One of our favorite plants – aloe vera – is a powerhouse when it comes to full, healthy hair. That's why you'll find it in nearly every ANTIDOTE product recipe.
This incredible plant, famous for soothing sunburns, does so much more!
Aloe vera is great for your hair, your skin, and your overall health. It is rich in vitamin A, C, E, and it contains seven of the eight essential amino acids. Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to cool burns are what makes it a household staple.
And it’s affordable and easy to incorporate into your beauty routine. You can even grow it in your home!
Aloe vera isn’t the newly discovered superfood; instead, it’s old as time. By now, western science has gotten behind many of its medicinal properties. But for many other communities, it has always been understood that this juicy plant has medicinal benefits. Awareness rooted in generations of experience.
Ancient wellness systems have used aloe vera for centuries.
Native American medicine has always revered the aloe plant. Being a plant that thrives in a hot, dry climate, it’s been used to heal skin ailments and soothe sunburns. But indigenous people have also used it to strengthen and moisturize their hair. And this speaks volumes (no pun intended) to aloe’s abilities: hair is central to indigenous culture and is intimately tied to identity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, too, has always known that aloe is special. Called Lu Hui, the plant is considered a cool element in nature and can be used if too much heat is found in the body. According to the healing system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, too much heat can cause an imbalance of yin and yang, which can lead to disease and other health issues. Aloe’s cooling properties are often used to ease constipation and to aid the liver.
In Ayurveda, an ancient medical system originating in India, aloe vera is called “Grita - Kumari,” which translates “young girl.” Aloe vera is known for being rejuvenating, anti-aging, and immune-boosting. It’s also used to ease menstrual pain, calm hot flashes, enhance fertility, address reproductive issues, heart function, and sexual function. It’s also prized for its ability to keep skin and hair healthy. That’s why we love it too!
What is aloe vera anyway?
Aloe vera,a succulent plant, is a member of the lily family.
Aloe vera originated in Africa and has spread to warm climates all over the world.
Ninety percent of aloe used in the US comes from the Rio Grande valley basin in Texas. In addition to Texas, you can find aloe vera farms in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Mature, plump leaves are harvested from the outside. The plant grows by continuously growing new leaves from the inside out. Leaves are harvested about every 6-8 weeks, washed, and "fileted" to access the wonderful, healthy gel that you'll find inside every ANTIDOTE shampoo bottle. Check out this PBS special to learn more about aloe farming.
Aloe vera makes a great indoor plant, too! Indoor plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight, minimal water, and lots of drainage. Think cactus-vibes even though it is a member of the lily family. To keep your plant well groomed, periodically remove older leaves from the outside to encourage new growth from the middle.
So what exactly is aloe good for? Let us count the ways.
Aloe vera is great for your skin.
Don’t forget that your scalp IS your skin. It needs all the love that your face does and aloe knows just what to do.
Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, and its cooling effect has all other natural methods beat. It soothes irritated skin, from itchy skin to acne to eczema. It can even be used to speed up the healing process of minor wounds.
Some studies have shown that applying aloe to first and second-degree burns allows them to heal faster. And it certainly relieves the pain.
Essentially, aloe vera supports your skin’s ability to repair itself.
Aloe is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C. Antioxidants hydrate your skin and help it to retain moisture. They also inhibit free radicals, which damage your skin and hair. In this way, they provide natural protection for healthy skin cells to remain healthy.
This helps slow the effect that aging has on your skin, and taking aloe vera supplements can even improve the elasticity of your skin.
Aloe is the key to beautiful hair.
The antioxidants ability to reduce the production of free radicals also means protection for your hair follicles. They will remain healthy longer and that means strong hair that keeps growing! It also encourages hair growth by improving blood circulation in your scalp.
Aloe is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and full of water so it will keep dandruff at bay and keep your scalp from drying out.
Aloe contains proteolytic enzymes which help to break down dead skin cells on your scalp. It cleanses the scalp of dead skin cells and dirt that clog your hair follicles.
Aloe vera supports your body's entire health.
Some studies have shown that aloe vera has a laxative effect, and can help relieve constipation and symptoms of IBS. It is often used for digestive issues for this reason.
Aloe vera has also shown to lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels, making it a plant of interest for diabetes research.
It can even support oral health! Using a mouthwash with aloe vera can help break down plaque, but it can also calm inflamed or bleeding gums caused by gingivitis.
Here’s how you can incorporate aloe into your life.
There are so many products out there that embrace aloe vera as the star ingredient. When you’re shopping, make sure you’re getting a product from a company that is organic and sustainable, and not one that simply uses buzzwords like “eco-friendly” to get your attention. Every ANTIDOTE Shampoo and Conditioner use aloe vera juice as its #1 or #2 ingredient. That means that you are getting more of the good stuff.
What's in your shampoo? When looking at the label of your product, makers are required to list ingredients based on the amount used. So your product is mostly made of the top 3-4 ingredients you see. For example, the #1 ingredient in ANTIDOTE1848 Ginseng Shampoo is aloe vera.
While there may be a word or two you don’t recognize, most of what you see should read “plant-based” and not “grown in a lab.”
Organic aloe can be tricky to find, but it’s worth the search. Organic products use the safest preservatives, natural thickeners, and the aloe will be higher in antioxidants and nutrients. Non-organic products, on the other hand, are lower in quality and may use ingredients that are harmful to your skin and hair. At ANTIDOTE we use certified organic aloe vera.
Remember, your hair follicles are alive. Feed it the good stuff!
Another way to use aloe vera is to make a hair mask. Hair masks are so nourishing your scalp, your hair follicles, cuticle, and cortex. Make sure you’re using 100% aloe, or a product that is blended with other natural, nourishing ingredients like coconut oil.
Massage the aloe into your scalp, coat the strands, and throw your hair up into a shower cap for 30 minutes to an hour. Then wash thoroughly with a sulfate-free shampoo.
Looking for scalp massage tips? Check out our Scalp Massage article here.
This hair mask deeply conditions your hair, allowing the minerals and enzymes to cleanse and moisturize. If you have dandruff or live in a very dry area, a mask once a week will do wonders for you.
You can also use it directly on your face to soothe inflamed skin, heal acne, and moisturize dry skin. Use it as a mask or spot treatment before bed.
Incorporate drinks with aloe vera into your diet, but steer clear of sugar-loaded drinks. Getting these nutrients internally as well as externally helps your skin to stay healthy, bright, and keeps your digestive system happy.
And the ancient medical systems that have always treasured aloe vera also know that your digestive system is intimately connected to healthy skin and hair.
As within, so without, as they say!
Abigail + David
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