Aloe vera has been in use for centuries. The Sanskrit name of Aloe Vera is ghikanwar or ghritkumari. Aloe Vera has been very much a part of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of herbal healing, to treat a number of ailments. It has also one of the most important ingredients for skin and hair care.
The plant is a powerful natural moisturiser and seals off loss of moisture. It softens dead skin cells and helps their removal, leaving skin smoother and brighter. In fact, it helps the normal functions of the skin by improving its capacity to retain moisture. The removal of dead cells not only makes skin smoother but improves its normal functions.
Aloe Vera has an astringent action and tightens skin, thus protecting it from early ageing. It has shown remarkable results on sun-damaged skins, with its moisturising, softening, soothing and healing actions. In fact, it can be used to control acne and helps to heal and minimise acne scars. Aloe Vera has antioxidant properties and thus boosts skin’s cell renewal process. Therefore, the regular use of products containing Aloe Vera helps to delay visible ageing signs on the skin. It is ideal for general cosmetic care too and is added to skin care products and lotions like cleansers, moisturisers, serums, gels, masks and so on.
Aloe Vera can be used in home care if the plant is available at home. Aloe gel or juice may be applied directly on the skin. The gel obtained from the plant itself is the leaf pulp and is found in the inner portion of the leaves. Aloe juice is found just beneath the outer skin of the leaves. However, while using it directly on the skin at home, one should wash the plant well and observe total hygiene.
Aloe Vera gel or juice may be applied on the face daily and then washed off with plain water after 20 minutes. It helps soften and moisturise skin. In fact, used regularly, it helps restore skin’s youthful properties. In winter, it helps relieve dryness and maintains the soft texture of skin. In summer, it soothes skin, especially after sun-exposure. It soothes skin in cases of sun damage or sunburn. It moisturises the skin, without making skin oily.
Aloe Vera can be added to face masks. Take one tablespoon oats or multani mitti, one teaspoon each orange peel powder and curd and one tablespoon Aloe Vera gel. Mix together, apply on skin and wash it off after 30 minutes.
Aloe Vera can be used on hair too to relieve dryness and soften hair. The gel may be applied on hair and washed off with plain water after 20 minutes. It helps soften and smoothen rough hair.
It can be added to hair packs too. For a cleansing pack, take gram flour (besan), curd and one tablespoon Aloe Vera gel. Mix into a paste and apply on hair.
For extremely dry, rough and brittle hair, mix well together one egg, one tablespoons each of castor oil, lemon juice and Aloe Vera gel or juice. Apply on hair and wear a plastic shower cap. Wash hair after half hour.