woman holding gelatin

Remember soaking your nails in gelatin?

I can remember being a little girl and my mother mentioning how to make your nails grow longer and stronger with gelatin. It was just a staple in our house for her to pick some up and let her fingers soak in the gelatin. According to Livestrong, this was actually a marketing ploy by Knox Gelatin made more than 100 years ago that appealed to female consumers.  

Contrary to a long-standing belief, WebMD says gelatin will not increase nail strength simply by eating or soaking your nails in it. Bad news for women wanting to strengthen their nails, but if you are looking for stronger hair then WebMD does say that gelatin can improve the quality of hair.

Gelatin for hair

Now there are several factors that determine the length and condition of your hair like genetics, diet, exercise, and even environmental elements. Aside from those, we can add supplements of various kinds to aid in hair growth and they do not have to all be pills. Gelatin is often used as a strengthener and growth aid in hair treatments utilizing the ingredient collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen, which can be found in tendons, ligaments, and the tissues of mammals. Madehow says that boiling the connective tissues, bones, and skins of cows and pigs is how gelatin is created. Gelatin usually has the ability to form strong, transparent gels.

If you take a look at your shampoo and conditioner labels you will likely find that they contain keratin in the form of gelatin, such as TRESemme Anti-Breakage Breakage Defense Shampooand TRESemme Anti-Breakage Vitamin B12 & Gelatin Conditioner. According to The Natural Haven, synchronized swimmers also use gelatin to keep hair from being displaced by the water and this process is called “Knoxing,” named after Knox Gelatin, which contains hydrolyzed proteins.

The matter of gelatin benefiting hair has been subject to debate, but we have seen and heard from curly community members that they find gelatin to improve the quality of their hair, so it’s worth a try to do one of these gelatin treatments and see how it affects you.

DIY Gelatin Protein Treatment

by Science-y Hair Blog


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin powder 
  • 5 drops vinegar or a pinch of citric acid. Test for a pH around 5 to help the protein bond to your hair. 
  • 1-3 drops of oil


  1. Boil water.
  2. Add acid to cool water and test pH of the cooled liquid.
  3. Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, stirring constantly. Slowly add the water to reduce the potential for lumps. 
  4. Add any add-ins, mixing thoroughly.

Note: Some people with fine or shorter hair use half the gelatin. If you find this recipe too strong, try halving the gelatin content.

Gelatin Hair Mask for Shinier, Stronger Hair

by Beauty Expert Julyne Derrick


  • Half a packet of gelatin
  • 2 Tbsp. of milk or water
  • 2 Tbsp. hair conditioner (skip this if you have oily hair”>

Note: If you have super long or very thick hair, you can double this recipe.


  1. Warm up the milk in the microwave or use warm water. 
  2. Mix in gelatin. 
  3. Allow it to sit for 15 min. and mix in the conditioner. Mixture should be like a thick gel.
  4. Comb gel through wet hair from roots to ends (no need to shampoo hair, you’ll be doing that at the end”>. 
  5. Add more milk or water if paste is too thick. 
  6. Wrap hair in plastic and then a towel. Let hair dry for 30-40 min. 
  7. Rinse hair and follow up with a shampoo.

Do you use gelatin treatments on your hair? How does it work for you?

Sabrina Perkins


Sabrina, founder of seriouslynatural.org and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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