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DIY Hard Hold Flaxseed Gel Recipe For Curls & Waves

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If you’re tired of dry, frizzy curls, let me introduce you to flaxseed gel. This homemade gel works wonders for curly girls, creating the soft, long-lasting, and frizz-free curls you’ve always wanted without harmful chemicals, dryness, or the yucky flakes regular gel leaves behind.

Are you ready to learn how to create beautiful curls the natural way? Read on.

Ready to transform your frizz into defined, bouncy curls and waves? Join my free Quick Start Guide To Mastering Your Curls email course below and be on your way to fabulous curls in just a few steps!

What is flaxseed gel?

You’ve seen flaxseed before. Maybe you even eat them on your oatmeal or yogurt. I know I enjoy them for their protein, omega-3s, and fiber. I knew what they did for my body, but using it on hair?

I was excited to find out flaxseeds could provide my hair with the same benefits as my body and not by consuming them, but by creating a gel. I could stop using store-bought products? Yes, please.

I could create a gel that I knew what went in it and it would give me the bouncy curls I desired? Sign me up!

DIY flaxseed gel

Benefits of flaxseed gel on your hair

  • Eliminates dryness
  • Provides moisture
  • Increases shine
  • Reduces scalp inflammation
  • Reduces frizz
  • Helps curls clump
  • Increases bounce
  • Prevent breakage
  • Improve your scalp’s health and reduce itchiness
  • Encourages new hair growth
  • It provides adequate hold
  • Won't cause any buildup!

Does any of this sound like something you need? If your curls are lifeless, dry, or don’t have the bounce they used to have, making your own gel may bring them back to life.

diy flaxseed gel texture shot
diy flaxseed gel texture shot

Why flaxseed gel is better than other gels

How does your hair feel when you use some store bought gels? Crunchy? Flakey? Goopy? Dry? That’s exactly why I have stopped using certain gels in the past. Who wants the embarrassing flakes, obvious crunchiness, or that unhealthy dry look?

Flaxseed gel doesn’t do any of this AND it provides incredible hold. Even aloe vera gel can’t do this. While it seals in moisture and provides shine, it doesn’t hold those beautiful curls all day long, but flaxseed gel does.

Store-bought gel usually includes alcohol (unless you're using curly girl approved gel). All alcohol does is dry out your hair. Sure, it may hold your style, but is holding dry hair the style you want? What happens when you scrunch your hair after using the regular gel? It gets flaky, right? That’s probably not the look you were going for.

Flaxseed gel is also super cheap and a great low waste option. Making flaxseed gel costs only as much as the ingredients you put in, which can be as simple as flax seeds and water. 🤑

Flaxseed gel is amazing at creating nice curl clumps to reduce frizz. Clumping is an area many struggle with, especially when first embracing your curls. Flaxseed gel helps clumps come together easier than with other styling products, and this greatly reduces frizz.

My favorite benefit of DIY flaxseed gel over others is that it's water soluble, meaning it won't build up on my fine hair. I like to use all water soluble products for healthier hair and this is the cheapest water soluble gel you'll find!

Delilah's second day hair after using diy flaxseed gel on 2c curly hair
2nd day hair after using my flaxseed gel

What will you notice?

First, you won’t feel sticky. Your hair may feel a little slippery, which is why I recommend that you apply to conditioned and detangled hair while still wet. You want your hands to easily slide through your curls, covering every curl with the flaxseed gel goodness.

I find flaxseed gel leaves my hair softer and more defined than any other styling product. It does give me a cast that very easily comes out. My curls seem to clump a little better and have a lot of shine and bounce. I do notice less volume, but I think it's because flaxseed gel is more moisturizing than other gels and creates so much definition.

diy flaxseed gel ingredients

Add-ins to your flaxseed gel

Do you want to add even more goodness to your flaxseed gel? Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Aloe Vera gel – If you prefer a thicker (less watery) gel add aloe vera gel
  • Shea butter – For thick, dry curls, if you want even more shine and a thicker gel, add shea butter
  • Essential oils – Do you have a favorite scent? Add natural essential oils to your gel for the scent and maybe even more benefits for your hair. Lavender and tea tree oil are both great for strengthening hair.
  • Honey – If you worry about moisture, add raw honey to your gel to draw it in.
  • Emollients like argan and jojoba oils – If you want more moisture without the frizz from a humectant, adding a few drops of a lightweight oil can help.
  • Collagen peptides – For an added boost of protein to add hold and give your curls more shape and bounce, some hydrolyzed collagen will do the trick
  • Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) – Epsom salt is commonly added to DIY hairspray recipes because it creates a stronger hold. Add some into your DIY flaxseed gel for more hold and to enhance curl. BUT leave it out if your hair is dry or damaged, as Epsom salt can cause drying for some people. (source)
  • Preservative – If you want a little more life out of your flaxseed oil, add a preservative and you’ll get several months out of it. I like to use Optiphen but there are many options.
diy flaxseed gel ingredients

