May 22, 2017

The Benefits of Aloe Vera


 I remember the aloe plant my grandmother kept in the kitchen windowsill. I just saw it was this green thing that looked pretty. I had no idea that it had so many benefits for the human body, both topically applied and ingested. While I don’t have an aloe plant of my own, I’ve used the natural gel in hair and skin care for years. I’m so excited to share this with you!

Obviously, the best source of aloe vera gel is by cutting a slice of your own plant. If that’s not an option for you, or you don’t have a green thumb (guilty), you can pick up aloe vera gel or juice from a health food store or online. I recommend getting the gel since it’s less processed and can be used in different ways. Make sure you keep it refrigerated when not in use.

Aloe vera in hair care

Aloe vera is a wonderful moisturizer. When applied to the hair, it acts as a humectant, drawing moisture from the air into your strands. This is great for those humid summer days. Aloe also provides light hold for textured styles, giving a new meaning to aloe vera gel! I add the aloe gel and water to a spray bottle, apply it to my hair to revitalize the curls, provide moisture and light hold. Sometimes I’ll add some essential oils, depending on my needs.

Another wonderful benefit of the gel is that it contains an enzyme that promotes hair growth by improving blood circulation to the scalp. This proteolytic enzyme also repairs dead skin cells on the scalp, preventing itching and reduces dandruff- all while conditioning and softening the hair. Aloe also has an ingredient similar to keratin, so there’s additional nutrients to help strengthen hair and promote elasticity, reducing breakage.

There’s several ways to add aloe to your hair care regimen. So I’ll give you a few. First, and easiest, is to add aloe and water to a spray bottle, about 50/50 for both. Spritz your hair and scalp whenever you need a refresh your ‘do, prior to styling, or after washing. Aloe also works great when added to hair care products; or in a DIY deep conditioner. Keep it simple, try a  nourishing pre-shampoo mask by mixing one tablespoon of melted coconut oil with ¼ cup of aloe vera gel. Apply to hair, leave in for 10 minutes while gently detangling, then shampoo as usual.

Aloe vera in skin care

Aloe not only moisturizes hair, but our skin too! Without leaving a greasy residue. Rich in vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, this slimy liquid has anti-ageing benefits. You can use it on its own, or add it to your favorite lotion for face or body. For a smooth shave, add aloe to skin when applying your natural shave cream. After shaving or waxing, aloe works great to soothe skin and prevent razor burn and bumps. Apply daily for maximum benefit.

If you suffer from sunburn in the summer, I’m sure you’ve seen or even tried the drugstore’s “100% pure aloe vera gel” sunburn relief products. Don’t get me started on the BS marketing schemes on most “natural” products, but that stuff has too many chemicals for me to feel comfortable promoting it. Plus, it’s so easy to make something even better on your own! Imagine the sizzling feeling your skin gets when you’ve spent too much time in the sun. You’re red, uncomfortable, skin feels tight and painful. Now imagine rubbing an aloe ice cube over your sore skin, cooling and healing at the same time. You can DIY this!  All you have to do is take your aloe gel, pour it in an ice cube tray or fun silicone mold, and freeze it. You’ll have instant relief on hand.

It’s incredible how we can get so much out of one plant! I’ve only discussed some of the external uses, but it’s also healing for your gut and provides several nutrients. Try growing your own! -N