Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to Make Flax Seed Hair Gel

Happy Holidays greenies! I've got a special recipe for you today, flax seed hair gel! Now I've tried  many homemade hair gels in my journey to "go green" and none quite get the job done...until now.  


I have a rule with green swaps that they have to at least do the same as their not-so-green counterpart, if not better. If the results are worse than before, I abandon the swap. So with hair gel, it's simple. Make my hair look the same, if not better, and you're in!

That's pretty much how it went down with my flax seed hair gel. I gathered the ingredients (only one: flax seeds), made my gel, and waited. The results were not shockingly better, but at least they were the same! Even better, the cost to make one batch of flax seed hair gel, only cost me 16 cents! My traditional, green, organic hair gel was $13 a bottle, ouch!

Time for a green swap.  So today I'm going to share with you the recipe that I use to make flax seed hair gel and how I style my hair with it.

But before we begin, why flax seeds? Aside from being high in omega 3 fatty acids, flax seeds (when used in hair gel) have been shown to make hair softer, shiner, and offer a soft hold. I like that it gives my curls soft definition  instead of being hard and crunchy. Other people have noted that the flax seed hair gel promotes hair growth, which is always a plus.

The gel will come out thick like this.

For me, two of the biggest benefits are the cost, and fact that there is such a short ingredient list... (flax seeds and water!). As I said above, my old hair gel cost me $13 a bottle and I was probably buying a new one every 3-4 weeks. I purchase my brown, organic flax seeds at my local health food store in the bulk food section. They cost $2 a pound. When you measure out the 1/4 cup of flax seeds needed for one batch of this hair gel this brings the total to 16 cents! Woo hoo! Can you see me doing cartwheels over here?! Love it!

With the savings and benefits in mind, let's get right into that recipe:

Flax Seed Hair Gel
  • 1/4 cup brown, organic, flax seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water

That's all!

Equipment needed to make the gel:
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 strainer of some sort (I use a fine mesh strainer)
  • measuring cup or bowl to pour flax seed gel into
  • 1 container to store the gel in when finished

Watch in this week's video about how to make the flax seed gel:




No time to watch it, no worries. Here's a picture breakdown of the steps:

1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan.

2. Once boiling add 1/4 cup flax seeds. In these pictures you'll
see golden flax seeds...but once I made this batch, I decided I
like the brown flax seeds better. See more info below...

3. Once you add the flax seeds, reduce the heat to medium
or medium high and give the flax seeds a good stir.
We will now cook them for 7-9 minutes. To watch my
time, I like to set a timer.

4. The most important way to check to see how the flax seeds
are cooking is to see how the water/gel drips from the spoon.
Here it is in the beginning, with hardly any dripping.

5. Here we are 5 minutes in with a little bit of a drip. Keep
stirring, keep cooking.

6. When it's done, about 8-9 minutes for this batch, it will
be pretty thick like this.  If you end up cooking it too long, it
will just get extra thick, which isn't the worst thing in
the world, but you just won't get as much gel out of it.

7. Now place the mesh strainer over a large measuring
cup or bowl and strain the flax seeds from the gel.
I've seen others use pantyhose to drain the gel, but
I did that for my first batch and it was a mess and I didn't
get much out. I like this strainer method the best.

Here's what we've been working for...flax seed gel!

8. I use a spoon to push the flax seeds into the strainer
a bit more.  I don't stress too much about this part, whatever
comes out with the first pouring is usually the most that
I will get.

9. Next I transfer it into a storage container, like a Pyrex
storage container, or a small jar.

10. Now be sure to keep it in the fridge! Others have added
various preservatives to help their flax seed gel stay at room
temperature, but I don't mind keeping it in the fridge.
Now it's ready to use and style in your hair.  When styling it in your hair, here's a technique I would recommend:
    A glob like this is probably a bit much, I usually try to
    get a smaller glob.
  1. Pull a small glob from the big glob (love my terminology?).
  2. Take the little glob and rub it around with your fingers or with your two hands together...to separate the little glob.  This will help keep from a big glob of gel in the strands of your hair.
  3. Now apply it however you like, like all  over or just on the tips. Whatever works for you!
When it's done...
The flax seed gel will last about 2 weeks. The best way I know to keep track is to smell it. This may be hard if you've added essential oils, so in that case I would probably just make a note on your calendar to make another batch two-three weeks from when you made the last batch. But like I said, if you haven't added any essential oils, the best way to tell if it's "done" or time to make a new batch is that it starts to smell different. With a fresh batch, it will be pretty much odor-less, maybe it will smell a bit like flax seeds, but not much. When my gels are about to be "done" they take on a sweet smell, fruity almost. I found one of my original batches in the back of my fridge that was about 3 weeks old and it just straight up smelled like mold...so if you ever smell that just toss it and make a new batch! 

Add anything else?
Some other flax seed recipes I've found online add various essential oils or aloe vera to the hair gel, but when I first made the recipe I didn't have any of those so I figured I'd give it a go without to see how it turned out. The result, worked just fine! Granted I'm sure some essential oils could have some helpful benefits to my hair, but I kind of like that it doesn't have a scent, and I don't have to add any other ingredients. But if you want to add anything else, feel free to experiment!

Now what to do with the remaining flax seeds? I had high hopes for reusing them again, but once I froze them and made a batch, I found it to be much more "watery" and not quite as thick as the previous batches. 

My attempt to freeze the flax seeds.

So for now, my verdict is...toss them out. Sorry greenies. I have read that other people just refrigerated the flax seeds in the fridge, but I'm not sure how those would keep. If anyone has tried it with good luck, let me know. 

Verdict: toss them.
Now for the great debate: brown flax seeds vs. golden flax seeds...

Which one is the winner?
From my research, it didn't seem like there was much difference between the two types of flax seeds other than the fact that the brown flax seeds have more omega-3s. But after making a batch of each, check out the results I discovered...


As you can tell, the brown flax seed gel made double the amount of the golden flax seeds! I know which one I'm using. Also, isn't the color comparison interesting too? I'm sure the two work pretty much the same, but to get that much more gel really tips the scales for me! What is your favorite flax seed to use?

So there you have it, how to make your own flax seed hair gel! Not too bad right? I love that short ingredient list and the fact that it only takes a few minutes to make...oh not to mention that I'm saving nearly $12 on hair gel a month!

If you use or have used flax seed hair gel in the past share your experiences below, I'd love to hear about them!

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