How to make flaxseed gel

This is my easy recipe for a hard hold version. Basic flaxseed gel is just water and flax seeds, but I added a few other ingredients based on their benefits and my hair.

This recipe works best on my hair compared to other recipes I have tried. I also added a preservative because I know I won't use it within 2 weeks and am not a fan of mold and bacteria in my products.

Flaxseed Gel Recipe

DIY Flaxseed Gel Recipe (Hard Hold)

flaxseed gel in jar

This DIY hard hold flaxseed gel recipe is easy to make and works great on all curly hair.

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1/3 cup flaxseeds
  • 2 cups of water
  • (optional) 1/4 cup pure aloe vera gel
  • (optional) 1 tbsp collagen peptides
  • (optional) 15-30 drops of oil
  • (optional) 1/2 tsp magnesium sulfate
  • (optional) essential oils for scent
  • (optional) preservative


  1. Bring the flaxseeds and water to boil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Let boil for 6 minutes and mix occasionally to prevent the flax seeds from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Once the water has that slimy, mucilage texture, remove from heat and let it cool.
  4. If you're using collagen, add it before it cools to prevent clumps from forming.
  5. Using a cheesecloth or pantyhose, line a large measuring cup and pour in the contents of the pot.
  6. Lift up the cheesecloth and squeeze the flaxseeds to strain the gel into the container.
  7. Add in any extras and mix well.
  8. Pour into the container and store it in the fridge.
  9. Store for in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or longer if you used a preservative.


If your mixture is separating, try using a stick blender.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

flaxseed gel used on Delilah's curly hair

How to use flaxseed gel

Like any DIY recipe for curly girls, certain steps make it work better. Here’s what I’ve found.

  • Give your hair a nice, deep clean. If you have a lot of product build-up, consider a clarifying shampoo.
  • Don't skimp on the conditioner. Make sure you completely detangle your hair so the gel reaches every curl.
  • After showering, apply your leave-in if you use one and squeeze out as much water as you can. Apply the gel in sections, carefully working it through each strand, combing it through with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Don't dry your hair before application.
  • Don’t go too light. Usually, the more flaxseed gel you use, the better. This isn’t like a traditional alcohol-based gel that will look crunchy or obvious that you’re wearing gel. More is better in this case (even for my fine hair).
  • Don’t touch your hair after you apply it. I know it’s tempting, but just like any other product, if you touch your curls, you create frizz.
  • If you use any other products, make sure they are water-based to avoid excessive flaking. It's not recommended to pair flaxseed gel with other stylers.
  • Many people say diffusing gives you the best results. I did not try air drying so I can't say but keep this in mind if you try air drying.

Frequently asked questions

Can you leave flaxseed gel in your hair?

Yes, the gel should stay in your hair until your next shampoo. Don’t worry, it won’t flake or make your hair crunchy. It provides shine and a bounce in your curls that you’ll love.

What’s in flaxseed that makes it great for hair?

Flaxseed is packed with vitamin E, Omega-3s, and fiber, all of which your hair needs for strength, elasticity, and shine.

How long does the gel last?

The right flaxseed gel recipe should last for a week or two in the fridge, but if you add a preservative, it will last several months.

Some people freeze their flax seed gel in ice cubes and take out one cube at a time.

Is it hard to make flaxseed gel?

With my flaxseed gel recipe, it’s easy, and dare I say, fun? I personally love knowing what’s in my hair products, so I enjoy making flaxseed gel among other products.

How often should I use the gel?

You can use it as often as you want, BUT make sure you wash your hair first. If you didn’t wash your hair, don’t reapply the gel to dry hair. You’ll get flakes if you do that.

I find that you can apply some to refresh your hair the next day only if you wet your hair first.

Is flaxseed gel curly girl approved?

