Aloe vera is called the wonder plant for a reason. Either the Aloe Vera gel or the Aloe vera juice from the plant’s leaves are used for many health, therapy and beauty purposes. In fact, Cleopatra was said to use it to keep her skin soft during Egyptian times. Here we examine this natural remedy for hair health and growth.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe is a green plant that grows to about two foot and is similar in appearance to a cactus. It grows best in hot and dry climates. It is said to benefit digestion, weight loss, skin complaints, inflammation and even asthma and diabetes. As well as a list of health benefits, it is often used for skincare, due to its gentle formula. Perhaps less known, it is also effective to use on your hair.
Aloe Vera Gel or Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera gel is a clear sap found inside the plant leaf and mostly used as a solution gel on burns etc. Aloe vera juice is found underneath the green skin of the leaf and is mostly used as a spritz for the face or hair or as a dietary cleansing liquid. When it comes to your hair, BOTH are good to use and it depends on what you are using it for and personal preference. If you prefer the texture of a gel (as a hair mask, perhaps), use aloe vera gel and if you prefer to bottle up a detangling spritz using aloe vera, use the juice!
Here are just some of the reasons people use aloe vera gel or juice as a hair treatment:
Aloe Vera Benefits For Hair
- Aloe Vera For Preventing Hair Loss: The proteolytic enzymes in aloe vera help repair dead skin cells. It also helps prevent hair loss by clearing any scalp infections or irritations on the scalp area. Bald patches or hair loss can be caused by excess sebum clogging up scalp pores and it helps break down the sebum and lets the hair follicles breathe and grow. It works in much the same way as Keratin (hair protein) by conditioning hair follicles and helping to avoid hair breaking and snapping. When the hair is in the best condition it can be, which aloe vera assists with, it is less likely to be damaged or cause hair thinning.
- Aloe Vera For Hair Growth:
Not only does aloe vera prevent hair loss, it also helps promote fast growing locks. Most women strive for beautiful, long, hair. It acts as a natural conditioner, leaving hair follicles supple, shiny and smooth. It contains amino acids that promote healthy hair condition. When hair falls out or breaks,it helps new hair rebuild and grow strong. Research by the University of Hawaii proves that aloe vera has been used since the Egyptian times for hair care and has lasted the test of time.
- Aloe vera as an anti-inflammatory:
You may have heard of aloe vera being used to reduce muscle pain, clear acne and soothe burns, stings, and insect bites. Just some of its versatile advantages. This is because it has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce soreness, redness, and swelling. It is often an ingredient used in hair colorant or potent hair treatments to help soothe the scalp and avoid any damage from harsh chemicals. The property that makes it so effective as an anti-inflammatory is an enzyme called badykinase and the anti-bacterial salicylic acid.
- Aloe vera against itchiness:
Itchy hair can not only be annoying, but very damaging to your hair too. Again, thanks to its soothing properties as well as its anti-pruritic property, aloe helps dryness and itchiness of the scalp and can prevent skin conditions such as eczema. Aloe vera helps reduce inflammation and conditions the area to prevent re-occurrence.
- Aloe vera as a dandruff treatment:
Dry, itchy skin can lead to dandruff (flaky skin cells) and aloe helps prevent or treat this. The enzymes present in the gel help rid the scalp of dead skin cells and sebum that clog the pores and cause dandruff. It works quickly against a flaky scalp and is gentle in doing so. It’s often a lot less harsh than store bought solutions.
- Aloe vera to balance the pH levels:
Aloe vera is alkaline. It acts as an anti-fungal solution because fungus survives best in acidic environments. It helps balance out the pH of the hair and neutralize any acid build-up which prevents scalp diseases and irritation and kills off bad bacteria.
- Aloe vera for greasy hair:
Sometimes conditioning treatments can make greasy hair greasier, but it works well on oily hair because it is light. The aloe vera juices cut through grease by ensuring that the hair follicles are not clogged by sebum. Lemon juice can speed up the process, so it is worth adding a drop or two of natural lemon juice to aloe vera gel.
- Aloe vera gel is a light solution and does not make your hair dull and heavy like some conditioners can. The juice is even lighter than the gel
- It is natural and does not contain chemicals like some hair treatments that can actually cause more harm than good to your hair health and be too harsh
- Aloe, as a plant, draws in moisture and is known as a humectant. This is how it manages to survive in hot conditions. In the same way, aloe draws moisture to the hair and helps avoid it feeling dry and brittle.
