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I remember the first time I tried to make flaxseed gel. My natural hair was so parched and I’d finally come to the conclusion that store-bought hair milks and creams just weren’t going to cut it. So, after doing a deep-dive into home remedies for dry curls on Google, I discovered that DIY flaxseed gel, an easy to make product that’s all the rage in the curly hair community, just might be the remedy for my parched strands.

I decided to follow a simple recipe and, after using it for a few days, I noticed a huge improvement in my hair. For one, I had less breakage and my curls no longer felt like the Sahara Desert. But I couldn’t help but wonder: What is it about flaxseed gel that makes it so effective?

Celebrity Stylist and Cantu Beauty Partner Angela C. Styles told me: “Flaxseed gel locks in moisture without weighing the hair down. It also helps to add more definition to frizzy curls.”

Read below for more details about DIY flaxseed gel for curly hair and how you can make your own.

curly hair diy flaxseed gel
Mireya Acierto

1. What is flaxseed gel?

“Flaxseed gel is a natural, soft-hold, conditioning, and defining agent,” says Robin Groover, African Pride Brand Educator and Founder of Too Groovy Salon. “It can provide the perfect balance of moisture and definition for curly hair.”

The gel, which is created by boiling flaxseeds in water, is a very gooey substance that’s often used as a substitute for store-bought hair gels. The product is well-known for its ability to provide a good hold on styles without making it crunchy and flaky.

2. What are the benefits of flaxseed gel for natural hair?

Flaxseeds are rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, which can provide “nourishment and intense hydration,” Groover explains. “Flaxseed can be used to promote hair growth and improve the overall quality of your hair and scalp.”

They’re also a great source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, all of which can help repair dry and damaged tresses.

3. How long does homemade flaxseed gel last?

According to DIY and Natural Hair Expert Tamika Fletcher, it depends on the gel’s ingredients and how you store the product. “Flaxseed gel can last two to three weeks,” says the Natural Resources Salon co-owner. “Adding essential oils helps to preserve your formula as well as stimulate the hair follicles and increase circulation. Refrigeration also aids in preservation.” We suggest adding a bit of aloe vera for added moisture. Lavender oil and tea tree oil are also great ingredients to add for fragrance and to promote hair growth, but make sure to add your essential oils sparingly.

Fletcher explains, “While they can be helpful, too much essential oil will cause your formula to separate or to become volatile to the scalp. Use less than 1 percent to maintain the gel consistency.”

If you leave your flaxseed gel at room temperature, it will only last for a few days. But if you keep it refrigerated, make sure to check that it hasn’t gone bad after two weeks (if it does, it will start to have a rancid smell).

4. How to make DIY flaxseed gel

As you make the recipe, keep in mind that the amount of flaxseeds you use can affect the gel’s thickness and ability to hold. The more flaxseeds you add to your recipe, the stronger the hold will be.

“If you are looking for a softer hold,” Groover explains, “use more distilled water in your mixture.”

That said, here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of flaxseeds
  • Fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth or stocking
  • Empty glass jar with a lid
  • Aloe vera (optional)
  • Essential oils, such as rosemary or lavender (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the water and the flaxseeds in a small pot and bring them to a slow boil. To prevent the seeds from sticking to the bottom of the pot, make sure to stir the mixture regularly.
  2. After boiling it for 10 minutes, check the consistency. You’ll notice the mixture beginning to thicken into a soft, gel-like substance. You may also notice some foam forming at the top (this is normal). Make sure that the mixture is not too watery or thin.
  3. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about half an hour. The longer you let it sit, the thicker the consistency will be.
  4. Once it’s cool enough and you have the desired consistency, grab your jar and prepare your strainer. If you find that the mixture is too thick to filter, gradually add water and mix it in until it’s more manageable.
  5. Filter your mixture through the strainer and into your glass jar or container. You can use your hands to squeeze the gel out and separate it from the seeds. Keep in mind that you won’t get it all out on the first try—it’ll definitely take multiple attempts.
  6. This step is optional, but after you’ve separated the seeds from the gel, feel free to mix in some aloe vera and essential oils for extra moisture and benefits.
  7. After thoroughly mixing in your added ingredients, feel free to start using your gel right away. To store, simply cover your container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

5. Is it OK to layer flaxseed gel with other products?

It all depends on what you pair the gel with. According to Groover, if you try to mix flaxseed gel with most other creams, “the emulsion may not intermix well and can possibly cause flaking and beaded residue on the strands.” That’s obviously not great.

However, if you’re using a store-bought gel with another product that’s made by the same brand, it’s possible that layering won’t cause flaking. Styles says, “It depends on the hair type and texture, as well as the flaxseed product. Typically, products in the same line are meant to be layered but mixing between lines could give an unwanted residue if the products don’t blend well.”

The bottom line? Layering DIY flaxseed gel with other products can be super risky. But since flaxseed gel is water soluble, using water-based products is the best way to go.

6. How should flaxseed be applied to your hair?

If you’re tempted to apply your gel liberally, you might want to think twice. “A little goes a long way,” says Fletcher.

She adds: “Too much will actually cause the hair to feel hard. Although the gel is safe and generally not known to cause dryness, too much will stiffen the hair and cause strands to look like clumps and not curls. Apply the least amount possible for desired results.”

RELATED: ‘No Poo’ is the Curly Hair Method You Should Be Following, According to Hairstylists

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