If you are looking for a summer-skin saviour, say hello to aloe vera. This wonder herb is an elixir for skin and hair.
Aloe vera is a wonder herb for the skin and has been used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal benefits. “Studies have shown that it contains about 75 constituents such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, salicylic acids and amino acids all of which play a major role in skin health. In Ayurveda it is mentioned as shothhara (anti-inflammatory), vedanasthapan (pain reliever), vranropana (healing), raktshodhak (blood purifier) and brihanan (nourishing),” explains Dr Neena Chopra, co-founder and Director Beauty and Technical, Just Herbs.
Its extracts are used in everything, from sunscreens and moisturizers to shampoos, conditioners and body washes. Talking about the aloe-based range at Just Herbs, Dr Chopra says, “We use aloe vera in various products for skin, hair, bath and body. But our star aloe vera products are Aloe Vera Facial Massage Gel (where we use it with cucumber extracts and Soy Lecithin to work effectively on oily, sun-burnt skin), the award-winning Silkystrength Aloe Vera Wheatgerm Shampoo (that is aimed to add shine and hydration to dry, lifeless hair) and our alcohol-free toners.”
Here’s a complete lowdown on this magical beauty herb…
Aloe vera: Nature’s healing herb
The clear gel extracted from the fleshy aloe vera leaf has a dramatic ability to heal wounds, ulcers and burns. Its soothing and calming properties make it an ideal go-to remedy to calm sunburnt and irritated skin. “Regular application of aloe vera gel significantly reduces lesions and blemishes. In fact aloe vera is so effective that it helps speed up the healing rate in skin burns after any radiation therapy,” says Dr Chopra.
Aloe vera: Potent anti-ageing agent
Human skin is held together by a mesh matrix of collagen and elastin – the main structural proteins that keep skin elastic and resilient. Aloe vera is known to slow down the enzymes (protein molecules that speed up chemical-reactions in the body) responsible for breaking down this matrix thus keeping skin supple, elastic and healthy for a longer time.
Ever wondered why aloe vera is used in sunscreens and after-sun care products? “The mucilaginous gel of the aloe vera acts as a film and has a pH, which is directly compatible with that of the skin. That’s how topical application of aloe vera helps to maintain the skin’s hydration levels, giving it a fresher, smoother and younger appearance,” states Dr Chopra.
Aloe vera: Mild exfoliator
One of the most valuable cosmetic properties of aloe gel is its ability to stimulate the circulation of the skin and enhance cell turnover thus effectively removing the dead skin cells. This action lends a bright and lively look to the skin. “The gel is also reported to contain natural salicylic acid, which has keratolytic and bacteriostatic properties and is very effective in controlling acne and blemishes. One study also states that the amino acids in aloe vera soften hardened skin cells. The zinc in it acts as an astringent to tighten pores,” explains Dr Chopra.
Aloe vera: Nourishing tonic for hair
Aloe vera in shampoos, conditioners or hair masks helps to combat dry and brittle hair. Especially on coloured or chemically treated hair, it has been shown to have a photo-protective effect. The conditioning effect is due to the protective action of the resins and aloe latex which provide defense from the sun. Aloe vera contains certain proteolytic enzymes which stimulate dormant hair follicles, promoting hair growth. Its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties soothe itching and flaking.
But before you head out to pluck a stem and extract its juice, here’s a word of caution:
“We sometimes get customers who say they’ve used aloe vera growing in their backyard on their faces and have broken into a rash,” states Arush Chopra, CEO and co-founder, Just Herbs. Aloe vera has anthraquinones in the latex like material in the outer part of the leaf which is known to cause allergic reactions. So, if you must use aloe vera straight from the plant, it is best to apply it to a small area first to test for any possible allergic reaction. However, to derive the maximum benefits of its active ingredients, it is advised that you use a well formulated product than the raw plant. “For any beneficial substance to be properly absorbed into the skin it needs to be carried in a vehicle which has a composition closest to the composition of the skin lipids,” elaborates Chopra.
In India, the best variety comes from Rajasthan where this succulent plant is commercially cultivated and can grow to its peak potential owing to its ability to thrive in arid regions. Just Herbs has a long term supply agreement with one such ECOCERT certified organic farm in Rajasthan from where best quality aloe vera is sourced.
Take your pick from a selection of Just Herbs aloe vera – based beauty products to soothe your skin and calm your scalp: