You all must know about the aloe vera plant. It is a humble house plant, which grows quite easily, in gardens or even in earthen pots. It is commonly used as a natural product in the field of cosmetology because of its prominent antimicrobial and skin care properties. Having medicinal and antimicrobial functions, one of its most important applications is in the treatment of acne.
The use of aloe vera plant for skin has been an ancient concept with the recognition of its benefits being made approximately 2000 years ago. Since then, the plant has received no backlash with respect to its benefits for the skin. The word aloe vera has an Arabic origin, and translates to ‘shining bitter substance’. But, what’s interesting is that this translation is not just an expression for its texture, but also, deciphers its shine – adding properties for your skin as well as your hair. Yes, that’s right, aloe vera is also a boon for your hair because of its anti – inflammatory and moisturising effects.
In the modern times, aloe vera finds several actual applications in the field of dermatology, which is sufficient for you to understand that it is one of the best organic products if you want to flaunt those lustrous skin and gleaming hair. While research backs up both its medicinal, skin and hair care properties, the focus of this article will be to introduce you to the benefits of aloe vera for your skin and hair.
But, there is more, we have a bunch of DIY recipes for you to try at home so that you are actually able to make the most of these benefits.
Aloe Vera Benefits for Hair and Skin
Let’s begin by understanding the benefits of aloe vera for skin and hair.
Accurately, one of the most common, renowned and crucial applications of aloe vera is for the management of acne or pimples. Acne is caused when bacteria P. acnes infects the sebaceous glands, which are located deep inside the skin.
Aloe vera has substantial anti – inflammatory and anti – bacterial properties, together, which account for an anti – acne effect. It contains salicylic acid, which offers anti – bacterial properties and lignin, which enhances its penetration within the structure of the skin. This means that aloe vera has the capability to penetrate deep into the skin and fight against the bacteria causing acne thereby causing relief in its symptoms.
Further, aloe vera contains saponins, which provide it a soapy texture. This results in cleansing and antiseptic actions, which are also useful for the inhibition of acne growth. Its soap – like texture further helps in removing excess oil from your face thereby reducing your tendency towards having acne, although, acne can affect all skin types. So, if you regularly have these skin outbursts, aloe vera may just be the friend you need.
Food for your Skin and Hair
Just like your body needs food, your skin and hair do too. But, wait, before you double in your order of pizza, our modest plant here is what we were talking about.
Aloe vera has ample amounts of essential nutrients including amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It contains 7 of the 8 essential amino acids required by humans. Now, you must know that amino acids, or proteins, are responsible for maintaining the structure and integrity of your skin. The abundance of amino acids thereby correlates with healthy structure of hair and skin. What more is needed, right?
Our friend here doesn’t fail to impress. Aloe vera also contains vitamins A, C and E along with vitamin B12, folic acid and choline. Vitamin C is directly associated with healthy skin since it helps in the formation of collagen, which is needed for the maintenance of your skin health. Other vitamins and minerals offer anti – oxidant properties fighting against the harmful activities of free radicals. Free radicals have the potential to cause damage to your skin and hair since they are stable and highly reactive.
So, you can think of aloe vera as a healthy balanced meal for your skin and hair. No, that does not mean you need to eat it up. We have interesting DIY masks and moisturisers coming up, which you should rather try.
Delays Signs of Ageing
Who doesn’t want a youthful glow forever? Well, if that’s your goal, using aloe vera is the correct path. Aloe vera stimulates the production of fibroblasts, which in turn, creates collagen and elastin fibres. Its rich content of vitamin C is also responsible for collagen release. Collagen is known to make your skin more elastic, which will inadvertently prevent the formation of wrinkles. But, that’s not a mere claim.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that regular use of aloe vera helps in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and erythema of the skin due to the effects of ageing. This benefit can also be attributed to the high amino acid content of aloe vera, which makes it improve the integrity of the skin reducing the gradual wear and tears. Amino acids also add on to its astringent properties, which work by reducing the size of your pores and facilitating their tightening.
Lastly, its antioxidant effects also contribute to its use as an anti – ageing product. It has been known that free radicals cause harmful damage to the skin causing premature appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. So, aloe vera helps in fighting this impairment at a cellular level leaving behind nourished, fresh – looking skin.
Prevents Dry Skin
Aloe vera has significant hydrating properties. It contains mucopolysaccharides, which assist in binding of moisture to the skin. This implies that using aloe vera gel on your skin and face after a nice shower can help your skin in locking down some extra moisture. It will make your skin smooth, shiny and moisturised, which is why it is commonly recommended for individuals with dry skin types.
Further, aloe also has cohesive properties, which makes your epidermal cells to be tightly bound to each other. Thus, flaking and peeling of skin owing to the effects of dryness is avoided and natural softness is enhanced. The recipe for a DIY moisturiser is given in the next section of this article, which individuals with dry skin can swear by.
