Aloe vera benefits for hair.
What are they and why choose aloe vera for your hair treatments?
There are dozens of attractively-packaged commercial shampoos and conditioners available in pharmacies and supermarkets, many of which are ‘big brand’ household names with ‘big bucks’ marketing campaigns behind them.
The majority of these haircare products contain a cocktail of synthetic chemicals, which can be harsh to the skin and hair as well as potentially harmful to the environment. The so-called ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ shampoos on the market are generally a better choice, but can be very expensive, and often are not quite as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ as they claim.
A greener and less expensive option is to ‘grow your own’. Aloe vera, one of the most versatile plants on earth, is a succulent evergreen with fleshy leaves that produce a translucent gel renowned for its soothing, hydrating and cleansing properties.
This multi-purpose aloe vera gel can be used in a variety of homemade recipes for all kinds of beauty, health, medicinal, skincare and haircare products. Used in a herbal shampoo with other naturally-sourced ingredients, Aloe vera benefits for hair treatments are impressive:
· Moisturising for dry, brittle or frizzy hair; smooths split ends
· Cleanses the scalp with no build-up (so also suitable for oily hair)
· Helps to prevent dandruff and relieve flakiness or itchiness
· Prevents hair loss and stimulates hair growth
· Enhances shine, volume and silkiness
· Contains hair-boosting nutrients such as amino acids, Vitamins A and C, glycoproteins, polysaccharides and proteolytic enzymes (these provide the ‘anti-dandruff’ agent, by gently exfoliating the scalp)
· Aloe vera has proven antioxidant and antibacterial properties
With a list of benefits like that, it’s no wonder that so many people are choosing to save their money – not to mention reduce their impact on the environment – by going green and growing their own aloe vera at home.
Plant aloe in individual potting containers in indirect sunlight – on a kitchen windowsill is ideal. Keep soil moist by watering regularly but sparingly.
Step 1 - To make a small batch (around 100-200 mls) of aloe-based shampoo, you will need five to six teaspoons of the gel, which can be extracted from the mature (outermost) leaves by cutting them off close to the base with a clean sharp knife.
Step 2 - Cut off the tip of each leaf and carefully slice it lengthways. (The yellowish solution that seeps out where the leaf has been cut is called aloe latex; not to be confused with aloe gel as it has different qualities and entirely different applications.) For more detailed instructions on how to obtain and store the optimal amount of aloe gel from the leaves, see our page on Making your own Aloe Vera gel. The gel is best used fresh (within a couple of days). Unused gel harvested direct from the leaf can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
There are many tried-and-tested aloe shampoo recipes available online, which you can adapt according to your own requirements and preferences. A selection can be found at the end of this article (1,2, 3).
Unlike the popular branded shampoos, natural/herbal and organic shampoos do not tend to produce a lather, which may feel rather disappointing when you have become accustomed to associating suds with cleanliness.
The lather is caused by sulfates (typically sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS), which can actually strip the hair of its natural oils if used regularly, and this common ingredient in the commercial shampoos is the one that also causes the unpleasant stinging sensation if you get it in your eyes.
For best results mix aloe with a base of coconut milk (if your hair isn’t oily) or distilled water and liquid castile soap. There are other bases to experiment with, so it’s just a matter of getting the right blend for your hair type and skin type.
Massage it thoroughly into your hair from root to tip, and it will rinse away clean with no build-up. If you use any of the extra natural ingredients suggested below, your hair will not only look and feel healthy and revitalized, it will smell fabulous, too:
Hair type Herbs Essential oils Blond Chamomile Lemon Dark Sage Jojoba Dry Lavender Peppermint Greasy Rosemary Ylang ylang Dandruff Thyme Patchouli Curly/frizzy Basil Sandalwood, neroli.
For an intensive conditioning treatment, mix aloe gel with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to a creamy consistency. See link 5 for a simple but effective recipe suggestion.
To really reap the full benefits of this natural and organic approach to haircare, you’ll need to ditch the blow-dryer, straighteners and curling tongs (or at least minimize their use), and avoid chemical hair dyes and salon treatments.