When I started my natural hair journey, I heard about creams, gels, and even mousses that could supposedly make my 4c curls pop. I tried what felt like every lotion and potion under the sun recommended for my hair type. I had plenty of hits and misses, but one thing I learned to be true is that my curls love a gel. Within the gel family, Eco Style is a popular find in most natural curl girls' medicine cabinets. But I tend to lean into brands that make their products with a list of natural ingredients—which brings me to flaxseed gel.
Flaxseed gel is a well-loved ingredient within the curly community because it gives curls definition without flaking. It's also super DIY-able—a concept I love because it means I know exactly what's going into my products and, more importantly, my hair.
There are plenty of claims made about flaxseed gel (like that it can help hair grow, keep the scalp healthy, and even reverse gray hair). So to separate fact from fiction and help you DIY your own dream gel, I enlisted the help of Huetiful Salon's Monique Clay. Below, everything you need to know about this purported miracle ingredient and how to reap its benefits from the comfort of your vanity.
What Is Flaxseed?
The superfood is already famous in baked goods, smoothies, and oatmeal. Flaxseed is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants, and is said to help balance hormones in the body. But this versatile seed can also be used for beauty in gels, moisturizers, and oils.
What Are the Benefits For Natural Hair?
"The top three concerns clients have with their hair are dryness, frizz, and lack of hair growth," says Clay. "Flaxseeds are packed with things like vitamin E, fiber, and Omega 3 fatty acids—which are great at combating the issues mentioned above. Our hair technically is fiber, so it makes sense that introducing flaxseed to our hair would greatly benefit it."
"Fiber aids in strengthening hair at its core. In the same way, the Omega 3 fatty acids improve the health of your hair by making it stronger and improving the hair's elasticity," Clay explains. "It's also good at binding moisture to the hair [to reduce] breakage, split ends, dryness, and frizz."
How Long Does Homemade Flaxseed Gel Last?
Flaxseed gel can last up to three weeks in the refrigerator with the help of essential oils like rosemary, jasmine, or lavender.
How Do You Prep Before Using Flaxseed Gel?
"Whether you prefer to use flaxseed oil or gel, the important things to remember are to cleanse your hair with a water-based moisturizing cleanser," says Clay. AG's Natural Balance Shampoo ($30) and DevaCurl's No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser ($12) receive her full seal of approval. Once you've cleansed, follow up with a hydrating conditioner to be used with heat, a steamer, or plastic cap.
How To Make Your Own DIY Flaxseed Gel
These are the essentials for a batch of DIY flaxseed gel, but ingredients like aloe vera gel and essential oils can be mixed in for added scalp and hair shaft moisture.
What You'll Need:
- Glass Measuring Cup
- Wooden Spoon
- Knee High Stockings (for filtering)
- Glass Jar or Bottle
- ¼ Cup of Flaxseed
- 2.5 Cups of Water
- Essential Oils (Optional)
- Aloe Vera (Optional)
- Pour ¼ cup flaxseed into 2.5 cups of water.
- Bring to boil on medium heat for about 7-10 minutes, stirring often to ensure the flaxseeds don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You’ll want the texture of the flaxseed mucilage (the gel-like substance you’ll put on your hair) to consistent with egg whites. Not too thick, not too runny
- Turn off the stove and allow the gel to cool with the flaxseed for 45 minutes to an hour. During this time, the gel will thicken.
- Next, place a knee-high stocking in a glass measuring cup, then pour the mixture into the stocking.
- Here’s the fun part: Squeeze the gel out of the stocking and into the measuring cup to strain the gel. This will take a few tries.
- This step is optional, but you can add aloe vera gel and a few drops of your go-to essential oil to your mixture. To temper an itchy scalp, try adding tea tree oil. For hair growth, try adding a few drops of lavender oil.
- Next, pour your gel into a glass bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.
- Enjoy your new DIY flaxseed gel for moisturizing, edging, and styling.
Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary flaxseed as a strategy for improving human health. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1171. doi:10.3390/nu11051171