How to Make Flaxseed Gel for Hair

Discover this super easy recipe featuring natural ingredients.

Jar and spoon of raw flaxseeds on textured white background

Ekaterina Fedotova / Getty Images

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 hours
  • Yield: 2 cups
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $3

Flaxseed is a known super seed packed with fiber, plant-based fatty acids, and lignans. The tiny oily seeds are a common addition to smoothies and cereals—not to mention a great vegan substitute for eggs in baking. What you probably didn't know is that, with a dash of water, flaxseed can become an effective natural hair gel replacement.

Why use flaxseed gel instead of regular hair gel? According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database, conventional hair gels are packed with parabens, dyes, phosphates, alcohol, and artificial fragrances. Out of 385 styling gels, lotions, and pomades, more than 350 posed moderate to high hazards by EWG's standards.

DIY flaxseed hair gel, on the other hand, is completely chemical- and preservative-free. In fact, it can be made with as few as two ingredients (flax and water).

Like store-bought options, flaxseed hair gel seals cuticles, provides moisture, increases shine, and promotes bounce. It acts even better than its conventional counterparts because it's naturally flake-resistant and water-soluble, meaning it won't build up on hair. As a bonus, you won't be left with mixed-material tubes that are difficult—if not impossible—to recycle.

Sold on making your own flaxseed gel at home? Here's a simple recipe.

What You'll Need


  • Pot
  • Stovetop
  • Cheesecloth
  • Clean Mason jar with lid
  • Funnel (optional)


  • 1/4 cup whole flaxseeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (optional)
  • Essential oils of choice (optional)


  1. Heat Flaxseeds in Water

    First, mix flaxseed and water in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to make sure seeds don't stick to the bottom.

    The higher the heat, the faster the gel will thicken, so allow the mixture to boil only for a few minutes, then turn off the heat once it begins to froth. You may also see a mucousy gel cast starting to form on the surface of the water. 

    While the mixture cools, prepare to filter your gel. 

    Treehugger Tip

    Using whole flaxseeds makes the filtering process easier, but if you choose to use ground flaxseed instead, bring your 2 cups of water to a boil first and then add in half a cup of ground flaxseed while it's boiling. Whisk continuously to mix the powder and water thoroughly.

  2. Filter Your Flaxseed Gel

    Boiled flaxseeds filtering through tea strainer into glass jar

    svehlik / Getty Images

    Separating the tiny flaxseeds from the resulting thick gel is the most difficult part of this process. One of the easiest ways to go about it is to transfer the concoction, after it's completely cooled, to a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or even a clean pair of pantyhose.

    You'll want to wrap the cheesecloth around the mixture and squeeze it, coaxing the gel out into a clean container. A funnel may make this step easier.

    Your gel should be the consistency of egg whites.

  3. Incorporate Optional Ingredients

    After you've squeezed all the gel out of your flaxseed mixture, set the flaxseeds aside (these can still be used) and incorporate any additional ingredients into the gel. Essential oils are great for masking the nutty scent—try something like lavender or jasmine—and hair-healthy aloe vera gel can increase the thickness.

    Remember that your DIY flaxseed gel will not contain chemical preservatives like conventional styling products often do. You can extend the shelf life of your homemade product from roughly one week to three just by adding a teaspoon of vitamin E oil.

  4. Let Set in the Fridge

    If your gel still seems too runny after cooling completely, don't worry. It'll get even gooier after a night in the fridge. In fact, you should store your flaxseed gel in the fridge all the time to maintain its thickness.

  5. Apply DIY Flaxseed Gel to Hair

    Apply your flaxseed gel as you would any styling gel: Work a small amount into wet hair by twisting individual curls with your fingers, distributing the product evenly throughout. Allow your hair to dry completely, then shake out or scrunch your curls for added volume.

Reusing Flaxseeds

Loaf of cut flaxseed bread on wooden cutting board

Darius Dzinnik / 500px / Getty Images

One of the biggest environmental benefits of making your own flaxseed hair gel is the potential for it to be truly waste-free. Not only can you source your ingredients from bulk stores and a homegrown aloe plant, you can also reuse the seeds for other things—or even more hair gel.

Simply freeze them while they're still wet and repeat the recipe as needed. Or add them to soups, sauces, smoothies, cereal, and baking recipes as you would normally. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the benefits of flaxseed gel?

    Using flaxseed gel on hair improves moisture, shine, and bounce. Making your own flaxseed gel ensures you get a recipe free of chemicals or preservatives.

  • Can you leave flaxseed gel in your hair?

    Yes, you can leave flaxseed gel in your hair and style as desired. Rinse it out the next time you wash your hair.

View Article Sources
  1. "Styling Gel/Lotion Products." Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

View Article Sources
  1. "Styling Gel/Lotion Products." Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.