Sunday, April 24, 2011

Homemade failure... and success!

The bad news first: homemade deodorant FAIL

I've given up on the homemade deodorant. Even with all the changes I'd made, my underarms were still red, and the itchiness was relieved but not eliminated by moisturizing before applying. So now I'm trying out Tom's of Maine's Crystal Confidence. It's a roll-on rather than the stick I used before, and has fewer ingredients than Tom's of Maine's stick deodorant. So far, so good in terms of keeping me drying, odor-free, and non-itchy. Let's see if my underarms continue to tolerate it, and if it continues to work when the weather really gets hot.

Trial and error with homemade hair products

I have shared before that I've been successful in making my own products to clean and condition my hair, but have had a difficult time creating my own styling products. As a result of not having the funds to get my hair done often by professionals, and struggling to make my own styling products, I usually opt for the simple ponytail style, which gets boring after a while.

I've had my hair professionally done twice in the past two years, and both times the hair stylists (at two different shops) used products on my hair that they recommended I buy to manage my curls. I bought Beyond the Zone's Noodle Head at the first shop, and was very unsatisfied with how hard and dry it made my hair.

At the second shop, where I had my hair done about a month ago, they used and recommended Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding. I'm familiar with Miss Jessie's because my sister, who lives in New York where it's made and sold, uses it, and it is a good hair product. But it's expensive, and although it hasn't been reviewed by the Safe Cosmetics Database, I looked up the ingredients, and a few are high hazard (like this one).

And now, homemade hair product good news!

Having curly pudding used on my hair inspired me to search for a different curly pudding recipe than the earlier one that had failed so miserably.

Most recipes I found on natural hair care sites were similar, and most involved combining a commercial styling product for curls (most with toxic ingredients) with natural oils. One person, however, wrote down this formula:

holding gel + moisture + shine = voila!

And that formula was the key.

I realized that I have the ingredients on hand for the formula:

Flax seed gel & beeswax + aloe & glycerin + natural oils/butters

Here is the recipe I came up with:

1 Tbsp beeswax
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp unrefined shea butter
2 Tbsp pure aloe vera gel
3 Tbsp flax seed gel (see directions for flax seed gel below)
1 Tbsp vegetable glycerin
1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10-20 drops essential oil for scent (I use peppermint and sweet orange)
10 drops of liquid grapefruit seed extract (as a natural preservative)

-With a shredder, shred beeswax until you can fill a tablespoon.
-Add shredded beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter to a small saucepan over a low flame, stirring constantly, until completely melted.
-Add the rest of the ingredients.
-Blend with a hand mixer until thick and smooth.
-Add to a small glass jar. Makes 4-6 ounces.

Once cool, it will look a little like and have a similar consistency to margerine.

Flax seed gel directions
-Bring 1 cup of filtered or distilled water to boil in a small saucepan.
-Add 1 TBSP whole flax seeds.
-Return to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick, stirring frequently.
-It may take 10-20 minutes to thicken until it drips slowly off a spoon.
-Strain out seeds.
-Add 2 Tbsp pure aloe vera gel (room temperature), and if desired, 10-20 drops essential oil for scent. Stir gently.
-Allow to gel overnight. Store in a small jar in refrigerator. Makes 4-6 ounces.

Note: Although I store my gel in the fridge, I'm not storing the curly pudding there. I suspect that because of the coconut oil and shea butter, it would become very hard if it were chilled. If contamination is a concern for you, cut the curly pudding recipe in half, or store half in the freezer and then allow to thaw at room temperature when you're ready to use it.

The result: hair product success!!

To use, rub a dollop in your hands and apply to damp, moisturized hair. Rake through hair with your fingers (especially the ends) and allow to air dry. Gently brush the hair with a natural bristle brush (such as boar's hair), and brush out the ends with a shampoo brush or paddle brush. I've used it on both my own and my daughter's hair, and it curls it up nicely.


My new hair routine--for the girl with dry, curly hair

Regular cleaning
Add 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar to an 8-oz squeeze bottle, and fill the rest with warm water. Shake gently, squeeze on hair, and massage well through hair and scalp. Allow to sit on hair about 2 minutes, then rinse well.

Regular conditioning
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. scented vodka (I add a few drops peppermint essential oils to the vodka) to an 8-oz squeeze bottle, and fill the rest with warm water. Shake gently, squeeze on hair, and massage well through hair and scalp. Allow to sit on hair about 2 minutes, then rinse well.

Deep conditioning (occasional)
Add 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp. water and 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a glass dish. Stir until smooth. Cover and microwave for about 30 seconds, and stir again.

Apply throughout hair, especially at the ends. Cover with a plastic shower cap, followed by a hot towel. (I take a small clean hand towel, wet it so it's thoroughly damp but not dripping, and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Then I wrap it around my head). Keep all this on your head 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Follow with an apple cider vinegar wash.

Deep cleansing (occasional)
Add 1 Tbsp. baking soda to an 8-oz squeeze bottle, and fill the rest with warm water. Shake gently, squeeze on hair, and massage well through hair and scalp. Allow to sit on hair about 2 minutes, then rinse well. If you're prone to dandruff like I am, follow with an apple cider vinegar wash.

Daily styling
Comb out damp hair after spraying generously with detangler. Use daily conditioner, followed by curly pudding.

Daily conditioner ingredients
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pure aloe vera gel
1 Tbsp. vegetable glycerin
3 Tbsp. of your favorite natural conditioner (I'm currently using Alaffia's Everyday Shea conditioner)
10-20 drops of essential oil for scent, and 5 drops of liquid grapefruit seed extract as a preservative.

Add all ingredients to a small glass dish (except the essential oils and grapefruit seed extract), stir gently, cover and microwave for about 30 seconds, and stir again gently until smooth. Add the oils and extract, and pour into a small squeeze bottle. Makes 4-6 ounces.

Each day, squeeze into your palms and rub gently into your hair.
Follow with curly pudding.

Detangler directions
Mix one part of the daily conditioner with three parts distilled or filtered water in an 8-oz. spray bottle. (In the winter, warm the water for about 20 seconds in the microwave first). Shake gently to mix, and shake gently before using each time.

The kiddie hair routine

My daughter washes her own hair with Burt's Bee's Baby Shampoo or Alaffia Everyday Shea shampoo. We use generous amounts of my homemade detangler and daily conditioner, and style. If the style is loose (e.g., not braided), use curly pudding.


  1. thanks for this! I just made a hair gel with flaxseed, coconut oil and beeswax. the beeswax dried gritty and the whole thing made a horrible ugly blob that left tiny blobs of beeswax in my hair! I have another batch on the stove that i am going to try this way. I'll let ya know how it turns out.

  2. i wanted to mention also, that I do not have all of these ingredients. so we will see, LOL.

  3. Alice, do you have a Super Supplements in your area? That's where I purchase most of my ingredients. Their prices are very reasonable.

  4. as a curly-haired girl... I'm excited to try this! I've had amazing luck with Curls Rock by Tigi. Best stuff for my hair!

  5. It´s been a while since you posted this, but I came across it while searching for a homemade recipies for curly hair gel, and when I read the beginning of your post, the part about the deodorant, I had to stop and comment! I figure that maybe, by now , you´ve figured this out, but I went through exactly the same process and thought i could share. When I started on my search for natural deodorants I couldn´t stop scratching and my arm pits were bright red! I tried everything. Even had a hard time sleeping at night the itch was so harsh. Now, I finally got it down. I think the thing was that I had a bad rash from sweating, after so many years of using anti-perspirant, I reacted oddly to this. Now I use baking soda and have been very happy using this for the past 10 months!

  6. You might also try substituting arrowroot powder for the cornstarch--I've heard the talc in the cornstarch is sometimes the cause of the itching.

  7. Thank you for this useful post!