On a historical and cultural level, few natural ingredients have been as universally beloved as the Aloe Vera plant. Dating back nearly four thousand years ago, the plant was revered by the ancient Egyptians for its medicinal effects and was called the “plant of immortality”.
Later cultures like the ancient Greeks shared a similar fondness for this magical plant, with Alexander the Great leading a conquest of the island of Socotra, allegedly for the sole purpose of acquiring their bountiful aloe farms.
After an expansion of global trade and European colonization efforts, the plant eventually spread to regions all over the world, such as Asia and South and North America.
The plant has become synonymous in modern times as a sunburn relief treatment, with a bottle of Aloe Vera gel being commonplace in practically every medicine cabinet in America. More recently, health fanatics and dieticians have utilized aloe juice as a dietary supplement for digestive ailments.
Despite all this, it is only just recently that the benefits of aloe vera as a hair care treatment are being explored. From hair masks to leave-in treatments, aloe has seen a rise in popularity in the hair care world, and many have touted it as a superstar ingredient for hair and scalp health. Read below as we dig deeper into aloe and uncover some of the amazing benefits it may have for your hair!
What’s in Aloe?
Obtaining the soothing goodness located within aloe is a bit more complicated than simply grabbing a leaf and boiling it. Within each leaf are three layers, including the inner gel layer, the middle latex sap layer, and the outer rind layers. The most used portion of the leaf is the inner gel layer, which contains a variety of amazing compounds including:
· Vitamins A, C, E, and B12
· Minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium, & zinc
· Monosaccharides such as glucose and fructose
· Polysaccharides such as glucomannans and polymannose
· Polysterols including cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisterol, & lupeol
· Over 20 amino acids
· Pholyphenols including aloin and emodin
As you can see, this green plant sure packs a nutrient-rich punch!
Aloe’s Hair Care Benefits
Aloe is infamous as an effective sunburn relief remedy, which is due to its hydrating properties and its natural anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects. However, its benefits extend well beyond the world of after-sun care, and this beloved plant could potentially be your answer for your hair and scalp woes!
Soothing Scalp Relief
Just as aloe can help soothe and heal sunburnt skin, so too can it help remedy irritated and itchy scalps. When applied as a mask, leave-in treatment, or as part of a shampoo or conditioner, aloe can immediately help relieve inflammation and lessen irritation and itching. For sufferers of eczema, dermatitis, or bacterial infections of the scalp, aloe can prove to be a fantastic, all-natural remedy for quick relief and overall healing. As if that weren’t enough, the rich vitamin, mineral, and amino acid content of aloe juice provides an added boost for overall scalp heath.
Aside from its anti-inflammatory compounds, part of what makes aloe such a soothing and calming ingredient is due to its hydrating and moisturizing properties. Aloe vera juice is a potent humectant, meaning that it helps to attract water from the atmosphere. When applied in a hair care product, this humectancy enables aloe to increase the hydration levels of both the hair and scalp, improving softness, shine, and elasticity.
Fungal and Bacterial Protection
Aloe is a natural anti-microbial ingredient, meaning it possesses both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Most scalp issues are caused by fungal and bacterial infections, and these infections can lead to chronic, frustrating conditions such as dandruff and severe scalp dryness. By applying aloe to your scalp and allowing it time to work its magic, you can potentially nip these issues in the bud and say goodbye to dandruff for good!
Boost Hair Growth
Most recently, aloe has gained quite a reputation as a potential remedy for hair loss and hair thinning. While there isn’t a consensus on its specific mechanism of action, there are a few theories as to why aloe can potentially boost hair growth. For one, its anti-inflammatory properties are quite effective in reducing scalp inflammation, which is the most common cause of hair loss and hair thinning. Another potential reason is due to its content of vitamins a and c, which are proven exfoliants and increase cellular turnover. By increasing cellular turnover in the scalp, aloe can help regulate proper cellular production and hair growth function.
Lastly, there’s speculation that the various enzymes located in aloe help contribute to its hair-growth effects. Hair loss can be caused by a buildup of dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum blocking the hair follicle, which impedes the growth of hair and leads to weakened hair structure. The enzymes in aloe can potentially eat away at this disruptive buildup, allowing the hair follicle to operate free and unimpeded for beautiful, healthy hair growth.
How to Add Aloe to Your Hair Routine
With all of this in mind, aloe seems like the perfect addition to anyone’s hair care routine! Some of the simplest ways include adding shampoos and conditioners that feature aloe juice or aloe leaf extract as active ingredients. If you’re able to get your hands on aloe vera oil, you can easily apply it directly to the scalp and massage in as needed. Additionally, you can get creative and try adding aloe vera juice to ingredients like castor oil and apple cider vinegar to create a moisturizing hair mask. There’s no limit to the ways in which you can incorporate this wonder ingredient!