Creative, Natural and Inexpensive DIY Beauty Solutions
This is a wonderful DIY styling and holding gel that won’t look greasy, dry out your hair or go flaky when it sets. It also works great as a wash-out hair mask when you need that protein mask to give your hair a boost. What’s more, it is also 100% natural, and so easy to make!
* Please Note: Following a comment on a previous post, I should mention that the recipe for the home-made Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Hair Mask and Styling Gel is at the end of this post. Please scroll down to view.
What You’ll Need To Do It Yourself:
(1) FRESH ALOE VERA LEAVES
What it is: With about 400 different species of the succulent aloe plant known to man, Aloe Barbadensis (aloe vera, true aloe or genuine aloe) is most commonly used in alternative medicinal practices and cosmetics. Aloe Barbadensis or aloe vera is a short-stemmed plant species native to Northern Africa. Its leaves are thick and fleshy and close their pores during the dry seasons to prevent moisture loss. Known as the “plant of immortality” in antiquity, it was used for its therapeutic and healing properties by ancient Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Chinese and Indian cultures, with the earliest known record of its application scribed on an ancient Sumerian tablet dating back to 2100 BC.
Why you’ll love it: Aloe vera extracted from either the mucilage gel or rind of the leaf contains up to eight amino acids needed but not manufactured by the human body. Aloe vera contains analgesic enzymes, bradykinase and salicylic acid (found in aspirin) which have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-bacterial properties.
For centuries, aloe vera has been used as a topical application to treat eczema, psoriasis, minor wounds, burns, skin irritations, mouth and cold sores, minor vaginal irritations, etc. Aloe vera acts as a moisturizer, hydration of the skin. Upon absorption by the skin, it has rejuvenating properties and causes the fibroblast cells (which amazingly produce collagen and elastin) to regenerate at a faster rate. This in turn gives the skin a younger, smoother appearance.
Aloe vera leaves may be boiled in a pan of water and the vapors breathed in as a home remedy for asthma.
When ingested (made into a beverage and taken internally), aloe vera is used to combat the symptoms of constipation, ulcers, diabetes, headaches, arthritis and coughs. Internal ingestion of aloe vera has however been known to cause diarrhea in some people.
* Remember: Fresh aloe vera juice and gel are best used when applied or ingested fresh from harvested leaves. However, extracts may be refrigerated for a limited amount of time or stored in the form of ice cubes.
* Caution: The yellow sap of the aloe vera leaf contains toxins and laxatives such as aloin and aloe-emodin, which can be irritants both on the skin and in the stomachs of people who are latex-intolerant. To counter these effects, aloe vera leaves can be processed in a number of ways, all of which will convert the aloin and aloe-emodin into natural and awesome salicylic acid. Some of these processes include: distillation, freeze-drying, cold processing, flash pasturization and heating. In this recipe, I use the boiling method. If you are extremely allergic to latex, avoid skin irritations and intestinal problems when applying or ingesting aloe vera by only using the mucilage gel of the leaf, and using a proper extraction technique.
Why use it in this recipe: The enzymes and acids contained within the succulent leaves of the aloe vera plant are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and alkalizing qualities. The gel-like composition of aloe vera allows it to easily penetrate the length of the hair shaft, making it a fantastic conditioning agent. Therefore, the topical application of aloe vera will reduce redness and inflammation, eliminate bacteria and break down dead skin cells. This in turn means that using aloe vera on the hair will reduce dandruff, reduce irritation and soothe sensitive scalps. It will also condition the hair and promote hair growth by eliminating the buildup of sebum on the scalp and hair follicle. The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use aloe vera in the treatment of hair loss and to this date, it is still used in the treatment of alopecia and psoriasis. The alkalizing property of aloe vera juice and gel can also be used to bring the pH of the hair and scalp to a more desirable level. It also helps with water and moisture retention, meaning that it won’t dry out your hair.
* Note: See below for instructions & pictures on how to extract aloe vera gel and juice from fresh leaves
What’s the alternative: In this recipe I will be extracting the aloe vera juice and gel from the rind and mucilage gel of freshly cut leaves of an aloe vera plant. If for any reason obtaining this is not an option for you, the alternatives to freshly extracted aloe gel & juice are the store-bought equivalents. Ensure that you purchase 100% pure (or as close to this as possible) aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice by closely examining the content or ingredient list of any purchase you may be planning to make. Some products claim to be 100% pure aloe vera; however, if you scrutinize the list of ingredients, you may find that they are filled with preservatives, additives and other undesirable extras that lower the purity of the product.
