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Aloe is a genus of succulent plants consisting of over 420 diverse species that are extensively used in alternative medicinal systems. The most common source of aloe-based products is Aloe barbadensis¸ popularly known as aloe vera.
Aloe vera has thick and long leaves with serrated edges that emerge from the center in a radial manner.
The plant can be grown both indoors and outdoors, but it only blooms in the latter condition. The red or yellow flowers grow on stalks that arise from the center of the plant in late winter or spring. Aloe plants generally grow up 2 feet high.
The potent medicinal properties of aloe vera are obtained from its clear gel and the inside skin layer known as the yellow latex. These parts of the plant are used in many health and beauty products.
Various industries found uses of aloe vera:
- Cosmetics industry: Aloe vera is used as a base material for moisturizers, shampoos, perfumes, shaving creams, soaps, makeup creams, sun lotions, and bath aids.
- Food industry: The plant is chiefly used for manufacturing functional foods, especially health drinks.
- Pharmaceutical industry: Aloe vera is used as a bitter agent in gels and ointments (topical application) and tablets and capsules (oral use).
Studies report that aloe vera gel is typically safe when used externally on intact skin and does not interfere with the action of any medications. However, rarely, people may be allergic to the plant or any of its constituents. (6)
Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, or people with appendicitis, abdominal pain, or intestinal obstruction should refrain from consuming aloe vera orally. (6)
Note: It is vital to do a patch test before using aloe vera masks. Doing so helps rule out the possibility of an adverse reaction or allergy to any of the ingredients. Take additional precautionary measures if you have sensitive skin.
Aloe Vera for Skin and Hair
Aloe vera has been used in skincare products because it is rich in enzymes, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities of aloe vera are used in the treatment of acne, burns, and dry skin.
Aloe vera also exhibit anti-aging effects that prevent the formation of lines and wrinkles. The enzymes in aloe vera act as exfoliators that help in smoothening and moisturizing the skin. (7)
The diverse range of health benefits provided by aloe vera also includes hair care. It is one of the natural ingredients that not only cleanse and nourish your hair with vitamins but also prevent further damage to your hair.
Aloe vera may also be a remedy against dandruff and bacterial and fungal infections. (8)
Adverse Effects of an Allergy to Aloe Vera
Occasionally, the topical application of aloe vera may cause redness, stinging, and a burning sensation. Allergy to aloe vera is usually due to its anthraquinone (aloin and barbaloin) content. (9)
Before using any product containing aloe vera, do a patch test first to determine possible allergic reactions.
Individuals allergic to plants that belong to the lily family, such as onion and tulips, may experience skin irritation, cramping, hives, and diarrhea on oral and topical administration of aloe vera. (10)
Do not put aloe vera mask on open skin wounds.
DIY Aloe Vera Face Mask
This homemade aloe vera mask may be used to keep your face looking bright and youthful. It may provide anti-aging effects that prevent the formation of lines and wrinkles. (7)
The enzymes in aloe vera act as exfoliators that help in smoothening and moisturizing the skin.
- 2 tbsp aloe vera gel
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp organic raw honey
How to Make Aloe Vera Face Mask
- Put the aloe vera gel in a clean mixing bowl.
- Add in the lemon juice and organic raw honey into the bowl.
- Mix the ingredients well using a fork, whisk, or electric mixer.
How to Use This Face Mask
- Cleanse your face.
- Apply the mixture to your face using a cotton ball.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Massage your face with the mask for a couple of minutes.
- Wash your face with normal water.
Use this aloe vera face mask daily as desired.
DIY Aloe Vera Hair Mask
While there is a lack of scientific evidence to support these claims, adding olive oil in this hair mask can help hydrate the hair while honey locks in the moisture. Furthermore, yogurt may give a shine to your locks.
- 2 tbsp aloe vera gel
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt
How to Make Aloe Vera Hair Mask
- Put the aloe vera gel in a clean bowl.
- Pour in the honey.
- Add the olive oil and yogurt.
- Blend the ingredients using an electric hand whisker.
How to Use This Hair Mask
- Part your hair into multiple sections.
- Apply the mask to the hair roots down to the tips of your hair.
- Leave it on for half an hour approximately.
- Rinse your hair with water and wash it using your regular shampoo.
Use this hair mask three to four times a month for smooth and luscious hair.
- Make sure to wash the aloe vera leaves thoroughly before using them.
- To extract the gel, you can cut the leaf into large cubes instead of slicing it lengthwise. Slit the top layer of the cube to reveal the gel and peel it out.
- You may also use a spoon to scoop out the gel instead of peeling it with a knife.
- To make full use of the lemon, roll it on the countertop before squeezing, facilitating the extraction of more juice. You may juice it with your hand if you do not have a lemon squeezer.
Aloe vera gel is a highly potent ingredient with many uses. It is rich in nourishing vitamins and is an excellent moisturizing agent, making it a popular choice for skin and hair treatment.
Before using aloe, test for allergies. Only apply masks to intact skin. If you have any skin sensitivities, consult your doctor before applying an aloe-based mask.