The aloe vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties.
Aloe is a cactus-like plant that grows in hot, dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, America and India. It is cultivated in subtropical regions around the world.
Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millennia: Greece, Egypt, India, Mexico, Japan and China. Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great, and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds.
The name Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.”
The Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.”
The benefits of aloe vera for locs
Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.
Aloe vera can help soothe and alleviate dry, itchy dandruff scalp.
Dandruff, also called Seborrheic dermatitis, is the inflammatory skin condition which affects almost half the population.
Aloe vera contains 6 antiseptic agents including salicylic acid and sulfur. They all have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and viruses.
This scientific study demonstrates that patients treated with an emulsion formulated from a crude extract of Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) resulted in 58% in global improvement rates (decrease in scaliness and itchiness).
Aloe vera can moisturize dry locs and scalp.
Naturally, as a plant, aloe has the ability to hold moisture, especially in dryer climates where water is scarce. This is the perfect candidate for obtaining and retaining moisture in our locs.Composed with 95% water and rich in sugars (glucose, fructose, mannose-6-phosphate, acemannan, aloeverose…), aloe is especially powerful in terms of hydration in that it both locks and loads; it may host a moisture-retaining film on the locs, to help lock in moisture while still being able to attract moisture from the air due to its humectant properties.
This study also demonstrates that the sugars contained in aloe vera are able to retain large amounts of water (moisturizing effect) into the skin thus helping alleviate dry scalp.
The difference between aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice.
There are 2 main differences between aloe vera juice and gel:
- The use of aloe vera on locs. Would you be spraying aloe vera on your dreadlocks and scalp, using it to retwist your locs or using it as a treatment?
- The fabrication of aloe vera products. Although aloe vera juice and gel are both derived from the leaf pulp of the plant, commercial aloe vera gel includes extra processing steps.
The use of aloe vera on locs.
Raw aloe vera gel is great as a pre-shampoo treatment and retwisting locs / taming frizz on dreadlocks.
Commercial aloe vera gel can also be used for loc maintenance.
On the other hand, aloe vera juice can be use daily to moisturize the hair and the scalp.
The fabrication of aloe vera gel/juice
The production begins by crushing, grinding or pressing of the entire leaf of the plant to produce a liquid (i.e. aloe vera juice). Depending on the manufacturer, the processing can involve several steps, including filtration and stabilization.
On the other hand, commercial aloe vera gels result in mixing the aloe vera juice with a thickening agent to form a gel, a preservative and a pH adjuster. Sometimes, green colorant and fragrances are added to the gel as well. While the raw pulp that comes from the plant is somewhat similar to what most people think of as gel, how it gets there is quite different and the actual “gel” texture is due to additives in pure aloe vera extract.
Here is a table to summarize the difference between aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice on locs:
|Aloe vera juice||Raw aloe vera gel||Commercial aloe vera gel|
|Fabrication||Pressing the entire leaf of the plant to produce a liquid. Filtration.||Extracting the gel directly from the aloe leaf, blending then filtration.||Thickener, preservative, pH adjuster, fragrance and colorant are added to aloe vera juice to create a gel.|
|Pre-shampoo treatment||Can be used but aloe vera gel is better for this use.||Perfect as a moisturizing treatment on dry locs.||Not recommended.|
|Moisturizing spray||Perfect for this use to improve scalp health and moisturize dry locs.||Not recommended.||Not recommended.|
|Maintenance||Can be used but won’t hold the retwist or frizzy hair in place.||Make sure to remove the pulp by filtrating the gel with a cheesecloth or a strainer.||Some commercial gel can leave residue on your dreadlocks.|
DIY – How to prepare raw aloe vera gel
Are you thinking of using aloe as a pre-shampoo treatment for your dreadlocks or to retwist your locs?
Below are the steps to prepare raw aloe vera gel:
- Using a knife or a vegetable peeler, carefully peel away the green portion of the leaves.
- Using a spoon or a knife, scoop the inside of the leaf and add it into your blender. The clear, soft gel is easily scoopable. Be careful not to include any pieces of the aloe vera skin as it will be harder to remove them from your hair later.
- Blend the gel until it’s frothy and liquefied, which should only take a few seconds.
- Filter your gel with a strainer or cheese cloth to remove remaining leaf pieces.
- Your gel is ready to use.
Since aloe vera gel is perishable, it’s best not to make a huge batch at once. You can keep your aloe vera gel up to a week in the fridge.
How to use aloe vera on your locs?
You can either use aloe vera as a pre-shampoo treatment, to moisturize your dreadlocks or to retwist your locs / tame the frizz if you crochet your hair.
Raw aloe vera gel to treat itchy scalp and dry locs
If you scalp is dry and flaky and your dreadlocks are dry, a pre-shampoo treatment using raw aloe vera will do wonder to your hair. Follow the steps below:
- Prepare your gel using the method explained above. Make sure to filter the gel thoroughly to remove the pulp.
- Before shampoo, spray your hair with rose water, apply raw aloe vera gel on your scalp and hair.
- Cover your locs with a shower cap or a plastic bag and leave it for at least an hour.
- Rinse your hair and proceed to shampoo your hair twice.
- Repeat this treatment once a month.
Aloe vera juice to moisturize dry locs and scalp
- Aloe vera juice is a great moisturizer thanks to its high content in sugar.
- As often as you need to, spray aloe vera juice directly to your hair and scalp.
- Seal in the moisture by applying the natural oil blend of your choice.
Aloe vera gel to retwist your locs
You can either use DIY raw aloe vera gel or commercial aloe vera gel to retwist your locs.
We would recommend you to do testing the gel on a few locs before applying it on your whole head as some gel can leave residue on your hair.
Also raw aloe gel, when not filtered correctly can leave white flakes on your dreadlocks.
Check out Clayton’s retwisting video using raw aloe vera gel:
Does aloe vera gel cause build up in locs?
It depends on the form of aloe vera extract that you use on your hair:
- Commercial gels, even natural commercial gels contain additives to create the product, protect it against microbe contamination and balance its pH. Some of these additives can leave white flakes on your locs.
- The natural raw aloe vera gel, extracted directly from the leaf can leave buil-up if not strained properly.
- Aloe vera juice with limited additives should not leave residue on your hair.
Before applying an aloe vera leave-in treatment on your full head, we recommend you to test on a few locs. Let it dry and check if the product is residue-free.
Can you leave aloe vera in your locs?
You can leave aloe vera juice on your locs as it will add moisture to your hair and naturally balance your scalp.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, some aloe vera gels can leave residue on your dreadlocks. Raw aloe vera gel as a pre-shampoo treatment should be rinsed. Properly filtered raw aloe vera gel can be use to retwist your locs.
Are there side effects of using aloe vera on the scalp?
Aloe vera can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. If your skin turns red, itchy, or scaly after applying aloe on your scalp, you should consult with your doctor and don’t use aloe vera in the future.
TL;DR – The summary
Aloe is a great ingredient to add to your loc routine thanks to its hydrating nature and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a perfect ingredient for those with itchy scalps, dandruff and dry dreadlocks.