Home Beauty Best Locking Gel – The Ultimate Guide

Best Locking Gel – The Ultimate Guide

Best Locking Gel– Our Top Ten Picks

by Ellay
Locking Gel

To look their best locs need constant care and nourishment to help keep their tight configuration.

Day-to-day maintenance is one thing; the method you use to start them off and hold them is quite another.

This is where locking gels come in.  They can make your locs more manageable and easier to shape.

And, as most locking gels are water-based, you can easily wash them out with a gentle shampoo, unlike wax.

The ingredients used can vary considerably, so it can be tricky to single out what’s best for your hair.

In this guide we’ve covered everything you need to know to help you choose the best locking gel for you.

The 3 Best Locking Gels Right Now

Although we’ve carried out a full review of the top ten products on the market, for those in a rush, here are three of the best options right now:

The ORS Lock and Twist Gel is one of the most popular products around.  It’s received more independent feedback than any of the other locking gels we’ve looked at and scores consistently well in reviews.  It’s also available at a great price.

Jamaican Mango and Lime make some amazing products for locs, and their leading locking gel is no different.  It smells great, works really well, and is unlucky not to take  our number one spot.

Our number one pick however is Bronner Brothers Tropical Roots Firm Locking Gel.  This stuff smells amazing too.  It’s priced well and quite simply works.

Common Ingredients Used In Locking Gels

Let’s take a quick look at some of the main natural ingredients that you’ll find in many popular locking gels:

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a common ingredient not just in hair care products but also skin care products in general.

Its greatest benefit is that it helps keep your scalp healthy.

Remember: a healthy scalp means healthy locs!

It achieves this by thoroughly cleaning out the pores on your scalp and preventing residue build up.

It also helps your hair to grow out fuller and shinier: a result achieved by the most sophisticated hair care treatments.

As if all this wasn’t enough, aloe vera also helps prevent your hair from shedding and keeps frizz at bay.


Beeswax is one of the very best organic ingredients to seal moisture in your locks and to protect them from heat and dust.

Beeswax is light, and easy to apply, and wash off, which makes it great to use before styling your hair.

Its natural moisturizing properties also help it keep your hair safe from frizz and dryness.

Our favorite thing about beeswax and beeswax-based products is that they do not contain any synthetic oils and allow the pores to breathe freely keeping hair light and shiny.

Almond Oil

Almond oil, being a multi-functional oil, has manifold benefits for your hair and skin.

Only consider skipping products with almond oil if you have a nut allergy.

Almond oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft easily, allowing it to seal in moisture and strengthening hair from the roots.

It also helps restore softness to your hair and add luster to your locks.

Furthermore, the protein and fatty acids in almond oil, by helping your hair grow stronger, and protect it from split ends and harmful sun damage.

The 10 Best Locking Gels On The Market Right Now

Without further ado let’s take a look at the ten most popular locking gels around right now:

1. Bronner Brothers Tropical Roots Firm Locking Gel

Designed to provide extra hold with no flaking, Bronner Brother’s Tropical Firm Locking Gel can be applied to damp unlocked hair with your fingertips or a comb.

You can also use the palm rolling technique to twist any new growth clockwise after you section off your hair neatly.

Simply sit under a dryer until twists are nearly dry for best results.

Prepare yourself for fragrant, shiny locks that keep their shape all day long.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It smells great
  • It holds locs nicely
  • It moisturizes very well
  • It has a smooth, lightweight texture
  • Its reasonably priced

Things we don’t like:

  • Few come to mind

Overall, Bronner Brother’s Tropical Roots Firm Locking Gel provides extra hold without flaking. Users have found it to be a great locking gel for regular use.  Highly recommended.

2. Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking Hair Gel

Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking hair gel is designed specially to provide your locs with great hold while preventing residue build up.

It helps maintain locs and twists for a long time while nourishing hair with the help of mango butter, virgin coconut oil and green tea extract.

You can use this gel after you shampoo and towel dry your hair by applying it to the roots with either your fingertips or a comb.

You can also palm roll it for more advanced locs.

For new locs, though, you may want to sit under a dryer for 20 minutes after locking.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It suits all kinds of dreads
  • It smells great
  • It’ll be easy to brush your hair even after you use this gel
  • It keeps locs tight and intact
  • It minimizes frizz

Things we don’t like:

  • The packaging is not the best
  • That’s about it!

