Style Hair Without Gel [Natural Method & Alternate Hair Products]

Hair gel has been a household product for men and women over the past decades. It has been the go-to product for people who want to style their hair, hold it in place, or sculpt it into a certain pattern.

However, we now have a lot of hair care products that perform the same role as gels for our hair. We have also discovered that hair gel has some limitations that other new products surpass.

If you have some qualms about using gel or you’ve been considering other hair styling products that offer more hold or a different feel, there is a long list of products waiting to be explored. There are also natural ways to style your hair without using hair gel or other styling products.

If you still use hair gel, why do you use it? And are there any upsides to it? Let’s find out what you’re doing right and what else you should be doing.

Why Do People Use Hair Gel?

People typically use gel to achieve a neat, stylish, and shiny look on their dry or semi-dry hair. When you apply gel and comb your hair in place, it sets your hair in a classic position and gives it wet look.

Some people also use gel to tame long hair, wavy, curly, or unruly head of hair. 

You can also use the gel as a pre-styler on wet hair before blow-drying and follow with a styling brush to improve hair texture, structure, and hold.

Although they are helpful in styling and holding hair, gels can make your hair greasy and dirty. They are also unable to deliver a matte finish or hold short hair firmly.

If you’re looking for a product that offers volume and looks natural, then your solution probably lies in the world of hair pomades, clays, waxes, and pastes.

Are there better alternatives to hair gel? Definitely! 

Style Hair Without Gel Using Alternate Hair Products

Welcome to a world of alternatives! Let’s explore all the hair products you can use to style your hair instead of gel, how they work, plus recommendations on the best brands to try!

1. Hairspray

Hairsprays add volume and shine to your hair and strengthen your hair roots while offering a crisp hold.

We love hairspray for its ability to protect hair against damage by wind and humidity. It also makes hair smell better, as most hairsprays have lots of great fragrances to explore.

Most hairsprays contain plasticizers, luster agents, and other chemicals.

It is important to note that hairsprays are highly inflammable because they come in aerosol cans.

Some people may also be sensitive to the chemicals contained in hairsprays, so it is important to always check out what they contain.

Top 3 Recommended Hairsprays

2. Hair wax

Hair wax is another product that can help to style and hold your hair in place, giving it a glossy or matte appearance. 

Although it offers a similar hold as hair gel, Hair wax has a different consistency and texture. It also has fewer chances of drying out, unlike gel.

Hair wax is made primarily from waxes such as castor wax, beeswax, candelilla wax, or emulsifying wax, alongside other ingredients that are beneficial for your hair.

 Although colorless hair wax is the standard product, you can find colored hair wax that styles and colors your hair in popular colors like blue, green, purple, silver, and red.

Unlike gel, hair wax contains little to no alcohol. However, it is often more expensive than gel and other styling alternatives.

Top 3 Recommended Hair Waxes

3. Hair paste

Hair paste is quite similar to hair wax, except that hair paste is primarily water-based while hair wax isn’t.

Hair Paste offers a stronger hold than hair gel and gives a glossier finish.  

Hair paste has a very thick consistency and doesn’t dry up like hair gel. Upon application, it adds some matter or shine to your hair’s appearance

Hair paste also offers a moderate to stronghold for styling wavy and short hair. It has a simple application process and protects the hair follicles.

However, hair paste can leave your hair feeling tacky or hard after use.

Top 3 Recommended Hair Pastes

4. Hair cream/Styling Cream

Hair cream or styling cream is used primarily to hold down stray and frizzy hair, but it also adds some shine to hair. 

Styling creams also help to protect hair from heat damage caused by curling irons, flat irons and blow dryers.

Hair cream is great for styling and holding hair, although it doesn’t hold hair as firm as hair gel or wax.

For the best solution, you can use hair cream after applying a firmer styling agent to your hair.

Top 3 Recommended Hair Creams

5. Hair serum

Hair serum is similar to hair cream because it works better as a finishing product that protects the hair against a list of things, including grime, dust, heat, and sun damage.

However, in the absence of any other styling product, it can offer some hold for relaxed or light hair.

The best way to use hair serum is to apply it after using hair. Massage a few drops of hair serum into your hair and tips (not your scalp).

 After that, brush your hair and scalp, and blow-dry your hair.

Hair serum helps to hold stray hair in place, prevent frizz and offers more damage protection than most styling alternatives. However, it doesn’t style as well as other alternatives.

Top 3 Recommended Hair Serums

6. Pomade

Pomades are great styling alternatives to gel and are less likely to dry up over time, similar to hair waxes.

Pomades are either petroleum-based or water-based. The petroleum-based pomades are mostly made with natural fat and grease, giving a firmer hold and better shine to your hair. However, it isn’t very easy to wash out.

Water-based pomades are a healthier option than their petroleum-based counterparts and are also easy to wash. However, they don’t hold the hairstyle as firm as petroleum-based pomades.

 Pomades don’t leave your hair with a hardened feeling and you can easily restyle them to leave your hair looking slick and shiny, depending on your preference.

Top 3 Recommended Hair Pomades

7. Hair Mousse

Hair mousse is a lightweight hair product that conditions hair and adds volume. It is a foamy substance that deposits synthetic resins to the hair follicles to hold them in shape. 

Although hair mousse doesn’t have a firm hold like wax, gel, or paste, it is versatile and works well for many styling options. However, you cannot use hair mousse for styles that defy gravity, such as holding your hair high up. 

Apply Mousse to wet hair for best results then blow-dry the hair to get the maximum volume and hold unruly hair in place. 

Top 3 Recommended Hair Mousses

8. Leave-in Conditioner

A Leave-in conditioner is used primarily to repair damaged hair and add volume to hair. However, it can hold your hair in place while leaving it soft and moisturized.

