10 Surprising benefits of Aloe Vera for natural beauty care
The world of cosmetology is no stranger to aloe vera. It has been used for centuries by many different cultures to enhance health and beauty due to its several medicinal properties. Greek scientists refer to it as ‘ the universal panacea’ which means a supposed remedy for all diseases. We have all heard the praise that aloe vera gets and the numerous benefits that people claim it has, but how much of it is true? While aloe does have several benefits for skin and hair, it is important to know about the side effects that it has too.
The scientific name of aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller. It is a green short-stemmed shrub that is a part of the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family. This cactus-like plant is usually found in hot and dry climates. It grows in subtropical regions such as Africa, Europe, Asia, and America and is a common houseplant.
The goodness of Aloe vera
Aloe vera leaves consist of three layers: the inner gel, the middle latex layer, and the outer rind. The inner gel is the liquid gold that we hear about so often. It is made up of 99.5% water and the rest of the 0.5% is made of 75 different constituents like amino acids, vitamins, polysaccharides, lipids, minerals, and glucomannans. So this gel really can serve a large variety of purposes.
With all these calming and healing properties, it is no surprise that Aloe vera is used in multiple different ways.
- Food supplements
- Herbal remedies
- Food and flavoring
Aloe Vera Benefits for Skin
1. Moisturizes the skin
The reason why Aloe vera is so hydrating is that it is primarily made up of water. This helps it provide moisture to the skin without leaving behind a greasy cast after application. For diseases and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, although the plant can’t have a healing effect, it can provide moisture and a soothing effect. Aloe vera is an excellent light moisturizer for all skin types, ranging from dry to sensitive to oily.
2. Prevents acne and breakouts
Thanks to the antibacterial properties of Aloe Vera, it can help control the bacteria responsible for causing acne. Apart from that, its hydrating properties encourage the healing of acne and scars by creating a moist barrier on dry skin. The salicylic acid that it contains unclogs pores which significantly reduces blackheads and pimples. It also clears your skin of scars and blemishes, leaving it smooth and clean.
3. Soothes second-degree burns
One of the key benefits of Aloe vera is its ability to soothe burns effectively. Whether it is a sunburn or a windburn, common problems are itchy and irritated skin and water loss due to dehydration. Thanks to a pain-relieving compound, Aloe vera hydrates the dry, wounded skin with a soothing sensation and provides relief. It helps promote cell regeneration and renewal to help the skin heal faster. Due to the plant’s inflammatory properties, it can help prevent the peeling that usually comes with sunburns.
4. Antiseptic effect
Aloe vera is a natural antiseptic agent since it prevents the growth of several different microorganisms and helps fight infections. It has an inhibitory effect on bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Along with antibacterial properties, the plant has proven to be useful in treating cuts and wounds by providing moisture which facilitates healing. This antiseptic effect contributes to its effectiveness in treating acne.
5. Anti-ageing effects
Over time, your skin starts to age and look more saggy and wrinkled. But do not worry, because Aloe vera can help fight premature ageing too. The plant locks moisture in your skin, making it feel more elastic, radiant, and youthful. It repairs skin cells, reduces fine lines, tightens pores, and softens skin. It can also reduce the appearance of erythema (redness of the skin) and wrinkles.
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, there are several more that Aloe vera provides for the skin. It protects the skin from UV damage, soothes skin and reduces inflammation, cleanses and exfoliates the skin, and provides relief to skin irritation such as rashes and infections.
Aloe Vera benefits for Scalp and Hair
1. Strengthens hair
Aloe vera consists of many active ingredients that help in repairing and strengthening hair. It is rich in several different vitamins and minerals which each comes with their own benefits. The amino acids ensure healthy hair follicles, which are responsible for hair growth and texture, and keep hair smooth and shiny. Vitamins A, C, and E promote cell turnover and cause the healthy growth of hair. Aloe vera can also prevent excessive hair fall.
2. Treats itchy scalp
The scalp is nothing but an extension of facial skin, except it is covered in hair, making it just as sensitive and prone to irritation. This also means that the scalp reaps the same benefits of Aloe as our face. Aloe vera can help reduce itchiness, scaly patches, and irritation. Dandruff and its symptoms can be controlled by the use of aloe vera since it can get rid of dead skin cells and reduces scalp inflammation.
3. Promotes hair growth
Despite the lack of research on this, several people claim that Aloe vera helps with hair growth. Some researchers believe that a chemical compound in the plant is known to improve hair’s health. Aloe gel can reduce the breakage and loss of hair by strengthening it. With a clean and healthy scalp, hair tends to grow faster and healthier too.
