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.



Flaxseed Custard

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:

Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Control Edge Glaze

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.



Beautiful Textures Curl Definer Styling Custard

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.



Nubian Heritage Indian Hemp and Tamanu Edge Taming Taffy

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).


Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Soufflé

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?

For more from Christina check out her blog, The Mane Objective. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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76 Comments on "6 Alternatives to EcoStyler Gel for Slicking and Defining Natural Hair"

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you have got to try the produc by Curls, Passion Fruit Curl Control Paste! now That is legit! it gives the hold & slick of Jam, w/o any of the bad ingredients- no mineral oil, no parabens, no petroleums no silicones NO sulfates. & a delicious smell!
i have high density -coarse- 4a/b/c hair and this stuff is the bees knees!


The ecostyler gel got me through me though my inbtween stage and held up in humidity. I hated the sticky shea moisture. But i have made a really good shea butter that is close to yours. IC fantasia is the still better than eco styler.


I just posted about this in a Nashville naturals Facebook group. I have I guess 4c hair and I’m transitioning. Eco was leaving my hair dry and ashy looking. Until I put castor oil on underneath it. Now my hair is shiny and soft in my slicked bun.


I apply castor oil under Eco Styler for buns and puffs too! It gives me great hold, softness and sheen. I love it!


I use to make my own kitchen koctail cream gel with the green Eco gel and added oils. It left my hair defined and witha great shine. I decided that I wanted the definition without the hold and nolonger use the gel. I now get definition and shine with a anti-frizz & shine serum; with little to know curl manipulating when it’s wet.

Like you, I wasn’t much fond of the Ecostyler gel on its own either. one day I saw posted in your blog recently, this recipe for a twist pudding: Curling Pudding or Twisting Cream – for definition and shine Ingredients (large batch): -1 tbsp castor oil -1/4 cup shea butter -1 1/4 cup your favorite gel Instructions: Whip the shea butter with the castor oil using a hand mixer (ideal) or a fork. Then mix in the gel thoroughly. Use to define curls or apply before twisting for hold or a defined twist-out. I didn’t want to make a whole… Read more »

I like the Nubian Heritage taffy under the Green Ecostyler for shine and a softer but very effective hold for a bun. I also used this combo for a wash and go, which turned out nice.

If your scalp can handle it (mine is sensitive), Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat conditioner, topped with oil, can slick the hair back and define it a little. Don’t use too much or you will get flakes.


I love the definition the Beautiful Textures gives, but it left white residue, flakes. Any suggestions how to remedy this and correctly use product???


If you’re protein sensitive, check out La Bella Gel. It’s a bit hard to find but you can find it at some walgreens.


Curls Passion Fruit Curl Control Paste is the bomb! It has natural ingredients and gives a light hold. I may try the “fluffy styling cream” just because I have a hand mixer that I want to use!


I love Taliah Wajid’s gel. The ingredients aren’t bad for a gel it has hold but doesn’t cause a crunch or dryness. It works great.

Lillian Mae

I had the exact opposite experience with the TW gel! It did not work for me at all; left my hair stiff and dry-feeling.

No two heads are alike 🙂


I like using store bought aloe Vera gel… I’m not crafty or patient enough to make my own flax seed gel


I don’t typically use stylers, gellys, gels and whatnot but I really love mixing stuff and I may try the flaxseed custard…I may even try recipe #1 also.


I have that Nubian heritage but it seems as it wouldn’t penetrate well…… I’m stuck on oyin products right now


I use DIY Flax Seed Gel for styling my hair (braid outs, Bantu knot outs, etc) in the spring/summer. It’s super slippery and has a lovely, light hold.

If I add honey to my flax seed gel, it has enough hold for styling my hair into buns and puffs although I prefer Eco Styler Krystal Styling Gel for that purpose.

I’ve made DIY Flax Seed Custard before but it my hair hard. 🙁 It made a lovely body butter though.