The Real All Natural Way to Dread Your Locks.

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Dreadlocks have probably been around since before recorded history, and archeological evidence exists that indicates they were definitely in style in many cultures during the earliest days on record. Modern dreadlocks take many forms, and as they’re drastically increasing in global popularity, so do the methods people use to create their dread styles. Twisting hair with Aloe gel is one way to create healthy, easy to care for dreads.

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Dreadlocks Basics

There are just as many misconceptions about dreadlocks as there are people who sport them. Essentially, matted twists of hair that grow so densely together that they eventually form permanent knots, dreadlocks do not have to be dirty, smelly, crusty, infested or moldy. In fact, with proper care, dreadlocks are one of the cleanest hair styles around, as tighter locks form when hair is absolutely clean. Many people simply allow their hair to become matted by never washing it or dousing it with waxy substances that contribute to a sort of faux dreadlock look. Unfortunately, these methods have led to the untrue stereotype that all dreadlocks are nasty, filth-ridden masses of unclean hair.

The Problems with Waxes

Beeswax and other wax-containing substances have long been used in traditional settings as means of hair care, and in modern times, people tend to rely on such aids in locking. In reality though, all hair types have the natural potential to lock up. The critical deciding factor is whether or not the hair follicle is clean or coated in the natural oils and additives that are commonly found in shampoos and conditioners. You may indeed have the straightest hair in the world, but if you wash it with hard soap, skip the conditioner, and let it air dry, you’ll note that it begins to curl more. Because waxes are so hard to remove, using any more than an extremely small quantity will lead to problems. While you may not be able to visually distinguish a wax user from a natural dreadlocks wearer, the sticky waxes attract dirt and dust to the hair. Their impermeability means that it’s also hard for people who use wax to dry their locks completely. Moist, damp dreadlocks sealed with wax more often than not lead to the mildewy sour smell that people mistakenly associate with all dreads. If wax is used at all, it should only be used sparingly in the very beginning stages of locking, and only natural plant-based waxes ought to be used, avoiding petroleum substances at all costs.


Modern Methods vs Traditional Natural Locking

Beauty salons and hair specialists cater to people who enjoy the dreadlocks look but would rather not have to go through the trouble of making their own from scratch. Dreadlocks are formed in a number of ways, including the use of harsh chemical products that essentially destroy hair follicle structures. While these methods do produce the desired visual results, they can lead to unhealthy scalp and hair damage, meaning that your new dreads won’t look so good if you don’t continue getting them done. While chemical methods look great at first, they’ll rarely hold up without major maintenance in the long run.

Traditional dreadlocking methods used on curlier hair include circular rubbing with palms and towels following washes to tangle the follicles further or long term braiding and twisting. Locking methods to make straighter hair more knotty also include backcombing, twisting saltwater washes that strip the hair of natural oils, and neglect. Recently, a number of natural plant-based substances have risen to the forefront of healthy dreadlocks culture.

Twisting With Healthy Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a natural cactus-like plant used for a number of traditional remedies where its high moisture content helps as it heals cuts, burns and scrapes. Vegans and vegetarians who want to skip the beeswax love aloe because its sticky sap allows them to re-twist their locks comfortably. As it dries extremely quickly, aloe leaves no mold-promoting moisture, sticky residue or unpleasant oily texture. The water-based substance is also very easy to clean out with the same soap you regularly use to wash your hair. Aloe Vera’s medicinal properties also help with creating nice locks. Because many people use locking methods that dry their hair follicles out, the soothing, moisturizing qualities of the Aloe Vera plant greatly assist in countering the effects such of unhealthy hair practices. For dreadlock-wearers, aloe serves to maintain tight knotted structures without completely rendering hair brittle and hard. The common “crispy” feel that most chemically-tightened dreadlocks bear does not occur with aloe use.

The greatest thing about using aloe for dreadlocks care is that the plant is so versatile. If you’ve ever used a nearby Aloe Vera plant to take the sting out of a paper cut, you know how simple it is to extract the sappy fluid by simply breaking off a piece of the plant and squeezing. Rolling pins and books can easily be used to press the sap out of plants, but there are also aloe-containing products that already have it.

As with anything you put in your dreads, make sure that your aloe products don’t have the additives that make most shampoos unsuitable for locking, such as extra conditioners and moisturizers. Aloe Vera can be used in conjunction with beeswax in the early stages of locking, but as time progresses and your locks become tighter, you can gradually phase out the wax and use aloe alone.

Dreadlocking is traditionally a long-term process that requires patience, and there’s really no getting around the fact that most shortcut methods produce less-than-satisfactory results. Stick with natural locking and you’ll never have to deal with unpleasant odors, crispy locks, or the need to cut your awesome hair and start over again because you can’t keep up with the mess you’ve made.

Happy locking!

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  1. says

    Never tried the aloe before but am more than willing to try. Now i live in a place where things are very difficult to come by. Like these already made to sell aloe hair products. So i want to know if i can use the aloe plant direct on my hair and how do u often wash my hair while using that? Would be very happy if i can get a true info about all these and thanks in advance. Am an African by the way.

