Should You Use Gel in Your Natural Hair Regimen? October 20 2018
Curious about using gel in your natural hair regimen? We curlies have A LOT of products and brands to choose from. It can be VERY overwhelming, and it gets expensive when you have to experiment with so many different items.
Are you unknowingly causing damage to your hair? Get the Natural Hair Mistakes Free E-Guide to make sure!
Gels come in all flavors. They can be good or bad, depending on ingredients. But your hair type and the way in which you use the gel can also play a big role.
In this post, we’ll look at different gel types and uses so you can decide whether to purchase gel for your natural hair.
Do You Need Gel for Your Natural Hair?
The first thing is to ask yourself, do you really need gel? Or will a curling cream or a simple leave-in conditioner work?
The answer is… it depends on the task.
Here are some uses for gel:
Using Gel to Lay Edges. You need a gel if you want to lay down your edges. Laying edges can give your hairstyle a sleek “finished” look. But laid edges isn’t for everybody. If you’re looking for a more natural look, you won’t need gel for edges. However, if you want to tame your baby hairs, edge gel can help.
The best gels to lay edges are called “Edge Gels”. They come in small containers and they give far more hold than a regular gel. But be careful not to choose an edge gel that contains an overly drying ingredient like alcohol.
Otherwise, you’ll have trouble growing your edges out and you’ll need to constantly rely on edge gels to make your hairstyles.
Applying Gel to Slick Back Hair. One of the most common uses for gel is for laying down all hair (not just edges) and pulling it into a bun. Use caution with this hairstyle.
If you’re pulling your hair back into a sleek bun or ponytail every day, and then applying edge gel, you could develop alopecia. Gel tends to smother the follicle and hinder hair growth.
It probably won’t do much damage if you’re doing it once a week but slathering gel on your scalp every day could spell danger. Remember, hair growth slows once you reach a certain age.
If you’re in your twenties or thirties, it may seem like your follicles are invincible, but hair loss can easily show in your forties if your follicles were abused enough in your younger years.
Using Gel for a Wash and Go. You can use gel to define your curls for a wash and go. Gel usually has a better hold than curling or twisting cream, so your hairstyle will probably look more defined for a longer period of time.
However, using gel on wash and gos is not without flaws. Some of the downsides are that your hair can turn too crisp or stiff, and that you could lose moisture and softness.
Another con is that you can’t reapply gel or it will end up with build-up and flaking. Moreover, you’ll have a hard time applying any product after you’ve used gel.
In fact, you should wash the gel from your hair after 1-3 days or you’ll risk dryness.
Also, if you’re doing a wash and go, use a botanical gel. Wash and gos require you to coat your strands, and the ingredients can become deeply embedded into the hair shaft. So, make sure you choose something healthy for your mane.
What are the Best Types of Gel for Natural Hair
Steer clear of certain alcohols and other drying chemicals in gels. Knowing which alcohols to avoid in gels is confusing, because some help hair, and others hurt.
Cetyl, stearyl, behenyl, cetearyl, lauryl and myristyl alcohols are good for hair because they soften and condition.
Avoid denatured alcohol, ethanol, isopropyl, SD alcohol 40, propanol, and propyl alcohols. These “bad” alcohols will be too drying for your natural hair regimen.
Look for botanical gels, or products which contain very few chemicals. There are a few brands on the market that are low in toxins. They may not provide extreme hold, but your hair will thank you in the long run.
Plain aloe vera gel is a great option because it hydrates and smooths hair while making it easier to clump curls together. It also doesn’t harden hair and it’s chock-full of nutrition.
However, every head is different, and you’ll have to experiment on your own to see if your hair likes aloe vera gel.
Easy Flax Gel Recipe for Natural Hair
Another idea is to make a DIY gel at home. You’ll like how cost-effective it is to make gel from flaxseed. A $3-4 bag will last you for months! Plus, flaxseed gel contains a ton of good fatty acids and it is a water-based gel, so there won’t be any issues with losing moisture.
Here’s an easy recipe you can use to make your own flaxseed gel at home. Keep in mind that you may need to double the recipe if you’re using it for a wash and go, and depending on how frequently you want to use your gel.
1 1/4 cups water
1/8 cup whole raw flaxseeds (unroasted)
Clean cheesecloth or a footie from pantyhose stockings
1. Place the flaxseeds and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Stir the mixture while it boils to ensure consistency throughout the gel.
3. Allow the flaxseeds to form a thick & slippery texture, then turn off the heat.
4. Let the gel cool in its pot.
5. Strain the gel with the cheesecloth or pantyhose while holding it over a container to catch the liquid.
6. Press and squeeze all liquid into the container.
7. Discard the seeds.
8. Keep your container covered and refrigerated when you’re not using the gel.
Flaxseed gel doesn’t last very long in the fridge, but it will probably remain fresh for 5-7 days if you keep it well-sealed and cold.
How about you? Have you tried to use gel in your natural hair regimen, and which one do you like best?