Overall, Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking hair gel is a great product that suits all hair types and helps significantly to manage frizzy hair. The packaging isn’t amazing, however, fans love it.

3. African Formulas, Hair Gel Conditioning Super Grow

This conditioning gel boasts an advanced formula made from natural oils (coconut oil, olive oil, peach oil, safflower oil, etc.).

It also contains wild bee honey and West African Shea Butter that helps your hair grow thicker and prevent hair loss and thinning by strengthening your hair from the roots.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It soothes frizzy hair and holds locs nicely while keeping them soft
  • It aids thick and strong hair growth
  • It dissolves well into water despite being thick
  • It leaves little to no residue
  • It noticeably reduces hair thinning

Things we don’t like:

  • Its scent doesn’t appeal to everyone

Overall, the African Formulas Hair Gel is a great buy for you all, and especially those who have noticed a patch or two on their scalp where their locs look a little thinner thinner. We don’t have any complaints with this gel – it’s a great all round performer.

4. Murray’s Gel Loc-Lock

This gel is designed in a way that makes it ideal for cornrows, braids and dreadlocks.

If you’re looking for a gel that’s economical and helps keep your loc styles intact, look no further.

It contains olive oil and sweet almond oil that penetrate the scalp to provide deep nourishment and keep itching, dry scalp and flaking at bay.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It’s easily affordable
  • It works great for layering the ends of your locs
  • It causes little to no residue build up
  • It has a pleasant almond oil scent
  • It’s a lightweight and non-greasy gel

Things we don’t like:

  • Its consistency can get a little watery
  • It works more like a regular hair gel

Overall, this is an extremely pocket-friendly buy that’s best feature is its complete lack of build up and non-greasy formula. It doesn’t hold locs quite as well as some of the other gels on our list, but the price is amazing so it deserves its place.

5. ORS Lock and Twist Gel

The ORS Lock and Twist Gel holds your locs in a way that makes them look naturally healthy and voluminous.

It hasn’t been tested on animals and doesn’t contain alcohol or sodium hydroxide, which ensures it minimizes damage to your hair.

What it does contain is coconut oil and soybean oil that moisturize hair naturally.

To apply, simply section off your hair, apply the gel and twist your locs.

Then you can palm roll your hair to set it up and sit under a dryer for best results.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It leaves no residue and doesn’t cause flaking
  • It has a soft rather than crunchy hold
  • Its non-greasy
  • It works well on natural hair
  • It’s very reasonably priced

Things we don’t like:

  • The scent could be a bit more fragrant

Overall, this Lock and Twist Gel does a decent job of holding your locs.  It will also soften them, and won’t leave any residue or damage your hair in any way. Recommended.

6. Stylin’ Dredz Moulding Gel Wax with Tea Tree Oil Hair Care

The Stylin’ Dreads Moulding Gel Wax contains tea tree oil that prevents flaking on your scalp and the glycerine helps moisturize your hair while keeping your scalp squeaky clean.

With regular use, you’ll notice it makes your hair shiny and completely eliminates dryness.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It leaves no waxy residue build up on either the scalp or locs
  • It gives your locs a professional, salon-like finish
  • It holds locs very nicely
  • The gel wax has a smooth consistency and texture that makes it easy to apply
  • It greatly speeds up the locking process on baby locs

Things we don’t like:

  • None

The Stylin’ Dredz Moulding Gel Wax uses a great list of natural ingredients to provide your locs (and baby locs) all the nourishment they require and more.  It makes locs appear shiny and professionally done, which is great considering the price.

7. Jamaican Mango & Lime No More Itch Cool Scalp Braid Twist & Lock Gel

This No More Itch Scalp Lock Gel is created using an ancient Jamaican recipe handed down by the Rastafarians from generations past.

What more do you need, right?

The mango and lime in the gel help to keep your scalp and locs fresh and healthy.

This effective formula also grooms locs naturally and helps you keep them tight.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It helps eliminates dry, itchy scalp
  • Its well-suited to regular use
  • Its reasonably-priced
  • It gives great definition to locs and twists

Things we don’t like:

  • It can give the inside of dreadlocks a bluish tinge if overused
  • It contains mineral oil which provides no great benefits

Overall this gel can help you maintain tight, well-defined locs every day and prevent itchiness and flaking (unless you already have dry scalp). However, we’re not fan of the mineral oil they’ve added to this gel that serves no purpose other than to fill up the container.

