Many naturalistas and transitioners love them some EcoStyler gel. Green top, red top, clear, pink, white…the possibilities are endless. Except for me. Don’t get me wrong, EcoStyler is great at what it does. It will hold, slick, and define ’til Jesus comes back. Unfortunately, without the right combination of “softening” products or oils layered in, the gel hardens impossibly. And even with all that work, I still found myself having dry hair. What’s a gal to do when you need some hold, or want your edges slicked down for a puff or bun? Check out these 6 alternatives to EcoStyler Gel that wont dry out your hair…or your wallet.
If You’re A DIY-er:
DIY Fluffy Styling Cream
When I’m in the mood for whipping out my hand mixer, this is one of the first things I make. I love this cream, which my sister as affectionately dubbed “I Put That on Everything” (because you can, literally, put it on everything), because it provides touchably-soft hold, while infusing your hair with moisturizing and nourishing oils and butters. You can use any variation or combination of shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, glycerin, apricot oil, grapeseed oil….the list goes on. My mixture typically includes a base of shea butter and coconut oil, with jojoba, sweet almond, and vitamin E added in. For more information on whipping up your own fluffy styling cream, click here.
I know many of you have heard of flaxseed gel, but have you heard of flaxseed custard? I experimentally whipped some up about a month ago when I didn’t feel like going out to buy a styling product for my pending twist n’ curl. It’s a simple recipe really — a 3 to 1 ratio of flaxseed gel and shea butter. After cooking up a batch of flaxseed gel that’s still warm, melt down a few tablespooons of shea butter (feel free to add in your favorite oils — carrier or essential), and whip them together in a bowl with your hand mixer until a goopy custard forms. This DIY custard is great for moisture, softness, shine, and definition — and the shea butter kicks it up a notch from the standard flaxseed gel recipe. Unless you’re a pro DIYer or hair scientist who happens to have emulsifying agents on deck, I recommend only making enough to use on the day of. Otherwise, it will separate. And look yucky.
If You’re A Product Junkie:
I’ve become a huge fan of EBW recently. Eden BodyWorks won me over recently with their Coconut Shea Pudding Soufflé, beating out Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter for my favorite moisturizing/styling butter product. But I digress. The Coconut Shea Control Edge Glaze is the answer to my prayers, and everything I wanted Sof n’ Free’s Nothing But Mold and Hold Wax to be. If you’re looking to slick down your edges softly and with tons of sleekness, this product is for you. For wash n’ go’s, twist-outs, braid-outs, bantu knot-outs and more, this product provides great hold with plenty of shine, softness, and zero drying out. Although it’s only a 6oz jar for around $9, a tiny bit of Control Edge Glaze goes a long way. A tiny, tiny bit.
A lot of naturalistas complain about this product. For the life of me, I don’t know why. I have nothing but good things to say about this stuff. It’s an affordable gel alternative that doesn’t dry out the hair, leave flakes, or turn the hair hard when you use it correctly. Based in water and aloe vera extract, and full of goodies like rosemary, vitamin E, coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, and argan oil, the Beautiful Textures Curl Definer Styling Custard is a great product for reducing frizz, creating definition, and shine. At under $7 for a 15oz jar, this product is a great value for all it does. To prevent the flaking/buildup some naturalistas complain about, make sure to test your product mixes on the back of your hand, and only use a dime-sized amount per small section.
I’m cheap. And therefore, I like products that are capable of doing more than one thing — especially if I’m paying $10 or more. Luckily, I caught this product at CVS during a buy one, get one half-off sale, which was right up my alley (even though buy one, get one free would have been better). I initially purchased the taffy to show my edges some TLC, because I had been bunning a lot. But after playing with the product on a small section of hair, I was determined to use it to set my satin strip braidout one weekend. So I did. And it worked. Because it’s based in shea butter, coconut oil and glycerin, it plays well with other products and layers easily. It made my hair soft and super defined — not to mention the taffy is great for sealing in moisture. Even though it sales for around $12 for a 6oz jar, you’ll discover that a little goes a long way — for your edges and styling. Tip: this product works best on damp/wet hair (that goes for your edges, too).
Move over, Curl Enhancing Smoothie (or at least just fall back for a second)! This sweet, sticky soufflé is a great alternative to your typical gel product. Notice that in my description, I included the word sticky — because well, it can be incredibly sticky if you go overboard. It’s based in agave, sugar cane and glycerin — all which can lead to sticky city if you’re too heavy handed. It has great hold and exceptional shine, and will leave hair touchably soft. For optimal results, use no more than a dime-sized amount on any given section. To balance out the stickiness, this product works best on damp to wet hair. It also mixes well with the Curl Enhancing Smoothie and the Curl and Style Milk from the Coconut & Hibiscus line. For around $11, the 12oz Curling Soufflé jar will last you a mighty long time.
What are some of your favorite alternatives to gel?