It is important to note that a Leave-in conditioner won’t give your hair a firm hold like hair gel or wax would, so it won’t work well for thick hair, elaborate styles, or long-term hold.

Leave-in conditioner is also more expensive than the average hair gel.

Top 3 Recommended Leave-in Conditioners

Now that we’ve looked at alternative products for styling your hair, let’s talk about yet another group of alternatives.

What if you don’t want to use hair gel or any other hair product when styling your hair? The good news, there are natural alternatives to styling your hair and we’re set to discover them!

Natural Methods to Style Hair Without Gel

Here, we’ll be looking at the oils, plants, powders, and other natural alternatives to hair gel to style your hair.

1. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is famous for its numerous uses, including cooking, skin, and hair care. Now, we’re unveiling its functions as a natural alternative to hair gel.

Coconut oil is an all-natural hair styling product that protects you from all the chemicals found in hairsprays and gels.

Coconut oil works great to tame and style naturally curly hair and reduce frizz.

Coconut oil is easy to find and less expensive than other styling products. It also improves the texture of your hair and locks moisture in, thereby eliminating frizz. 

However, one downside of coconut oil is that it doesn’t hold your hair in place as firmly as hair gel or wax will. Its ability to maintain your hairstyle doesn’t last as long as other products, so you can’t expect it to hold your hair in place all day.

Here’s how to coconut oil to style your hair

  • Shower or wash your hair
  • Gently massage a few drops of coconut oil into your hair. Begin at the ends of your hair strands and work your way upwards.
  • Avoid applying the oil to your scalp and hair follicles unless you have a dry scalp or dandruff.
  • Measure as much oil as you’ll need to handle the length and thickness of your hair, but avoid excessive use of the oil
  • Style your hair as you wish

2. Flax Seed

The oil gotten from flaxseed is famous as a cooking agent and a substitute for eggs when trying to bind substances together, but its binding abilities go beyond the kitchen and extend to hair styling.

When applied to your hair, flaxseed oil helps to style and hold it in place, and also improves your scalp health.

Flaxseed gel helps to give curls definition without flaking or dryness.

You can make a DIY flaxseed gel that could last up to three weeks when refrigerated and mixed with an essential oil like lavender or rosemary.

To make your own flaxseed gel, you’ll need:

  • Flaxseed
  • Water
  • Measuring Cup
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Pot
  • Stockings or filter
  • Glass Jar or Bottle

Step-by-Step Process

  • Pour a quarter cup of flaxseeds in a pot with 2 and a half cups of water
  • Boil flaxseeds on medium heat for 7-10 minutes while stirring often to prevent the seeds from sticking to the pot. Monitor the texture of the gel-like substance that comes out to ensure it’s not too thick or light.
  • Bring down the pot and allow the gel to cool for about 45 minutes or one hour. The gel will thicken as it cools.
  • Place your stockings in a glass measuring cup and pour the mixture into the sock.
  • Squeeze the gel out of the sock and into the measuring cup.
  • Pour the strained gel into a bottle or glass jar and refrigerate. You can choose to add drops of essential oil or aloe vera gel before bottling the gel for extra nutrients.
  • Your DIY flaxseed gel is ready for use!
  • Unlike a flaxseed hair mask, you don’t need to wash it out of your hair. Massage it throughout your hair and enjoy its firm hold throughout the day or until your next wash.

3. Gelatin

Gelatin is much more than a desert or a thickener when baking. It is a natural styling product to style your hair and hold it in place.

Gelatin works great on hair because it is gotten from collagen- the same substance we have in our bones, skin, and connective tissues.

 When prepared for use as food, gelatin undergoes a process where its collagen bonds are broken down, resulting in a consistent textured substance that holds hair firmly in place without irritating your hair or scalp.

Gelatin is a water-based, healthy gel alternative, and is easy to make.

People with protein-enriched hair are advised to only use small amounts of gelatin and not use it frequently because the extra protein can make your hair lose flexibility and be prone to breakage.

Required Material to Make a Gelatin gel

Step-by-Step Process

  • Boil 1 cup of distilled water in a pot/kettle/pan
  • Set aside the warm water in a cup or bowl.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to the cup of warm water.
  • Set it aside until it dissolves and thickens.
  • Once it thickens, you’ll find that it has a consistency and feel that’s very similar to hair gel.
  • Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil for fragrance
  • You can apply it to your hair.
  • Refrigerate the leftovers, but not for more than 10 days.

4. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is one of the best alternatives to hair gel, especially because it is organic and known for other benefits for your hair and skin.

Aloe vera gel can hold your styles in place, moisturize your hair and scalp, and even improve the strength, shinier, and health of your hair.

It is easy to find, make, and use. However, it doesn’t have a nice fragrance, so you might need to add some essential oils to get it to smell nice.

Although aloe vera hair gel can prevent frizz and flyaways, it may not give you enough hold for intricate hairstyles and those that defy gravity. You might need other stronger gel alternatives for such styles.

Material required to make aloe vera gel

  • Aloe vera plant
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Essential oils (optional)

Step-by-Step Process

  • Carefully slice open an aloe leaf using a knife 
  • Scrape out the clear pulp using a spoon and place it in a bowl.
  • Add a few drops of any essential oils of your choice, including lavender, rosemary, or mint. Measure one tablespoon of essential oil for two tablespoons of aloe vera gel.
  • Blend your aloe vera hair gel mixture and your aloe vera hair gel is ready for styling!
  • Always store your aloe vera gel in an airtight container and use it before 3 months.

Final Comments:

Welcome to a world of alternatives and more alternatives! Now, you have several products to choose from when you want to style your hair. 

You can purchase any of the products we have described above or go for the natural options depending on your hair type, what you plan to achieve, and how much hold your hair needs.