Yes, it is! Since flaxseed gel is water soluble, as long as you don't add any silicones to it then it's curly girl method approved.

Side view of flaxseed gel results on Delilah's curly hair
Check out the definition from the flaxseed gel!

Fall in Love with your Curly Hair Again

Create the beautiful curls you desire with ingredients you may even have at home. Flaxseeds are a wonderful nutrient for your internal organs but are great for your hair too. Creating your own flaxseed gel puts you in control of what goes in your hair, giving you the best chance at moisturized, shiny, and beautiful curls.

Not into DIY life?

No problem, below are a few great premade options you can buy online.

Facebook group simple curlies and wavies

If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.


Fabulous Curls Academy curls education and digital products to help you on your curls journey

Fabulous Curls Academy is my monthly membership program that gives you access to several online courses that will guide you through creating a simple routine that gives you fabulous results. Learn what your hair type is, which products and ingredients will work for you, and how to style according to your hair type by creating a simple routine that works. No more confusion about products or methods or battling frizz and time. Click here for more info.

I now also offer Curl & Clean Beauty Coaching sessions virtually! You can book a 15-minute, 30-minute, or 45-minute session with me to help you solve your curly hair or clean beauty struggles. Click here to learn more.

Want to remember this? Save Flaxseed Gel For Curly Hair + DIY Hard Hold Flaxseed Gel Recipe to your favorite Pinterest board!

flaxseed gel for curly hair - how to make it and use it
graphic of DIY hard hold flaxseed gel ingredients

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  1. I have looked at lots of flax gel recipes, and you are the first that I have seen that adds epson salt! I have been adding it for years because it really helps my relaxed waves to pull up a little. Also, the collagen. I add that also, but my hair could not handle a tablespoon. It would make my hair too stiff. Another thing is you don’t add as much flax as some people do. If I followed the typical recipe, which is 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of flax to 1 cup of water, my hair would get totally gummed up. I use even less flax seed than you do due to the fineness of my hair. You made a great recipe. I hope that you do a demo on it. Thanks much!

    1. Thanks Anna. I actually have not found any recipes that only use 1 cup of water so I thought I had used a lot lol. I plan to film my application so hopefully I can share it soon.

    2. Hi Anna
      I have Never worked on this project. used this before and I also have have fine hair. As i have gotten older it has thinned out but I have wavy not curly hair and it has gotten frizzer and the greys around my crown make it corser. I read that you put less flaxseed . How much do you put? Im just wondering if this will not weigh my hair down.

      1. OMG my STUPID computer put in a saved automatic response . It should say that i have Never tried this before LOL. Also my hair is really dry so Im guessing no epsom salt.

  2. I’ve made flaxseed gel for years for my hair, and I used to add epsom salt to my gel too. It made my hair a bit curlier. But after a couple of years of using epsom salt in my gel, my cuticle became raised up (I have low porosity, very healthy hair), and even though I’ve used sulfate/surfactant free cleansers and conditioners for years, my hair began feeling like I was using sulfates on my hair, but I wasn’t. My hair was very tangled even after conditioning. I had never experienced this after going curly girl method. My hair almost seemed like it had chemical damage. So after some research I learned how epsom salt can cause the cuticle to raise up and seem damaged. Very long story short, I now make my flaxseed gel without epsom salt. Just an fyi! I loved the results of epsom salt in my flaxseed gel, but I can’t use it every wash day. I think eventually I may make some flaxseed gel with epsom salt for special occasions, but not for every wash day.

  3. I made this yesterday and had 2 great hair days! I’m not used to the texture yet and trying to figure out the best way to apply it and how much to use. What would you recommend for chin length fine hair?

  4. It seems that the aloe would make thin hair limp. My hair is very thin and fine. What are your thoughts? I’m just looking for something that will help my hair hold the curl. It curls real pretty and good but after scrunching the slight cast, it falls limp in no time. So Frustrating!!!!!!

  5. Thank you for this recipe! I just made it, and am so pleased with the results – definitely soft, defined, bouncy curls!! Oh, and completely healthy and chemical free, which I love. I would second your recommendation to use more than you think you need with this gel, because although my hold was there, it was a little too soft the next day. All in all, I am super happy with this flaxseed gel and had no idea this was a thing. Another tip – don’t skimp on the cheesecloth. It was so much easier once I used a large piece of cheesecloth, otherwise I couldn’t keep it from spilling over the sides when I tried to squeeze the gel through. Again, thank you!

