Recipes and Projects

This page will be updated from time to time with new recipes. Also, visit the "Allergen-free Recipes" page for even more recipes for alternative cleansers and scrubs. 

Use these recipes for yourself, they're not meant to be reproduced and sold. If you share these recipes, please state (and link to) your source - this blog.
  Recipes on this page: 
  1. Gelatin Protein Treatment for Hair
  2. Flaxseed/Aloe hair gel with protein
  3. Link To: Flaxseed Curl Cream (This is the version with strong-hold hair gel in it)
  4. Link to "Super Smooth Flax Curl Cream"   (This is a light-to-medium hold curl cream for smoothing & defining hair)
  5. Link to Basic Flax Gel Recipe
  6. Link to Flax-Free Hair Gel
  7. Link to Homemade hair cleansers and scalp/body scrub
  8. Link to Humectant Wave/Curl Boosting Jelly
  9. Link to Easy Humectant Curl Defining Jelly-Cream  (New, February 2015)
  10. Projects: How to Line a Winter Hat
  11. Link to Oil Blend Recipe - Multi-purpose, for coarse or porous (even just a little porous) or dry hair 
  12. Thick Gelatin Protein Treatment - better distribution = better result and no drips.

Gelatin Protein Treatment for Hair - recipe created late summer 2010 A.k.a "IAGirl's protein treatment" - that is/was my username on
New (April 2014), thick gelatin protein treatment.
Gelatine PT frequently asked questions (link)

* Note, some people with fine or shorter hair use half the gelatin - if you find this recipe too strong, try halving the gelatin content
1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin powder (0.25 ounces, 7.2 grams, 2 1/2 teaspoons) If you cannot get Knox, look for gelatin(e) flakes or sheets or powder and use this weight - or crumble it well and use about as much as fills the cupped part of your cupped palm. It seems that 3-4 sheets of gelatine equal one packet of Knox gelatine. Use half the gelatin for a milder treatment or for shorter than shoulder-length hair

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup boiling water (60 to 75 ml)
  • 1-3 drops of oil
  • 5 drops vinegar -or- a tiny pinch of citric acid (about enough to fill the letter "o" as typed here). Test the pH, it should be 5 and no lower. A pH around 5 helps the protein bond to your hair. Add acid to cool water and test pH of cool or cooled liquid - not hot!
- Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, stirring constantly (you may want to soften the gelatin in a small amount of water first - this eliminates lumps!
- Add any add-ins, mixing thoroughly (you can put it in a blender if you like)

Here is my (June 2012), quick, microwave preparation method:
Mix gelatin and about 3/4 of the cold water you plan to use in a microwave-safe cup. Let it sit for about 30 seconds. Then microwave for 20-40 seconds. Long enough to dissolve the gelatin so there are no tiny gelatin grains visible. Add the remainder of the water to help cool down the mixture before adding other ingredients and applying.

Optional add-ins:
1 teaspoon honey
yogurt (unsweetened, lowfat or full fat)
Full-fat mayonnaise
2 to 3 teaspoons of conditioner
coconut milk
use herbal tea instead of plain water
More oil - up to 2 tablespoons of oil - olive, coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, apricot kernel, sweet almond...
1 tablespoon aloe vera juice or gel 
1/4 pureed banana (in a blender). Banana baby food works well.
1/16 or 1/8 teaspoon magnesium sulfate

