There are a couple of ways people cope with kinky, curly or wavy hair.
First, we tend to fuss with it, reaching for heat instruments, chemical relaxers, chemical treatments or torturous hairstyles that “tame it down." You know, keep it in control.
Then there are those who are happy to let their hair do its thing, finding pleasure in its many twists and turns.
Like most of you reading this article, I’ve been in both places. Most of my youth was spent having my hair cared for by others: greased-up, pulled back, poofed up, smoothed down, pressed hard and, alas, relaxed until it was lifeless and the scalp of my very sensitive head was blistered, scarred and scorched.
For nearly the last decade, I’ve been in the second camp. To start the journey, I found pleasure wearing a very short, close-cropped ‘fro. I’ve worn my hair in phat plaits, minute micro-braids, sculptural corn-rows, Goddess braids, double-strand twists with and without extensions and Nubian knots. The beauty shops found a good client in me. It was from the double-strand twist that my hair decided to lock up on its own, and now they trail well past the middle of my back.
What has been the common thread while in both camps? A plant known as aloe vera.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is a boon for us kinky, curly gals. It helps fix damage from heat appliances. For natural sistahs in the other camp, aloe vera should be one of your staples.
Aloe vera is the styling aid nonpareil, smoothing as it is soothing, controlling without stiffness. If you wear your hair straightened, heat set, flat-ironed, pressed, corn-rowed, French braided, micro-braided, Sengalese twist, Nubian knotted, straw set, afro-puffed or in a straight up afro, this is the natural ingredient for all of you. That is why it's showing up as the main ingredient in a growing number of hair products for curly hair.
Just as there are two camps, there are different ways to use aloe:
- Use aloe vera after procedures that cause burns and for the treatment for blisters and scars
- Use for setting of any type of wet hair (braided ‘wave set’, ‘rod set’, ‘straw set’, hard curler set and so forth)
- Use as an astringent (reduces oily build up)
- Use as a styling aid to emphasize wave pattern, curly texture for men, women and children and certain pets
- Use as an African setting aid: for French braids, corn rows, lock maintenance, micro-braids, etc