What it does: soothing, emollient, moisturizer/humectant
Also called: aloe vera, aloe vera gel, aloe barbadensis leaf juice
Aloe vera, a plant that grows in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world, is largely appreciated for its medicinal properties and decorative uses. A member of the Liliaceae family, it has many known healing and regenerative properties.
Aloe vera's key contents include:
- vitamins: vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12, folic acid, choline
- minerals: calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, zinc
- fatty acids: cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol, lupeol
- sugars: monosaccharides (glucose and fructose), polysaccharides (glucomannans/polymannose)
- protein: lectin, lectin-like substance
- various organic molecules: enzymes, amino acids, anthroquinones
- polysaccharides: mannan, acetylated mannan, pectic substance, cellulose, galactan, arabinogalactan, xylan
Many people use aloe vera gel after washing and conditioning hair and before applying a styling product (gel or mousse). Some people find that aloe vera gel alone is enough to hold their curls.
As an emollient, aloe vera smoothes the hair cuticle surface by forming a polymer film, hence making detangling and conditioning easy. The film also provides mild hold, although significant curl definition and retention based on aloe vera alone is unlikely. Used with other holding agents, however, it results in soft and defined curls.
Aloe vera acts as a humectant as well: it works to draw moisture from the air and keep the hair hydrated by locking that moisture in. The pectin and sugar molecules deliver moisture to the hair. The amino acids (and the trace amount of protein) strengthens the cortex of hair.
As an added benefit, aloe vera is completely water soluble, so it can be used regardless of the preferred cleansing regimen.
Benefits for your hair
Calms an itchy scalp
The fatty acids found in aloe vera have inflammatory properties, which help resolve the scalp inflammation and flaking skin that dandruff causes.
Strengthens hair strands
Vitamins A, C and E - all of them found in aloe vera - contribute to cell turnover, which promotes strong, shiny hair and healthy cell growth. Also found in aloe vera are folic acid and vitamin B12, which may prevent hair fall. The vitamin content in aloe vera might work to repair sun damage to the hair too.
The gel-like substance of the Aloe barbadensis leaf is similar in chemical composition to keratin, which is already present in the hair. This makes it easy for aloe vera to absorb into the hair shaft, resulting in deeper conditioning.
Promotes hair growth
Aloe vera has proteolytic enzymes that contribute directly to healthy hair growth. These proteolytic enzymes are able to get rid of dead skin cells on that scalp that may be clogging the hair follicle and thus not allowing nutrients to properly penetrate into the hair.
The alkalizing properties of aloe vera can help bring the hair and scalp's pH to a more agreeable level, which also contributes to promoting hair growth, and helps the hair strands retain water and moisture.
Aloe vera is one of today's magic plants. It has many anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components. The vitamins in aloe vera promote healthy and shiny hair. Aloe vera may also help with hair growth. All in all, a wonderful ingredient to add to your curl care regime.