    1. Hi Andrea. I used 1% concentration which is the maximum recommended for that product. This came out to half a teaspoon based on the amount of gel I had at the end. It may not be the same for you because it depends on how much liquid you have at the end.

  6. I love this gel! I have made it twice now, the first time with all the add-ins (minus epsom salt), and the second time with just essential oils (lavender and grapefruit…amazing!!!). I often use it between wash days, after wetting my hair. Love it!!!

  7. Hi! Do you have any other examples for preservative options? I want to make some, and I know I won’t use it within 2 weeks and I don’t want to freeze it! I have all of the ingredients but the preservative part. I’m hoping I have something in the kitchen that could be a viable option. Thank you! I literally just finished a 4 ounce bottle of purchased flaxseed gel that lasted 6 months, and I wanted to try making it myself!

    1. Nothing that you would have on hand would work to preserve it. You need to purchase a synthetic preservative like the one I mention in the post. Sorry! If you look around lots of people will recommend unsafe options like vitamin e or essential oils but those do not preserve so I would not recommend them.

    2. Hi! I’m so new to all of this curly girl information. I have extremely fine and frizzy long hair. I am a night time showerer/hair washer + leave in… if I dampen my hair in the morning can I use this as a styling product?

  8. I made this today and used it.. not sure if I like it yet. Doesn’t seem to have too strong of a hold, unless I just didn’t use enough. My hair feels really soft and I didn’t get a cast at all and now a lot of my curls have fallen flat 7 hours later.
    Also, shouldn’t you let the boiling mixture cool before squeezing it through cloth? I kept hurting my hand trying to squeeze the hot liquid through. And maybe I just have crappy cheesecloth but the flaxseeds were coming through as well so I had to try to transfer/scrape the mixture into my organic cotton nut bag and squeeze through there instead. Now my nut bag has a layer of gel all over it that doesn’t seem to want to come off! A lot of work and messy, not sure if I’ll do this again. Plus I didn’t have the preservative so I used a little lemon juice & rosemary essential oil so I dk if it’ll last very long. Does it always need to be kept in the fridge?

    1. Hi Stacey. You are supposed to let it cool before handling it. I checked the instructions and it does say to let it cool in step 3. If you had flaxseed coming through then your nut bag might have been too thin. Since you didn’t use a true preservative I would recommend keeping it in the fridge and using it within a week, or freeze it to use for longer. As far as not having enough hold or getting a cast, that’s usually a sign of having too much moisture in your hair. Did you layer leave in or cream underneath? If so, next time try no leave in/cream.

      1. Oh and, this was my first time ever using cheesecloth.. Am I supposed to layer a bunch of pieces or how does it work? Or I need to buy thicker cloth? The stuff I got came in a package of like 2 yards or something from Whole Foods

    2. Hi Stacey! What you described with your hair being very soft and falling flat, I have experienced, too, when using a leave in with aloe in it. I’ll probably be leaving the aloe out when I make this. You might have some success, if your gel isn’t too thick, with using a mesh strainer and pouring the gel into it while still hot and letting it strain into a container. I’ve used this method and I’ve also used knee highs. If you try it again, I hope it works better for you!

  9. Thanks for your reply! I watched the video that pops up and didn’t see anything about letting it cool! Definitely will next time..
    I looked up natural preservatives online and lemon juice and rosemary extract were a few named so I figured maybe the lemon juice & rosemary essential oil I used would work as a preservative since I didn’t have what you used. So do you not keep it in the fridge with the preservative you used?
    I didn’t use a leave-in that day but had done a deep conditioner after co-washing. I have used it a few more times since then and did use a leave-in prior but used a lot more flaxseed gel than the first time and got better results! Even got a slight cast once. I’m pretty new to caring for my hair (well) and following the CGM so I’m not sure if I have too much moisture. I didn’t have enough prior to starting CGM so maybe I’ve been using too much now?! I use a leave-in every washday usually.. (Curls blueberry bliss which has protein as well I believe). Deep condition maybe once a month. I’ve never done a protein treatment

    1. I don’t keep mine in the fridge but I use it up within 2 months. I did forget about the last bit and found it a few weeks ago and it had gone bad. As far as the moisture, if your hair feels super soft and mushy, then try skipping leave in for a bit and see how it goes. There’s no way to tell without trying if that is what your hair needs. Usually, no cast means too much moisture but that’s not always the case. Try it out and see what happens. If that doesn’t help you can try a protein treatment. I really like Ecoslay Matcha Boost for protein.

