Versatile hair-setting lotion — a styling product applied to wet hair that fixes styles in place in about an hour — lends itself to curls, bobs, straight locks and African-American hairdos, but it has become somewhat scarce since its heyday in the 1950s. Whether you’re having trouble tracking down a bottle or simply wish to avoid the potentially harsh chemicals contained in some off-the-shelf products, you can whip up your own all-natural setting lotion with safe, readily available ingredients.

Things You'll Need

An All-Purpose Solution

Add a teaspoon of honey and about a half cup of warm water to a small mixing bowl. Stir the solution with a spoon until the honey — which serves as a moisturizer and humectant — dissolves.

Mix in a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and about five drops of geranium essential oil. Lemon juice packs plenty of hair-healthy vitamin C and lends your locks a bit of lift and shine while essential oils restore moisture. Geranium, in particular, gives the blend a pleasant aroma and serves as an antiseptic agent.

Funnel the lotion into a spray bottle and store it in the refrigerator. This homemade hair-setting lotion keeps for about two weeks.

For Fine or Treated Tresses

Dissolve a teaspoon of honey in a half cup of warm water, combining the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

Stir in a tablespoon of cleansing, cuticle-smoothing apple cider vinegar, four drops of conditioning and structure-bolstering rosemary oil and 1/4 teaspoon of moisturizing jojoba oil if you have fine or dry hair. For chemically treated hair, use a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, five drops of geranium oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of jojoba oil instead.

Funnel your DIY lotion into a spray bottle and place it in the refrigerator, where it’s safe to store for about two weeks.


  • Substitute pure maple syrup for honey if you are allergic or vegan.

  • For an alternative, all-purpose hair-setting lotion, boil 3/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of flax seeds for about 15 minutes until the mixture takes on a gelatinous texture. Strain out the seeds and comb the warm gel through your hair before setting it. Flax seeds offer hair-nourishing omega-3 oils, essential to hair growth.