Make DIY quince seed hair gel at home with just 2 ingredients: quince seeds and water! DIY quince seed hair gel – in the Victorian era called quince seed bandoline – helps to set your curls.
‘Of the many preparations recommended to keep the hair in curl none is easier for amateurs to make, or is more effective, even in damp weather, than bandoline, made from quince seeds. It is harmless, and keeps straight locks in curls.’ (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
Victorian and Edwardian ladies loved curly and wavy hair. Sausage curls were popular in the Victorian era, while Edwardian ladies preferred a fluffy, wavy or formal, Marcel waved pompadour with neck curls.
If bandoline is ‘applied to the hair before it is wrapped in curlers [it] will make your curls survive a rainstorm and several days of cloudy weather’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1914)
Bandoline was either made with flaxeeds, gum arabic, Irish moss or quince seeds. Straight haired women in the Victorian and Edwardian era applied bandoline – the Victorian version of hairspray or curl setting lotion – to the hair before curling:
‘Don’t forget the old-fashioned quince seed mixture made very thin and used sparingly, is as good to-day as it was twenty years ago. It will keep the hair in curl.’ (The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 1905)
10 Victorian Quince Seed Bandoline Recipes
The following Victorian & Edwardian quince seed hair gel recipes are sorted by strength: from light-hold to strong-hold.
Scroll down to find out how to apply quince seed hair gel and if it works as curling lotion!
1903 Quince Seed Hair Gel
‘Quince seed curling fluid is an old favorite and each recurrence of warm weather sends one off in search of some such recipe for keeping one’s locks in fluff. Perspiration is death on waves and frizzes.’
- 30 quince seeds
- 1 pt distilled water
- 1/2 gill brandy
- 1/2 gill alcohol
- 1 tsp eau de cologne
‘To make it place thirty quince seeds to simmer in a pint of distilled water for two hours. Strain, add half a gill of brandy, half a gill of alcohol and a teaspoonful of eau de cologne. Under ordinary circumstances there will be enough of this formula to last a season, if bottled and carefully corked. Moisten the hair with the fluid instead of water before using the curling iron or putting it up on waving pins.’ (Lumberton Robesonian, 1903)
1872 Quince Seed Bandoline
- 1 dr quince seeds
- 1/2 pt water
‘The mucilage of quince seeds may be made by boiling for 10 minutes 1 drachm quince seeds in 1/2 pint water, and straining. This is sometimes used as a bandoline, but it soon decomposes, and, therefore for that purpose, only very small quantities should be prepared.’ (Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes, 1872)
1911 Quince Seed Hair Gel
‘To keep the hair in curl for a definite period of time, especially in damp weather, curling fluids of a harmless nature may be used. The hair is dampened with the solution before the curler or the iron is used. These preparations, owing to their gummy character, should not be used very frequently, as they tend to harden and dry the hair and cause it to crack and break in combing. […]
- 3 dr quince seeds
- 1 pt hot water
- 1 oz cologne water
- 15 drops oil of lavender
The seeds must be soaked in the hot water about three hours. Then strain […] and add the resulting liquid to the cologne water, to which the essential oil has been added. Shake and use […] Moisten the hair; then braid or roll it loosely, and it will curl upon drying.’ (Beauty Culture, 1911)
1903 Quince Seed Hair Gel
- 3 tsp quince seeds
- 1 pint boiling water
- cologne or water
‘Old-fashioned bandoline is not to be despised by the girl who wants curly love locks. It is made by pouring one pint of boiling water over three teaspoonfuls of quince seeds. Let it stand for several hours, then strain and thin it with water or cologne. A few drops of essence of rose or violet may be added.’ (San Francisco Call, 1903)
1896 Quince Seed Bandoline
- 1 part quince seeds
- 40 – 50 parts warm water
- optional: perfume and alcohol
‘Bandoline is made by covering the seeds with forty to fifty times their bulk of warm water, which soon produces a mucilage used by perfumers and hair dressers. Many ladies prepare it for themselves to keep their hair in place. It can be perfumed with any kind of odor. By the addition of a little alcohol it can be kept for a long time. It is this use of the seeds which causes the great demand with druggists.’ (Quince culture, 1896)
1902 Quince Seed Hair Gel
- 1 tbsp bruised quince seeds
- 1 pt soft rain water
- optional 1 – 2 tbsp alcohol
- optional: cologne
‘1 tablespoonful bruised quince seeds, 1 pint soft rain water. Simmer gently down to 3/4 of a pint. A tablespoonful or two of alcohol may be added and enough cologne to give a pleasant odor.’ (Three Meals A Day, 1902) ‘Allow the liquid to cool and then strain through a piece of coarse muslin. Add two teaspoonfuls each of cologne and alcohol and the mixture is ready for use.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1915)
‘Bottle and keep on the toilet table. To use, put the curls or crimps up in papers or pins, dampen with bandoline and leave up over night, or until thoroughly dry. This will be found to resist the warmest day.’ (Three Meals A Day, 1902)
1870 Quince Seed Bandoline
- 1 oz quince seeds
- 3 pt water
‘An ounce of the seed of quinces must be boiled in three pints of water till reduced half, then strain it, and add a few drops of essence to perfume it. Keep it in wide-mouthed, well-corked bottles.’ (The Young Wife’s Cook Book, 1870)
1847 Quince Seed Bandoline – Strong-Hold
- 1/2 oz quince seeds
- 1/2 pt water
- optional: lemon, rose or bergamot oil
‘Half an ounce of dried quince seed boiled for ten minutes in a small quantity of water, (say half a pint,) will be found to produce [quince bandoline] […] It should be strained and scented with lemon, rose or bergamot, according to taste. The gum Arabic [bandoline] does not answer so well.’ (Godey’s Magazine, 1847)
1911 Quince Seed Hair Gel – Strong-Hold
- 2 tbsp quince seeds
- 1 cup water
‘Another quince seed curling fluid may be made by macerating two tablespoonfuls of dried quince seeds and then soaking them in a cupful of water till the mass is like mucilage. Strain this through a cheesecloth and add a tablespoonful of alcohol for each ounce. Moisten the hair with this and put it up in kid curlers to dry. This will not darken the hair.’ (Beauty Culture, 1911)
1902 Quince Seed Hair Gel – Strong-Hold
‘The old fashioned quince seed curling fluid is not at all bad.’
