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 lot since I… 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.