How to Make Your Own Hair Brilliantine For Shiny, Casually Tousled Locks

When I was about 20 years old, I found an already-ancient and out-of-print book at a used bookstore called Natural Cosmetics. Every few years I’d find it on my bookshelf, say to myself, “I should really use this book someday”, and promptly put it back on the shelf for a few more years. But since I’ve moved to Woodstock and have been going to the farmer’s market regularly, I’ve suddenly found myself spoiled by the utter superiority of handmade beauty products.

Vendors at our (quite incredible) market sell luscious hand crafted soaps, body scrubs, bath oils and there’s even a local beekeeper who sells his own freshly harvested beeswax. I decided to start making some homemade cosmetics for myself, and then had a problem: that dang book was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, after a few weeks of searching, I found my now-forty year old book still packed with my sewing pattern books, and I read it with a newfound respect for it’s wisdom.

The first recipe I tried yesterday was for a homemade cold cream. Was it lovely? Yes. Was it like cold cream? Hells no. I wanted to post that one today, but I’ll have to rework her ingredients to actually make a cold cream and not a waxy paste. So I tried something that looked a little easier: hair brilliantine. I just had all my hair chopped off a few weeks ago and paid an embarrassing $26 dollars for a tiny tube of (admittedly very nice) Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine. I felt a little foolish spending that much in the first place, but now I feel like an absolute SUCKER after making this recipe. It was mind-numbingly EASY to make, works even better than the salon version, and the total cost? Maybe$2.00, and that includes the jar I made it in.

Make Your Own Hair Brilliantine That's Better Than Bumble & Bumble's

Make Your Own Hair Brilliantine That's Better Than Bumble & Bumble's

What You Need to Make Your Own DIY Hair Brilliantine

  • A 4 oz. mason jar
  • A microwave
  • 1/2 teaspoon melted beeswax (not paraffin)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sunflower oil (canola is fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon pure lanolin (sold as Lanisoh for breastfeeding mothers)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Essential oils for fragrance (I used a heavenly combo of orange oil, bergamot oil, anise extract, and a tiny amount of cinnamon oil)

This really is an easy, easy product to make for yourself. It’s also nearly mess-free, because you make it IN THE JAR you will keep it in! Seriously, if you’ve ever thought about making your own beauty products, this is a fantastic way to start.

Step 1: Grate the beeswax into the mason jar, or just break it into small pieces. Natural beeswax has a honey scent and melts quite easily. Put the sunflower oil and lanolin into the jar and microwave it in 30 second increments until it’s all melted together. Swirl it GENTLY to mix it together once melted.

Step 2: Add the water and screw on the jar lid. Now shake it for a few minutes until the water is incorporated into the oils and emulsified. Step 3: Add fragranced essential oils and/or flavor extracts to your liking. They are strong, so add them a few drops at a time until you are happy with the scent. You can add a single scent, or mix them up. A few tried and true sent combinations: lavender & lemon, orange & cinnamon, or just add a little vanilla extract: the honey scent of the beeswax will create a wonderful honey-vanilla combo!

Just in case you were wondering…

How do You Use Hair Brilliantine?

Hair brilliantine adds both shine and texture to your hair – it slightly separates waves and makes it super-soft. Guys used to use it in the 50’s to get that iconic slicked back Danny Zuko from Grease look. But these days most people use just a tiny amount instead of a whole greased back head of hair. This particular recipe cools to a solid that turns back to a liquid almost immediately when your rub it between your hands.

I use it two ways:

On Wet Hair: Take about a quarter teaspoon of brilliantine and rub it between your hands to melt it and make it easier to apply to your hair evenly. While hair is still wet, apply all over, especially to layers and ends. When you blow dry your hair, the brilliantine helps to protect your hair from the heat, plus stays put and helps to control flyaways. You know how your hair feels when it is just the tiniest bit wet and you vstill have a lot of control over how your hair lays on your head? Using brilliantine is like that – even when your hair is dry. It isn’t like a gel or hair spray, but does add control, softness and SHINE.

On Dry Hair: Apply same as on wet hair, but keep it on the top layers of your hair and ends. I try not to use it on my bangs, because the brilliantine seems to make them look greasy too quickly for my liking. If you have wavy hair, use the product to separate locks and define your curls. Here’s a photo showing the difference on my hair when applied dry:

Dry hair with and without hair brilliantine added fro shine and definition

Dry hair with and without hair brilliantine added fro shine and definition.


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