Calling all curly coily ladies out there! Are your curls thirsty? Has harsh weather made your hair stiff? This natural ingredient is an oldie (as in ancient Egypt and Greece) but a goodie. Aloe vera has long been used to promote shine and moisture in hair, which makes it an excellent tool for the curly girl who is extra careful with the ingredients she uses on her curls. You can either use products formulated with aloe vera or DIY your own all natural aloe vera gel to get the hair benefits from this amazing plant. Today we’ll show you 5 ways to use aloe vera gel on naturally curly hair.
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Natural aloe vera gel vs. store-bought aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is an all-natural hair ingredient that consists of water, 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids, and 200 phytonutrients! You can access all of this goodness by cutting open a leaf of the aloe vera plant (which you can find at most plant stores and nurseries). Many people use this method to naturally tend to sunburns and moisturize skin, and curlies have found many ways to incorporate aloe vera gel into their hair routine as a styling gel and conditioner.
But what about the “aloe vera gel” you can purchase from the store? Our Curl Chemist Tonya McKay says “most ‘100% pure Aloe vera gel’ available for purchase is a mixture containing some aloe, polymers for viscosity modification, preservatives and other additives. These additions will necessarily change the impact of the aloe vera on your hair.” If you’re not a DIY-er you can always purchase aloe vera gel products like Fruit of the Earth (one of the most popular brands in the curly community), just know that they will likely contain additives. Another way to get the benefits of aloe vera gel for low maintenance naturals is to use curl products with aloe vera as an ingredient, as it is used for its emollient, moisturizing and humectant properties.
Here are 5 popular ways to use aloe vera gel on curly hair.
Use aloe vera gel as a pre-shampoo treatment to reduce buildup and dandruff. Aloe vera’s natural enzymes destroy the excessive dead skin cells and fungus that leads to dandruff (malassezia) while also leaving the scalp’s pH level balanced and hair moisturized. Apply to your scalp as a treatment before your wash and give yourself a fresh start!
How to do an aloe vera gel pre-poo:
Massage the gel into your scalp and leave it for ten minutes, then rinse before shampooing or co-washing as usual.
You can also use aloe vera juice to the same end. For a lighter pre-shampoo treatment, mix aloe vera juice, coconut milk and wheat germ oil. The proportions will depend on your hair type, it’s best to test out the formula and find the best combination for your hair and scalp.
Aloe vera gel can make a great moisturizing shampoo. Some shampoos (even sulfate-free shampoos) can leave your hair dry and stiff. Aloe vera’s naturally moisturizing properties will leave your hair strong and moisturized.
How to shampoo curly hair with aloe vera gel:
Look for aloe vera in the top 5 ingredients on your shampoo’s ingredients list, or add some aloe vera gel to your current favorite!
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For women with tightly coiled strands, natural oils are trapped at the root. Products with amino acids promote moisture and condition our hair. Aloe vera has 20 amino acids!
How to use aloe vera gel to condition curly hair:
You can use a ready-made aloe vera conditioner or you can mix aloe vera gel with the conditioner that you already use. If you’d rather go all natural, here’s a very simple conditioning recipe:
DIY Aloe Vera Conditioner
- Cut the aloe vera leaf from the stem upward
- Use a spoon to remove all the gel
- Apply it to damp hair, starting at the scalp and working your way down to the ends
- Wrap your hair in a warm, damp towel and let the treatment sink in for at least 15 minutes
- Wash your hair as usual after the treatment
4. Aloe Vera Gel
Looking for curl definition? Many use aloe vera gel to define and moisturize their curls simultaneously. Defined curls always look the best when they are conditioned well. For Type 4 Coilies, this may not work so test on a small section of hair first to see if you like it.
How to use aloe vera gel for curl definition:
- Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to your hands after washing and conditioning
- Scrunch it into wet hair just before your go-to styler or gel
For some curlies, this is enough to create a light hold and they don’t need to add any other products, for others you may need to follow up with a curl defining product.
If you are looking for natural detangling products that are gentle on your child’s or your own curls, you can skip the store aisle and make your own. According to Curl Chemist Tonya McKay aloe vera “imparts detangling and conditioning by forming a polymer film on the surface of the hair, thereby smoothing the cuticle.”
How to use aloe vera for detangling curly hair:
Simply combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle:
- 8 oz distilled water
- 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
- 1-2 drops glycerin
- 1-2 drops essential oil (e.g., lavender, jojoba)
- 10-15 drops grapefruit seed extract
Then section the hair and apply the mixture to each section as you detangle.
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6. Hair Growth
YES! We all love to see our hair gain some length. As we mentioned above aloe vera is a common salve for healing sunburned skin, and it has also been used similarly for scalp healing, anti-inflammatory properties for the scalp, and improved cellular regeneration for hair growth. Use aloe vera on your “special” areas that need a little extra help, or even bald spots. The enzymes in aloe vera will attack skin cells clogging your hair follicles leaving two gifts (moisture and shine). While helping to unclog your follicles the nutrients that promote hair growth can do their thing.
Our curls, coils and waves vary greatly and so do our scalps, so it’s best to patch test new ingredients when introducing something new into your routine. Many curlies have found benefits from using aloe vera gel on their curls, but some have found this natural ingredient to be drying. If you are protein-sensitive then be aware that aloe vera does contain protein lectin.
Do you use aloe vera gel? How did it work on your hair?
SHOP: Top 15 Aloe Vera Products for Mega Moisture
This article was written by Kala Gardner and Claire Aviles in 2013 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.