6 Alternatives to EcoStyler Gel for Slicking and Defining Natural Hair

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

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 maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

76 thoughts on “6 Alternatives to EcoStyler Gel for Slicking and Defining Natural Hair

  1. I have all natural kinky hair now. I want to wear up do braod styles and I do not have a clue on what will keep my hair in tack. Can you peloase give me some ideas?

  2. I totally agree with you abt Eco Styler. It’s entirely the sticky for me, I can only use it to slick down my edges. Leaves my curls too crunchy and I found that it added to my shrinkage. I absolutely love Beautiful Textures styling custard. It’s more of a water base and my 4a hair doesn’t require too much of it to define my curls. ( def learned that by trial and error). I think that’s most ppl’s problem when they try it…using too much. I just deep and smooth!

  3. [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/20140207_034658.jpg[/img]

    The absolute best for edge control and slick buns…I grew my hair to mid back using this stuff…no flakes no itching.

  4. Agreed. The souffle is garbage, and that Beautiful Textures one too. It leaves your hair stiff dryyyy and crunchy. Try III Sisters of Nature Gelo. It light weight, water-based, no crunch, flakes, all natural and smells good. Love it

  5. You won’t have crunch/dryness issues with Ecostyler if you use the right one and make sure your hair not only is conditioned but the moisture is sealed in before you apply it. If you’ve been using Krystal, Olive, Argan etc. those all have a max hold and made my hair a bit hard so that I had to scrunch it. That all changed when I used the medium hold gels.

    I used the pink one when it had a hold of 7 and loved it but they changed the formula and it went to 8 which was a bit too much so I switched to sport (blue) which has a hold of 5 and my curls are still well defined but super soft. Underneath the gel, I use the LOC method (liquid, oil, cream) which if I’m doing a WNG is water sealed in with either olive or coconut oil and VO5 conditioner combed in with my denman and then my gel is raked through. My curls ALWAYS pop when I do this and if I use a diffuser to dry I have big hair for DAYS!

    If I want more control and do a braidout or twistout I use oil followed by shealoe butter and a very light amount of the gel with extra on my edges and the results are fabulous!

  6. Pingback: 11 More Alternatives to EcoStyler Gel | Black Girl with Long Hair

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  9. Pingback: 1. Nubian Heritage Indian Hemp & Tamanu Edge Taming Taffy | Black Ideas

  10. I get your point about Eco (which is why I use it in combination with Uncle Funky’s Richie Rich conditioner), but one of the things I love about it is that it has practically no scent. I am sick of hair-care products that reek of coconut, strawberries, bubble gum, etc. It would be great if your reviews would include this information as well.

  11. Ive tried eco styler, kinky curly custard, shea moisture custard….but I fell in love with Cant Shea’s Curling Custard. A little goes a long way and its best to use it on soaking wet hair and finger thru pieces. I add whatever leave in cream/conditioner to make sire its soft. Really defines my combo hair.

  12. I have notice eco style has thinned my daughter and my edges. We have mixed curly hair and many edge control products do not work because out hair is wet everyday. I use mixed textures and feel it does good for eliminating Most frizz but will not completely Lay our edges. Does anyone have any suggestions…

  13. Beautiful textures has a great leavein and smell but the gel custard will have you flaking like no tomorrow. It definitely does flake and I didn’t have to use a lot, just a dime size and white flakes will follow.

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