Choosing the Best Vegan Hair Gel for Your Hair Type
We all want to have a good hair day, but most of us don’t think too much about what exactly enables our hair gel to sculpt our locks into place.
But if your hair gel doesn’t explicitly say it’s 100% plant derived or vegan, there’s a good chance that one or more of the ingredients in your hair gel contains the excrements from whales and dolphins or the bones, skin, and ligaments of other animals.
Biotin, Cetyl Alcohol, Keratin and Hyaluronic Acid are just a few commonly added animal-derived ingredients in hair care products.
For vegans and animal lovers alike, there are alternatives.
I’ve rounded up some of the most effective vegan hair gels on the market.
Luckily, there is a vegan option to suit every hair type.
List of the Best Vegan Hair Gel Brands
Free of Artificial colors
Deva Curl Light Defining Gel (Top Pick)
Great for Curly and Ethnic Hair Types - Leaves Hair Feeling Soft
Deva Curl’s light defining gel is a maximum hold, yet lightweight formula that is easy to use.
This non-drying formula is silicone, paraben and sulfate free. Soy and wheat protein locks in moisture and adds shine and bounce to hair. The gel has a tropical scent reminiscent of mango and starfruit.
What We Love
This was my personal top vegan hair gel pick. Deva Curl’s Light Defining Gel leaves curls soft, not crunchy unlike a lot of maximum hold hair gels.
It doesn’t dry hair, but it also doesn’t leave it greasy and weighed down. I found it immensely helped reduce the frizz factor in my very frizz prone waves.
Deva Curl gave my hair the most volume out of all of the cruelty-free hair gels I tried and worked extremely well for my thick, wavy hair texture.
Amazon reviewers with very curly ringlet and ethnic hair seemed to have success with this product as well. I also found it to be a great value for the amount of product.
This gel seems to work best when styled on wet or damp hair. It does not seem to perform as well when applied to dry hair. Some of the other gels I tried worked equally well on dry hair and might be better suited for someone who wants a more versatile styling product.
Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Styling Gel
Great for Both Men and Women - Gender Neutral Scent
Max Green, Alchemy's plant-derived styling gel, provides natural hold, styling power, and humidity protection.
It is formulated with active botanicals and pro-vitamin B5 to keep hair shiny and manageable all day long.
The formula is sodium lauryl sulfate free, paraben free, petrochemical free, wax free and contains many organic ingredients.
The gel has a fresh and natural lemon scent.
What We Love
This product has a gender neutral scent and packaging, so it appeals to men and women alike.
The environmental working group rates this product as a “0” on their toxicity scale, which is a testament to its naturally derived ingredients.
The gel has a medium hold and keeps hair soft and tangle free throughout the day. I found it provided and maintained my hair body over the course of the day. This product would work well for thin to thick hair types.
This product is on the pricier side per volume. It costs about $14 for 8.2 fluid ounces. If you care about quality over quantity, I would recommend this gel. It has a medium strength hold and might not be the strongest option for those with the curliest and thickest hair types.
Giovanni Eco Chic L.A. Natural Styling Gel
Best Overall Value - Great For Those on a Budget
Giovanni L.A. Natural Strong Hold Styling Gel is a super concentrated formula that provides maximum hold.
The formula is free from animal ingredients and enriched with certified organic botanicals. Lavender, thyme, and rosemary extracts strengthen hair, encourage growth and provide an earthy scent.
What We Love
This vegan-friendly hair gel provides a super strong hold throughout the day, even in humidity. The formula has a great consistency that works well into hair. It provides a natural shine and keeps the frizzies at bay.
Despite being a super strong hold, the product doesn’t create overly rigid hair. It seems to be suitable for men and women alike with varied hair textures.
It is also a great value as one of the most affordable vegan hair gel options.
Giovanni’s Natural Strong Hold Styling Gel isn’t the most natural option. It does in fact list methylparaben and propylparaben as ingredients. What it carries out in performance, it may lack in integrity. Though there are organic and botanical ingredients present, it is not an entirely natural product. If parabens are a concern of yours, this product is probably not your best bet.
Alba Botanica Advanced Strong Hold Style Gel
Best For Sensitive Scalps & Allergy Sufferers
This wheat protein, B vitamin, and antioxidant rich formula provides a firm hold for all day sculpting needs.
Alba Botanica’s Strong Hold Style Gel is salon quality without the parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances.
The alcohol-free formula helps prevent damaged and dried out hair over time. The seven-ounce bottle costs about eleven dollars.
What We Love
This product holds well and has no odor, which makes it an especially great find for those with sensitive skin and scalps or for individuals with allergies.
A little bit of this product goes a long way. I would feel comfortable wearing this in my hair on a daily basis, and I don’t have to worry about smelling like I’m wearing a product.
