The Northwest's Premier Artistic Swimming Team

How to Gel Your Hair for Synchronized Swimming Meet

Gelling, or knoxing, our hair can be kind of intimidating the first few times we try it.  But here are a couple helpful tips, as well as a step-by-step guide, on making sure your Knox looks awesome every time.


Before you start, here is what you will need!

  1. Unflavored gelatin- roughly 2-4 packets will be used for a single application
  2. Cup- This cup should be able to withstand hot water or the microwave
  3. Hot Water- Water should be hot enough that the gelatin can dissolve evenly, but not boiling. 
  4. Hair Brush & Fine Tooth Comb-this is to make sure hair is brushed out, and as smooth as possible before application
  5. Ponytail Holders-Use the bigger ones to hold your pony tail in place, small clear ones to hold braids
  6. Hair nets- Please find a hair net that best matches your daughter's hair color
  7. Bobby Pins-These should also match the color of your daughter's hair.  These should be wavy on one side and flat on the other. These are used to pin the hair, and pin headpieces to the head. You may also purchase hair pins--these are wavy on both sides and look like they are slightly open at the end.  These are best used to pin hair into a bun, however they do not hold as well as traditional bobby pins.
  8. Paint Brush-This can be a hair color brush, a kitchen basting brush or even a small 2-inch  traditional paint brush.
  9. Small towel-  Dripping knox can happen even the most veteran of knoxers. A towel will keep it off your neck and body. It’s also nice to have when you’ve just climbed out of the pool to catch the mixture of gel and pool water that will inevitably drip down the back of the neck before it dries and becomes uncomfortable!


Ready to get started?

  1. A smooth, and tightly pulled-back ponytail makes everything easier--so make sure to start with wet hair, as this slicks back the easiest.  Be sure to ask your coach beforehand where the bun should be placed on the head! Its typically at the crown or lower at about eye/ear level on the back of the head.  Use your hair brush first, and then your small comb to make sure hair is smoothly pulled back off the face, make sure to get as many of the small baby hairs around the face and neck and smooth those back too!
  2. Secure with your big hair tie.
  3. Once you have a nice sleek ponytail, divide your ponytail into about two or three even sections, and braid each section and secure it with a smaller hair band.
  4. Wrap one braid around the base of your ponytail to make the first half of your bun. Hold it in place with either hair pins or bobby pins. (Hair pins seem to go in a little easier.) Two or three should do it.
  5. Wrap the remaining braids around the first one.
  6. If the bun you've just made looks a little lopsided or not so much like a bun--use a few extra hair pins to adjust and secure it
  7. Next, you will want to grab your hair net. Don't skip this step, or your bun may fall out when swimming.
  8. Wrap the hair net around your bun, just like you would with a hair tie.  Try and loop it around enough so that it fits snugly on the bun. Secure the edge of it to the base of your bun with a pin or two to hold it in place.
  9. If your hair is short or very thin, your bun might be too small or impossible to make at all.

    Option 1: Use a ponytail holder that has fake hair already attached to it that matches your own hair color. Instead of making braids, tie it around your ponytail. Tuck the ends underneath towards the ponytail holder and cover with a hair net just like in Step 2.

    Option 2: Use a bun form. Bun forms can usually be found at beauty supply, ot drug stores. They tend to be too big for the size bun you want, so consider cutting it in half.

  10. If you are making gel for one, empty three small packets of the knox powder into your cup.

  11. Add the hot water in slowly while mixing it into the knox.  You can use the pointy end of your comb, or a fork.

  12. You’ll know you’ve achieved the perfect consistency if you lift your stirring tool-of-choice out of the gel and a smooth stream runs back down into the cup. If it falls into the cup in big chunks or runs very slowly, add a little more water. If it makes individual drips, then it’s too watery.
  13. Now its time to apply the gel! Just remember the sooner you can get it on the better, once the gel begins to cool down, the harder the application process gets!
  14. Wrap the towel around your swimmer's neck to ensure that if it drips, it does not get too messy.
  15. Using your paint brush, begin painting the gel evenly onto the hair, starting at the very front and center of your daughter's hairline, all the way to the base of the bun.
  16. Work out to the sides, and then underneath the bun.  Always paint into the direction of the bun!
  17. Swimmers can choose to leave the bun without knox, or knox the entire bun as well.  If the bun looks, secure enough with the hair net, there is no really need to gel over the bun as well.
  18. Once, you've applied one even coat of gel, make sure to apply a second coat again to ensure that the hair is sufficiently covered. If the knox is too thin, and you do not apply two coats, the likelihood of the hair falling out of the bun is fairly high!
  19. You are all done! Knoxing is not for the faint of heart, do give yourself a pat on the back




Last But Not Least!

To ensure that your knoxing supplies (brushes, combs, utensils etc) stay in good condition, make sure to wash them with warm water as soon as you can, so that the gelatin does not set into any of these. The best way to get knox from the hair is also going to be warm water! Bobby pins often times are also reusable, again just make sure these are washed after they are taken out of the hair.  Once you begin to see rust on the bobby pins, its time to replace them!

If you have any other questions,  do not hesitate to reach out to your coach or other synchro families for help.