Most hair sprays and hair gels are loaded with icky ingredients and packaged in wasteful plastic. Making your own all-natural hair spray and hair gel will not only save you money, but do wonders for your health. Here's how to DIY your own and save a buck.
The problem with conventional hair spray and hair gel
Hair products can sometimes contain questionable ingredients that can jeopardize your health in the long run. Back in the 1970s, hair spray contained a chemical called vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, but it wasn't removed from products for nearly a decade. While hair sprays no longer contain this toxic ingredient, that doesn't mean they're necessarily safe. One of the most common hair spray ingredients, known as propylene glycol, is used as an antifreeze in cars (it can literally withstand temperatures of –34F degrees). According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), not surprisingly, this chemical is linked to red, itchy skin, allergic reactions, and even organ system toxicity. So why do we allow it in our hair spray? Worse yet, what other toxic chemicals are lurking in our hair spray (where there's one, there's bound to be more)?
Hair gel isn't safe either. Since most hair gels are chemically based, they often contain harmful ingredients that you can't even pronounce. Fragrance may be the only ingredient you can actually pronounce, but that doesn't make it safe. Fragrance is found in both hair spray and hair gel: It's masked as one ingredient, but this one word is covering for an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients. In other words, there could be hundreds of chemicals blended together to get one specific "fragrance" listed on your product. Fragrance has been associated with many health problems according to EWG, including allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. If you ask me, that ingredient's side effects alone are pretty scary—imagine it in combination with all the other chemical-based ingredients that make up hair gel (and hair spray).
The chemical makeup in hair gels can also cause serious long-term damage to your hair with repeated use. Hair gels contain corrosive chemicals that strip hair of moisture, leading to a dry and dehydrated scalp. This can also lead to hair breakage, itchy and flaky scalp, and frizzy hair that's almost unmanageable. A dehydrated scalp can also lead to dandruff. After all, improper production of sebum and weakened hair roots cause and worsen the problem of dandruff. Also, since hair gels rip off the moisture and disrupt the pH balance of the hair, they can also cause split ends, hair thinning, and hair discoloration. Prolonged usage of these gels can even result in early graying. Imagine what conventional hair gel use alongside hair spray could do to your hair over time (since both contain questionable ingredients).
In the long and short of it, conventional hair spray and hair gel just aren't worth the health risks. Instead, try the natural DIY recipes listed below. Not only are they simple, but they'll save you money in the long run too if you buy the ingredients in bulk. If you decide DIYs aren't for you, do a little research: You should be able to find an organic hair gel or hair spray on the market.
All-Natural Hair Spray Recipe
This hair spray smells so much better than the conventional alternatives. You won't have to worry about this hair spray hurting the ozone layer either, seeing as it's completely all-natural. As opposed to most hair sprays on the market, this one will hydrate and nourish your hair, making it strong and healthy in the long run. This hair spray may not hold your hair the same way an alcohol-based hair spray will, but it will do a fantastic job of taming frizz.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 to 4 drops rosemary essential oil
- 2 cups distilled water
- Melt the coconut oil and add to a spray bottle along with the distilled water and essential oil.
- Be sure to shake well before each use. Separation is normal. Spritz on damp or dry hair.
All-Natural Hair Gel Recipe
This hair gel consists of only three ingredients (one ingredient is optional so technically it could be two). This will help tame any unruly flyaway strands and stabilize your hair to create your perfect look. For a natural gel, it has surprisingly good hold, so be prepared to fall in love. No toxic chemicals needed!
- 3 tablespoons aloe vera gel
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon gelatin
- 10–20 drops essential oils (optional: use whatever scent you prefer—try chamomile and lavender)
- Put the aloe vera in a small glass jar, then slowly start adding the gelatin a little at a time. Stir well to incorporate.
- Once combined, leave it in the fridge: It will gel-up within the next 24 hours or so. (You can use it before it's firmed but it won't provide as much hold in your hair.)