This formula does have slightly stickier consistency. It washes out of hair well, but when applying it does feel a bit tackier when working through hair.
Hugo Naturals Styling Gel
Best For Anyone With Soy & Gluten Sensitivities
Hugo Naturals Styling Gel is a medium hold hair gel for all hair types.
It is crafted with sage and witch hazel botanicals. In addition to being vegan, the formula is sulfate free, paraben free, silicone free, alcohol-free, soy free and wheat free.
The natural and light citrus scent dissipates quickly upon application. Quinoa and Oat extract naturally leave hair moisturized. The four-ounce bottle costs around eleven dollars.
What We Love
Hugo Naturals Styling Gel is the only vegan gel option that had the added benefit of being both soy and gluten free.
This is the clear choice for those with soy or gluten sensitivities. I also loved that this product works equally efficiently on wet or dry hair.
You can wake up and apply directly to your dry locks. It’s a great time-saver in the morning. The hold kept my style in place for several hours.
This is one of the pricier options per volume. The quality of the product is great, but the quantity isn’t quite there.
Which Hair Gel Products Works Best for My Hair Type?
While all five of these vegan hair gels were exceptional options, we put together a hair type buying guide to make the decision a little easier.
While each gel purports to cater to a range of hair types, we know that most products aren’t one size fits all.
Different hair textures have different needs. After assessing customer reviews, we selected the best potential options for each hair texture and type.
Coarse or Thick Hair
You have coarse hair if your individual hairs are wide in diameter. Thick hair is another way of saying that there is a lot of hair on the head and can be coarse or fine.
With thick or coarse hair, the hair likely has plenty of body on its own and needs control more than lift. This hair type does best with a stronger hold styling gel that can control frizz and maintain style.
Of the 5 products above we recommend these two:
Fine, Limp or Thinning Hair
These hair types may appear oily more quickly than coarse, thick hair. Due to this differentiation, a stronger hair gel may weigh your hair down or cause it to appear greasy and need to be washed more frequently.
The medium hold options seem to be better suited for this hair type. They will still maintain your style without leaving your hair looking damp all day.
Fine and thin hair benefit from volumizing and petroleum free products. Gels containing alcohol ingredients may work as long as the hair is not dry, damaged or chemically processed. If your hair is damaged in any way, opt for one of the two alcohol-free options.
Fine to Medium Straight Hair
If your hair falls somewhere between fine and coarse hair and doesn’t tend toward oily or dry, you can work with a range of gels.
This versatile hair type would probably work well with most styling gels, depending on what look you wanted to achieve.
A medium hold gel that maintains style is adequate for everyday straight hair styling. If you plan on curling or adding waves to your straight hair, you may opt for one of the stronger holding products mentioned above under Coarse or Thick Hair.
Regardless of texture or density, short hair can be best styled with strong hold hair gels. Stiff holding gels can tame cowlicks, create spikes, stand up mohawks or make temporary dreads out of short hair.
If you have wavy to curly hair and want to maintain your curls in a frizz free fashion, moisturizing styling gels can help tame your texture. Light or flexible hold gels are a great option. Styling gels that work into wet hair can help boost the volume of your curls and maintain the shape without making your curls feel crunchy.
Does Gluten Free Matter for Hair?
We all know gluten-free is important for individuals with gluten intolerances when it comes to food items, but when it comes to hair products you may be wondering if it makes a difference.
The verdict is still out.
Some would argue that the gluten molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin. However, some individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities have reported skin rashes and other topical reactions to items containing gluten.
If you have celiacs or a known aversion to cosmetics with gluten or wheat ingredients, you should opt for the products that advertise as gluten-free.
Which Cruelty-Free Hair Gels are the Least Toxic?
All of the vegan hair gels featured in this article are made with mostly or entirely naturally derived ingredients.
However, some brands certainly had higher standards for what “natural” means to them.
If organic is a priority for you, Max Green Alchemy’s Scalp Rescue Hair Styling Gel uses the most organic and non-GMO ingredients. Alba Botanica and Hugo Naturals also had some of the most recognizable plant ingredients.
Keep Animal Excretions Out of Your Hair
Working veganism into your personal care regime can seem difficult if you have stand-by products you know and love. However, the chances are great that any non-vegan products also contain a cocktail of hormone disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals.
Many vegan brands are more conscious of what goes into their product. Vegan hair gels like the ones mentioned here offer a safer and cruelty-free alternative without sacrificing performance.
What’s safest for the animals also turns out to be what’s the safest for us, humans, too. It’s important to make sure that you purchase products that aren’t just cruelty-free but also vegan.
Vegans have great hair days too!