How to apply: Cool the mixture until it's cool enough to put your finger in (about 100 degrees F).
Apply to clean, damp hair (squeeze the excess water out). Pour some of the gelatin on the top, sides, and back of your hair. Work it in towards the scalp and from roots to ends. I'm suggesting time to leave it on, you can leave it on as long as you like. Your hair will bond with as much protein as it can and no more after that, no matter how long you leave it on.
How long to leave on:
  • Option #1: (No fuss) Leave on hair for at least 2-3 minutes, then rinse and use conditioner if your hair feels tangly or rough.
  • Option #2: (with heat, in the shower) Wrap your hair in a plastic bag or plastic wrap (or a shower cap, but it will get coated with gelatin) and keep your head under the shower (this is loud, try to keep your ears outside of the plastic) for several minutes, rinse well and condition if needed. Some people like to leave this treatment on for much longer periods of time, but don't start with a long treatment if you have not used it before!
  • Option #3: (Blow-dry method - extra potent!) Do this outside of the shower. After saturating clean, damp hair with the gelatin mixture, blow-dry the hair without agitating it. Hair will become very stiff. Rinse very well afterwards and apply conditioner if needed. This uses a lot of heat, which may be drying to hair and skin, but works better for some people. If you like the PT, but don't feel it is giving you quite what you want, try this method.
Why gelatin and why protein? Hydrolyzed proteins bond especially well to the damaged parts of hair, but bonds to the cuticle of hair in general. For fine, porous, bleached or damaged hair, protein adds strength, shine, and body. For wavy and curly hair, protein can perk up limp waves and curls and protein does wonderful things for gray and white hair - dyed or not. Protein tends to make hair feel "stiffer" whereas oils and moisturizers in conditioners make hair feel softer.
  • Gelatin is one of the few hydrolyzed proteins you can buy at nearly any grocery store, so it is accessible and inexpensive. Unmodified proteins like egg, yogurt, and mayonnaise have limited ability to add protein to the hair's structure and can carry harmful bacteria (raw eggs, for example).
  • This protein treatment is always made fresh (don't store it in your fridge for more than a few days if you make extra) so there is no need for preservatives which might cause skin sensitivity. It is also a strong protein treatment. Used alone, it can make the rinsed hair feel a little stiff. Conditioner will usually resolve this feeling. You can always use half the amount of gelatin if it is too strong.
  • This treatment is not vegetarian. Gelatin is hydrolyzed collagen which is a byproduct of meat manufacturing. You can find a veg-friendly "recipe" here. Or look for "Ion Effective Care" treatment from Sally's Beauty Supply in the U.S.A.
  • What if I'm not sure this will work for me? Then for goodness sake, don't apply it to your entire head if you have any worries. Make up the treatment and apply it to a small section of your hair and see how you like it. If it works, use the rest on all your hair the next day.

Flaxseed Gel Recipe (#1)
Flaxseed/Aloe gel with protein: Good for fine hair, enhances curls for spring and definition - use alone for medium hold or under a harder-hold gel. Using honey or agave will give you more hold, but be sure to use enough oil in the recipe to control the "crunch."
(Please wipe down the bowl you'll strain into with rubbing alcohol and all your utensils as well)
Boil 2 to 3 tablespoons whole flax seed in 1 1/2 cup distilled water (almost 300 ml) for about 5-6 minutes (stir so they don't stick). If you lift a few seeds out, a thin string of gel should fall from whatever you are stirring with. If it's very thick and goopy now, you've probably boiled too long and it will be difficult to strain.
Strain through metal mesh strainer (or the foot of pantyhose for the very patient) right away.
The Magic Long Soak: If you soak your flaxseeds in the water for 4-6 hours or overnight, your gel will be thicker.
Add thickener to 1 tablaspoon of cool water and mix well, then pour this into hot, strained gel: 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and stir/whisk in in a pan or double boiler over low to medium heat.
As gel cools add:
1 tablespoon aloe gera gel (the edible kind - mash out the lumps first if there are any)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon protein (Colorful Neutral Protein Filler, or another hydrolyzed protein) or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon gelatin - which needs to be re-heated in the strained gel to dissolve.
1/16 to 1/4 teaspoon oil (or more if you have dry hair) - I like grapeseed oil or apricot kernel oil for fine, silky hair and coconut oil for kinky or dry hair
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey (optional, adds hold but can be crunchy, not good for humid weather)
Mix very well and refrigerate immediately.
Other thickeners: 
Arrowroot starch or Cornstarch: After straining hot flaxseed gel, mix 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot starch (flour) in a couple teaspoons water. Pour the gel and the arrowroot mixture back into the pan and bring to a boil, stirring for about 2 minutes.
Pectin: You need a pectin which will gel without sugar (they usually indicate this on the box). Add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons powdered pectin to strained flax gel in a pan, being to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
Other proteins: Unflavored gelatin(e) - put strained flax gel back into the pan, sprinkle 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (powder or crumbled flakes) over the gel and whisk madly while bringing to a boil. Heat until all the gelatin is dissolved.