Aloe vera is a tropical cactus of the lily family, which is not just great for your skin but also your hair. Aloe vera has shown to improve the tensile strength of your hair because of the improvement of collagen fibre deposition triggered by its application. It also enhances cross – linkages within this structure thereby promoting stronger hair structure, which is less prone to breakage and fall.
Although the hair claims of aloe vera lack actual clinical studies in their support, the presence of amino acids and the stimulation of collagen deposition achieved through the application of aloe vera may clarify its hair growth promoting activities. So, regular and dedicated use of aloe vera may lead to luscious growth of your locks.
Prevents Hair Fall/Promotes Hair Growth
As elaborated above, aloe abolishes the actions of free radicals. So, it helps to minimise oxidative damage to the hair, that is known to exacerbate excessive hair fall and greying. So, aloe vera may not just promote hair growth but may also prevent hair fall and greying, being a solution to most of your hair problems. Further, it helps in preventing damage from the sun, which could also be responsible for this benefit.
Prevents Dandruff and Scalp Irritation
The anti – inflammatory properties of aloe vera are credited by some researchers to explain many of its beneficial actions for your hair. Due to this, aloe vera helps in calming your scalp reducing irritation, itching and dandruff. If you are still unsure about its use for hair, our upcoming recipes may be helpful.
Treats Skin Wounds and Burns
Topical application of aloe vera as a therapeutic agent in the management of wounds has been reported in the medical literature. This is because aloe vera effectively accelerates the process of healing making it easier for the skin to recover. When compared with the effects of thyroid cream and silver sulfadiazine as a topical application against wounds, aloe vera was found to be superior in preclinical studies.
It demonstrated a 90 % recovery rate of the skin without the formation of scar tissue. So, it promotes rapid wound healing and stronger healed tissue.
Aloe vera facilitates the deposition of collagen fibres within the extracellular matrix, which promotes the process of wound contraction. It also increases the integrity of skin structure accelerating all the processes of healing. Further, the presence of several pharmacologically active substances and anti – inflammatory components in natural aloe like C – glucosyl chromone may be responsible for this medicinal effect.
However, you must consult your doctor before using aloe vera directly on any kinds wounds to prevent any possible side effects like allergy or infections.
Treats Sun Burns
Not just wounds, aloe vera is also useful in the treatment of burns, especially sunburns or the associated redness of the skin caused on sun exposure. This is because aloe vera offers protection from the UV rays and gamma radiation minimising the damage caused by the sun.
Following the topical administration of aloe gel, metallothionein is released, which is an antioxidant protein that eliminates free radicals. It has a particular activity against hydroxyl, superoxide and glutathione free radicals, which cause damage to the skin. This activity is because of the release of immunosuppressive cytokines such as interleukin – 10, which prevent UV – induced damage and hypersensitivity reaction.
So, now you know what a natural sunscreen ingredient looks like; a fleshy plant with thorns.
Prevents/Treats Skin Infections
Aloe vera has favorable effects on the immune system. Its active compounds impede calcium reflux into mast cells and obstruct the antigen – antibody release of histamine and leukoterine. Hence, it may have suitable activity against skin infections.
Although direct clinical studies have not been conducted in this area, aloe vera certainly has inhibitory effects against all microbial agents including bacteria, viruses and fungi. These effects are because of the presence of active agents like lupeol, nitrogen and cinnamonic acid, which offer antiseptic properties to aloe vera. This indicates its potential for activity against skin infections.
It is also possible that aloe vera prevents infections of the scalp due to similar mechanisms.
Other Medicinal Uses
Aloe vera is used against a plethora of skin conditions including genital herpes, skin manifestations due to HIV infections or type2 diabetes, treatment of pressure sores in bedridden patients, management of frost bites, genital herpes, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, mucositis, lichen planus, and most particularly, acne.
This use of aloe vera is in the form of topical application, as a part of pharmacological preparations, like creams and ointments. Direct use against any of these skin conditions is not prescribed.
DIY Aloe Vera Skin and Hair Recipes
The wait is over! Now that you have been patient enough to go through all these benefits of aloe vera, we are going to reward you with our generous DIY recipes. Face masks, hair masks, shampoo, moisturiser, we got it all for you. But, first, let’s start with the recipe of organic aloe vera gel, which will be a common base to all these amazing recipes.
Organic Aloe Vera Gel
- For making organic aloe vera gel at home, you first need to extract aloe vera extracts from your house plant. For this, select the fattest green leaves or stem of the plant, which appear to be cushiony.
- After this, make a sharp cut at base. If you are unable to make a cut, you may also pull the leaves directly from the bottom. You may want to wear gloves because the aloe vera plant is thorny.
- Next, use your sharp knife to slice the thorns off for your protection. Also, thorns may get into the gel and irritate your skin if it is not removed at this step.
- Now, slice the stalk into half and use a clean spoon to scrape off the waxy substance.
- Smoothly glide through the incised stalk in a vertical fashion to obtain sufficient amounts of gel.