- Aloe vera can be grown at home
- It is a spiky plant, so handle with care
- Cut the aloe leaf from the stem up (the gel is found inside the leaf and the juice under it)
- Extract the sap from the plant (the gel substance) using a spoon or drain the juices by drying out the leaf
- Place the extract into a bowl
- There will be a strong smell when you cut the leaves, so throw away the green leaves around the gel once you’ve extracted the gel or juice
- It will need straining carefully to remove any white or green residue or bits (leave a clear substance behind)
- Pre-shampoo: You can apply aloe vera before shampoo to help break down any buildup of dandruff or old hair products. As we’ve already covered,it removes dead skin cells on the scalp and helps soothe and moisturise the scalp which can help prepare it for washing. Simply massage the gel onto your scalp and leave it to work its magic for about ten minutes before rinsing and adding shampoo as normal. Using it before shampoo also adjusts the pH levels on your scalp, as aloe has an alkaline pH of 4.5 and can neutralise any acidity present.
- Aloe vera shampoo:
Aloe gel can be used as a substitute shampoo. In fact, it is often an ingredient in good quality shop bought shampoos. If not, you can either add some to your existing shampoo or use it on its own. It leaves your hair clean and hydrated.
- Aloe Vera conditioner: Aloe is effective as a conditioner as it is really moisturising and leaves your hair feeling strong but soft. It keeps moisture in and its effects last a long time. It can be used as a stand-alone conditioner or added to other ingredients to make your own hair mask. This is where you can get experimenting!
- Aloe Vera as a styling product: Perfect for taming curly or frizzy hair, it acts as a styling serum to control hair and add moisture. It helps define curls and waves and it can also act as a detangling lotion.
- Leave-in conditioning treatment: Thanks to the alkaline pH of aloe, it closes hair cuticles and locks in moisture, avoiding hair from getting frizzy or damaged. You can make up an easy spray to use to keep on top of it with a little spritz through the day. Simple mix 4oz of strained aloe vera gel (or juice for a thinner consistency) and 4oz of water, add a couple of drops of an essential oil of your choice and blend well. Shake the mix before use.
- Detangling overnight moisturiser:
Extract aloe vera gel (usually better than juice here) and add a couple of teaspoons of castor oil and one teaspoon of basil powder (or blended basil leaves). Blend the ingredients together to form a mask and cover your whole head in it. Put a shower cap over your hair and sleep overnight with the mask on or leave it in as long as possible (a few hours at least). This way, the product penetrates deeply. Rinse it out thoroughly and wash out with a shampoo.
- Anti-dandruff serum:
Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with aloe vera gel (gel works better than juice as a serum). Add two teaspoons of rose water to help mix the ingredients into a serum. Work it through your hair, from roots to the end. A little goes a long way. Leave it on for at least an hour and comb it through gently. Leaving it on for about an hour means that it can work to prevent dandruff returning as well as treating any existing dandruff. This beats an expensive shop treatment hands down, every time.
- Aloe vera and lemon mask:
The mix of alkaline and acid works well in this home-made conditioning treatment. Mix a couple of teaspoons of aloe with half a lemon (freshly squeezed). Add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice if you wish. After you shampoo your hair, apply the mixture. Leave it for just a few minutes then rinse off thoroughly. Lemon juice is good for adding shine to your hair.
- Aloe vera and egg mask:
Mix one egg with a couple of spoons of aloe gel and apply to your hair, leaving for about 15-20 minutes. The egg is a great protein for hair care and added to the aloe vera, it will leave your looks feeling nourished and looking healthy and shiny.
- Aloe vera and oil treatment:
Aloe can be mixed with a range of oils that have benefits for the hair, including warmed up olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil or almond oil. Aloe juice works well here. Comb the mixture through your hair and leave it on for up to half an hour before washing off. If the oils are warm, they work better!
Other Benefits of aloe vera …
So now that you know what aloe vera is useful for when it comes to your hair, you now need to know where to find it and how best to use it. There are lots of hair masks that you can make at home to treat your hair and aloe can even be extracted yourself. If not, there are many store-bought solutions, although they can be a little pricey. Shop around, read ingredient labels and do some research so you understand what you are getting for your money. If you decide to keep a plant yourself, they are very easy to look after (a bit like a cactus) and you can have heaps of fun making your own beauty treatments.
Home aloe vera
Extracting the clear aloe vera gel or juice from an aloe plant is easy when you know how.
How to use aloe vera
Aloe vera can be used as part of a treatment or in other ways, as a gel or juice …
Quick and easy Aloe Vera treatments to make at home
Is aloe vera good for hair?
Overwhelmingly, research says YES! The best thing about aloe vera is that it is not unique to hair care. In fact, most people know it for its huge list of health benefits and its use in skincare ranges. When it comes to hair, it’s great too. It is highly absorbent. In its natural habitat, the plant protects itself against its natural environment and in much the same way, aloe vera gel protects your hair against pollution, smoke and other things which can cause hair damage. You can treat your hair regularly with it. It can be used pure, by itself, or it can mixed with other natural ingredients. We’ve covered a few above, but there are plenty more including apple cider vinegar and honey. Combined, they make great hair conditioning treatments. This versatile natural remedy is an essential in every home, so go and get yourself an aloe vera plant today and get experimenting with all its many benefits.
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