With summer comes warmer weather and longer days, which oftentimes leads to sunburns. For those burns, we’re guessing you treat them with aloe vera, whether it be from the plant itself or in a bottle you purchased from the store. Nothing soothes a burn like the plant, but that’s not all it’s good for. As it turns out, aloe vera is actually very beneficial for your hair. In fact, some even boast that it aids in hair growth. To get all the details on aloe vera for hair, we checked in with a few experts. Discover the hair benefits of the plant below, along with the best way to use it.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Okay, so this may sound like a silly question because most of us know what it is. Aloe vera is a plant, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Bay Area-based dermatologist Dr. Kaveri Karhade notes, “Aloe vera is a plant from which aloe gel is extracted and used for various reasons on the skin. Primarily, it offers a cooling effect which may be helpful in improving symptoms associated with burns, itch, and other types of inflammation.”
Scalp expert Philip B, the founder of Philip B Hair Care, dives further into the history of this medicinal plant. “The aloe vera plant is a desert succulent with both medicinal and culinary usages and it has been used for hundreds and even thousands of years in some cultures and climates,” he notes. “Aloe vera has many high-level active ingredients and minerals plus fatty and amino acids that are good for skin, scalp, and hair. It is rich in vitamins across the alphabet like A, B12, C, and E. But what is most special about it perhaps is that within its thick fleshy leaves it stores water and nourishment in the form of a gel.”
Hair Benefits of Aloe Vera
You know about the skin benefits of the plant, but let’s dive into some of the hair benefits it also offers.
Supports Better Hair Growth
It has long been touted that aloe vera could be used for hair growth. While more research is needed to prove that, Philip does note it can support better hair growth. “We know that it plays a key role in healthy hair follicles and from a healthy scalp happy hair grows. So in that sense, it does in fact support better hair growth. Used properly, you will experience better, healthier, more density, or efficient growth.” He does point out that “it is not going to reignite or restore growth.” You heard it here first, folks!
Promotes a Healthy Scalp
One of the biggest hair benefits of aloe vera is what it does for your scalp. Like Philip said, healthy hair requires a healthy scalp. Aloe vera may be your best bet. “Aloe vera is known for its anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties,” notes Rae Lynne Kinler, a hair transplant surgeon at Ziering Medical. “It promotes the health of your scalp and hair by fighting off scalp infections and dandruff. It also helps to calm itchiness and irritation in your scalp, caused by infections.”
“Aloe vera has many high level active ingredients and minerals plus fatty and amino acids that are good for skin, scalp and hair,” Philip notes. “The fatty acids and amino acids both moisturize and help to strengthen hair and support the keratin structure so hair has more elasticity.” If you’ve been struggling with brittle strands, aloe vera could be the missing link.
Protects Your Scalp From Sun Damage
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what aloe vera is commonly used for. Still, it is good to know for times when you experience a scalp burn. “Along with high collagen content, aloe vera has natural cooling properties. This helps to keep your scalp and hair safe from the UV radiation of the sun,” Rae shares.
Removes Product Buildup
We found this hair benefit of the plant to be interesting. We would’ve never guessed it could remove excess product buildup due to its makeup. Turns out, it can. “Aloe vera also has enzymes that will break down product buildup and excess oils so it can also help to controls greasy hair or greasy spots by providing balance without stripping,” Philip says.
Calling all those who struggle with frizz, especially during the summer, aloe vera is here to save the day. “Aloe vera acts as a deep conditioning agent that can soften dry and frizzy hair,” shares Rae. “It also helps in retaining the natural oils in your scalp, giving your hair a soft and smooth texture.”
For the ultimate shine, reach for aloe vera. Rae mentions that the plant “has active amino acids which can turn your lifeless hair into shiny hair. These amino acids also help in repairing your damaged hair strands, thus, promoting thicker and voluminous hair.” Sign us up.
In case you needed one more benefit to get you on the aloe vera bandwagon, Rae shares that it controls breakage due to the fact that it “is rich in vitamins C, E, B-12, choline, and folic acid. These compounds strengthen your weak hair follicles by providing deep nourishment.”
Who Is It Best For?
Ultimately, aloe vera works for just about every hair type. Even if your strands are relatively healthy, the plant can be used to maintain optimal hair health. “Aloe vera is likely safe for all skin and hair types,” says Dr. Karhade. “It’s not frequently associated with sensitivities or reactions.”
Philip does note that “if you are allergic to certain plants or flowers (like tulips), you might be sensitive and develop a rash if put directly on the skin.” Always do a patch test before using any hair product on your scalp or hair.
What Is the Best Way to Use Aloe Vera?
The experts agree that aloe vera should be applied topically if you really want it to benefit your hair. While it can be ingested in aloe vera juice, it won’t give you the luscious mane you’re hoping for like a topical treatment will.
Rae mentions that aloe vera hair masks and gel are one of the easiest way to reap the hair benefits of the plant. For the mask, she suggests you “find a ready-made hair mask that lists aloe as an active ingredient.” If you’re going to use a gel for scalp health, “look for a product that has 100% aloe vera without any added ingredients like fragrances and alcohol.”
Best Aloe Vera Hair Products
When using aloe vera for your hair and scalp, you want something that is pure. Like Rae mentioned, it’s important the aloe vera is free from fragrances and alcohol to avoid unnecessary irritation. This is especially true if you’re opting to slather straight aloe vera on your strands. Still, there are some pre-packaged aloe vera products that work wonders for your tresses.
Philip B Peppermint Avocado Scalp Scrub: $78
Philip B raves about this aloe vera-based product. “While the sea salt eucalyptus and peppermint scrub will exfoliate and lift, polishing the scalp and removing dirt, oil, and environmental debris, it energizes. Then the avocado nourishes with lipids and vitamins while aloe leaf juice with hazel and arnica flowers refreshes, cleanses, hydrates, calms, and softens.”
(via Philip B)
Garnier Fructis Hydrating Treat 3-in-1 Hair Mask With Aloe Extract: $7.11
Whether used as a mask, conditioner, or leave-in treatment, this mask will moisturized parched strands in less than a minute. Your hair will be frizz free and silky smooth for days on end.
Ceremonia Hair Oil Mist Con Aloe Vera: $25
We’re big fans of just about everything Ceremonia releases, including this hair oil mist with aloe vera. A quick spritz throughout the day keeps strands conditioned and frizz-free. Plus, it feels refreshing spraying it on during those hot summer days.
(via Credo Beauty)
Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair: $10.99
Those with curls will find this aloe vera shampoo from Carol’s Daughter to be the absolute dream. While it quickly cleanses the hair, it won’t strip your coils of their natural oils.
(via Carol’s Daughter)
Christophe Robin Hydrating Melting Hair Mask With Aloe Vera: $37
For dry hair, you’ll find this mask will do the trick. Fortified with aloe vera to deeply hydrate and condition, it will deliver smoother, silkier hair in no time.
Need more convincing you should be using this plant in your haircare routine? Discover why aloe vera is the key to stronger strands HERE!