    • says

      You definitely can use pure Aloe straight from the plant. It’s great for your hair – very conditioning. And with a high water content, there’s little buildup, so you won’t need do wash your hair more than every few days. Hope that helps!

    • galaxi says

      if you use the juice from the plant you might want to squeeze it threw some cheesecloth before you put it in your hair because the pulp will dry like flakes and can be hard to wash out

  2. Tyler says

    Great article. I purchased some aloe vera some months ago, but haven’t used it very much. It is really versatile and feels nice to use. Though, aloe is moisturizing, so unless your dreads are dry and brittle, I’d probably only use it for retwisting. Correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks.

  3. sam says

    Hi, my hair is currently relaxed but growing out, I don’t want to relax it again because I want to start my ras.. However I don’t know what is the correct way to go about starting it.. Do I have to cut off my hair, well the relaxed part???

    • Lola Deveraux says

      You won’t be able to loc your hair with your hair relaxed. Fortunately, as you’re growing out your relaxer, your hair will break off, so you may just need to wait rather than doing the big chop.

    • Jen says

      No, you do not have to cut off your relaxed hair. I am currently relaxed and have about 3 inches of new growth. Im starting mine with braidlocks/bradelocz. Do research on those and you’ll know this is the best way to start them with relaxed hair. As your hair grows and you retwist, at the same time trip or cut off some of your relaxed ends and eventually overtime you’ll get rid of all relaxed parts. With braidlocks/bradelocz you’ll be able to wash your hair without it unraveling.

  4. gelf says

    i have some aloe vera gel that i got a while back, but it says the uses are burn relief and cuts and stuff, nothing about hair. can i still use this?

  5. victor says

    sam, i advise you to cut that relaxed hair and start all over again…it will be very difficult for a relaxed hair to lock…just start all over and avoid combing it

    • S.W says

      I tried it that way my first time & it was a disaster….7 months & cut it OFF. Now I’m going to try it the correct way. The texture of my hair in its natural state looks way better than it did with the perm in it. Good luck with your journey

    • says

      It’s like blueeyes said berfoe, you don’t grow dreadlocks. You have to get your hair twisted so that it will eventually lock up, which will be anywhere from a few weeks to 2-3 months, depending on hair length and texture. Curly hair will lock up faster than straight hair, but if you’re persistent, it will eventually lock for you. Good luck!

    • NiNi Hammond says

      You can definitely just use aloe vera. I assume your hair is thick. It will lock with just aloe vera. That’s the gift of being black :)

      • Sean says

        I was thinking about using shea butter in a mix with aloe Vera and a few oils (in small amounts) do you think that would be a good thing?

  6. Chris says

    I have to step in and say you can get locks with relaxed hair my hair was relaxed when i started and it locked just fine i just used a stocking cap when first starting so that i could shampoo them with out undoing them. it took about 4months to fully lock with out worry of them coming undone. it has been a year now and you cant even tell my hair was ever relaxed.

  7. says

    This article is exactlly right! It IS the wax that causes that ‘Moldy‘ smell, even dreadlock wearers think its something to do with the dreadlocks themselves!, it is not! and i wish i could tell the world and they could finally realize this. Previously i had wax made dreadlocks for many many years, had that constant mold smell pretty much, untill i couldnt stand it anymore and pretty much re did it all. Now, ive had my new batch for about almost a year with no wax. I have been washing as much as i feel like and sleeping with them still wet. Everytime i get them wet, INCLUDING after, i smell them and not a wiff of any moldish type smell. They smell very clean and fresh. I was convinced even before i knew all this stuff about the evils of wax, the mold issues had something to do with the wax. Wax BIG NO NO!! unless you want them to smell like mold, eventually you probably will nomatter what.

  8. says

    Also, it is totally not true that straight hair is harder to dread then any other hair. I had bone straight very fine hair and mine dreaded up fine, i made it as knotty as possible.. and even tied some knots in manually, They started knotting within weeks!. i was very excited… a big part of it is when you are sleeping on them, it gets them all sqiushed up and stuff, i didnt try to fix them or anything, i let them be, and never fiddled with them if they started looking wierd.

  9. Jordan says

    Hey guys! I really enjoyed this article but I started my dreads a month ago and was told to maintain every 2-3 days with bees wax and to not wash my hair at all until it fully locks which could take anywhere from a month to 6 months. After researching a few other articles that are in agreement with this article I feel devastated! I spent a lot of money at a salon for these and I dont want to start over. Will the non residue shampoo eventually get out the wax and if I use a hair dryer could that avoid that meldew smell that is prone to happen with using wax? A detailed reply would be incredibly helpful! Thanks

    • Monica says

      Jordan, please look into a site called so much good info about wax and how to remove it and the natural care of healthy dreads.

