why I could really use your advice. My hair went right back to frizzy and shrunken as soon as I got out of the shower. I tried applying coconut oil to damp hair but it made it feel like plastic! I then applied Mixed Chicks leave in conditioner which made the plastic feeling even worse! I felt like my strands could cut me (especially going up the hair shaft). I still applies it all over and did a twist out which came out as a frizzy mess the next morning (no definition from the twists and the beautiful curls were still gone).

    Anyways, I apologize for the long message but I thought I'd give you as much information as possible. I could really use your help!! I have read all of your articles but I think I find myself being a little overwhelmed and I don't want to revert to being a product junkie!

    Again, thank tou so much for all that you post,

    1. Helly MaK, No apologies allowed or long messages. Detail is necessary. So you had a WOW! result with coconut oil and your hair was super-defined in the shower, but then after co-washing, the definition was gone. The simplest answer might be - just keep at the coconut oil treatments because sometimes it takes a couple months for your hair to get it's act truly together once it starts getting what it wants - it tends to have an identity crisis in the meanwhile. That's part of the puzzle. Another part is that - coconut oil balances porosity, but it is also giving your hair great lubrication, and with that comes the ability for hairs to line up and curls to pop. The lubrication from soaked-in coconut oil is nothing like the lubrication from freshly-applied coconut oil.

      I'm not sure your hair is having a bad reaction to coconut oil - it doesn't sound like that. Though a bad reaction to coconut oil is often rigid hair or crunchy hair. You want to keep the definition and elongation of the coconut oil treatment. This is where things like clay washes and oil rinsing come into the picture. Using clay hair washes actually does remove some excess oil and other stuff - but it leaves a bit of texture behind to help retain curl definition. It's rather different than co-washing. Oil-rinsing is to apply oil, then rinse a bit, then apply conditioner and really work it in with the oil, then rinse.

      And it might be that you need a different oil to apply after washing - avocado oil or argan oil or something other than coconut that you like. You also might need a different leave-in conditioner when you're using coconut oil treatments, or maybe to mix the leave-in with some water and use it as a spray. Homemade flaxseed gel is great for setting hair (or wearing it loose); it hydrates and softens, but it doesn't add anything oily or creamy or build-up-y.

      I hope that helps, let me know if any light bulbs go on with any of that - or whatever you figure out! Best wishes.

    2. Hi WS!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! Sorry to only be getting back to you now, I did not receive a notification that you had replied.

      I will try the clay wash and oil rinsing. Any suggestions for leave in conditioner? (All of the ones I have tried leave my hair feeling like plastic when I apply it after I have washed my hair). What regimen would you suggest for my dry unruly and damaged locks so that I could nurse them back to health? Any and all specifics would be much appreciated. Such as what to use when and how lol. I know it's asking a lot but I'm oh so desperate and there is so much confusing conflicting information online and I trust your judgment and reasoning, so if you could be of assistance that would be beyond appreciated!

      Thanks again for bringing some logic to this whole natural hair madness!

    3. Ah, the madness! One thing about leave-in conditioners is that a lot of people with lower-porosity hair need to dilute them. As in - once applied - duck your hair under the shower spray or else pour some water over your hair to dilute and distribute the product. This is the only way I can use a leave-in connditioner, other than mixing a little conditioner with my flaxseed gel.
      I'm still a bit perplexed about the plastic-y feeling. That could be build-up. But it could also be too much protein (i.e. Mixed Chicks Leave-in has a lot of protein). I usually associate a plastic-y feeling with a flexible rigidity - like Tupperware lids. And the opposite of that is softness and (more) flexibility. So - things that can increase rigidity are too much hydrolyzed protein in products, build up (polyquats, excess conditioner, butters like shea or cocoa) coconut oil for some people, and hard water. I have a new hard water post here:
      You might check your products for those things and avoid all of them (so much fun!) for a while, then add them back to see if you can pin down the offending product or ingredients. On the "Product List By Category" page there is a list of conditioners for people who get build-up easily. Of those, there are a few with no cationic conditioners, cationic conditioners are more likely to build up. That doesn't mean those products won't feel plastic-y also, but they're less likely to contribute to chronic weirdness in your hair. Those are California Baby conditioners, Giovanni Direct Leave-in, and Rainbow Research Conditioner for Kids. Of those, the California Baby and Rainbow Research are the least like to cause chronic build-up. Some of the Aubrey Organics are also unlikely to cause build-up. It's not a sure thing, though.
      Conditioners with Cetrimonium bromide are sometimes less likely to leave a weird feeling - that conditioner penetrates the hair. To find those, I go to EWG and do a search on an ingredient like this, then go to the left-side menu and click "products" and then "conditioners."
      I hope that helps!

