It’s not just for sunburns.
When you think of aloe vera, you likely think of applying the gel from the plant on a sunburn — and for good reason: It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping to repair damaged skin. Plus, the cooling effect feels oh-so-soothing. But aloe vera for hair? When used in hair care products like masks and conditioners, it’s is actually a standout ingredient, helping to keep locks moisturized, healthy, and clean, according to experts.
The natural humectant has other beauty benefits aside from providing fast relief to afflicted skin. “Aloe vera’s use in skin care is well-known, and it does the same work to benefit our hair,” Christine Williams, senior director of research and development at Anomaly, tells Bustle. (The hair care brand, founded by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, features aloe vera in its Hydrating Shampoo.) “As a humectant, it draws moisture from the air, keeping strands hydrated and bouncy. It also gives all those skin benefits at the scalp, soothing and locking in moisture.” Another plus? “A little goes a long way,” she adds.
Celebs like Kourtney Kardashian and SZA have publicly touted their love for aloe vera and its hair-improving properties. The latter star tweeted recently that she incorporated aloe vera gel (“from the actual plant [sic] they sell it at Whole Foods,” she clarified) into her hair care routine to remedy bald spots, while Kardashian has said she loves it for added nourishment.
Meanwhile, on TikTok, homemade aloe vera hair masks went viral earlier this year, with users documenting themselves applying the gel directly on their strands (sometimes in tandem with other natural ingredients like castor oil) and claiming it creates shinier, stronger, longer locks.
Though aloe vera’s hair benefits have become more popular in recent years, the usage of aloe vera on the hair (and scalp) is a tried-and-true method dating all the way back to 21st century BC, says Neuma Beauty director of education Gina Scipioni. “Even in the earliest of days, aloe was used for the same reasons we use it today. Aloe vera conditions the hair and scalp, is vitamin-rich, helps reduce dandruff and inflammation on the scalp, can help balance pH [levels], reduces itching, and has been known to promote healthy hair growth naturally thanks to aloe’s keratolytic properties that help breakdown buildup on the scalp that can cause malnourishment and potential hair loss.”
More and more hair care brands have begun incorporating the ingredient into shampoos, conditioners, and even hair supplements. Hairstory, for instance, includes aloe vera leaf juice in its New Wash line. “Aloe vera is an interesting ingredient because it has so many uses and benefits, one of which is the way it can almost mimic water within a formula, but obviously its characteristics are much more exciting than water,” Jackie Gilbert Bauer, head of product development at Hairstory, says. “By adding aloe vera into the formulations, we were able to significantly decrease the percentage of water so much that it’s the number two ingredient.”
Aloe vera might seem like an easy way to give your locks a little TLC, but exercise caution if you have chemically distressed hair, suggests Matrix artistic director Nick Stenson, as it might not be as hydrating and strengthening as it would be on those with various scalp conditions or damaged strands. Regardless of your hair type, incorporating aloe vera into your hair routine once a week a good rule of thumb, says Scipioni. (Any more than that and hair can feel weighed down or limp.)
“It’s safe to say luxurious hair is and will always be popular,” adds Stenson. “Naturally, aloe vera is an ideal product to achieve a luxurious effect and will continue to be sought after.”
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