What it is: Rosemarinus Officinalis (rosemary) is a woody perennial shrub with pine-scented leaves. It derives its name from the Latin “ros marinus”, which is translated to “dew of the sea”.
Rosemary has been associated with Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary among others.
In the past, the different parts of the rosemary shrub (known as a symbol of wisdom, loyalty, love and good faith) were used in a myriad of ways: tea brewed from the plant’s colorful flowers was an all-purpose medicine; the needle-like leaves boiled in white wine made a face wash; leafy twigs placed beneath a pillow before bed were said to guard against night terrors; the embers from burned twigs were used in a paste to clean teeth; wreaths entwined using the flowers, leaves and twigs were exchanged by marrying couples in the place of wedding bands and adorned the bride’s head; rosemary seedlings were planted on graves; incense was burned from the stems along with juniper berries during epidemics to purify the air, prevent the plague and repel insects; it was used to medicate bandages before application to the wound; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Rosemary was used by ancient healers in Hebrew, Egyptian, Roman and Greek cultures
Hildegard von Bingen (b.1098, d.1179) was known as the first herbalist and naturopath of the middle ages. Her book which documented over 12,000 herbal remedies to cull the symptoms of different diseases includes rosemary as one of the ‘miracle’ herbs.
In recent years, the leaves of the rosemary shrub are still used in traditional cures, therapeutic remedies and modern cosmetics.
Why you’ll love it: Rosemary is rich in biologically active compounds and including antioxidants such as carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid (polyphenol from plants in the mint family), iron, calcium, vitamins, camphor, natural organic compounds like pinene, eucalyptol, verbenone and many others. These wonderful nutrients make rosemary extracts excellent for both skin and hair care, improving the skin and hair quality through its rejuvenating, regenerating and stimulating properties.
The naturally powerful antioxidants make rosemary extracts effective in anti-aging and toning products by inhibiting the effects and activities of free radicals. Rosemary has mild skin lightening effects which help to correct age spots and blemishes naturally.
It also helps with cell growth and improves circulation by stimulating blood flow.
The herb has powerful acerbic properties that effectively reduce oil on skin. The anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and antibiotic properties make rosemary effective in reducing swelling, treating acne and skin irritations or conditions as seen with eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis even on sensitive skin.
Topically, rosemary extracts can be massaged onto the skin and scalp to fight the effects of oily skin, rid the skin of dry skin cells and aid with toning the skin and scalp. Infused in oil, the herb is effective in treating cold limbs, aches and pains. Rosemary oil is effective when added to a warm bath to ease muscular tension and aid with relaxation.
Internally, fresh rosemary may be brewed with tea and ingested to aid with circulation and blood flow. It helps with poor digestion and gall bladder inflammation. It is also a useful mouthwash and gargle especially to fight a sore throat.
The carnosic acid (also found in the herb sage) in rosemary is also said to fight free radical damage to the brain, which in turn helps with improving memory.
*Cautionary Note: Taking rosemary internally is not recommended for those suffering from epilepsy or high blood pressure. It is also not advisable in large doses for use by pregnant women or those breast-feeding.
Why use it in this recipe: The wonderful properties of rosemary make it not only perfect for skin but scalp and hair care too. Extracts from the herb stimulate hair growth, aiding in hair loss recovery. Massaged onto the scalp, it is also great for combating dandruff and keeping the scalp healthy and free from bacteria.
Boiled in water or infused in vinegar, fresh rosemary can be used to make great conditioning hair rinses.
As a fantastic free bonus, rosemary will leave your hair smelling delightfully piney and fresh!
What’s the alternative: In this recipe, I will be brewing fresh rosemary leaves to get a sort of tea or juice to mix in with the extracted aloe vera. If you’re unable to get fresh leaves, you may buy 100% rosemary juice or extract from a store. It this is still not an option for you, you could skip this ingredient and make your hair gel with just the aloe vera.
