Sea Moss (Irish moss): Sea moss is a "red seaweed" variety that is often sourced from the Chondrus crispus species, but is also derived from the genus Gracilaria, a less leafy variation. Chondrus crispus commonly grows off the shores of Ireland, Great Britain, the Atlantic coastlines of the U.S. and Canada. Whereas gracilaria, another type of red marine algae also referred to as Irish moss, comes from warmer oceanic environments.
It is commonly used industrially as a thickener and emulsifier known as Carrageenan. This substance is extracted from the Irish sea moss and used to thicken products like milk, yogurt, baby formula, salad dressing, condensed milk, coconut milk, soy milk (and other vegan milks), toothpaste and shampoo. However, once extracted in this form it no longer maintains its health benefits.
Irish moss, also called Irish Sea moss (or sea moss) is scientifically known as Chrondus Crispus and is actually an algae despite being called a moss. It grows on the rocky coasts of the Atlantic of Europe and North America and also the North Pacific. When fresh it is soft and “can vary in color from a
greenish-yellow, through red, to a dark purple or purplish-brown”.
Irish moss contains 92 of the 102 minerals that our bodies need, along with Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. It is especially rich in calcium and iodine, as well as containing potassium iodide and potassium bromide, selenium, zinc, magnesium and natural silica. Irish moss flakes, from the Chondrus crispus species, have small red-leafed blades that contain higher amounts of iodine than the whole moss strands. Not only is it very beneficial to the bones, joints and skin, helping to maintain bone strength and skin elasticity, it can also be applied topically to moisten and nourish the skin and hair.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in tropical climates. It is a gray-green color, with fleshy offshoots and spiny edges. It grows to be approximately 2 to 3 feet tall and is a commonly kept houseplant because of its medicinal properties. Aloe is used to treat wounds, burns, some cancers in animals, inflammation, diabetes and indigestion. Aloe is also believed to be a known treatment for hair loss and a natural conditioner that may replace synthetic and chemical conditioners. As a cellular regenerator with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, aloe treats and heals red, itchy and unhealthy scalps. Aloe promotes hair growth by stabilizing the follicular cycle.
Aloe is used as a treatment for a condition called seborrhoea. Seborrhoea is a bacterial infection in the scalp, which begins with the body’s production of an oily substance called sebum. Excessive sebum can cause the scalp to become itchy and red. Hair of an infected person becomes fragile and thin, and as the disease progresses, hair loss occurs. Aloe’s aforementioned anti-bacterial properties naturally treat seborrhoea, but in addition, aloe contains magnesium lactate, which works as an itch inhibitor. This gives a person with seborrhoea relief from her condition as it treats it.
Aloe Vera contains enzymes that directly promote healthy hair growth. These proteolytic enzymes are able to eradicate dead skin cells on the scalp that could be clogging the hair follicle, not allowing for the proper penetration of nutrients in the hair.
Conditions like seborrhea, which occurs from an accumulation of sebum on the scalp, can contribute to partial baldness. Aloe Vera’s keratolytic action breaks down the sebum and dead scalp cells, allowing for further hair growth. Also, Aloe Vera’s alkalizing properties can help bring the scalp and hair’s pH to a more desirable level, resulting in further hair growth promotion, while helping the hair retain water and moisture.
Aloe Vera has antipruritic properties that can alleviate itching and dryness. Pruritus ailments include vexing skin and scalp issues, like psoriasis and eczema. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease characterized by the excessive production of skin cells. Recall, Aloe Vera’s enzymatic properties enables it to destroy excessive dead skin cells, while conditioning the skin and scalp.
Since excess skin cell production is at the heart of Psoriasis’ existence, you could see why Aloe is able help eliminate this issue. Aloe can also reduce the redness, scaling, itching and inflammation of scalp psoriasis, which directly benefits the hair, as well.
When coloring hair, it is advisable to use hair colors or lighteners that contain Aloe Vera to prevent irritation.
Historically, one of the primary uses of Aloe Vera has been to reduce redness and inflammation both internally and externally. In fact, Aloe Vera has long been used on burns and external wounds as an antiseptic to reduce swelling and eliminate bacteria. The ingredients responsible for this calming property is Bradykinase, and analgesic anti-inflammatory enzyme, as well as salicylic acid, which is an aspirin-like compound with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial properties.
Because of the aforementioned enzymatic breakdown of dead skin cells from Aloe Vera, this multifunctional plant has also been used for the treatment of dandruff. There could be many underlying causes of dandruff (like the previously mentioned conditions), but most doctors attribute its existence to malassezia, a fat-eating fungus that can live on the scalp.
Luckily, in addition to breaking down the dead skin cells, Aloe Vera also has
anti-fungal properties. This is because fungus thrives in an acidic environment, and the alkalizing attributes of Aloe Vera counter a proactive fungal environment, disallowing further growth and buildup.
In addition to soothing and eradicating any skin and scalp problems, the benefits of Aloe Vera for hair as a great conditioning agent are amazing. The gel-like substance of the Aloe barbadensis leaf gives it a similar chemical composition of keratin, the naturally occurring protein in hair cells. This structural similarity allows for easier penetration along the entire length of the hair shaft.
We can credit these penetration properties to the lignins found in Aloe Vera, the major structural material of the cellulose content. It has been proven that the skin can absorb the benefits of Aloe Vera up to 7 layers deep. Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins contribute to cell turnover, promoting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid are also contained in aloe vera gel. Both of these components can keep your hair from falling out.