8. Locksteady Tropical Dreadlock Tightening Gel

We love that this tightening gel contains aloe vera that soothes itchy scalp and helps tame frizzy hair.

No more worrying about humidity the minute you step out!

It doesn’t contain any kind of wax that can weigh down your locs and take ages to wash off.

In order to apply it you simply spread it along wet or dry hair using your fingertips and palm roll your dreads.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It smells great but the scent is not overwhelming
  • It makes your locs appear natural due to the absence of heavy wax
  • This clear, thin gel has great texture that makes it easy to apply
  • It makes your dreads look neat and well-defined by eliminating frizz

Things we don’t like:

  • You’ll have to use a fair amount for it to hold your locs well
  • It can causes build ups
  • Locs can appear slightly hard and crunchy after a while

Overall, the Knotty Boy’s tightening gel gives you natural-looking locs that are practically frizz-free. However, the fact that it causes residue build up and tends to dry out a bit makes us query the price tag a little.

9. Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel

Aunt Jackie’s Elongating Curling Gel contains glycerine that can clean your scalp almost better than any other hair/skin care ingredient.

It’ll suit your hair best if you have locs, curls or waves.

Use it on clean, damp hair for long-lasting results. Also, remember to use more of this gel on tighter locs and lesser on looser ones.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It makes locs appear healthy and natural
  • It doesn’t contain paraben
  • It steers clear from flakes and white residue build up
  • It works beautifully well to define locs
  • It makes appear fuller, more voluminous
  • Easily affordable

Things we don’t like:

  • It contains sodium hydroxide which can be harmful with regular use
  • It does not dry well

Overall, the Aunt Jackie’s Elongating Curling Gel can make your locs healthy, thick and well-defined. It’s also priced reasonably, and comes highly recommended by regular users.

10. Jamaican Mango & Lime Resistant Formula Locking Firm Wax

The Jamaican Mango & Lime Resistant Formula Locking Firm Wax contains all-natural fruit extracts that’ll suit you well if you have baby locs and are at a loss for how to get started with their maintenance routine.

We say it’s great for baby locs because it provides a soft rather than crunchy hold that looks great on baby locs.

It doesn’t leave behind any greasy residue and contains blue mountain honey that is a very effective moisturizing ingredient.

Things we like about this gel:

  • It has light, non-sticky formula
  • It makes locs appear healthy and polished
  • It has a fresh, invigorating scent
  • It doesn’t weigh hair down like other waxy gels
  • It’s an economical option

Things we don’t like:

  • It tends to dry out after a while if you use too much
  • It could do with better packaging
  • It doesn’t work very well on mature locs

Overall, this locking wax makes locs appear well-defined and smelling great all day. However, we wish it didn’t dry out quite so much and worked as well on mature locs as it does on baby locs.

What’s The Best Locking Gel Right Now?

Here’s a reminder of our TOP 3 picks and why:

Best All Round Product

Our pick for the best all round product would be the Bronner Brothers Firm Locking Gel. Priced at $7.99 at the time of review for 6 ounces, it’s reasonably-priced and contains all the features of a great locking gel.

Produced by the reputed Bronner Bros. Company, it’s designed to provide your locs with extra hold and no flaking and that’s exactly what it does.

It’s sure to give your locs a baby soft, silky texture after just a few uses.

Its lightweight texture makes it great for daily use as it washes off easily.

We don’t mind that it smells great, either. Our only complaint with this product is that it can, on occasion, flake up ever so slightly when it dries.

This, however, is fairly rare. We believe this product may not be revolutionary, though it does deliver what it claims and is well worth the price.

Runner up

Our vote for runner up would go the African Formulas Hair Gel Conditioning Super Grow Gel priced at $8.99 at the time of review.

We absolutely love that it contains so many great natural ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, peach oil and wild bee honey that moisturizers hair wonderfully well.

It may be thick raising residue concerns however rest assured that this is not the case.

This gel causes little to no residue build up and washes off very easily. Moreover, it works wonders for remedying scanty hair growth and taming stubborn frizz.

