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I decided that my dreadlocks needed a little extra lovin’ this past weekend – they were freshly washed and completely wild – so I mixed up my first aloe vera treatment for them. I’ve read that aloe is not only great at keeping baby dreads healthy, but that it can also help accelerate the locking process.

Because I am fortunate enough to have a huge aloe plant living in my kitchen, finding the raw material was easy. I was lucky to score my incredible aloe plant off of our local Freecycle network this past fall, but I’m sure than any reputable nursery would have aloe for sale. If you have trouble sourcing an aloe plant, pure aloe vera gel should be available at your local health food store. Just make sure that it is 100% pure, with no added preservatives or fillers. The aloe that is sold as a salve for sunburns has loads of unnecessary ingredients, including alcohol, so never use that on your dreads.

My recipe is a conglomeration of different versions I came across during my online researching. It is simple and seems to make the most sense for what I am trying to accomplish – keeping my dreads healthy and moisturized while also encouraging the knots to lock up tight. It only takes about ten minutes to whip up from start to finish and is super fun to make. The aloe pulp is gooey – in a wonderful watery fragrant way – and kept slipping out of my hands when I was trying to pick it up. I had been über grouchy all day, but playing with the aloe got me giggling.

I chose to use an organic lavender and tea tree essential oil (made by Dessert Essence) because I am trying to keep my scalp happy (not itchy) and keep my locks smelling lovely, but I imagine any yummy scent would work just as well. Best of all, because aloe is water soluble, there is no reason to rinse this treatment out.

(See? Completely wild after their first washing!)

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Here is my recipe:

~pulp from two large leaves of aloe (about 1 cup)
~1/2 tablespoon finely ground sea salt
~20-25 drops essential oil

Simply remove the pulp from the aloe by splitting the leaves lengthwise and scooping it out with a spoon, then place it into a small food processor. Add the other ingredients and let it whirr around for about two minutes. This is necessary in order to break down the aloe fibers and to dissolve the salt. The mixture will get really bubbly and frothy, but will quickly settle into a smooth watery gel.

I apply it by dipping my fingers into the jar, smoothing the gel on my locks and then palm rolling each one to lay all of the hairs in the same direction. My locks soak up the aloe and feel great after they have a chance to dry and soften over the next few hours. Voilà! Pretty dreads!

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This made quite a large batch and even with all of my hair, I wasn’t able to use it up. I think that next time I may try adding a bit of citric acid (lemon?) help keep the mixture fresh for a few days. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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