Aloe vera is well known for its cooling and soothing skin care products, but its importance in hair care is less well known. This is because aloe vera is not a common ingredient in conditioners, shampoos and styling solutions. But there are products which contain aloe vera. Sometimes Pure Aloe Gel is used in hair care products but also used are aloe vera derivatives. Aloe vera gel can also be squeezed at home and used as part of your hair care routine. Aloe vera helps to lock in moisture in the hair preventing dryness and split ends. Aloe vera is easily grown in pots at homes. The gel can be removed from the leaves effortlessly.
Aloe vera has natural fungicidal and antibacterial properties. Excessive sebum production in the scalp can cause fungus and bacterial infection which is linked to dandruff. Using aloe vera shampoo keeps extra oiliness in check at the same time preventing the moisture from drying out. Pure aloe vera gel can also be massaged into the scalp so that the skin absorbs it directly. Aloe vera acts as a conditioner too. Aloe vera’sproteolyticenzyme like characteristics make it possible to break down proteins that include dead cells on the scalp. The gel acts as an exfoliant for the scalp lifting out dead skin which gets washed away leaving the scalp free of dandruff. Aloe vera also has antipruritic qualities which makes it check itching. Excessive itching of the scalp leads to more dandruff as infection spreads through nails. The dual action of aloe vera gel provides much needed relief to users.
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As a conditioner, aloe vera nourishes the hair from the root along the shaft till the tips. Aloe vera works at various levels. When used on the scalp along with other plant ingredients in combination as medicated herbal shampoos, the pores on the scalp open and the dead cells and other debris get exfoliated and nourishment goes right down the root. The dual action of aloe vera cleanses and nourishes at the same time. The primary hair protein seen in hair cells is keratin which resembles the aloe vera gel in composition. The gel in a symbiotic way nourishes the entire shaft from the root to the tip. The gel brings long lasting luster to hair.
Homemade Aloe Vera Shampoo
Aloe vera can be used at home in myriad ways to nourish and clean hair. If you wish to make aloe vera shampoo, simply take a tablespoonful aloe vera gel that is commercially available and mix it thoroughly into 8 ozs of shampoo of your choice using a spoon. Keep for couple of hours before using as you would any shampoo. Aloe vera can be turned into a light conditioner too. To make this at home, stir the juice of half a lemon into a quarter cup of Aloe Vera Gel. Add couple of drops of an essential oil of your choice. Massage this into your hair and leave for at least half an hour before rinsing it out. If you wish for a heavy conditioner, combine equal parts of aloe vera gel and olive oil. Coat your hair with it and comb through to distribute it evenly.
Aloe vera gel can be directly massaged into your hair. This is most effective soon after a shampoo. A word of caution. Aloe vera can cause sweat to break out and streak down the face. This is because the gel makes pores open out. To prevent inconvenience, apply at night. A small quantity of aloe vera can be used as a styling gel. Pour out a small quantity into your palm and rub between palms and rub on your hair. Aloe vera coats the hair and makes untangling knots easy and painless. Aloe vera acts as a humectant providing moisture and retaining it.
Aloe vera is a perennial succulent plant that has been around for a very long time. Even the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks used them in different ways. It became accepted ad a medicinal plant when in the 17thcentury, it was used in southern Europe to heal wounds and burns. It grows with no great effort and is ideally suited to patios and indoor gardens. Some of the properties attributed to aloe vera include mitigation of ultraviolet radiation damage, encouraging wound healing, anti-microbial activity, being a skin moisturizer, anti-inflammatory action, aiding digestion, unproven potential to be an anti cancer medication and sustained release drug delivery agent. Research into all these properties is ongoing.
The gentle nature of aloe vera and its soothing applications has led to many claims of its qualities. Many of these have not been proven yet but even if just a few are able to withstand scrutiny, it would make a big impact in cosmetic industry. Aloe vera and its composition vary from place to place. Extraction and processing methods are not uniform and this makes a huge difference to the polysaccharide content in the gel. Moreover, polysaccharides are not heat stable and suffer degradation when exposed to shear forces. Seasonal and local variations affect the quality of the gel produced.
Packaged Aloe Gel Vs Home Grown Aloe
Packaged aloe vera leaves a lot to be desired as no standardization has been achieved so far. The only way to ensure that the aloe gel used is 100% pure is to grow it yourself and use it fresh. Harvest the amounts you require. Aloe gel is easy to remove. Lay a full leaf flat on a clean surface and slit it width ways from top to bottom. The gel which is inside the leaf can be scooped out using a spoon. Once you have the quantity you need, the gel can be liquidized in a mixer. It will need to be strained to get rid of the fibers. Pour into a sieve and let it drip out slowly. Since the gel is thick it will take some time for it to flow out. If any gel remains, it can be store in the fridge for couple of days.