Flaxseed Curl Cream:

1 tablespoon thick, rich conditioner (use less for fine hair) - add a few drops of canola oil or whatever oil you like if the conditioner has no oil in it
2 tablespoons flaxseed gel (with protein added if your hair likes it - I used the recipe above)
1 tablespoon strong hold hair gel
Optional: 4 drops honey or agave nectar ( or 1/8 teaspoon or more - this is meant to add more "hold") Not good for humid weather.

Apply fairly liberally, style as you usually do.
This gives great curl definition and "clumps," controls frizz, enhances curls and feels soft in the hair. For the hair gel, use whatever feels like "strong hold" to you - whatever you have on hand. You can always use more honey or agave if you need more hold.

Cut the batch! (Trial size) Use 1 teaspoon of conditioner, 2 teaspoons of flaxseed gel, 1 teaspoon of strong hold hair gel, and 1-2 drops honey or agave.


  1. Your blog is so informative that I have linked it to by business page for other curly girls to do their own research. You have dispelled many curly hair theories I had once thought to be true/ Thank you!

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
    Curly Hair

  3. This is all really great! Putting you on the resources page of my blog, you are such a fountain of knowledge! Thanks for doing this! :)

  4. Hi and THANK YOU for this blog. It is the holy grail of info for those who want healthy hair. We're not worthy. We salute you.

    I'd like to try one of the above treatments and I'm hoping you can steer me towards the right one for me?

    I've got fine/normal straight-ish hair. My natural color is dirty blonde but it's currently a champagne blonde after several rounds of bleach and toner. It's very brittle, has no stretch and has reacted poorly to protein in the recent past (I may have possibly overdone it). Which one of these treatments do you think would give my hair softness, shine and manageability?

    Thank you again! xoxox

  5. Hello Korka! It sounds like your hair has become more porous and is dried out more easily than in the past - it has difficulty staying hydrated. It probably also needs a dose of softness. If this was my hair, I would start with an oil pre-wash treatment with either a mixture of hair-penetrating oils or coconut oil, left on for 4-8 hours before washing (so it can really "soak in") to help with porosity. Oil pre-wash treatments help prevent the dehydration that occurs when your hair is wetted and washed. Here is a link to a post about that:

    For protein, you might look for keratin protein or collagen. There is a list of protein-containing products on this page:
    The gelatin protein treatment recipe could be helpful, but you may need to dilute it by using less gelatin or more water. Honey might be a good additive for more hydration.
    One or both of these treatments should help move your hair in the right direction. Some experimentation is necessary with oil pre-wash treatments and protein regarding how long to leave them on and how much to use. Both oil pre-wash treatments and protein help improve the elasticity and hydration of your hair. Oil pre-wash treatments can make hair feel much softer and add some weight (swingy-ness).

    The post about deep treatments may help you with how to use conditioner or modify a conditioner to add more softness to your hair.
    Good luck!

  6. I have learnt so much from your website thank you very much. Please help me , i have afro natural hair that is very coily and my hair is very dry. when i pre-poo (all night) and then deep condition the following day my hair is only soft for a few hours then its rock solid , i moisturise it more than 2 times everyday by spraying water in it but this still hasnt helped. What can i do to make my hair soft all day long every day?

  7. Hello Mai-Melissa.
    If you are using coconut oil for your overnight pre-wash oil treatment, you might need to switch to a different oil or make an oil blend.
    It also sounds like your hair is missing out on some hydrating/moisturizing ingredients that would help it stay flexible and soft after it has dried. You might try using protein-containing products if you have not already. Usually hydrolyzed keratin or collagen work for many people's hair. Protein can help hair stay hydrated in a way that oil and conditioners cannot.
    Aloe vera or warmed (not boiled) honey or baby food banana are good additions to a deep conditioning treatment to help hair stay hydrated longer.
    If you have never tried mixing up a moisturizing spray - try mixing some conditioner and distilled water, maybe some aloe vera juice and a little oil in your spray bottle. Keep this in the refrigerator so it doesn't spoil - the preservatives are diluted by the water. Use this to moisturize your hair instead of plain water.
    If you do a search on this blog, there is a lot of information about choosing proteins and doing oil pre-wash treatments and which oils to choose (the penetrating oils post).
    Good luck!

