You might be familiar with the aloe vera plant and its myriad health benefits. Research has shown that aloe is good for your health when ingested, as it promotes a healthy immune system, good digestion, stable blood sugar levels, and much more. But the powerful succulent has recently caught our eye because it’s been used for thousands of years as a fast-acting, all-natural beauty treatment for luscious hair and youthful skin.
That’s right: Aloe might just be the anti-aging beauty ingredient we’ve been missing all along. It’s been said that Cleopatra included aloe as a part of her daily beauty routine for radiant skin, and more recently, one study of women over age 45 found that using aloe gel topically for 90 days increased collagen production as well as skin elasticity — which are both essential to a youthful, wrinkle-free appearance. Plus, aloe vera is rich in nutrients like beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which all promote an ageless glow.
Aloe has also been used as a beauty treatment for hair thinning and baldness, as well as beautiful skin in Ayurveda — the Indian sister science of yoga. In fact, the Sanskrit name for aloe is “ghrita kumari,” which literally means young girl! The reason aloe is used for hair growth may be that it is rich in proteolytic enzymes, which heal dead skin cells while encouraging the growth of new skin cells on the scalp. Not to mention, its moisturizing qualities help relieve hair dryness and make strands strong and shiny. So if dry, tired-looking skin, or brittle, thinning hair has got you down, why not try adding aloe to your beauty routine and soaking up some of these benefits?
Aloe Vera Use for Skin
Using aloe vera in your hair and on your skin can be a bit complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing, so we’ve got a few tips for how to incorporate it seamlessly. What’s best about using aloe for hair and skin is that it’s all natural, so you won’t be dealing with any harsh chemicals and there’s very little risk in trying it out.
Some more good news: You have options when it comes to using aloe for your hair and skin. If you prefer to use an aloe leaf for raw aloe gel, you’re free to do so. You’ll just need to be careful and make sure to refrigerate your fresh aloe gel so that it doesn’t turn rancid before you apply it, and wash it out of your hair in a timely manner if you’re using it as a hair treatment. On the other hand, you can also use commercially made aloe vera gel, which is available in drug stores and is often an easier option to find and apply.
To use pure aloe vera plant gel on your skin, break a leaf off of an aloe plant as close to the stem as possible. Then, slice the aloe leaf so you’re left with about a three to four-inch piece. You should see the clear aloe gel between the layers of skin. Next, slice the skin off length-wise to remove the gel or dig it out using a spoon. Place the aloe gel into a small bowl and then simply rub the gel onto your face, focusing on areas like the forehead, neck, and eye area. Leave your aloe face mask on for about 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Any leftover gel can be saved in the fridge for about a week.
If you’re using store-bought aloe vera gel, you can simply apply the gel to your face in the same fashion and leave your mask on for 30 minutes before rinsing, or you can even leave it on and apply more throughout the day if desired.
Aloe Vera Uses for Hair
To use aloe vera for hair loss or damaged, dry hair, apply it as a DIY hair mask. If you’re using all-natural aloe gel from the plant, you won’t want to leave this mask in overnight as it can turn rancid. Instead, remove the gel as mentioned above, then apply from root to tip on clean hair. If you so desire, you can mix the aloe gel with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil for even more moisturizing benefits. Once your mask is in, leave it on for about thirty minutes, then wash as you normally would. For maximum benefits, repeat this process twice per week.
When it comes to commercially made aloe gel, you have a few more options for incorporating it into your haircare routine. You can use it as a mask just as you would with natural aloe gel, saturating your strands from root to tip and leaving it on for 30 minutes (or overnight) before washing. Additionally, aloe gel can be used as a conditioner in the shower: Just shampoo as you would normally and swap the aloe gel in as your last step, then style as usual. And if you’re loving aloe in your hair, you can even try making a moisturizing DIY leave in conditioner like this one from blogger Beautymunsta!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.