Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Homemade linseed setting lotion - a review & how to!

Despite my fairly favourable review of regular setting lotion recently, I have decided that, actually I cannot stand the smell. I have a feeling that it might just be the brand. Others of you out there might not notice it, and I thought at first that perfume would cover it. But, to be honest, it's all I can smell. Even days later.

So, instead of going down the long and potentially expensive route of trying and testing lots of pre mades, I decided to have a go at making my own. There are various threads on The Fedora Lounge advising the use of flat beer and sugar water. The latter is something my Nan remembers her older sister using. And it is one I shall also be giving a go at some stage. Flat beer does not appeal to me on the basis of smell. And the attraction of various flying stinging things in the summer it may cause.  

The home made lotion I am reviewing this time is from a quick google search, which lead me to here. And I have to say that, despite the extra faff involved, it has given me much better results than any pre-made. So -  here's how...

You shall need:-
1 tbsp of Linseed seeds (flaxseed in the USA) - available from health food stores
1 cup of water
small saucepan

Add ingredients to pan. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 15 mins. I tend to watch mine (which invariably means it never boils) as if it bubbles up over, you are left with a syrupy glop all over the hob.

I use double the amount stated as 1) it makes it easier to strain 2) I have a lot of hair! and 3) it keeps in the fridge for an age

Take off the boil and strain immediately over a cup, through a sieve. I say immediately as this does start to become a gel pretty quick and this only makes it harder to push through. Wash off your sieve with hot water, as cold will help it to said gel phase.

Pop it on the side to cool down, or in the fridge.

Do not allow family member to mistake it for tea.

I do become a bit obsessed with pulling this out the cup to see how far I can get it before it breaks.

Once cooled, this is what you should be left with. A kind of gloopy gel. Sturdier than egg whites but it kind of feels the same.

Now, instructions I have read advise to "comb this through your hair". And like all setting lotions, it advises damp hair. But, I have found this neigh on impossible on a drying basis. So, after I have separated out my washed, dry locks, I tend to comb the piece through, get some on my fingers and then tease it through my hair. I then comb it all through. The good thing I have found in doing it this way is that the comb removes any excess, whilst coating each strand. I have a towel to hand to wipe off what is not needed.

Set hair in usual way and apply heat. I do about 10 mins all over. I then sleep on it.


The big reveal.

I was a bit worried. I thought it might turn out pap. It has in the past.

But not this time! And not since I have followed the method above. It gives me non-crispy-bits, soft, manageable curls that are scent free and that last.
Yes, ladies, LAST.

This is it styled. I took the saintly advice of Miss Fleur de Guerre regarding brushing out, when she commented on my previous review. I have not gone the whole hog here - and I need to get better at things before I do, but this is from fresh and just combed. It gave me fluffier curls than I am used to, but they do look a lot better!

This is the curls on day 2. I am staggered at how much they have not dropped. And this is after being drizzled on. Yes! I know!! They are still there!! Something I have discovered about using this natural brew is that it fails to be bothered by annoying things like fog, mizzle and wind.

This is day 3 -  after a walk in a rather windy Whitstable. Yes -  they have dropped -  but there is still a definite curl there. I think that this is weight of my hair as opposed to the product.

And this is Day 4. Oddly -  the curls have crept up again? I love this! I really thought that after being exposed to the windy sea air, they would have given up the ghost.

Now, this recipe is not without it's downsides. It does take longer to do. I find about a third longer than a normal spray bottle application. But, for me, it lasts a lot longer. I have no real straggly bits to contend with which needed re-rolling. So that perk alone far outweighs the downsides.

Right. Back to my little comment earlier about it going wrong in the past. Below is evidence of the first time I tried this. I slathered it on. Like an idiot. And this is the result.

I use the word "result" loosely!

Please excuse my doughy upper arm.

I did not comb this through. I just used my fingers. And despite me applying heat-a-plenty and leaving it overnight, it just did not dry.

It didn't even set evenly. To say I was gutted is an understatement.

But. I could see that it had curled. This is when I decided to re-test it, and the results you see at the beginning are it at it's best. If you have shorter hair than me (yes! I know! I need to get it cut before you tell me) then I think this will work beautifully.

I have read that you can add vodka to this to increase it's fridge life and that you can add a natural scent. I am toying with the idea of adding a couple of drops of Rose Geranium to my next batch and seeing how that comes out. I would also suggest that if you are making a batch and keeping some back for further applications, to store it in a air tight container so that it does not pick up any odors and to leave it out of the fridge for about half an hour before you use it.

And there you have it! A natural, odorless, chemical free setting lotion.

If you have any queries or qualms about making or usage, then please comment on this post, or pop me an email.

Until next time folks....   