  8. I think I landed on DIY heaven! I am a big DIY freak and your blog is feeding my DIY "itch"! :D Great following :)

  9. I wanted to make a gelatin protein setting lotion for my fine wavy hair. I tried my commercial products which are expensive and don't work. They leave my hair limp and greasy. I spoke to my hairdresser and he advised against using protein in the hair. He said that adding protein was a fad. That they had many clients coming to them who had damaged their hair by using excessive protein proteins. He said it leaves the hair brittle and damaged. Now I am too scared to try. Could you please let me know what you think about this? Thank you.

    1. Susan,

      Using protein in hair is not a fad. Hydrolyzed protein ingredients have been used for decades to condition and "repair" hair, to volumize and protect. They are invaluable ingredients in cosmetics.

      Protein can leave coarse (hair which is wide in diameter) hair dry and stiff, and too much protein or too frequent protein can make some people's hair dry or rough. Sometimes too much protein makes hair overly soft and flyaway. Usually hydrolyzed keratin and hydrolyzed collagen are beneficial for the widest variety of hair types (widths, textures, exposure to chemical processed or sun or swimming). Use the search function (top, left) of this blog and do a search on protein - or use the "popular posts" at the right for more about protein - which ones are better for different hair.

      Gelatin as a hair gel works for some people. When dry, it does not have a very flexible quality in the hair. If gelatin is the only ingredient in a hair gel, a person could very easily over-do protein and end up with a very unpleasant result. You can make gels with xanthan gum or flaxseeds which will be a little nicer end result. Gelatin can be added to these if you like, anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon gelatin per cup of gel. There are recipes for homemade gels with xanthan gum and flax on this blog and elsewhere.

      When using protein treatments, try it once and see what happens. If it is a good result, repeat the treatment when the benefits begin to fade. If you felt it was good but could have been better, you use some heat and maybe leave it on longer. If the result is not as good, it may have been too soon to repeat the treatment. The same applies to protein in styling products or frequently used products. If you get a good result - great! If you notice your hair becoming too soft or too stiff or rough or shedding, stop using the protein for a while and then add it back less frequently when your hair is back to normal. Maybe only when your hair needs a boost and nothing else works.

      Your hair will show you what works and your hair "knows" what works for it better than any stylist or hair science blogger or cosmetics chemist.

  10. I need help!! I have naturally curly hair and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to take care of it. At shoulder length my hair is thicker, the longer it gets the more stringy it gets. The curls that fram my face do not curl well or at all. My hair is dry and frizzy with no volume or shape. I don't know where to start or what to do from here. I've tried just about everything and I'm getting tired of throwing money into products that don't work. Any advice or suggestions would be great :)

    1. Hello Anthrea. Take a deep breath! Is your hair getting more "stringy" because it is spreading out once it reaches your shoulders? Or do you have breakage? To check - braid some hair. If the braid narrows significantly towards the end of the braid, it may be breaking. On the other hand, if you are having your hair cut - a stylist may be thinning your hair (and you may not be aware of it) so be sure to ask. Often if stylists thin or "de-bulk" curly hair without taking care to honor the curl pattern, the curls will not hang properly. Indiscriminate thinning or over-layering can ruin a nice curl pattern. I have a post with a sample hierarchy of things to try (copy and paste link: But you may have gone through most of these. It's important to establish what you think your hair needs before you decide which direction to go so you can rationally work your way through various options. Dry hair needs hydration (deep conditioning with heat for 5-30 minutes, protein if your hair is not coarse [wide hairs], plant-based styling gels that preserve water in the hair). Frizzy hair tends to respond to whichever thing is most needed. If your hair needed the hydration of protein - that will help with frizz. If it needed the softness, lubrication and flexibility of deep conditioning, that should help. If your hair is porous, using coconut oil or sunflower oil as a pre-wash treatment for 4-8 hours before washing should help protect it during washing. At the top right of this page is a link to my shop for hair analysis (GoosefootPrints). Both versions of that analysis can tell you how wide your hairs are, whether there is damage to manage, how porous your hair is and what aspects of your hair need attention. Accompanying documents explain which ingredients can help you achieve the result you are after.
      I like to focus on basic, simple, inexpensive things for my own hair. Oil blends or sunflower oil treatments, my gelatin protein treatment recipe, oil added to my rinse-out conditioner and honey for deep conditioning, using a little of the same rinse-out conditioner as a leave-in conditioner.
      Check out the page "Products by Ingredient Category" to see how products fit certain hair needs - maybe something will "click" for you. Hang in there. When we get really frustrated, we're often at the edge of gaining new understanding.