- That’s literally it. You have your own homemade aloe vera gel. Filter it once to avoid any possible allergic reactions. Then, store in a refrigerator before making its use for your hair or skin.
You can either use it directly on your skin / hair or use in combination with the following recipes.
Aloe Vera Face Mask
The most common use of aloe vera skin is as a face mask, which combines simple ingredients for giving you a glowing skin.
Ingredients and Recipe
- You will need 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 3 tablespoons of almond oil for this recipe along with a banana.
- Begin by mashing the banana and then combine the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Apply gently on your freshly washed and dried face with the help of your fingers. Spread evenly and let the mask rest for fifteen minutes. Then, rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
This mask is useful against skin ageing since it combines the goodness of both bananas and aloe vera, which will help in tightening of skin pores.
Aloe Vera Face Mask for Acne
If you want an aloe vera face mask that is suitable for the treatment of acne, you can combine same amount of aloe vera gel with a juice of one small tomato to form a liquid mask.
Follow same directions for use.
Aloe Vera Shampoo
Making aloe vera shampoo may be a bit messier than all our other recipes. So, you may require a pair of gloves.
Ingredients and Recipe
- Take 2 cups of distilled water and bring it to a boil. Now add some dried herbs of your choice as you tend to generally use for your hair.
- You can fenugreek, lavender or chamomile.
- Now, cover the pan and heat for another 20 minutes.
- Strain the water and add about 150 to 200 ml of mild soap or shampoo to it.
- Next, add two tablespoons of aloe vera gel and combine the ingredients to reach a thick consistency. Store in a bottle and shake before each use.
- Shampoo and rinse your hair as usual taking extra care of your eyes.
- Store the shampoo in a refrigerator if you do not use within two days.
Look out for a sour smell and toss out the shampoo in that case. Generally, it should stay good for almost 10 days in the refrigerator.
Aloe Vera Moisturizer
Ingredients and Recipe
- For making your own aloe vera moisturiser, simply combine one part of aloe vera gel with one part of coconut oil.
- You may need to use slightly lesser amount of coconut oil if your skin is generally oily.
- After a gentle mix, it will form a smooth paste, which is basically your organic moisturiser.
- Use this moisturiser based on your daily moisturising needs.
- However, it is highly recommended to use it after a shower because of the water – locking properties of aloe and before stepping outdoors to aid in sun protection.
You can easily replace your store – bought bottle with this quick recipe because it can work wonders.
Aloe Vera Hair Mask
Ingredients and Recipe:
- For making aloe vera hair mask, you will need two tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, preferably virgin coconut oil. You can use store – bought if you skipped the tedious step of making aloe vera gel at home.
- Make sure both the ingredients are at room temperature.
- Now, stir them together to form a smooth paste and your mask is ready.
- You can apply it with the help of finger tips while dividing your hair into sections.
- You need to apply the mask both into your scalp and the ends of your hair for the best results.
- You can use a wide – toothed comb to spread it evenly into your hair.
- You may then use a shower cap to prevent the mask from dripping and leave it on four half an hour to an hour for deep conditioning.
- Following this, a usual wash and rinse is recommended to remove the mask from your hair completely.
This mask can be used weekly or so depending on the conditioning needs of your hair. If you have dandruff, applying it into your scalp is all the more important.
Aloe Vera Juice for Hair
This recipe is designed for reaping the hair growth benefits of aloe vera.
Ingredients and Recipe
- For making aloe vera juice for hair growth, take two tablespoons of aloe vera gel and run in a blender until a lighter consistency is reached.
- Add two parts of onion juice to the blender and combine well.
- Apply this juice as an even mixture on the scalp and let it stay for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo and warm water and pat dry.
This mask will help in preventing hair fall while stimulating the growth of new hair follicles. You can use this mask once a week.
Side Effects and Precautions with the Use of Aloe Vera
- Aloe vera is contraindicated in case of known allergy to plants in Liliaceae family.
- Its use must be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
- Oral dosage of aloe vera must be completely avoided unless so prescribed by an Ayurveda practitioner or an Herbalist.
- Oral use may lead to side effects such as abdominal cramps, constipation and electrolyte imbalance. Long term may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer, red urine and hepatitis and is thus not recommended.
- While topical application only has minor side effects like skin irritation or burning, it is best to indulge in a patch test before directly applying aloe vera gel to your skin, face or hair directly.
Aloe vera is an amazing, easily – available natural ingredient, which can be used for improving the health of your skin and hair. Aloe vera gel can be easily extracted from leaves at home, and is most commonly used in the treatment of acne when combined with tomato juice. Aloe gel is also effective against skin infections, sun burns and skin irritation when used as a topical application. It is also useful in reducing signs of skin ageing because of its antioxidant and collagen – promoting effects. For the hair, aloe improves the growth of follicles and prevents them from falling or greying, although, these claims are not clinically proven.
For your best safety, aloe vera must only be used as a topical home remedy for acne or mild sun irritation. Its use against skin infections, suspicious outgrowths and oral intake is not at all recommended.