  21. Hi

    I recently used the gelatin treatment on my hair. The frist day it gave me awesome result but the next day i found a lot of hair loss as well as my hair was get tangled easily . what could be the reason for this? should i continue to do this gelatin treatment?


    1. Hello CP, I have a post about "Gelatin Protein Treatment FAQs" that addresses this. 1) Sometimes that happens if you don't rinse really, really well. 2) Sometimes you'll get extra tangling and roughness if you don't follow up your protein treatment with enough conditioner. "Enough conditioner" might be however much it takes to get a nice smooth, detangled feeling - or it might be a deep conditioning treatment you leave on for 5 to 30 minutes. Some people's hair needs deep conditioning after a protein treatment to avoid tangling and shedding - the lubrication and softness from the deep conditioning balance out the stiffness and support of the protein. 3) This was too strong a protein treatment for you. If you did both of the above, then gelatin might not be for you, or you might need to dilute the treatment (cut the gelatin in half or fourth), leave it on for less time or with no heat.
      I hope that helps!

  22. I just used the gelatine protein hair treatment today and it helps a lot. My hair is bleached and it can get really dry and lately has been breaking easily, especially towards the ends even though I regularly do oil pre-poo and use heavy conditioners. I have to slather it with Extraordinary Oil so that I can brush or run my fingers through it without tugging it.

    I mixed the gelatine solution with a lot of heavy conditioner, slathered it on and left it in for an hour. Now my hair feels very soft and smooth and I don't even have to put EO on it!

    I guess my hair really needed that protein.


  23. Thank you so much WS! I will try all of this and will get back to you (hopefully with great news). Thanks again, I hope you and your loved ones are doing wonderfully well.

  24. HI
    Do you know a protein treatment recipe, which does not include gelatine? It's an ingredient that is hard for me to get and also I find it hard to work with.
    I've read a lot about mayo/egg recipes but some say that the proteins in such mixtures are too big to actually enter the hair shaft???

    Looking forward to receiving your reply and thank you in advance :-)

    BR Solly

    1. Most proteins we eat are not only too large to enter the hair shaft, but the molecules are also too large to form a film over the hair surface that would be flexible and not visible. Proteins for cosmetics generally are hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolysis is achieved in many different ways, chemically, emxymatically or using the enzymes of microorganisms.
      Egg yolks have cholesterol and other lipids that are good for hair. Mayo contains egg yolks and oils - so mayo is great for hair also. They're not protein treatments in the same way that cosmetics formulators make protein treatments.
      Beer is one effective treatment for a homemade treatment ("recipe" on this blog): Soy sauce may contain protein molecules small enough to form films over hair (films that actively trap moisture in the hair so it stays flexible and strong). The foam must be kept in order for it to be effective.
      Soy sauce may contain proteins small enough to be effective for hair also. I have not used that (can't get past the smell - even though I like the taste, I like it on food, not on my body).
      Yogurt should also contain some proteins that are small enough to penetrate the hair thanks to the actions of the bacteria - but yogurt can be difficult to rinse out and it can make hair tangly, in which case you need to follow up with lots and lots of conditioner.

  25. Thank you very much for this inspiration!
    but would you say that egg and mayo still are beneficial for hair - should I alternate between that and a 'real' protein treatment?
    My hair is curly but straight as straw at the ends because of too many bleaches and colour changes. I've cut it a bit, but then the new ends got straight as well. I thought maybe a protein treatment would help bring back my curls.

    1. The best thing to do it to try rotating between hydrolyzed proteins in products and egg and mayo (if that works in your hair) and see how it responds.

    2. thank you - I will give it a try :-)

  26. Additional question: Do you have any advices on how to enhance hair growth? Vitamins or regular routines that would help?

  27. Hello, I tried both the gelatin protein treatment and the flax seed gel and the results were Absolutely Perfect! I dye my hair myself so I thought to dye them first (it was time to do so), shampoo and have the protein treatment and follow with deep conditioner. I decided to dye my hair before treatment because I think that the cuticle will be opened and accept the protein better. I wash with SLS free shampoo. Anyway I did all these, and use the flaxseed gel (added aloe, gelatin, coconut) and my curly superthick lion hair were better than ever.