(3) UNFLAVORED GELATINE
What it is: Gelatine is an irreversibly hydrolyzed form of collagen obtained from various animal by-products and is classified as a foodstuff. Most gelatine comes from pig skin, bovine hides and the bones of animals.
Gelatine is used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography and in the manufacture of cosmetics. It is found in many gummy candies, marshmallows, gelatin desserts and some ice-creams, dips and yogurts.
Why you’ll love it: Gelatine is a great source of protein and amino acids that help build muscle. When ingested, it is also a wonderful source of dietary collagen which can help tighten loose skin and is rumored to aid with cellulite. It also helps with joint recovery. Gelatine also supports the regeneration of skin cells and in hair and nail growth. It improves digestion by binding with water and helping food move along the digestive tract.
Why use it in this recipe: The binding and gelling properties of food grade gelatine make it perfect for a homemade hair gel. The gelatine will hold your hair in place just like any store bought hair gel, but without the additives and it will not flake or look greasy once it sets.
What’s the alternative: Household gelatine comes in the form of sheets, granules or powder. In this recipe I will be using powdered, unflavored gelatin which I feel works best for me. However if you’ve got it in granules or sheets, that would work great as well.
Muslim halal and Jewish kosher customs require gelatin from sources other than pigs. Kosher gelatine is available in lots of stores for those of you who require this. Most kosher gelatines are also vegan!
Hindu and Jain customs require gelatin from sources other than animals. There are many companies that do make food grade gelatines that use plant-based materials.
If you’re interested in an alternative to gelatine as a whole, you may want to try agar agar. This is a flavorless gelling agent derived from cooked and pressed seaweed, and comes available in bars, flakes and in powdered form. Substitute gelatine with equal portions of agar agar.
(4) OMEGA-3 OIL, ROSEMARY and TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OILS (optional)
I chose to add a small amount of omega-3 and some essential oils to this recipe for three main reasons; (1) to enhance moisturizing and other qualities of the hair gel, (2) to allow the hair gel to keep for a longer period of time without going rancid and (3) to add a pleasant scent to the finished product.
The rosemary and tea tree essential oils can be purchased from any health or beauty stores. For the omega-3 oil, I simply prick one or two dietary supplement capsules and squeeze the contents out.
What’s the alternative: You may omit these ingredients from your hair gel. However, if you chose to add oils, you may replace the omega-3 oil with pure cod liver oil, fish oil or even vitamin E oil. You may also use any essential oils that you’ve got in your home. Keep in mind that essential oils come in different grades. Grade A essential oils are of pure therapeutic quality and are best for skin and hair care use.
* Note: You can find out more about the different grades of essential oils here
Some essential oils well-known for their benefits regarding hair health care – rosemary, lavender, lemon, geranium, cedar wood, thyme, clary sage, basil, eucalyptus, lemongrass, ylang ylang, peppermint, myrrh, patchouli, and tea tree.
(5) DISTILLED WATER, and a few small CONTAINERS
How To Extract Aloe Vera Gel, Aloe Vera Juice and Rosemary Tea from Aloe and Rosemary Leaves:
Aloe vera gel is extracted from the mucilage gel (the fleshy, gummy inside) of the leaves.
1. Run cool water over 5 or 6 aloe vera leaves to clean off any soil or dirt that may have accumulated on the plant.
2. Using a sharp knife, trim off the skin of one side of the leaf. Alternatively, use the knife to split the leaf into two sections from one tip to the other (just like you’re filleting fish)
3. With a spoon, slowly scoop out the mucilage gel within each leaf.
4. Place the extracted gel in a bowl and set the spent leaves aside for later use.
5. Blend the extracted gel into a fluid.
6. To store any excess gel that you may not use, pour the blended gel into an ice-cube tray and pop it into the freezer until it sets.
Once frozen, remove the cubes and put them in a plastic or Ziploc bag and label. This will make it easy to thaw out individual cubes whenever you need them for any reason.
Aloe vera juice is made by extracting the remaining gel and sap contained within the leaves of the plant.
Rosemary tea or juice is made by infusing the rosemary leaves and flowers in water or oil.
1. Place the spent aloe vera leaves in a pan and cover completely with water. If possible, use distilled water. Bring to boil. Boiling the aloe vera leaf and sap converts the toxins and laxatives in the sap into natural salicylic acid, making the extract safe for use.