  1. Wow super- I never thought something so simple would work so well.

    I would be wary of the sugar water as a wasp magnet personally. I've used flat beer as a hair rinse/conditioner before, my gran swore by linco beer shampoo from stressed-out hair.

  2. Well done on your creation, your hair looks great!

  3. How INTERESTING! Sounds like it would be quite healthy on your hair, too!

  4. What great results! The smell thing would be a winner for me - I can't bear to use products that I can still smell on my hair days later.

  5. BVV - I have to say - my hair is A LOT glossier since using this.

  6. I'm stunned. I bet it's really good for your hair long term too. Amazing!

  7. Just found your post - how strange I have just acquired an old recipe book from 1922 and it has in it a recipe for curling lotion. I am going to post about the book because it is fascinating so pop over to my blog sometime to have a peek. Loved your curls.

  8. Ooooh girl,I am a sucker for homemade hair stuff and this looks so interesting! I imagine that there would be some long term conditioning benefits of using this. Hmmm, time to put on my mixtress apron!

  9. That's amazing, I've never even thought of doing that!

  10. Ooh, this is a really fab idea! I've never tried any kind of setting lotion, but the longer my hairs gets the quicker the curls are dropping, so this might be exactly what it needs!

  11. Thats increible!
    I should give it go.I know what you mean about the setting lotion lingering smell.
    love your expressions, always too cute.

  12. I heard about flaxseed setting lotion at the first vintage hairstyling workshop I ever took, over 10 years ago now! It was run by a young gal and her grandmother, and the g-ma told us that's what they used to use but didn't give a recipe. I finally need to try this - I gotta stop using my Hot Sticks as a pincurl crutch!

  13. oh very interesting stuff!The smell of setting lotion isn't always the best! I like that this would also be great for the hair too.

  14. Brilliant, this will go in me next links round-up! Wish I had long hair to try it out on, though it does look slightly repulsive. Like something out of Alien.

    Love the last photo of you, you look like a drowned 1940s mermaid xx

  15. Wonderful! I bought the Superdrug lotion (Boots don't carry it. At all.) on the basis of your last post and I agree with you on the smell. This recipe I shall have to try.

  16. PD - i wish i WERE a mermaid!!!

    Hey RHH - YES - it does stench a bit. I thought I could live with it - but I just can't!

  17. Ooh I really must try that!
    Isabelle x

  18. This is really great info to know. Thanks! I wonder if you could thin it out with enough vodka and turn it into a spray?

  19. Hey Monogirl - now - thats an idea!!!

  20. I am definitely going to give this a try - if it is UK drizzly weather resistant then I'm sold.

  21. Well l never. I will give this a go at some point, if nothing else my half could do with a boost. You were in Whitstabubble?? Did you snap any bargains up? x

  22. Definitely going to try this out once academia gives me the time! Might even experiment with rendering it sprayable, if it works well enough.

  23. I smiled whilst reading this - as the owner of extremely curly hair (if I hold it down it springs up like a jack in the box when I let go!) I didn't know about the efforts you went through to make it curl! It looks lovely!

  24. This is perfect! Do you think this will work with ground flaxseed, because that's all I have on hand right now.

  25. Hi Desiree - not too sure about the ground flaxseed - you might end up with residue in your hair? But, in princple it should work.

  26. Hurrah! You have at last given me a use for the bag of linseeds, which I bought many moons ago, convincing myself I would sprinkle on porridge and other healthy snacks ala Ms Mckieth! Needless to say the bag is still very much unopened!

    I shall be trying this out this weekend, thank you for sharing:)

  27. Thanks for this post! I really want to try this.
    And your hair looks a bit bloomin' fab all curly! Lovely stuff xx

  28. I'm so trying this. I have naturally wavy hair but sometimes it is so difficult to get pretty curls, then my hair just becomes a frizzy mess. I really hate using products they make my fine hair stiff and gross and itchy later on. Thanks SO much for sharing! xoxo

    p.s. love your blog! <3

  29. I set my hair with your recipe last night, and I am more than pleased with the result! No crispy bits, no smell, and my hair seems shinier. Thanks for sharing!

  30. How fab -looks really good! Your reviews are totally splendid by the way - now can't you just chop your hair off a bit (like say to my length) and try all these things again but for short hair? Would be so great to have all the leg work done for me...xx

  31. This was an amazing review! I have naturally wavy, frizzy, thick, mind of it's own hair and have always wanted nice defined curls. I tried this and by golly it worked so much better than anything I've ever tried! Even the $50 salon bottle of hair serum I bought (which I try to forget about). I'm really interested to see if the extra vodka would allow for a spray on as this was a bit messy until I got the hang of it. Have you ever tried to thin it out?

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