    Do you think that gelatin in the leave in protect from heat, I mean from simple hairdryer (I use diffuser) not the superhot flatirons? If yes then my silicone free journey is completed.

    1. That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing your success. Gelatin should help protect your hair from heat from the hair dryer, other proteins help reduce heat-damage, so we might assume gelatin can as well.

      You do need to be careful using gelatin in a styling product. Even hair that does very well with protein can get too much sometimes. If that happens, you'll notice a dry feeling or a stiff feeling or maybe your hair will seem limp and less curly. If that happens, use products without protein for a while until your hair returns to normal. And then you might decrease the gelatin in your flax gel, or use that gel some days, and a gel without gelatin some days. I make batches of flax gel and freeze them in ice cube trays so I can have different recipes of gel without either one spoiling.

  28. Can you suggest any recipe for second day curl activator in spray bottle? Maybe a thinner edition of flaxseed gel with some honey in it or something like that?

    1. My "sprayable flax gel" trials left me with a 2 Tablespoons flax gel per cup water (30 ml flax gel per 230 ml water). If you're using a whole cup, you might start with 1/4 teaspoon honey and work your way up. This won't hold like un-diluted flax gel, it is for hydration and definition. The more honey, the more hold you'll get - but if it's humid, that won't last.

  29. Does flaxseed gel (without added protein) contain any protein? As a seed, it supposedly is very high in protein. But I see many articles that say that flaxseed gel is a protein-free gel. Is it true that it's completely free of protein (once the gel has been made)? Or is it just that those with protein-sensitivity do not have as much problem with the size of those proteins? Or is it something else all together?

    1. Flaxseed gel is almost all carbohydrates. Those are on the outside of the seed - when the seed is planted, those carbohydrates are there to soak up water from the soil to assure the seed won't dry out. The analyses I've seen of the gel - for industrial purposes - show no protein.

      If you were eating ground flaxseeds - then you would get the protein as well, so when you read the package label for flaxseeds - you'll see protein listed. It's just not going into the gel. Flaxseed gel works really well in many different hair types. But there are people whose hair doesn't get along with it. It's not a protein issue, though.

  30. When I air dry my hair I only use flaxseed gel, but it's not "enough" when using hair dryer. In this case I use the version with gelatin protein added. It seems to protect hair but I still do not like it when I air dry my hair cause I feel this glue sensation on my shoulders' skin until my hair dries.

    1. I would not use gelatin as a styling product - my hair would be stiff when dry and probably stiff after I washed it out too. Gelatin can stiffen some people's hair and make it dry and brittle. If you need more "hold" in your flax gel, a thickener like xanthan gum or cornstarch or pectin can help (see the link above to "Basic Flax Seed Gel" for amounts). Good luck!
      If you don't live in a humid climate, honey and agave nectar can add some hold in your flax gel also.

  31. I live in Greece which there is a lot of humidity. Now that is summer and there is not so much humidity I'm fine with plain flaxseed gel. I do not have xanthan gum but guar gum which as I remember you do not find it a good solution for curl definition. I might try cornstarch or pectine...

    1. Pectin in a hair gel can take a long time to dry, so use less, for example start with 4 to 6 ml per 250 ml batch of flax gel.

  32. After washing the cones out of my hair from the products I thought were CG safe but are not, I tried the gelatin protein treatment found here.
    I did the microwave prep method and added 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp jojoba oil and 1/2 tsp coconut oil. It sat on my hair about 15min then I rinsed it thoroughly with warm water and co washed with Tresemme Undone.
    My hair came out super soft but I'm thinking the oils were too much because now my hair is a greasy mess! Will Co washing it again be enough to remove the grease or am I going to have to do an ACV rinse?

