Hair styling gels are designed to provide texture, gloss and, above all, hold. Getting a grip is easy if you are prepared to use plastic copolymers. But what if you were to embark on making an all organic, or as naturally plant-based as possible hair styling gel. Your first problem is going to be finding the ingredient that will give hold - and work. John Master's Organics Sweet Orange & Silk Protein Styling Gel ($17) came up with some novel solutions.

Scleroteum gum is so novel in fact that it appears to exist only in the world of John Master's Organics. A Google search simply threw up pages on the JMO products. So does a search for mushroom-derived gum or mushroom-derived thickening agents. Wikipedia has a list of 'natural' gums that come from all sorts of plants, but there is no mention of mushroom. More common (obviously not difficult) is tragacanth, a natural gum that is found in the dried sap of a Middle Eastern plant called astragalus. Topically, it can also be used to treat wounds and burns.

Hydrolized silk protein suffers from Emperor's New Clothes syndrome. It crops up in haircare products because it is supposed to help maintain moisture. Hydrolyzed proteins have been broken down into smaller sized molecules that are easier to put into shampoos and conditioners. However, they aren’t very effective because smaller molecules smaller are less effective at film forming.

Much to my surprise, John Masters Organics Styling Gel sort of works. I say sort of because it provides soft, rather than firm hold. It will scrunch your waves in place, but it will be flop when it comes to keeping your mohican standing to attention. I loved the orangey smell and the clear gel isn't too sticky. I did find that using it on wet hair and then styling, didn't work at all. It seems to be much more successful on dry hair - providing that you use enough of it.

Water (Purified Deionized), Sea Algae Extract (Wild-crafted), Sorbitol, Carrageenan, Gum Tragacanth, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Scleroteum Gum (Mushroom), Essential Oils of Citrus Sinensis (Blood Orange*), Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange*), Cedrus Atlantica (Cedar Atlas*)