- 1 tbsp quince seeds
- 2 tbsp water
‘Take a tablespoon of quince seeds and add two tablespoons of water. Let simmer, strain, and just barely touch the hair with the mixture. This will make the hair stiff, but it will “stay in,” and there are times when one wants the hair to remain in curl, no matter how stiff it may feel to the fingers. The long, pretty neck ringlets are kept in by the quince seed curling stuff’. (Chicago Tribune, 1902)
DIY Quince Seed Hair Gel
How To Apply Quince Seed Hair Gel
I simply applied the gel with my fingers to my dry hair by smoothing it on. However, you can also use sponge or nail brush, just like a Victorian lady would’ve applied quince seed bandoline:
The curling fluid ‘is applied by means of a nail brush. The tips of the fingers can be used, but the nail brush is more convenient. […] The virtue, of course, of a curling fluid is that the hair remains in curl for several days, and the operation of “doing” up one’s hair need not be repeated nightly.’ (San Francisco Call, 1902)
‘Of all the preparations I know the most effective and the easiest for amateurs to make is a bandoline made from quince seed. This curling lotion has been in use for generations and our grandmothers used nothing else when they wore the ringlets about the forehead or curls falling in cascades over the ears or the back of the head. […]
Moisten the hair with this preparation before curling, using a small sponge to apply it. If you are successful in waving your hair with curlers, use the lotion before winding the strands of hair about the curlers. There is one small objection to this curling fluid; when it becomes dry it assumes a powdery form suggestive of fine dandruff. But it is easily brushed from the hair and is absolutely harmless.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1915)
Did You Try It & Does It Work?
I have straight hair that doesn’t hold curls very well so I tried out only the last two strong-hold quince seed bandoline recipes: the ‘1911 Quince Seed Bandoline – Strong-Hold’ and a variation of the ‘1902 Quince Seed Bandoline – Strong-Hold’.
For the ‘1911 Quince Seed Bandoline – Strong-Hold’, I combined quince seed and water in a glass bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The next morning, the quince seed turned the water into mucilage.
For the ‘1902 Quince Seed Bandoline – Strong-Hold’, I used 1 part quince seeds and 10 parts water instead of 1 part quince seeds and 2 parts water. I let the quince seed hair gel simmer for about 5 minutes. While the 1911 quince seed hair gel is clear, the 1902 quince seed hair gel is brownish.
Before curling my hair, I applied quince seed hair gel (one on the right and the other on the left side of my head), section by section, until my hair was damp and well saturated. Then I curled my hair like here:
I let my hair air-dry which took ages: Five hours later (on a hot summer day) and it was still damp!
So, to answer your questions, quince seed hair gel works as curling lotion: It helps to create glossy curls. However, my curls didn’t last longer than if I had just sprayed my hair with water before curling it!
Quince Seed Hair Gel Vs. Flaxseed Hair Gel
Flaxseed hair gel has a consistency of egg whites: Anjana from Curls And Beauty Diary descibes it as ‘slimy i-will-escape-from-your hands texture‘. Quince seed hair gel is more gel-like and therefore easier to apply than flaxseed hair gel.
Additionally, DIY quince seed hair gel smells of quince and bitter almond whereas flaxseed hair gel smells of porridge! So, if you’re anything like me and love the smell of bitter almond, you’re going to love this DIY quince seed hair gel!
The holding power of quince seed hair gel and flaxseed hair gel is similar. Still, I prefer flaxseed hair gel because it’s easier to make and available year-round (I used fresh quinces to make quince seed hair gel). And quince seed hair gel can leave a white residue in the hair after brushing.
‘For making straight hair curl, few things are better than the old-fashioned bandoline made from quince seeds; it is entirely harmless, but will leave, when dried, a dusty look which can be readily brushed out.’ (The Commoner, 1910)
So try both DIY hair gels and let me know in the comments what works best for you!
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