* Caution: DO NOT ingest or apply the yellow sap when raw. There are various methods of processing (e.g. boiling) to convert the toxins and laxatives in the sap into salicylic acid. If you are extremely allergic to latex skip this step and only brew the rosemary tea.
In a separate pan, do the same with the leaves of about 4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary (depending on the length) and if desired, some rosemary flowers.
2. Once the water boils, you may reduce the heat applied and simmer until the water changes color and the leaves appear limp and spent. This may take 30 minutes or longer depending on the number of aloe leaves or amount of rosemary used.
Alternatively, to make the aloe vera juice (1) chop the spent leaves into smaller pieces, (2) blend the leaves to a pulp and finally (3) boil the blended pulp.
3. Leave out to cool then strain the liquid from both pans.
If you like, you may mix the two liquids together to make an Aloe & Rosemary Juice. If not, store separately.
Because this juice will not keep fresh for too many weeks even if refrigerated, use the same method as with the aloe vera gel to create iced cubes that will last longer and are easy to use on demand.
How To Make Your Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Gel:
– 1 cup fresh Aloe & Rosemary Juice (or 3/4 cup aloe vera juice and 1/4 cup rosemary tea)
– 1 and ½ tsp (teaspoons) of unflavored gelatine powder (For a stronger hold, use 2 tsp or 2 and ½ tsp)
1. Put aside 3 to 4 tbsp (tablespoons) of the 1 cup of Aloe & Rosemary Juice and heat up the remainder
2. In a bowl, combine in the 3 to 4 tbsp of cool Aloe & Rosemary Juice with the unflavored gelatine powder and using a fork, mix well
3. Pour in the heated Aloe & Rosemary Juice and stir until the gelatine is completely dissolved
4. Put the mixture into the freezer and leave it to set. This may take up to 45 minutes.
– Previously refrigerated gelatine and Aloe & Rosemary Juice mixture
– 5 tbsp fresh Aloe & Rosemary Juice
– 5 tbsp fresh aloe vera gel
– 10 drops omega-3 oil (optional)
– 5 drops rosemary essential oil (optional)
– 5 drops tea tree essential oil (optional)
1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend together until fluid.
2. The Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Gel is ready to use and may be poured directly into a container for storage. Keep refrigerated between uses
* Remember: Just like most other anti-oxidants, the polyphenols in the fresh aloe and rosemary in the recipe will start to lose their activity slowly the longer they are exposed to air. This means that this wonderful Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Gel works best when freshly made and applied to the hair!
Because there are no industrial-strength preservatives used in this recipe, its shelf life will not be as long as its store-bought equivalents. Therefore, to store any excess Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Gel that you may not use immediately, pour the blended mix into an ice-cube tray and freeze it until set.
Once frozen, remove the cubes, put them in a plastic or Ziploc bag and label and store in the freezer. This will make it easy to thaw out individual cubes whenever you need to apply the gel to your hair.
How To Use Your Protein-Rich Aloe Vera Gel:
1. If you previously froze the hair gel, thaw (at room temperature) one cube in a small container. Depending on how much product you require for each application, this should last a couple of days. Keep refrigerated between uses
2. Once thawed, use the gel to style hair as you would any ordinary store-bought mild styling or holding gel.
3.Allow the hair gel a few moments to dry/set.
To use as a Hair Mask:
1. Same as step 1. above
2. Make sure that your hair is completely detangled and apply generous amounts of the aloe vera gel to clean hair, finger-combing it through
3. Allow the gel 15 to 20 minutes to set and completely harden, then rinse out with luke-warm water.
4. Condition and style your hair as desired
And… it’s as easy as that.
Hope you all love this recipe as much as (if not more than) I do!
Please feel free to comment, ask questions or send me feedback. I would love to hear back from you. Tell me how your Slick Aloe Vera Hair Styling Gel turns out!
* Bonus 1: For a simple, inexpensive peel that will be gentle on your skin, thaw out one hair gel ice-cube and apply it to your face avoiding contact with the eyes. Relax for 15-20 minutes as the mask sets. Once it is tight and completely dry, peel the mask off your face. This will lift off any excess oils and dirt, and keep your face from developing those black heads.
* Bonus 2: I came across a post with a brilliantly clever and unconventional and way you can put the rest of your gelatine powder to use