It also holds locs tightly and makes them appear well-defined and nourished.

We’d only caution you not to use too much of this gel on your hair though as it tends to get greasy if you pile it on.

We also wish it smelled better but for $8.99, we’re not cribbing!

Best Value Option

We’ve picked the ORS Lock and Twist Gel as our best value option. It retails for $6.52 (at the time of review) and makes your hair look healthy and voluminous without appearing fake.

It’ll also allay your ethical concerns as it hasn’t been tested on animals.

This gel doesn’t contain harmful ingredients such as alcohol (that could dry out your hair) and sodium hydroxide (that could damage your hair in the long run).

Instead, it contains coconut oil and soybean oil that moisturize hair without causing any build up leaving your locs with a smooth rather crunchy hold.

Its non-greasy formula works on all natural hair types though we must admit it doesn’t hold up locs as well as other costlier oils.

However, it works great for the price and we would recommend giving it a shot for regular use.

Things To Consider When Buying A Locking Gel

Before you purchase a gel for your locs, there are a few things you may want to consider.

In this section we’ve highlighted a few things you may want to take a good look at in this regard.

Should You Get Wax Or Gel?

This depends on whether you want your locs to remain firm and hold up even after you’ve washed them or not.

If you do want some sort of hold for your curls, you may want to go with wax as it is not water soluble and doesn’t dissolve easily.

However, if you’re not a fan of frizz or fly away hair, you may want to opt for gel. Also, gel being water soluble washes off easily and leaves no residue.

Wax, on the other hand, takes ages to wash off and even then leaves heavy residue behind which is fine if you’re home all day but far from ideal if you have outdoor commitments.

Though wax may be useful in the first few weeks/months of your loc journey, gels are more aptly-suited to maturing locs to keep frizz under control.

Just make sure to inspect ingredients carefully when you’re buying locking gel and avoid those that have alcohol in them as they dry out the hair.

What Ingredients Should Your Gel Have?

Always make sure to check the list of ingredients on your store-bought locking gel.

We’d recommend that you steer clear of products that use carrier oils or too much wax (natural or otherwise) as this would completely defeat the purpose of buying a good quality locking gel.

Getting a good idea of the main ingredients used in a locking gel will also allow you to anticipate its potential side effects on your hair.

As is the case with any hair/skin care products, the more organic ingredients it contains, the better its overall quality is.

In general we’d advise you to use hair gels with the following products that work great on all hair types and are a thousand times better than piling on harmful chemicals on your scalp:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Coconut Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Beeswax

Please refer to the ‘Main ingredients used in locking gels’ section for more information on these.

What Ingredients Should Your Gel Be Free Of?

We’ve talked about ingredients your ideal locking gel should contain but what about those it shouldn’t?

Surely it’s as important to know what to avoid as what to choose in order to keep your locks in great condition.

Now, we’re not just talking about ingredients found in hair locking gels but hair care products in general.

You can either choose not to use products with the following ingredients from the get-go, or discontinue using them hereafter:

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil does little more than make sure the other natural oils mixed with it don’t weigh your hair down too much. It provides neither the required moisture, nor the required hold you’d expect from a hair locking gel.

As we mentioned in one of the product reviews – it mainly serves as a means to fill up bottles. Waste of money? You be the judge.


Beware, gels that contain petroleum (though not very common) are enough to trigger common dreadlocks woes. These woes being residue build up and flaking.

Furthermore, gels that contain petroleum tend to damage your hair in the long run so you may want to keep that in mind before you buy one.

Hair Crèmes

Now, most hair locking gels don’t contain hair crèmes for the simple reason that it is far from being an ideal ingredient to use on dreadlocks.

Why, you ask? Any product that contains hair crème is much too heavy to allow your hair to have the flowing, loose quality that aids the formation of locs.

Far from it, in fact, hair crèmes tend to make your hair heavy and greasy that can make loc formation a complete disaster. They also tend to cause nasty build up on your scalp and hair that is irksome to get rid of.

Brown Gel And Other Artificial Ingredients

It may be tempting to opt for hair care products that are infested with chemicals and artificial ingredients as they offer results quicker than organic products.

However, bear in mind that in the long run the damage these ingredients can cause is almost always irreversible. Brown gel, for instance contains parabens and too many proteins which can cause your hair to weaken and eventually grow hard and brittle.