  10. I have been making this without a preservative and absolutely love it! It is becoming a pain to make every week though, so I purchased some optiphen to add at the end. It did not come with any instructions on how to use it. How did you calculate the amount to add to your gel?

  11. I love flax seed gel, and up until now, I haven’t added anything to it. Until reading your post, I never realized I could add things like Epsom salt or collagen to my gel! I definitely need more protein for my hair. Would you recommend gelatin? Like knox unflavored? I have some of that on hand already for adding to cereal or yogurt. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  12. So I have been so excited to make this… first step- I’ve got my timer going for 6 minutes and at about 4 minutes I started realizing my mixture is jello. Just flaxseed and water- what did I do wrong?!

    1. It’s supposed to thicken up like jello. And it does separate into a watery are and a jello like clump. You didn’t do anything wrong. Try using a stick blender to get it all mixed together (after straining out the seeds of course).

      1. Ok- so, I successfully made the gel and I added all of the optional ingredients- including honey.
        I wish I could add pictures so I could get your analysis of what ingredient may be causing me trouble and exclude it next time. I’ve been told my hair is super well moisturized- but my issue is I have a lot of frizz and it does not “clump” very evenly.
        Unfortunately, though this gel made my hair luxuriously soft- it seems to have made my hair frizzier and made the clumps really thin out.
        I have very fine, thin, and very curly hair that is past my shoulder blades.
        I am very rarely able to get a third day and often can’t even get a second day from my hair.
        Any suggestions on what I should exclude?

        1. Hey Kathleen, I have experienced the same (low density, low porosity, ~3a); it’s likely due to all the humectants in the mix (flaxseed, aloe vera, honey). If they can’t attract water molecules from the air around you, they’ll take it from your hair, leaving it frizzier than ever. My advice would be to ensure your hair is quite damp, and apply a leave-in (I use SM Jamaican Castor Oil) with praying hands and a light comb to ensure it’s evenly coating each strand and then, apply the flaxseed. The oil in the leave-in will help seal your strands so that the flaxseed can’t draw moisture from them. If it’s not enough you can try mixing a couple of drops of oil (rubbing your hands together first to evenly distribute a really thin coat) and then praying hands over you hair. Too much oil will leave your hair lank though.

          1. The french press sounds like a great idea! I made some using a doubled up cheese cloth and strained it into a pyrex measuring cup before it got too thick which allowed an easy slow pour and no need to squeeze it.
            I also put a spray of my favourite perfume, Orange Blossom by Jo Malone. I’m so happy with this product. I even used some of the remaining warm gel to moisturize my arms and legs. It’s incredible!

  13. I am having a lot of difficulty getting the gel through the cheesecloth. Is this normal? I also tried a much more wide crisscross sieve and it didn’t strain either.

  14. So generous and helpful of you to provide this recipe and all of your advice and tips! I will be making some tomorrow in a smaller quantity (like 1 cup water to 2.5 tbsp flax seeds).

  15. I love this so much! I didn’t have cheese cloth. I have very few pairs of pantyhose so I didn’t want to use that those. After a few tries, I found that a French press coffee maker worked great. It can be a bit messy but clean up is so easy because it’s water soluble. I added Epsom salt and my hair loved it from day 1. The 4th time I made it, I forgot to add the Epsom salt. The consistency was horrible. My hair was still good but it was difficult to work with. Too gloopy. I don’t know if the Epsom salt helps break up the gloop or if it was the whisk I used to mix the salt. Either way, I went back and added the salt to what was left. I can go longer between washes. I can run wet hands over my hair and the cast will reform and curl right up again. Usually I brush my hair out the day before I wash. Before it would just be wavy but I can do the wet hands thing and it curls again. I found some pretty cheap options on Etsy I plan on trying out because I’m lazy and don’t want to have to make it all the time. I don’t have preservatives so I can’t make too much at a time. Thank you for the recipe. This is my holy grail product. Everyone comments on how amazing my hair looks.

  16. For anyone reading this and you don’t happen to have a cheesecloth or pantyhose, I use a fine mesh strainer right when I take the mixture off the stove, no cooling. It’s still liquid enough that it will go through, but will thicken up as it cools.

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