Does Aloe Vera for Hair Growth Really Work? Experts Explain
There are many benefits of aloe vera for your skin—the succulent does so much more than soothe sunburn. In fact, aloe vera for hair can do wonders for your strands.
The plant’s healing properties and accessibility—you can buy a jar of aloe vera gel at your local store, or even grow the succulent yourself to have at your disposal—have made it a favorite among dermatologists. The gel in each leaf’s innermost layer is composed of water, carbohydrate polymers, vitamins, and essential amino acids, according to the National Cancer Institute (NIC). These ingredients make the plant ideal for hair, in addition to managing skin conditions and gastrointestinal disorders. It’s worth noting that more research is needed on aloe vera for hair, though studies do look promising.
“Aloe vera has been shown to have many potential benefits as an antimicrobial, with several bioactive compounds,” says Maya Thosani, M.D., dermatologist and owner of Modern Dermatology. “If someone is looking for a more ‘natural’ remedy, then it can definitely be tried and is low risk.”
Considering our skin loves the hydrating and antioxidant properties of aloe vera gels, it would make sense that hair would benefit from the plant too. Ahead, haircare experts break down the benefits of aloe vera for hair in addition to safety concerns and who should and should not use the plant.
Aloe vera for hair benefits
Hydrates the scalp
An itchy scalp, from dandruff or other issues, can be difficult to treat. According to Mayo Clinic, aloe vera can be applied to the scalp to help manage seborrheic dermatitis, which causes dandruff’s scaly patches and an inflamed scalp. “Aloe vera can help maintain scalp health by utilizing soothing and cooling properties, especially for scalp conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, and even psoriasis,” says Bradley Glodny, M.D., a dermatologist at Park Avenue Dermatology. “Raw aloe vera gel can help with associated discomfort and itch while diminishing flakey red skin.”
If you are struggling with seborrheic dermatitis, it is always a good idea to visit a dermatologist, but aloe vera can be a natural remedy to help relieve itchiness and reduce inflammation. “Aloe is known to have a soothing effect, and the fatty acids found in the aloe plant help battle inflammation,” says Dr. Thosani. “The skin also absorbs aloe vera four times faster than water, and is proposed to help with healing and stimulating the immune system to heal and receive its nutrients.”
Helps prevent hair loss
“Antioxidants can potentially reduce the oxidative stress on hair follicles that contribute to hair loss,” says Brendan Camp, M.D., a dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology.
Dr. Thosani says studies are in progress looking at the effects of aloe vera on those with alopecia, a disease that happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles causing hair loss. But, further research is needed before he can recommend it for the condition.
Despite promising research, it’s important to remember that aloe vera and hair growth needs to be studied more. “Claims such as its ability to increase the rate and quality of hair growth have not been substantiated,” Dr. Glodny says. While aloe vera alone may not magically grow your hair, healthy scalps and stronger strands can prevent hair loss and potentially promote hair growth.
Combats oily hair
Have you tried the best dry shampoos and every tip in the book to get rid of greasy hair without any luck? If nothing seems to work, it might be worth giving aloe vera a try. “Aloe vera will break down the sebum [a naturally occurring oil], and should help oilier, flaky scalps feel cleaner without stripping the hair,” Dr. Thosani says. Aloe vera gel can be a gentle solution to help your strands look fresher and less greasy, without being too harsh.
How to use aloe vera for hair
Whether you buy a tub of aloe vera gel from the store or purchase a plant and scoop out the gel yourself, you can apply aloe vera directly to your hair to reap the benefits. “Fresh aloe vera gel can be applied to your hair and scalp and left on for 30-60 minutes to allow for optimal penetration,” Dr. Glodny says. Apply it to your scalp with a scalp massager to help remove buildup and aid in hair growth, or mix it with other ingredients for a DIY hair mask.
Is aloe vera safe for hair?
Generally, aloe vera is thought to be safe when applied topically. Dr. Thosani says plant resins can cause skin rashes, so it’s always a good idea to test the gel on your arm first, especially if you have sensitive skin. “Fresh aloe vera at 100% concentration will have the highest effectiveness, however, it will have a higher risk of causing an allergic contact dermatitis too,” Thosani says.
When in doubt, you can always check in with a doctor. “There are many scalp conditions that could benefit from these properties,” Dr. Thosani says. “Talk to your dermatologist about your condition to see if aloe vera could help you.”
Can all hair types use aloe vera?
Whether your hair is thin, thick, coily, curly, dry, or oily, aloe vera can provide some benefits to your tresses, but Dr. Camp says one hair type may benefit more than others. “Most hair types can benefit from aloe vera juice, but hair that is dry may benefit most because of its hydrating properties,” Camp says.
If you’re wondering what aloe vera gel you should buy to include in your hair routine, take a look at some of the best aloe vera gels below.
Are aloe-vera-infused products just as good as fresh aloe?
“While it is not entirely clear, fresh aloe vera gel is likely more beneficial compared to products infused with aloe vera,” Dr. Glodny says. “Concentration in the fresh gel from the plant is much higher compared to infused hair care products.”
Not only is fresh aloe vera likely more concentrated, but you also have the peace of mind of knowing there are no additives or chemicals. “The infused products will be formulated differently to provide different concentrations, and the cosmeceutical/nutraceutical industry is not as highly regulated,” Dr. Thosani says. “Often, the proprietary blend is not revealed to consumers.”
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