Be vary of products that contain formaldehyde, phthalates and preservatives too as they can be deceptively effective on your hair for a while.

How To Use Locking Gel

That one’s a bit easier to show so we recommend you watch the following video for information on the use of gel to help with loc maintenance:

Best Brands

The following are the brands that are the best in the hair locking industry and hence worthy of recommendation:

Bronner Brothers Enterprise

Established in 1947, Bronner Brothers Enterprise is one of the largest African-American hair and skincare line operating in the United States.

Their products have been specially designed for the African-American population but appeal to all hair and skin types, particularly their All-Natural Product line.

African Formula

Manufacturing products that are carefully formulated to minimize preservative levels, African Formula is a reputed manufacturer and distributor of natural and botanical health and beauty products. T

he ingredients used in these products are specially designed to make hair and skin appear healthy and youthful while being non-pore clogging and non-acne genic.

Jamaican Mango and Lime

By promoting the use of natural ingredients and avoiding harmful additives, Jamaican Mango and Lime has become one of the leading manufacturers of shampoos, oils, waxes and gels.

Promoting healthy hair growth by preventing breakage and aiding repair, this brand is a treasured favorite among the dreadlock community.

Knotty Boy

Established in 1997, Knotty Boy is fiercely committed to using only natural, ethically-sourced ingredients in its products.

Their focus on great customer service prompted this small, independently-owned company to open its first Lock Shop and Salon in 2004 in Vancouver. Since then, their consumer base has been rapidly expanding and they show no signs of slowing down.


Q – How can I get rid of residue build up from locking gel?

A – For residue from locking gel or any other hair care product for that matter, the trick is to use gentle ingredients.

Arguably the most effective method of getting rid of residue would be soaking your dreads for about 10 minutes in hot water with about 2 tbsp of dread soap and lemon juice.

Keep massaging the soapy water and rinsing it off for a get 10-15 minutes to get the entire stubborn residue out.

Q – What should I use on my locks – butter or gel?

A – This depends on what kind of treatment you want for your locs.

You should opt for a locking gel if you want help holding and defining your locs better. Gels also make your locs appear smooth and shiny by eliminating frizz.

Butter, on the other hand, moisturizes hair but tends to cause too much build up and residue. If your locs are extremely dry you can occasionally use butter but we wouldn’t recommend you use it regularly as the residue can be a pain to wash out.

Q – Is beeswax good for locs?

A – If used in moderation, beeswax can be greatly beneficial to your locs, especially if you’ve just had them done.

Beeswax is waterproof so it helps keep baby locs in place even after you wash your hair giving them time to develop and mature.

However, due to the fact that it doesn’t wash off easily we recommend you don’t use it on mature dreadlocks unless you want to deal with residue build up regularly.

Q – How Have Locking Gels Developed?

A – A few years ago there were little to no products that were specifically designed to cater exclusively for locs.

With the passage of time, however, the world has come to realise that regular shampoos, oils and gels just don’t cut it for loc maintenance.

The world of dreadlock maintenance is unique and as such, requires unique care. As your relationship with your dreadlocks grows and matures, your commitment to maintaining them reduces proportionately.

However, you’ll never be able to shrug off your locs’ basic requirements that are moisturizing them and helping them maintain their texture. Locking gels do both.

Wrapping It Up

It can be confusing to decide which is the best locking gel for you.  From all natural ingredients to paraben-infested products, from fresh fruit extract to aloe vera, we’ve covered all of the major types of locking gels to help you decide where to spend your money.

After thoroughly reviewing all of the products in our guide, and weighing the pros and cons of each, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Bronner Brothers Firm Locking Gel is the best product all round in terms of providing your locs with optimum hold while causing no build up, making hair smooth and silky.

In short, everything we’d want from a good locking gel without burning a hole in our pocket.

Which one did you choose?  Let us know below, we’d love to hear from you.

Did we miss anything?  If you’ve had a great experience with a product that didn’t make our list please get in touch.

If you liked this article you might also like our post on the best shampoo for locs on the market right now, or our updated post on the best oils for locs here.

Need help with hair grades?  Check out our handy guide.

Or why not take a look at our posts on how to care for natural and 4c hair?

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