4. Controls grease
Thanks to certain enzymes in the plant that break down fats, Aloe vera can help get rid of any sebum (excess oil) and residue from hair products in the hair. This allows for efficient cleaning of the hair. While most chemical hair products are harsh and cause significant damage to the hair, Aloe vera is extremely gentle and does not harm the hair. Using Aloe vera is a foolproof method of getting healthier, softer, and shinier hair.
5. Protects hair from UV damage
Just like Aloe vera protects the skin from sun exposure, it also works on the hair to repair sun damage. This is because Aloe vera has cooling properties and a high content of vitamins and collagen. UV exposure can lead to rough hair that is prone to breakage. It can also make hair lose its color and shine. Aloe gel can prevent this damage to some extent, depending on the hair type.
Side Effects of Aloe Vera
Like with any other ingredient, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to Aloe vera. It is recommended to always start with a test patch and wait 24 hours before applying it all over your hair or skin. In case you experience a sensitive reaction to it, you should stop using the product immediately. Side effects can be caused by topical application or oral consumption.
- Burning sensation
- Redness of the skin
- Developing rashes
- Abdominal cramps
- Red urine
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Risk of colorectal cancer
Apart from this, the oral consumption of Aloe vera is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can cause uterine contractions and gastrointestinal distress.
How to Use Aloe Vera
Skin - Aloe vera can be applied directly to the skin. It can be used directly from the plant by cutting a leaf and using the gel inside, or you can use products that contain aloe vera. You can also find pre-prepared aloe vera gel at pharmacies. You can also create a cream or lotion that uses aloe vera as an active ingredient at home by using online recipes. The method of using Aloe vera on the face is the same as on the rest of the body. The only difference is that you should use smaller amounts since facial skin is more sensitive.
Hair - Aloe vera is used to moisturize the scalp and hair. You can use raw Aloe gel and massage it into the hair and scalp, or use hair products that have aloe vera as an active ingredient.
Oral - Several types of toothpaste and mouthwashes contain aloe vera as an ingredient. This is usually considered safe. However, one should avoid consuming raw Aloe vera orally.
1. Is Aloe vera carcinogenic?
A specific type of Aloe vera extract is carcinogenic: Non-decolorized whole leaf extract. This means that prolonged exposure to this substance can increase the risk of cancer. This extract needs to be filtered to get rid of the cancer-causing chemicals before being consumed in products. However, most products use decolorized whole leaf extract which is completely safe to use. If you are using Aloe vera at home, you need to take certain steps to filter the gel such as using an activated charcoal filter.
2. Which is better - Pure Aloe gel or Aloe vera products?
To truly reap the benefits of Aloe vera, it is best to use pure Aloe vera gel rather than using a formulated product. The amount of Aloe vera gel in formulated products varies in each but it tends to be very less. There is also a good chance that Aloe vera may not be there for its advantages, but to mask the negative effects of the other ingredients.
3. How long is it safe to leave Aloe vera on my face?
The amount of time that you can leave pure Aloe vera gel on your face is different from the time you can leave formulated products on your face. For products, you should follow the directions provided on the packaging. Whereas pure Aloe gel should be left for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. You should treat Aloe gel like a mask instead of a moisturizer, since leaving it on for too long can cause dryness and irritation.
4. Which skin types is Aloe vera suitable for?
Aloe vera is beneficial for your skin, regardless of skin type. It can be used on sensitive skin as well since it has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Usually, people who need treatment for sunburns, windburns, and dry skin can benefit the most by using Aloe vera. Aloe vera is an extremely versatile plant with all kinds of benefits for the body. It acts as a natural moisturizer for dry skin and can help in treating and soothing first to second-degree burns. It has healing properties which reduce infections and acne.
5. How do I know if my Aloe Vera Gel is authentic or not?
The first thing to do is to check the ingredient list. The first and main ingredient should be Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract. The color of Aloe vera gel is not green or transparent. Instead, it is a slightly translucent yellow. If the product smells sweet or has a strong scent of alcohol, it has artificial fragrances. The smell of pure Aloe gel is similar to that of garlic.
Apart from the skin benefits, it can treat a scaly and itchy scalp, while also strengthening hair. It encourages the growth of shiny and healthy hair. Aloe vera gel can protect the hair from UV damage, preventing breakage. When it comes to pregnant or new moms, the benefits of Aloe vera are no less. It provides multiple nutrients for the baby and the mother, while also facilitating healthy blood circulation. It soothes the gut and inflamed tissues, reducing the chances of having morning sickness.
With the innumerable benefits that one can reap through Aloe vera, it is important to use it in moderation. No matter how favorable a product is, excessive usage of it can do more harm than good.