  10. izzi says

    Jordan, you do not need to use residue shampoo, any normal shampoo is fine its just another marketing ploy. Washing your dreads will help to remove the wax and I would always use a hair dryer as it prevents the dreads retaining moister in the centre and going moldy. Also look into using baking soda and vinegar as this prenitates deep into the dreada to clean but look up inljne first. After a couole of washes the wax shoild be remived then focus on tighning the dreads. Good luck

  11. Kiki says

    I started my locs April 10. My hairdresser started with loc and twist and it was fine. I had a retwist 4 weeks ago and she used beeswax as my hair is soft and loc and twist was obviously no good for me. They are locing nicely but I really enjoy twisting them myself and my hairdresser is adamant I must live with the mess as there is no need to redo them too regular. I love them mess and all but the back of my hair is soft and I do like to look presentable which isnt always possible when you can see my new growth!! I know its still early days but should I use pure aloe vera or can I get away with one of the aloe vera hair products. Thanks for your time

  12. Richard says

    I started my dreads about 9 years ago and had to cut them just this past year because they just stopped growing on one side. I went to a total of seven different stylists to finally get it right. My hair is very soft and naturally curly. For some reason, all of my stylist wanted to do a two strand twist, which would come out in 2-3 days. I have had rubber bands, hair weaving thread, beeswax you name it to try to get my hair to lock. Finally after almost 3 years it completely locked. I started putting all kinds of lotions in my hair to keep it soft but what I was actually doing was killing it. It was time to cut and start all over again. After I let it grow about 4 inches I went to a new stylist who told me that if I wanted to give my hair a chance to lock, she would braid it and the new growth would eventually cover the braids. Also because I am a personal trainer I work out every day and sweat. The braids would keep my hair from coming apart and give them a chance to loc. She was right my hair locked in 3 months. I couldn’t believe it. Now all I use and will ever use is pure Aloe Vera gelly. I grow the plant and use it. I also mix aloe gelly, organic coconut oil and wheat germ oil together as my moisturizer. I will never cut my dreads again.

  13. Ashu says

    i belong to india n here its hard to find wax can any ckear my cnfusion related dredlocks …!!! i want hard dreadlocks n want to fix my new growth from roots into dreads ..!! so pls ckr me
    1 – how fix new growth easily in locks??
    2 – does aloe vera will mke it rough as i wnt rough ..,?? i want hard nt soft

  14. NiNi Hammond says

    I have locks. I’ve had them for 9 years. They’re waist length. I’m Haitian. Thick hair. Why do whites not realize that their hair won’t truly dread? It’s a temporary style. Only thick, course hair can truly lock. Whites should avoid wax and only use aloe vera, a lot of whites have stinky hair because they place too much product.

    • Dina says

      My hair has been dreaded for over two years and I am white. I have never put even one product in my hair but it was able to naturally lock up without a problem. Your statement is false and very presumptuous of what other people’s hair can or cannot do. Anyone can have dreadlocks, it is a matter of patience and wanting them enough to allow them to form. Dreadlocks are a hairstyle, a race cannot own a hairstyle.

      • Alexandria Bro says

        Just started mine over 7 months I haven’t put any product in them and I seen you also do that can I ask you what you do, to maintain them? or f you use something natura?l I think I’m going to start using real aloe Vera..

  15. Weezie woo says

    I discovered the aloe “trick” about a year ago. My loctcian says my locks are the softest of all her white clients. I told her it’s the aloe gel. I pick it from my yard, mix it in a blender with about 1tsp of organic coconut oil and a little lemon juice. I wash my hair with it but I don’t rinse it. Palm roll it a little while it’s still wet. It dries REALLY fast with the aloe, like an hour. I use this about once a week. Usually a day or two after washing it with shampoo.
    Very soothing and beneficial to the scalp too!

  16. Deejay Entertainer says

    Wao, I love all d contributions so far, av been on dread 4 over A year now.i cut it off bcos d dread looks tinny. Now am starting all over I want my dread thick, will aleo Vera and my hole form help do dat.

  17. HL says

    When starting locs, can you use aloe alone for twisting, or should it be mixed with additional products until hair actually locs? My hair is about 4 inches with a soft, extremely curly pattern. Not thick, but a lot of hair. I am looking for all. Agitated options that will hold my new locs, but not allow for build up. What about a mix of aloe, essential oils and raw honey?

  18. says

    Haven’t Done Anything but break my knots into sections and condition , my dreads are coming along well just need some coils or beads to help a couple form any suggestions on good items to use ?

  19. brian says

    thanks for the posts;very helpful but I got a lil problem with my dreads, about one and a half months old, at the sides of my head it locks quite good and I really love that,,,,but at the top it’s really very soft and has got a lot of loose hair in each dread. please help out.

  20. joke says

    I find this info very useful. Thanks a big time. Pls can I use only Aloe gel from the start? I intend doing it at home by myself. Waiting to hear from you. Thanks

  21. Anne says

    Moisturising your hair (aloe) hinders the locking process. Hair needs to be dry to lock…. aloe is ok when the dreads are mature, as a moisturiser.

  22. says

    Starting dreadlocks is a huge decision, its really all about patience. Twist your hair with a form or wool hat stay 6-8months without combing it, u’ll get an amazing lock. Do not wash for the first 2-3 months.

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