Aloe Vera is a plant that grows in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. People appreciate it for its decorative uses and medicinal properties.
People have valued this member of the Liliaceae family for its many healing and regenerative properties for millennia.
Advocates of using aloe vera for hair health point to its plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients linked to hair growth. They say these properties are signs of its ability to promote healthy and abundant hair. The connection between the properties of aloe vera and hair vitality has not, as yet, been proven by scientific research.
Here, we will explore the subject more, along with looking at other benefits of aloe vera for the hair and scalp.
Does it work for hair growth?
According to the Trichological Society, an independent association for professionals involved in the study and treatment of the human scalp and hair, the average rate of hair growth is 1 centimeter per month. It is thought to work chiefly because of its contents, which include:
- essential amino acids
- minerals, such as copper and zinc, which are important for hair growth
- plant steroids
- fatty acids
Aloe vera is big business. In 2004, cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products containing aloe vera were a $110 billion-a-year industry. It is a natural product and carries few risks so people can try it safely despite the lack of scientific consensus.
Established benefits of aloe vera
Research analyzing the healing properties of aloe vera has generated the following:
- a potential link between aloe vera and improved healing from burns
- it may work as a laxative, but the safety of this has not been tested
- encouraging early signs of aloe vera’s usefulness in treating diabetes
People have used aloe vera for centuries to address a multitude of health problems, but although these remedies are well-established in folk wisdom and popular culture, the majority of claims have not been subjected to scientific review and study.
Proven benefits for hair care
Aloe vera’s use in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis is one of its claimed benefit for hair care that has been studied.
Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is a skin disease that causes a pinkish-red rash and crusty, yellow-white scales on the surface of the skin, which may also be swollen and greasy. SD frequently develops on the face and scalp. When infants develop SD on their scalps, it is called cradle cap.
One study found that treatment with aloe vera resulted in a significant reduction in itchiness, scaliness, and the size of the area affected by SD. Since SD can, in some cases, lead to temporary hair loss, this is one clear use of aloe vera for hair growth.
Also, there is speculation that since aloe vera contributes to a healthy scalp, which is important for healthy hair growth, this bolsters arguments about its effectiveness in hair care.
Researchers have suggested that the benefits of aloe vera for hair may be due, at least in part, to its ability to stimulate blood circulation and improve delivery of oxygen and nutrition to hair follicles.
Are there any risks?
The external use of aloe vera usually does not have undesirable side effects. However, cases of the following have been reported:
- allergic reactions, especially in those allergic to garlic, onions, and tulips
- contact dermatitis or skin rash that develops after it is put on the skin
- phototoxicity, or a skin irritation similar to a severe sunburn
Diarrhea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalances, colic, and kidney problems have been associated with the oral use of aloe vera. Acute cases of some of these problems, while rare, have been reported.
Do types of hair, such as curly hair, react differently?
Each type of hair requires its own kind of care. The characteristics of an individual’s hair, such as its density, texture, diameter, the degree of curl, and porosity will affect how it responds to a treatment or product.
African-American hair tends to be very dry, and dermatologists recommend the use of products with natural ingredients, such as for hair care. With its rich mix of vitamins, minerals, moisture, and more, it can help protect moisture levels in dry hair.
How do you apply it to the hair?
Individuals interested in aloe vera for hair care can choose from a wide variety of ways to apply it, ranging from the homemade to the mass-produced. Some people like to apply fresh aloe vera gel directly to their scalps. To do so:
- cut a leaf from a live aloe vera plant
- using a spoon, collect the gel (some like to blend it with coconut or olive oil)
- rub the gel or mixture directly into the scalp and let it sit for an hour
- use a mild shampoo to wash the hair and scalp
- repeat this process 2-3 times a week, as needed
Since some people are sensitive to aloe vera, it is best to proceed cautiously and try rubbing a small amount of the gel onto the wrist first, to see if there is a reaction, before applying it to the scalp.
Hair masks are also a popular way to use aloe vera for hair care. In this approach, it is mixed with one of the following:
- jojoba oil
- egg whites
The mixture is then massaged into the scalp and hair, a shower cap is worn, and the mixture is left on for 15 minutes to 1 hour, after which it is rinsed off with a mild shampoo. It is also possible to buy it in some commercial products.
What are there different forms of aloe vera?
It is widely available for purchase in many forms. While individuals sometimes cut the leaves off plants and apply the fresh gel directly, it can also be purchased in many different forms. These include as a liquid, an oil, and a gel, or in pills, shampoos, lotions, creams, and sprays.
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