    1. Hello Sunshine,
      You probably have your answer already. I would probably use the ACV rinse because my hair would flop completely if I co-washed twice. But if co-washing removes oil for you - then do that instead.
      I usually start out with mere drops of oil in any recipe until I know how it's going to perform - then build up from there. Wishing you much future success - W

  33. Hi Wendy, me again on another issue...I hope that's ok... (I should add here that I would be really happy to pay for the information you provide if you set up a system here whereby I can do that). I am wanting to make homemade conditioner using the same ingredients as a good conditioner only available overseas which I can only get here in NZ at huge expense. I can source all of the ingredients but I am a bit worried about preservative use. The product use ascetic acid. I have found a recipe for conditioner which calls for 1% preservative. Would you know please if I used ascetic acid in that proportion whether it would be enough to kill bacteria, yeast and mould? Would it be wise to test it for microbes? (I am trying to get hold of a little testing kit of agar plates which would allow me to do this). Or do you think I could be confident that the conditioner should stay safe for use for a reasonable period of time. (I only want it for personal and family use). Also, do you know what concentration of ascetic acid would be best to use, and whether the glacial form is better? And lastly, I did look at using Optiphen preservative too. Any thoughts on that vs ascetic? And again, better to test for microbes or assume safe if using the preservative as directed? Thanking you sincerely (again), in advance. Kerry

    1. Hello Kerliz, You meant acetic acid? Do you mean vinegar (5% acetic acid)? Or do you have access to acetic acid powder? I would not use vinegar, at 1% the concentration of acid would be too low to be effective, and it certainly would not be broad-spectrum (covering a wide range of bacteria and fungi/mold). If you use an acetic acid powder, the pH of the product would be too low at 1%, and you would need to adjust the pH. There is a Dehydroacetic acid which is used as a co-preservative, but it is not enough on its own.
      Optiphen Plus would be better, it is a broad-spectrum and easy to add to products upon cool-down. Purenature sells cosmetics supplies in NZ - they carry Euxyl PE 9010, which is everything from Optiphen Plus *except* the sorbic acid (for molds). I like "Microcare DB" for conditioners (Dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol) but sometimes something else is necessary for a long shelf life. It's relatively broad-spectrum.
      GoNature (also in NZ) carries the Dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol preservative.
      New Directions in Australia carries a wider selection of preservatives:
      For personal use (you and your family): As long as you sterilize all your tools and containers with bleach solution or alcohol and keep your fingers out of the bottles (squeeze tops!), and use the recommended amount of preservative, don't use any ingredients listed as not recommended with the preservative - it's usually safe to assume the product is safe to use. If you see any change in texture, color, opacity, odor - throw it away at once.
      If you are selling products, it's safer for you, from a liability perspective, to have your products tested. Best wishes -Wendy

    2. Hi Wendy, thank you again for another extensive and really helpful reply. I did mean acetic acid, apologies, I spelt it incorrectly. I didn't mean vinegar, a local pharmacist was able to get the acid in made up form at a 3% concentration. My science-y brother advised being very careful with acids so I would prefer to use the other options you outlined (thanks for even looking up what was available in NZ and Australia, Purenature is a good store that I have used before). I feel confident to give making a conditioner a go now, awesome. I won't be selling it but take note of your warning re testing should I do so. Many thanks again, Kerry.

    3. Hi Kerry - Here's what I use with conditioner for a preservative: Benzyl alcohol with Acetic acid. I think one of the suppliers had that combo. as "Microcare DB."
      I don't use a lot of conditioner, so I store mine in the refrigerator to assure a long shelf life. That combination is broad-spectrum, but I don't get the longer shelf life (3+ months) I'd like when using it. I'm perfectly happy either storing the bottle in the refrigerator all the time, or keeping half the batch refrigerated while I keep the other half in the shower. Have fun making conditioner! Best wishes - Wendy

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your research and hard work with us! =D

    Would chia work as a replacement for the flaxseed? I don't have any flaxseed on hand at present, but I have two nice bags of chia and quinoa. Would either (or both) of those work?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Veronica, Chia seed makes a gel when soaked in liquids. The seeds are small - getting them out of the gel could be quite a challenge. It would probably require a fine mesh like the feet of nylon stockings and a lot of squeezing. And boiling the gel to kill bacteria and mold spores. Quinoa does not gel. Best wishes - W

  35. Hi!
    Thanks for your very informative blog!
    I was wondering if you can recommend oils for beards, please? Or will oil mixes for head hair work?

  36. Hi WS, I've just discovered your posts & can't thank you enough & the people asking questions. I've learnt so much from this stream already! My question is: For the thickener part of the linseed gel could powdered potato starch be used? If so what would it's affect be on hair if known? How much to use & would the mixture have to be heated once it had been added?