DIY hair gel (I got bored last night)

So I got bored last night and decided to make some do-it-yourself hair gel.

(Okay, I’ve just been informed that this is in fact a “pomade,” and not a hair gel. And I kinda knew that, but felt that this story was already getting pretty gay, and feared that using the word pomade would put it over the top. Not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-)

Well, it wasn’t simply boredom that inspired me. I’m running out of the hair gel I like, and having the dark curly Greek variety, I find my mop needs a little taming. And the only stuff that works, and doesn’t stink to high heaven with asthma-inducing perfume is “Murray’s.”

Murray’s is some stuff I found at the local drug store here in DC years ago. Judging by the label, it’s made for folks trapped in the 1970s along with their hair with attitude.


The thing is, I’ve found that when my hair is long – well, longer than buzzed – I need Murray’s light variety, that’s rather smooth and oily. But it’s hard to find, and costs a fortune on Amazon. So, since I recently made some beeswax butter to treat some furniture, I thought, why can’t you use the same ingredients for your hair?

In fact, it is the same stuff. Beeswax and mineral oil (and maybe some Vitamin E, as some people say it helps to preserve the stuff).

So, always being big on the experiments, I set out to recreate my Murray’s. The only thing is, I remembered that I had two jars of a variety of Murray’s that was still too hard — too much wax — so I decided to melt it down and add some oil, and see what happens.

Now, I don’t have a recipe, yet, for making this yourself. As I started out with a gel that needed tinkering. But from what I’ve read online, I’m suspecting you’ll need about 4 parts beeswax to 1 part mineral oil, depending what consistency of gel you like. Strike that, make it: 2 to 4 parts oil to 1 part beeswax.  The nice part is that you can melt it down again and add more oil, if it’s too firm, or add more wax if it’s too loose. It’s SO easy to do this in a double boiler. Here’s the beeswax I used — 1-lb Pure White BEESWAX Pellets-100% Pure — I got it from Amazon. I like it a lot, no impurities that you can see, and no real smell:

And mineral oil is cheap from any pharmacy.

Join me on my journey.


Here’s the Murray’s hair wax I started with. Still a bit firm for my tastes.


So I dug out a good tablespoon or two of the wax, in order to make room for the oil.


Next added mineral oil to one, and mineral oil mixed with maybe a teaspoon or two of olive oil to the second. I wasn’t sure if the olive oil would be too smelly, so kept the amount low. Basically, I took a pot, put the tins in the pot (you can use small jars that can handle theh eat), then slowly added very hot water until the tins were just about to float, but not quite. You want the tins steady.


Keep the heat relatively low. Here they are in a double boiler, and starting to melt. Watch the heat as the concoction is quite flammable.


Starting to melt even more. I bought some cheap wooden spoons at the grocery store to stir with.


And voila, all melted. I found it easier to stir with a chopstick, as I added a bit too much oil, so it was getting near the rim. As soon as everything melts, it’s done. Just stir it well, and take it off.


Cooling on a rack.


Within about ten minutes it already looked like this. You want to give it a GOOD stir every 10 minutes, at least for the first half hour.


Here’s what it looked like after the first time I stirred it.


And voila, it’s done!

Assuming I don’t poison myself, when I run out of this stuff, I’ll attempt to make it from scratch next time, so it has no scent at all, which is what I prefer.

Hey, I got bored. And I like to tinker. What can I say.

PS And totally feel free to put this stuff on your wooden cutting board or wooden utensils. Well, not the stuff with the pomade inside.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • LanceThruster

    Any recipe for homemade Astroglide? It’s too damn expensive.

  • Sorry John , I’m a Dapper Dan Man. ;]

  • Moderator3

    Claudine went bye bye.

  • _________________________________________________________________________________

    Great experiment. I want to try other oil like essential oil instead of olive oil.


    Special Diet Recipes for Special Occasions

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  • LOL yes, I considered the opprobrium. But I knew in my heart it was kind of an interesting story, and perhaps I’m getting too old to care about the “dont do it!” side of my personality :)

  • Looking at a few old newspapers, Murray’s looks like one of those products that has been on the market in its current incarnation back to about the early 1950s. Unmolested by Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I like that you took the risk of writing a 2000-word post about your hair :)

    Here’s another DIY hair gel..

  • Just tried it, it worked great! It was actually a bit firmer than I wanted, but I’m finding that the firmer is helping control my hair better, as it’s longer rightnow. Yeah!

  • Well, it smells like nothing if you use beeswax and mineral oil. If you use cocunut oil, it smells like coconut. Olive Oil might smell like a salad, so while some recipes use it, I would go lightly on that one. But you could use the basic mineral oil/beeswax recipe and add whatever essential oil, or oils, you like. Just don’t overdo it.

    And I find that any dark curly hair can use it. In my case, Greek.

  • I was just going to say, I think that makes me gay and lesbian :)

  • Try the Murray’s light variety. It’s very oily, which is good, because if you only use a little, while y our hair is still damp, it will tame it, and not really oily if you don’t use too much (your choice). Only has a slight coconut smell. Or make some. It’s seriously easy. Just need to get the proportion down, I suspect 4 or even 6 parts oil to one part wax.

  • Elijah Shalis

    I have to use the industrial strength stuff too or just cut my hair really short. I think it is because I may have the ashkenazi curly hair that is impossible to maintain. Why does hair gel smell so bad?

  • TampaZeke

    …and industriously so!

    AKA “Mr. Fix-it Fabulously”?

  • This experiment reminds me of the scene from the book in “Back to the Future”. Doc Brown is trying to blend Marty into the 1950’s with hair tonic. I drew a satire of the movie when I was a hostage of Reaganomics. I drew this scene in February 1986 in my twentyfirst month of unemployment after graduating with an MBA. It was soon after Michael Jackson had set his hair on fire while filming a commercial, hence the reference on the television to “Thriller”.

  • Thom Allen

    You need to post “before” and “after” photos.

  • Indigo


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