Monday, 1 April 2013

April is for Aloes…


Aloe Vera that is….
If you have been following my blog then by now you know that my first encounter with the use of natural AVJ for hair was at the onset of my consistent hair journey back in November last year, I wish I had discovered it sooner but they say better late than never right?  My hair and especially new growth absolutely loves AVJ it makes it softer and manageable. I currently have an endless supply of Aloe vera whole leaves from family, getting a plant of my own is on my to do list. I just hope it thrives I am not exactly green fingered. This is how I prepare and store my AVJ.

I harvest the leaves from the plant and rinse with water if they have sand;
Aloe Vera plant
I then proceed to chop of both ends of each harvested leaf and de-thorn them taking care not to prick myself while doing it. The process involves cutting off the thorns on either side with a sharp knife. For a tough looking plant the Aloe leaves are quite soft actually. Since the leaves are huge I chop them into big portions to make it easier to scoop out the gel. 

De-thorned and cut into chunks
I then peel off the top green layer using a knife on one side to reveal the soft white gel on the inside which I scoop out with a spoon, this gel produces the juice and it starts dripping from the first cut so it is handy to have a bowl nearby to collect the dripping juice and sticky almost slimy gel. The gel can be further blended to produce more juice if in a hurry but I have found out that left on its own it keeps producing juice. It doesn’t blend smoothly so I usually have to strain to get clear juice with no particles in it. 

Finished product: Aloe Vera gel/juice
Storage
Obviously the best way to store aloe vera leaves is on the plant and use as needed but if like me you don’t have a plant of your own yet the freezer is a good option. I just finished using my frozen stash from January last week and I believe it keeps good in the freezer for up to 6 months maybe more. The first time I made homemade AVJ I stored the leaf portions as well in addition to the gel which was a big mistake because scooping out gel from defrosted leaves is a nightmare. They get soggy on defrosting and quite challenging to work with. So the best way to store is to scoop out gel and put in freezer bags. Natural AVJ goes rancid out of the fridge in about 2 days without preservatives so it is recommended to store unpreserved natural AVJ in the fridge. I do not store braid spray mixes containing AVJ in the fridge simply because spraying cold braid spray straight out of the fridge onto your scalp is the quickest way to get a cold. And knowing me I am sure I will not always remember to take it out hours before to get it to room temperature. So I prefer to use a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice as a preservative and make weekly batches when using AVJ based braid sprays and they keep well out of the fridge for the entire week and sometimes go a few days more. There are also other preservation methods like vitamin E capsules among others.

How I have used my homemade Aloe Vera juice so far;
1.      Mixed it into my deep conditioner and used it to mix my henna as well
2.      Used in my homemade braid spray
3.     As a rinse out face moisturizer after washing my face in the evenings. I applied to freshly washed face and then rinsed out just before bedtime. It really left my face moisturised and soft. I did this daily for almost a month to help clear dark spots on my face in conjunction with other treatments and now just do it once in a while when I remember to.
4.   I mixed it into my hand and body lotion to use on my super dry legs and it helped keep them moisturized for longer. My seemingly permanent super dry legs require a whole different moisturizing routine on its own from the rest of my body.
5.      I blended it with mangoes once to make an Aloe-mango juice. Unfortunately I can’t tell you any health benefits I got from this as I only did it once. AVJ on its own is tasteless and the green leaf part is bitter so if you are making juice you may want to avoid getting any of the green leaf part in your drink.
Edited to add: I also use it as a leave in conditioner occasionally

There you go homemade AVJ very easy to make. The plant can be bought at most gardening stores or large stores with a gardening section or if you live in one of Aloe vera’s natural habitats like East Africa for example (Kenya and Tanzania especially) this plant grows everywhere and I mean everywhere as long as there is vegetation you are sure to find an Aloe Vera plant. It is more popular as a health drink in these regions than a hair product in its natural state; however local manufacturing companies incorporate it into their commercial beauty and hair products. It is both a houseplant and an outdoor plant and can be grown by propagating from another plant or from seeds. If you are visual like me here are instructions in this video and plenty more on YouTube. Other than hair and body Aloe vera also has plenty of other medicinal healing properties.  You can read more about the benefits of AVJ for hair and others on various websites on the internet.

AVJ: Aloe Vera Juice





4 comments:

  1. Hi Lydz, i am glad abt this post cuz i need some aloe vera juice, i think i will have to grow my own to have constant supply as i plan to add it to my regimen both hair and skin. So just to be clear, leaving the gel for a while produces the juice?

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    Replies
    1. Yes I noticed the gel keeps dripping and producing more juice but you will have to keep it in the fridge to do that coz it goes bad outside the fridge within two days.

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  2. love this! i will definitely have my own aloe vera plant in the future, doesn't get more natural than this :)

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