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Consumers apply setting lotions to their wet hair before blow drying it. The lotions are designed to hold curls, volume, shine and any other style and are a tool to avoid disastrous "bad-hair days." The ingredients found in commercial setting lotions are described on the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients database. You also can make your own homemade setting lotion with ingredients closer to home.

Commercial Ingredients

The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients describes the contents and properties of common ingredients found in setting lotions. For example, polyquarternium-11 comes in powder form and is dissolved in water; it is a thickening and conditioning agent. Propylene glycol and glycerin are modified alcohols that serve to prevent moisture loss from your scalp. Citric acid neutralizes minerals in the lotion to make the product more acidic. Polysorbate 20 is an emulsifier and stabilizes essential hair oils. Methylparaben is an anti-fungal agent. There are usually coloring or pigment agents in setting lotions, including D&C Red 33 and F&D Blue 1.


To make your own setting lotion, dissolve 1 tsp. of honey in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add 1 tbsp. of lemon juice and five drops of geranium essential oil. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the setting lotion on your damp hair and blow dry. Keep the remainder of the mixture for up to two weeks in the fridge. A simpler recipe involves dissolving 1 tsp. of gelatin into 1 cup of warm water. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray on damp hair. You also can chill the mixture so it turns into a gel.

Damaged Hair Recipes

To create a setting lotion for dry and damaged hair, dissolve 1 tsp. of honey in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, four drops of rosemary oil and 1/8 tsp. of jojoba oil and mix well. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply to damp hair. Store the remainder of the lotion in the fridge for up to two weeks. For chemically treated hair, repeat the same procedure, except replace the rosemary oil with five drops of geranium essential oil. If you are having trouble finding these particular essential oils, talk to the staff at your local natural food and herb store to find out which other oils have similar properties.

About the Author

Michelle Brunet

Michelle Brunet has published articles in newspapers and magazines such as "The Coast," "Our Children," "Arts East," "Halifax Magazine" and "Atlantic Books Today." She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies from Saint Mary's University and a Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University.