LoPo’s Frenemy I: Aloe Vera

I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day with your loved ones and not your frenemies. Speaking of frenemy, aloe vera has been one of mine.

It does have many beauty and hair benefits. It has slightly acidic Ph, ranging between 4.4 – 4.7. It works great on skin that’s been exposed to too much sun and harsh, dry winds. Many people use aloe vera as a gel. Or they use the juice from the plant as a leave-in or sealer.

When I heard about aloe’s healing properties for the hair, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started using it. The results were not at all good, but I couldn’t understand why. My hair would frizz up at the moment I applied aloe vera and when I mixed it with my leave-in conditioners, the product build-up was horrible. I kept using it, because I was convinced it was supposed do something for my hair.

One day, I ran out of my aloe juice and went a few weeks without using it. I noticed my hair had less frizz and less buildup than before. Sometime passed and I restocked my fridge with a bottle of aloe juice and went back to using it. That’s when a light bulb went off and I realized my “good hair weeks” had suddenly come to an end. I didn’t understand why my hair didn’t respond well to aloe until I figured out my hair was low porosity.

In essence, applying aloe to my hair, after cleansing with conditioner (i.e. cowashing) and rinsing with cold water (which, will be discussed in later posts), was not efficient for my already compact cuticles. This probably caused them to be more compact and lock out moisture. Imagine a set of shingles on a roof (low porosity hair), covered in plastic tarp (aloe juice)– yep, that rain is just going to roll off the roof of the house! Remember water has a neutral Ph of 7 and aloe vera a Ph of 4.4 – 4.7, thus it can’t lift the cuticle, as it has a Ph less than 7.

Now, just because aloe didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it’s a horrible beauty product and it can’t work for me. My problem, was that I was just doing it all wrong. I still love using aloe on my face, it’s a very refreshing moisturizer! I don’t use it often on my hair, however, here are some helpful tips I do use, to make it work for my low-porosity hair:

  • Use aloe only as a sealer for the ends. If the ends of your hair are often dry and split. Simply mix a small amount of aloe into your leave-in or apply it directly in its pure form to the ends of your hair.
  • After an alkaline hair wash, in my case, baking soda wash, apply aloe as sealer on top of your leave-in. You could just put some in a spray bottle and spritz it lightly on your hair.
  • Add some to rhassoul clay mixture (will be discussed in later posts), for an ultra moisturizing deep conditioner.

Voila, those are ways I make aloe vera work for with my hair and not against it. I never apply it to hair as a deep conditioner. I try to mainly use it on my ends, unless I’ve washed my hair with a high Ph product/ingredient. I add it to my rhassoul clay mixture, which works quite nicely with aloe. I would not suggest mixing aloe into baking soda wash.

Again, I don’t use it often and my hair seems to be doing really well retaining moisture. It’s never had this amount of shine, beside when it was really short (twa).

Do you use aloe vera juice or gel on your hair? How do you use it?

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20 thoughts on “LoPo’s Frenemy I: Aloe Vera

  1. Where have you been all my natural hair journey??? lol, I needed/need all this information, my low porosity hair is so picky with products and I don’t know what to do with my hair..everyone raves about all these cuticle closing products with aloe and other humectants and i’m just in my corner like “I can’t use that” lol 😦 I’m definitely a follower of this blog from now on so I hope you continue to record your findings as it is much appreciated!

    • Hahaha! I’m not an expert, but I realize low porosity naturals need more exposure on the web. After reading tons of information on hair care forums, it became evident that there are many women who have low porosity hair. It’s a wonderful thing if you learn to work with it. I’m looking forward to readers sharing their experiences. The more information out there on regimens and what work and doesn’t work, the more resources we have available to us. Thanks so much for commenting and stopping by!

    • Hi Nya, Thanks for stopping by! I definitely think that buildup can mimick low porosity hair. Especially if you are using a lot of silicones and sealing with heavy oils on top of that. The best way to find out if you’re low porosity is by doing a strand test on cleansed/shampooed hair. Take a clean shed hair or snip a little strand and place it in a cup of cool/luke warm water. If it floats for hours, then you’re probably low porosity. What’s your regimen? No-Poo, Curly Girl, do you shampoo, seal, etc.?

  2. I am a new natural and am looking to better understand how to care for my LoPo hair. Humectant, pH, protein/no protein, oils… I can’t keep up! I have a few questions:
    1. What are some popular conditioners and curl definers for LoPo hair that I can try?
    2. I would like to perfect my wash/go regime…I struggle with curl definition since my hair is wavy in front and on top and curly in the back..all I need is a conditioner, a leave-in and a curl cream right?
    3. Where do natural ingredients like oils, clays, aloe vera come into the mix when caring for hair? Are they part of daily regime or occasional additions? Thanks!

