Over the next few weeks our resident scientist, Jc will be examining products and ingredients that are popular in the natural hair world — not to disparage them, but to provide a well-rounded view of them. Check it out:
Aloe Vera is a natural plant which is currently being researched for its possible medicinal properties. The plant has a natural gel which can be obtained by squeezing from the leaf. Commercially this gel can be added to crushed leaf to give aloe vera juice extract. Aloe vera is very complex in composition but is mainly composed of a large number of sugars.
1. It is natural and fresh aloe vera can be obtained simply by purchasing and keeping a plant.
2. It is generally regarded as non toxic however due to the very high sugar content it is not advisable for diabetics or people with kidney problems to consume without getting advice from a doctor.
3. The large sugar content allows it to act as a humectant (i.e trap and hold water). It may therefore help moisturise hair.
4. In general, aloe vera gel and juice has a low pH (generally between 3 and 6) but this will vary according to the manufacturer. For those looking to reduce pH of their products, aloe vera is a possible natural choice.
5. Outside of hair, it can also be used to soothe burns as well as possibly help with wound healing. It can also help with skin moisturisation.
Risks / Negatives
1. As aloe vera is natural, it is variable in composition depending on where the plant was grown. It is therefore possible to experience batch to batch variation with commercial products.
2. Commercially, aloe vera is modified to allow it to have a longer shelf life. It does still in general have a short life span generally requiring refrigeration once opened and discarding after 2–3 weeks. If mixing with conditioner, ideally aloe vera should be added to a separate container and not the main conditioner bottle/jar.
3. Fresh aloe vera (i.e squeezed out of a leaf) is not suitable for storing and should be used immediately.
Ladies, do you use aloe vera on a regular basis? Have you experienced any of these pros and cons?