How To Make Your Own Hair Gel at Home

It's easy.

hair gel
Stocksy | Design by Zackary Angeline .

Hair gel is a lot easier to make than you might guess. With a quick recipe, whip up a batch that can be customized to give you just the right amount of hold. Even better? This DIY beauty hack won't break your budget. You might even be tempted to DIY your dry shampoo and dandruff shampoo next. Beauty expert Kerry E. Yates offers tips and tricks for making your own hair gel from scratch, and how to style your 'do.

Meet the Expert

Kerry E. Yates is a trichologist, beauty creator, and CEO of Colour Collective.

Keep scrolling for a guide on how to make your own hair gel. 

How to Make Your Own Hair Gel

Making a batch of hair gel takes a few minutes with Yates's simple recipe, though you will need to let it chill for a few hours before you use it. Be sure to have enough to last a couple of weeks, so you don't have to make it too often.

What You'll Need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (the same kind you cook with)
  • 1/2 cup of warm, distilled water
  • Essential oils (optional)


  1. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin in warm water.
  2. Add more gelatin as needed to reach the desired consistency, and stir.
  3. Cool your hair gel in the refrigerator for about three hours, or until set.
  4. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, if you'd like a bit of fragrance, and mix well.

To Use:

Style your hair as you normally would. Your homemade hair gel can be used on wet or dry hair and has a shelf life of around one to two weeks when stored in the fridge.

How to Customize the Hold

Tessa Thompson wet, slicked-back hair

@lacyredway / Instagram

Whether you prefer a light or strong hold (or something in between), you should be able to make this recipe work for you. It's just a matter of tweaking the amount of gelatin until you achieve the right hold. Just select your preferred hold below, and follow the accompanying recipe. It may take a few batches to land on your perfect mix.

  • Light Hold: use 1/2 teaspoon gelatin per cup of water
  • Medium Hold: use 3/4 teaspoon gelatin per cup of water
  • Strong Hold: use 1 teaspoon gelatin per cup of water

"Light hold" gel will control frizzy hair, while the "strong hold" can be used for spiking hair.

How to Customize the Fragrance

Remember, your hands carry bacteria that can contaminate your gel and impact the viscosity and smell. Yates notes that if you want to add personal perfume to the gel, do not add it directly to the entire batch. "Add the fragrance on an as-needed basis," she says. "To add a bit of scent, apply the gel formula into your hands and then lightly spray (one pump) of your favorite fragrance on top of the gel. Mix with your hands, and voilà—you have a fragranced gel at the ready."

If you prefer a scented hair gel with essential oils, a few drops is all it takes. Many of the most common oils are also beneficial to your hair's health, so it's a win-win. Here are several to try:

  • Chamomile: Great for fine and normal hair, chamomile has a light floral fragrance and conditions hair.
  • Lavender: Perfect for all hair types, lavender promotes hair growth and balances oils.
  • Lemon: Lemon oil is great for oily hair as it helps balance oils.
  • Ylang-Ylang: Also perfect for oily hair, ylang-ylang pairs well with lavender or lemon.
  • Peppermint: Go easy on this strong scent, and combine it with others. Peppermint oil is beneficial for dry hair and promotes hair growth.
  • Bay: Sweet and uplifting with a touch of spice, bay pairs well with black pepper and juniper.
  • Black Pepper: Spicy and sporty, black pepper goes well with marjoram and sandalwood.
  • Copaiba Balsam: Woody and rustic, this essential oil pairs well with cypress and sandalwood.
  • Sandalwood: Sweet, woody, and long-lasting. Pairs well with bergamot and black pepper.
  • Velvetier: Deep, earthy, and uplifting. Pairs well with cinnamon and sandalwood.

DIY Hair Gel for Kids

If you're making this hair gel for your child, consider using an essential oil blend that contains tea tree oil. Bugs don't like it, so it may be a good way to protect your kids from lice when you send them off to school.

Storing Your Hair Gel

The only challenge you may have with this formula is storing the hair gel. Yates says the DIY version can "break down when exposed to light for long periods or if exposed to extreme temperatures." She recommends storing the freshly made gel in a glass jar with a tightly sealed cap. "Since you are not adding preservatives to your home hair gel, try to keep it in the fridge," says Yates. "This ensures that your gel lasts longer and will not become contaminated." Be sure to label the containers with the fragrance and date, so no one mistakes your hair gel for food.

If you need more or less hair gel, simply maintain the ratio in the recipe and you can make as much or as little as you need.

The Final Takeaway

Making your own hair gel can be an excellent option if you want to go natural, and chances are, you already have the ingredients. As long as you store it properly, whipping up a batch of DIY hair gel is now easier than you thought.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Herman A, Herman AP. Topically used herbal products for the treatment of hair loss: preclinical and clinical studiesArch Dermatol Res. 2017;309(8):595-610. doi:10.1007/s00403-017-1759-7

  2. Klauck V, Pazinato R, Radavelli WM, et al. In vitro repellent effect of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and andiroba (Carapa guianensis) oils on Haemotobia irritans and Chrysomya megacephala fliesTrop Biomed. 2015;32(1):160-166.

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