    • Hi Shay!
      A lot of being natural if figuring out what works best for your hair. Every curly head is really unique and different from the next. What works for me may not work for all, however, I try to avoid or use very little humectants, typically conditioners or hair washes with a slightly higher pH help me with moisture, I sometimes use light proteins and follow them with moisturizing conditioners and finally, I use light oils or sometimes no oils, depending on what my hair needs.
      To answer your questions:
      -I don’t live in the US, but do stock up on most of my conditioners when I go home to visit during the summer. Some of my favorites are Aussie Moist, Giovanni (all of worked wonderfully for me), Tresseme Naturals and finally Avalon Organics conditioners. I find that these do a good job providing slip and moisture. I tend to stay away from extremely thick conditioners.
      -My hair too and many naturals experience multiple curl patterns. I think the product that you use depends on the thickness of your hair. I generally rinse my conditioner out of my hair. The only thing I use on my hair is a leave-in conditioners. I don’t use curl creams, but have heard good things about Kinky Curly Curling Custard.
      -My general consensus is aloe not so great for low porosity hair and mud washes such as Terresentials, Anita Grant, or DIY work wonders. I generally only wash my hair with clay once per week or once every other week, not daily. Check out my regimen and my post on rhassoul clay for more information:
      https://lowporosityhaircare.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/lo-pos-bff-rhassoul-clay-mud-wash/
      https://lowporosityhaircare.wordpress.com/my-regimen/

      • Hey annabello you did a great job, but i have two things to say about it. You said you dont use aloe but there is aloe in the aussie moist conditionner and for the ph of aloe and his effect what is water doing in all this ? Aloe is bad for loo po hair because the ph is lower than 5 ( ph of natural hair ) and not 7 ph of water! I dont understand everything

      • Hi! Thx for stopping by. You’re right Aussie noise does have aloe. I figure since it’s far down in the ingredient list, it’s not a key ingredient. I can’t use straight up aloe, however. I don’t know the science behind this, just based on my experience. For more info on why low ph products are not effective for opening up the cuticles of lopo hair, please see earlier posts. Hope this helps!

  3. Aloe never did any of that to my hair lol. But I only use aloe vera juice/gel for my scalp and edges so maybe that’s why?

  4. Annabel, I just want to thank you SO SO much for publishing these articles. I read it in February, but have come back to it today, because I had an angry outburst with my hair yesterday! Yep that’s right. I washed it twice, after making a lovely leave-in from flaxseeds and herbs etc (coils were popping and shiny) then I went and KILLED it with a sealant that I discovered online, namely: 3tbsp ALOE VERA, 1/2 tsp Agave, 1tsp Glycerine, and 1tsp coconut oil. Having known for a long time that my hair doesn’t really like Aloe, I thought that the other ingredients would water it down a little, but OH NO! INSTANT dullness and frizzation! So not thinking, I went and washed again, adding Castor oil to the mix and it was even worse. So here I am again, decided to pre-poo overnight, and going to wash again WITHOUT any sealant at the end, and will just see how I get on. One day my hair will be happy (so I keep telling myself) , and then I can really allow it to grow long and lustrous. But in the meantime, I shall press on with this frustrating period of trial and error 😦 But one thing I do know, is that i will NEVER toy with Aloe again!

    • I’ve been down that road before! Completely content with my hair then I start staring down a bottle of aloe juice thinking, “it might work this time”. It never does. We live, we learn. Thx for sharing!

  5. Thank you so much for helping me to understand why my hair behaves the way it does. All along I thought it was high porosity and was treating it accordingly. With this lo po kowledge my hair is shiny, moisturized, cooperative and predictable.

  6. This was so refreshing. I kept wondering why in the world my hair would not respond to the “magical wonders of aloe vera.” I felt so annoyed. I want to use natural gels (eco style and my hair are, like, soul mates, but I need to introduce a better option for her) or find a new and natural way of putting some type of hold on my curls. Aloe definitely makes my hair feel worse every time. And this whole time I thought I had high porosity! I have a question–if your hair is naturally soft and supple no matter what you do to it, does this hint at low porosity? And how can I add hold to my styles without it being avg or eco styler? Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi! Eco styler is not the worse thing in the world, I think it’s come free right? A little goes a long way, so maybe don’t overload your hair with it.
      Besides Eco gel, you could try to make your own flaxseed gel or buy some at an organic grocer.
      Personally I find soft, supple hair means your hair is getting the moisture it needs. Not that it indicates your porosity. Before adapting my routine to my porosity, my hair was always dry and prone to breakage. Now it’s generally soft and easy to detangle. Just think that’s a sign of health.

  7. Hey girl, yes, use it in my hair spritz and conditioners. Also use to seal my ends every now and then, works really well for my hair so far.
    The good thing is you now know how to use it to benefit your hair, can’t beat that.
    Smiles!!!!

  8. I agree about moisture helping alot. I have been using a plastic cap in the morning to cover my hair for an hour. I either rinse it thoroughly or spray with water before. That has worked over time to improve moisture content of my hair. It is softer now. A few weeks ago I introduced castor oil to my regimen and I believe that has also helped me. I am afraid of aloe and all protein-although at this point it may be time to try some, especially for my more fine strands.

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